Venice 2017: Documentary Overview

The 74th Venice Film Festival

August 30-September 9

The world’s oldest film festival showcases just over 30 documentary features among its more than 100 feature offerings.

Nonfiction remains largely excluded from the event’s competitive sections, with only four slots claimed from the forty allotted to Venezia 74 and Orizzonti. In the former, main competition, are Frederick Wiseman’s latest institutional portrait, EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (pictured) and Ai Weiwei’s meditation on the refugee crisis, HUMAN FLOW, while the latter section includes Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s CANIBA, a reflection on a notorious Japanese cannibal; and Nancy Buirski’s THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR, about a case of sexual assault against a black woman investigated by Rosa Parks.

Screening Out of Competition are several more documentaries and hybrids, including William Friedkin’s THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH, in which the famed director of THE EXORCIST films an actual Catholic exorcism; Daniel McCabe’s THIS IS CONGO (pictured), an in-depth look at the war-plagued nation; Chris Smith’s JIM & ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND – THE STORY OF JIM CARREY AND ANDY KAUFMAN WITH A VERY SPECIAL, CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED MENTION OF TONY CLIFTON, a behind-the-scenes look at the unusual production of Andy Kaufman biopic MAN ON THE MOON; David Batty’s MY GENERATION, in which Michael Caine reflects on 1960s London; Jon Alpert’s CUBA AND THE CAMERAMAN, a decades-long portrait of Castro and his people; as well as Errol Morris’ hybrid series, WORMWOOD, which explores a mysterious murder in 1953.

The Biennale College section includes Mazen Khaled’s hybrid, MARTYR, about a young Beirut man’s death by drowning; and Giorgio Ferrero’s BEAUTIFUL THINGS (pictured), which considers the chain of rampant consumerism from creation to destruction; while the Venice Classics strand offers, among other titles, Emmanuel Hamon’s THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION THROUGH ITS FILMS and Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski’s THE PRINCE AND THE DYBBUK, on the colorful history of silent film producer Michael Waszyński.

The festival’s autonomous sidebars also feature a handful of nonfiction or hybrid offerings, including Annika Berg’s teen punk girl-focused TEAM HURRICANE (pictured) in International Critics’ Week, and, in Venice Days, Giovanni Donfrancesco’s THE RESOLUTE, in which an elderly man in rural Vermont reveals a surprising history of his time in a wartime Italian militia; and James Lester’s GETTING NAKED: A BURLESQUE STORY, about NYC’s neo-burlesque scene.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations, Releases

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