Jeff Orlowski exposes the insidious hidden systems of control behind our increasingly networked world.
New to DVD this week:
THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING
Nantucket, True/False, CPH:DOX, Provincetown, New Zealand, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Athens, Adelaide
A privileged look into the intersection of high art and commerce.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
SXSW announced the first part of the 2020 feature film and episodic line-up today, a total of 102 projects. Following is the list of nonfiction features and episodics so far, broken down by section:
BEASTIE BOYS STORY
Director: Spike Jonze
Beastie Boys’ Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz tell an intimate, personal story of their band and 40 years of friendship in this live documentary experience directed by their longtime friend and collaborator, and their former grandfather, filmmaker Spike Jonze.
Director: Estevan Oriol
An exploration of the culture and landmarks of the chicano and street art movement that cemented Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol’s status as behind-the-scenes hip hop legends.
Documentary Feature Competition:
THE BOY WHO SOLD THE WORLD
Director: Adam Barton
At age 15, Ben Pasternak dropped out of high school and moved to NYC. Leaving behind his family in Australia, Ben sacrificed his childhood to pursue his dream of changing the world through innovation. But things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Director: Todd Chandler
What does it mean to be safe in school in the United States? Safe from what, and from whom? BULLETPROOF poses and complicates these questions through a provocative exploration of fear and American violence.
THE DONUT KING
Director: Alice Gu
The rise, fall, and rise again of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself and hundreds of other immigrant families by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops.
AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Director: Katrine Philp
At Good Grief in New Jersey, groups of children meet to understand the passing of a parent or a sibling through play. Death may come suddenly or slowly, violently or peacefully, but it leaves a pain that the child has never felt before.
Director: Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
After a young Chinese student is kidnapped on a university campus, her family travels to the US for the first time, first hoping to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, and then to seek justice, find closure, and reclaim their daughter.
FOR MADMEN ONLY
Director: Heather Ross
Del Close, the hidden architect of modern comedy, sets out to smash open the creative process by writing an autobiographical comic book.
KENNY SCHARF: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Directors: Malia Scharf, Max Basch
Kenny Scharf is surveyed through the eyes of his daughter — revealing a private struggle for identity and acceptance through the ups and downs of a prolific career driven by a passion for making his fantastical inner worlds a very public reality.
LIGHTS CAMERA UGANDA
Directors: Cathryne Czubek, Hugo Perez
When “Africa’s Tarantino” casts a New York film nerd as his next action hero, it’s the beginning of a friendship that makes their no-budget studio world famous. But as their success grows, tensions flare and threaten everything they built.
Directors: Lauren DeFilippo, Katherine Gorringe
Six people live for a year on “Mars” in a NASA experiment studying what happens to humans when they are isolated from Earth.
WE DON’T DESERVE DOGS
Director: Matthew Salleh
A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives. People need dogs, and perhaps they need us, but what do humans do to deserve the unconditional love they provide?
9TO5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT
Directors: Julia Reichert, Steve Bognar
In the 1970s, America’s secretaries took to the streets, fed up with on-the-job abuse. They created a movement called 9to5, which later inspired Jane Fonda to make a movie and Dolly Parton to write a song. This is the untold story of their fight.
Directors: Peter Mortimer, Nicholas Rosen
An elusive young climber explores the limits of solo mountaineering.
AND WE GO GREEN
Directors: Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville
Professional drivers on the international Formula E circuit race for victory across 10 cities in this white-knuckle documentary from filmmaker Malcolm Venville, Oscar-winning director Fisher Stevens (THE COVE), and producer Leonardo DiCaprio.
Director: Hannah Olson
For more than 30 years, Dr Quincy Fortier covertly used his own sperm to inseminate his fertility patients. Now his secret is out. BABY GOD follows his children as they seek the truth about his motives and try to make sense of their own identities.
Director: Malcolm Ingram
A documentary on the career of filmmaker and raconteur Kevin Smith.
Directors: Jonah Tulis, Blake J Harris
In 1990, Sega assembled a team of misfits to take on the greatest video game company in the world, Nintendo. CONSOLE WARS goes behind the scenes to meet the men and women who fought for both sides in this epic battle that defined a generation.
CRAZY, NOT INSANE
Director: Alex Gibney
Dr Dorothy Lewis is a psychiatrist who’s spent her career examining violent people. Through the use of chilling never-before-seen inmate interviews, CRAZY, NOT INSANE looks into the mind of a killer in an attempt to understand why people kill.
THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE
Director: Maria Finitzo
THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the clash between the external power of gender politics and the equally powerful imperative of female sexual desire. How different would the world look if women’s libidos were taken as seriously as men’s?
Directors: Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman
Through the exploration of daily life and democracy in America’s first Muslim-majority city, HAMTRAMCK, USA examines the benefits and tensions of multiculturalism.
Director: Steven Cantor
In a small Oregon community, a high school soccer team struggles to overcome class and racial divide in a quest for team success. They are torn between their individual commitment to the team and the expectations of the town itself.
Director: Joshua Tsui
The oral history of a team of geeks and misfits in the back of a Chicago factory creating the biggest video games (MORTAL KOMBAT, NBA JAM, and others) of all time.
M FOR MAGIC
Director: Alexis Manya Spraic
M FOR MAGIC is the never-told story of the royal family of magic – four generations of the legendary Larsen family – and their tireless endeavor to save the art of magic with a private club for magicians – the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.
ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES
Director: Yemi Bamiro
ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES tells the story of Air Jordan sneakers, depicting their social, cultural, and racial significance, showing how ground-breaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion-dollar business.
A SECRET LOVE
Director: Chris Bolan
A moving and triumphant love story about two trailblazing women who break barriers and conventional norms, coming out to their conservative families as they face the difficulties of aging.
WE ARE AS GODS
Directors: Jason Sussberg, David Alvarado
“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand wrote in ‘68. The legendary pioneer of LSD, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism now urges people to use our god-like powers to fight extinction by reviving lost species.
YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE
Directors: David Darg, Price James
In 2000, actor David Arquette infamously became the world wrestling champion as a promotion for his movie READY TO RUMBLE. He wasn’t prepared for the backlash. 20 years later, Arquette seeks redemption by returning to the ring… for real this time.
Director: Marnie Ellen Hertzle
In the desert of Crestone, Colorado, a group of SoundCloud rappers live in solitude, growing weed and making music for the internet. When an old friend arrives to make a movie, reality and fiction begin to blur.
ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE
Director: Steve Elkins
Daring explorers embark upon seemingly impossible journeys into the most extreme environments on Earth to find the connective tissue between all things seen and unseen.
IN & OF ITSELF
Director: Frank Oz
Storyteller and conceptual magician Derek DelGaudio attempts to understand the illusory nature of identity and answer one deceptively simple question: Who am I?
TFW NO GF
Director: Alex Lee Moyer
A generation of disaffected young men searches for meaning in the dark corners of the internet. TFW NO GF offers an intimate portrait of five such individuals- as shared through the metaphor of an iconic meme.
Showrunner: Jay Cheel
CURSED FILMS is a five-part documentary series which explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously cursed horror film productions.
Showrunners: Doug Prey and Matt Weaver
HOME is a nine-part series that explores extraordinary interpretations of domestic architecture and the concept of “home.” The first season features homes in six different countries and was filmed in eight countries and 16 cities around the world.
Showrunner: Pat Kondelis
In a small Texan town in 2014, star football player, Greg Kelley, was convicted of a child sexual assault case. In an outpour of support, his community bands together to prove his innocence and rectify a crime that ruined lives.
24 Beats Per Second:
Director: Justin Staple
AMERICAN RAPSTAR chronicles the rise of a subculture of young rappers who utilized the SoundCloud streaming platform to disrupt the traditional norms of the music industry with their distinct self expression and rebellious approach.
BIOGRAPHY: THE NINE LIVES OF OZZY OSBOURNE
Director: R Greg Johnston
A&E’s BIOGRAPHY: THE NINE LIVES OF OZZY OSBOURNE celebrates the life of rock icon and godfather of heavy metal Ozzy Osbourne and features interviews with Sharon Osbourne, Rick Rubin, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Jonathan Davis, and Post Malone.
LYDIA LUNCH: THE WAR IS NEVER OVER
Director: Beth B
The first career-spanning documentary retrospective of Lydia Lunch’s confrontational, acerbic, and always electric music and art.
THE MOJO MANIFESTO: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOJO NIXON
Director: Matt Eskey
On a bicycle trip across the country, a young Neill Kirby McMillan Jr experiences The Mojo Revelation. After teaming up with the enigmatic Skid Roper, he unexpectedly finds mainstream success but makes a decision that could jeopardize his career.
MY DARLING VIVIAN
Director: Matt Riddlehoover
Tracing the dizzying journey of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Featuring unseen footage and photographs, the film was produced by Dustin Tittle, Vivian and Johnny’s grandson.
ROCKFIELD: THE STUDIO ON THE FARM
Director: Hannah Berryman
The unlikely tale of two Welsh brothers who turned their dairy farm into one of the most successful recording studios of all time. This is a story of rock and roll dreams intertwined with a family business’ fight for survival.
Director: Lindsay Lindenbaum
TOMBOY shines a light on four women drummers in a field that was once the exclusive domain of men. The narratives of these trailblazing musicians interweave, launching a dialogue on gender and artistry which extends far beyond the musical sphere.
WE ARE THE THOUSAND
Director: Anita Rivaroli
Fan of rock music Fabio wants to convince the Foo Fighters to perform in his little village in Italy. To do that he gathered 1,000 musicians to play their song together… He created a huge community who became the biggest rock band on Earth.
WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT
Directors: Tamara Saviano, Paul Whitfield
Guy Clark, the dean of Texas songwriters, struggles to write poetic songs while balancing a complicated marriage with wife Susanna, and a deep friendship with legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt, on whom Susanna forges a passionate dependence.
Director: Alex Winter
The first all-access documentary on the life and times of Frank Zappa.
A diverse selection of international filmmaking talent.
Director: Laura Herrero Garvín
Night after night, La Mami, in charge of the women’s restroom at the mythical Cabaret Barba Azul offers care to the women who work there dancing.
Coming to theatres today, Wednesday, January 15:
Toronto, London, Warsaw, AFI Fest, Hamptons, Rio
An exploration of post-Soviet Russia through oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
In his latest film, Alex Gibney tells the unusual story of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s transformation from plutocrat to thorn in Putin’s side, but that’s just one level of this smart, dense, and intriguing project. The prolific director’s larger intent, and one that he successfully fulfills, is to cogently detail the development of Russia after the USSR from a nascent democracy to an autocratic state, using Khodorkovsky’s background as a guide. Tracing his ascent in the wild chaos of the early 1990s, when he amassed a fortune by taking advantage of his countrymen on the road to privatization of the nation’s most valuable resources, the film explains how Khodorkovsky and his small circle of fellow oligarchs began to exert political influence, and essentially handpicked minor KGB official Putin to succeed Yeltsin. But the shifty new president started to clash with the oligarchs, seizing back power, and eventually arresting the critical Khodorkovsky on trumped up charges and subjecting him to ridiculous show trials before sending him to Siberia. Emerging after a decade of imprisonment with unexpected moral authority – given his past – Khodorkovsky now supports pro-democracy efforts while living in exile in London, deeply critical of the increasingly authoritarian turn Russia has taken over Putin’s seemingly endless reign. Gibney paints a complex portrait of the man and his country, in all of its contradictions, making for a satisfying and thought-provoking film.