Coming to VOD this coming Tuesday, December 6: THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO YO MA & THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE
Morgan Neville’s profile of the world music collective debuted at Toronto in 2015. Screenings followed at Berlin, True/False, San Francisco, Montclair, DocAviv, Los Angeles, Sydney, Provincetown, and Biografilm, among other fests.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to DVD today, Friday, June 2: BEYOND CLUELESS
Charlie Lyne’s deconstruction of the teen movie debuted at SXSW in 2014. Its fest circuit also included Hot Docs, Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, Cork, SF Indie, and Sheffield
Millennial filmmaker Lyne revisits the teen films of his youth – roughly from 1995’s CLUELESS to 2004’s MEAN GIRLS – in this wry essay, hypnotically narrated by Fairuza Balk, herself a survivor of the genre in films like 1996’s THE CRAFT. While her voiceover often offers brief synopses of the movies under consideration, the project generally feels geared to viewers like Lyne who have intimate, if not encyclopedic, knowledge of this period of teen films – older viewers might find themselves lost – or disinterested – at some points. That aside, the filmmaker’s affection for his source material is clear, having selected clips from some 200 teen flicks to illustrate his consideration of adolescence on screen, from a look at high school cliques, rebellion, sexual exploration, and the struggle between individuality and herd mentality. If the proceedings are given a somewhat offputting reverence that masks tenuous links or overstated readings, this tone nonetheless well matches the melodramatic excesses of the teenage experience, where everything feels like it’s a matter of life or death, and signals that its young director knows exactly what he’s doing.
Coming to theatres today, Friday, June 2: TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’
Sam Pollard’s chronicle of the 1964 search for unsung blues performers made its bow at Full Frame earlier this year. Screenings also include New York Film Festival, New Orleans, Sheffield, Traverse City, Vancouver, Portland, DocuWest, deadCENTER, March on Washington, Hot Springs Doc, Woodstock, Austin, and Chicago, among other events.
As signaled by its title, Pollard’s project follows two parallel tracks: the pivotal activities taking place in Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer, an volunteer-driven effort to register African-American voters in the state; and a separate search by groups of blues aficionados for two lost pioneering African-American musicians, Skip James and Son House, in the same region. These two threads occasionally intersect – though the film perhaps overemphasizes the connections – but the bulk of the story is about the musician search and resultant revival of interest in their music for a new generation of, pointedly, largely white audiences, making an argument for the importance of this acknowledgement of the influence of African-American music on popular mainstream culture. Pollard employs animation and music as a welcome counterbalance to a sometimes too-heavy use of narration delivered by musician Common, helping to elevate the proceedings and making for compelling viewing.
This post is a pointer to the second lineup announcement for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. This year’s selections in the New Frontier section may be found here.
The remaining non-competition feature sections will be revealed in further announcements.
If you missed yesterday’s announcement, the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT, click here.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, December 2: BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Garrett Zevgetis’ profile of a quirky young blind woman on the autism spectrum debuted at SXSW this Spring. Its fest circuit also included Hot Docs, Camden, Margaret Mead, Mill Valley, Florida, IFFBoston, Dallas, Bentonville, Philadelphia, Denver, and IndieBo.
Michelle is a 20 year old self-proclaimed outcast living in rural Maine with her mother. Since being graduated from the Perkins School for the Blind, she has struggled to engage with the outside world, but finds an outlet for her creativity and need for belonging through the Internet. Unexpectedly, it is here that she finds a boyfriend and a mutual interest in kink, an intriguing curveball that Zevegtis cautiously rolls with as he follows his appealing protagonist over several years. The result is a strange little film, but one with charm – part universal coming of ager, part celebration of self-assured difference.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Friday, December 2: LANDFILL HARMONIC
Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley’s portrait of an impoverished children’s orchestra debuted at SXSW last year, where it picked up an audience award. It went on to screen at Sheffield, New Zealand, Vancouver, Cleveland, DocAviv, and AFI Fest, among several others.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Friday, December 2: MAVIS!
Jessica Edwards’ affectionate tribute to the soul singer debuted at SXSW last year. Its fest circuit also included Nantucket, IDFA, Sheffield, New Zealand, Melbourne, Martha’s Vineyard African American, Vancouver, Woodstock, Mill Valley, Rocky Mountain Women’s, Athena, and Big Sky, among other events. In addition to its DVD release, the doc now comes to iTunes and Amazon.
I previously wrote about the film here.