Category Archives: Documentary

On DVD: KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE

kate plays christineComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28:
KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE

Director:
Robert Greene

Premiere:
Sundance 2016

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Berlin, True/False, Indielisboa, DocAviv, Sydney, BAMcinemaFest, New Zealand, Melbourne, Sydney

About:
An actress researches a particularly challenging role.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On DVD: SOUND OF REDEMPTION: THE FRANK MORGAN STORY

redemptionComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28:
SOUND OF REDEMPTION: THE FRANK MORGAN STORY

Director:
NC Heikin

Premiere:
Los Angeles 2014

Select Festivals:
Hot Springs Doc, Palm Springs, Virginia, Vancouver, Atlanta, Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision

About:
A profile of a musician and his struggles with drug addiction and crime.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Special Screening: BROTHER’S KEEPER

brothers-keeperComing to NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction tomorrow, Tuesday, February 28:
BROTHER’S KEEPER

Directors:
Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofksy

Premiere:
Sundance 1992

Select Festivals:
Toronto, Chicago

About:
The lives of the aging Ward brothers are upended when one is accused of murder.

Presented on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Berlinger and Sinofsky’s acclaimed portrait explores the strange case of the 1990 death of 64-year-old William Ward, in small town Munnsville NY. Together with with his three brothers, known collectively to townsfolk as “the Ward Boys,” William had lived in poverty conditions for his entire life, and had been sick for quite some time. Despite what seemed to be a clear case of death by natural causes, his brother Delbert soon found himself accused of murder, and the case attracted national media attention. The larger Munnsville community rallied behind Delbert, despite having previously viewed the Ward Boys as outcasts, raising bail money to free him from jail. Adopting a direct cinema approach, the filmmakers follow Delbert and his brothers, listen as neighbors weigh in on the case, and chronicle the trial, including the theories the prosecutors come up with to explain the supposed murder, from mercy killing to incestuous crime of passion. Addressing issues of class, regionalism, and criminal justice, and at once engendering sympathy for their subjects yet careful to allow an ambiguity regarding what really happened, the film rightfully has left its mark as a seminal work of documentary filmmaking.

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On TV: TICKLED

tickledComing to HBO tonight, Monday, February 27:
TICKLED

Directors:
David Farrier and Dylan Reeve

Premiere:
Sundance 2016

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, True/False, Cleveland, Sarasota, San Francisco, Hot Docs, Montclair, Seattle, Sydney, Auckland

About:
Journalists embark on a wild investigation into an online fetish subculture.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Special Screening: HEAVEN ADORES YOU

1201x782-KEY-IMAGE-ElliottSmith_HAY_09022014-Credit-Heaven-Adores-You-copy-1160x652Coming to IFC Center tonight, Monday, February 27:
HEAVEN ADORES YOU

Director:
Nickolas Rossi

Premiere:
San Francisco 2014

Notable Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Leeds, Denver, Stockholm, CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Antenna Doc, Montreal, BendFilm, Athens, Calgary, AFI Docs, In-Edit, Belfast,

About:
An intimate profile of the late Elliott Smith.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Elliott Smith was unexpectedly thrust into the mainstream spotlight when his song “Miss Misery” was nominated for an Oscar in 1998. He died just five years later, at the age of 34. Structured as both an expansive overview of the singer/songwriter’s life and as an elegiac city symphony focused on the influence of Portland, New York City, and Los Angeles on his music, Nickolas Rossi’s film is an artful tribute to a talent cut too short.

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On DVD: HOMELAND: IRAQ YEAR ZERO

homeland-23New on DVD this week:
HOMELAND: IRAQ YEAR ZERO

Director:
Abbas Fahdel

Premiere:
Visions du Réel 2015

Select Festivals:
New York, Rio, Lussas Doc, Hamburg, Yamagata Doc, Doclisboa, CPH:DOX, Jihlava, Mar del Plata, Cinema Vérite, Göteborg, True/False, Vilnius, BAFICI, Taiwan Doc, Dokufest Kosovo, Vienna

About:
Life in Iraq, before and after the 2003 American-led invasion.

Split into two distinct sections – “Before the Fall” and “After the Battle” – Fahdel’s epically-lengthed yet intimately-scaled film provides viewers with a look at the activities of several Iraqis, many of them his own family members, in the lead up to and in the aftermath of the initial 2003 attack. Taking a loose, observational approach, the film feels more like a home movie at times, and serves as a survey rather than creating in-depth portraiture. This actually suits it well, particularly in the first part, which captures individuals who don’t have a full sense of what’s to come but think they have seen it all before. Digging wells to deal with expected resource shortages, and taping windows to prevent glass shattering, they seem practical rather than concerned, and otherwise try to go on with their everyday lives, seemingly comfortable enough despite the reminders that they’re living in a repressive regime. The tone changes in the project’s second half, with an Iraq overrun with foreigners, frustrations beginning to mount over disruptions in daily life, and, of course, reckoning with lives lost – including, as revealed in the film’s conclusion, one of its most engaging young subjects. It’s a deeply humanistic, and often difficult to watch, time capsule of a nation forced to contend with the tragedy of war.

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ZagrebDox 2017 Overview

zagrebdox_logoThis Sunday, February 26 sees the start of the 13th annual ZagrebDox. The Croatian event will present 75 new and recent feature documentaries before it comes to a close on Sunday, March 5. In addition to offering local audiences a look at many favorites from the larger doc festival circuit, the festival showcases new regional work, some of which is noted below: Continue reading

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