Category Archives: Documentary

Special Screening: ANBESSA

Coming to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Thursday, August 22:
ANBESSA

Director:
Mo Scarpelli

World Premiere:
Berlin 2019

Select Festival:
Hot Docs, Maryland, Mountainfilm Telluride, Woods Hole, Human Rights Watch, Berkshire

About:
A portrait of a rural Ethiopian boy as he contends with modern development.

10-year-old Asalif lives on the outskirts of Addis Ababa with his mother in a small structure with intermittent electricity. Sprouting up around them but financially out of reach for his family is a new complex of condominiums, whose inhabitants frequently throw out treasure that the creative Asalif scavenges to repurpose into lights and toys. At night, he hears hyenas in the distance, and during the day, he occasionally listens to tall tales from the older men at the local bar. In her likeable but too understated portrait, director Mo Scarpelli observes Asalif’s childlike wonder as he explores his rapidly changing environment, plays – and fights with – local boys, and, less successfully, injects a dose of magical realism by reimagining Asalif as a would-be lion – the film’s title in Amharic – on the prowl, defending his limited domain.

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On DVD: BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ

New to DVD this week:
BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ

Director:
Pamela B Green

Premiere:
Cannes 2018

Select Festivals:
Telluride, New York, London, Deauville, Rio, Göteborg

About:
Unearthing the largely forgotten story of the world’s first female film director.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: DONKEYOTE

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, August 20:
DONKEYOTE

Director:
Chico Pereira

World Premiere:
Rotterdam 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Hot Docs, True/False, Full Frame, San Francisco, Edinburgh, AFI Docs, Munich, DocsMX, DocumentaMadrid

About:
A Spaniard sets off an a seemingly impossible journey with his animals by his side.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Director Chico Pereira’s 73-year-old Uncle Manolo dreams of walking the Trail of Tears with his beloved donkey Gorrión and his faithful dog Zafrana at his side. Transporting an aquaphobic donkey to America from Spain presents just one of a series of challenges, but Manolo won’t let that stop him from his quixotic quest. Donkeyote captures the distinct personalities of Manolo and his loyal companions in this charming portrait of unlikely adventure.

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In Theatres & On VOD: AMERICAN FACTORY

Coming to theatres and to Netflix tomorrow, Wednesday, August 21:
AMERICAN FACTORY

Directors:
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert

World Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Hot Docs, CPH:DOX, Tribeca, Sheffield, Full Frame, San Francisco, Cleveland, Sarasota, RiverRun, Ashland, Seattle, Documentary Edge, Biografilm, AFI Docs, Sydney, Traverse City

About:
An observational portrait of the culture clash that results when an Ohio factory is opened by a Chinese company.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Special Screening: THE HOTTEST AUGUST

Coming to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrrow, Tuesday, August 20:
THE HOTTEST AUGUST

Director:
Brett Story

World Premiere:
True/False 2019

Select Festivals:
SXSW, Hot Docs, CPH:DOX, BAMcinemaFest, Sheffield, DOXA, Montclair, DokuFest, Open City Doc, Sarasota, Maryland

About:
An exploration of climate change and late-stage capitalism.

Filmed two Summers ago throughout New York City, director Brett Story’s film is a panoramic study of working-class anxieties. While semi-poetic narration occasionally is employed, the bulk of the film consists of everyday New Yorkers discussing things on their mind, touching on the economy, the environment, and other issues of the day, revealing a depressing amount of casual racism, cynicism, and ignorance that is meant to stand in microcosm for Trump-era America. While some of the unidentified subjects and their commentary – and the subtle links Story draws between them in the film’s edit – are compelling in their own way, their overall impact is muted by their episodic nature. As a result, the film succeeds in creating a sense of uneasiness, but not feeling particularly satisfying in the end.

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On DVD/VOD: THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

Coming to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 20:
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

Director:
John Chester

Premiere:
Telluride 2018

Select Festivals:
Sundance, DOC NYC, Toronto, Berlin, Miami, Hamptons, Napa Valley, AFI Fest, Palm Springs, Thessaloniki Doc, CPH:DOX, Sarasota, Sun Valley, Newport Beach, Montclair

About:
For over eight years, John and Molly Chester find ways to work with nature to establish a biodynamic farm.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Theatres: WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE

Coming to NYC’s Stuart Cinema tomorrow, Saturday, August 17:
WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE

Director:
Emily Harrold

Premiere:
New Orleans 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Hot Springs Doc, Cucalorus, Toronto Black, Oxford,

About:
A portrait of a young African-American politician in the South.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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