Category Archives: Documentary

On VOD: UNDERPLAYED

Coming to Amazon Prime Video today, Monday, March 8:
UNDERPLAYED

Director:
Stacey Lee

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
Toronto, Glasgow, Dublin, Athena

About:
An exploration of gender inequality in the electronic music world.

Electronic dance music, or EDM, has long been wildly popular around the world, attracting millions of fans, particularly at concert and festivals. As demonstrated in Stacey Lee’s illuminating and well-produced film, however, it has been overwhelmingly dominated by straight white men – despite the contributions of women and people of color both historically and in the present day. Focusing primarily on gender inequality, the doc offers significant statistical and anecdotal evidence to show how women have rarely been booked at festivals or recognized on tastemakers’ lists, perpetuating a chauvinistic, self-fulfilling status quo cycle of marginalization. Lee’s project is decidedly survey in approach, which permits her to profile a broad range of female DJs, performers, and pioneers, but at the same time limits her to only providing brief sketches when some figures clamor for more development. Still, the project fulfills its mission as an informative call to action, for the already converted and the uninitiated alike.

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On VOD: 63 UP

Coming to VOD via Britbox tomorrow, Tuesday, March 9:
63 UP

Director:
Michael Apted

World Premiere:
ITV (British TV, June 2019)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, New York, Telluride, Mill Valley, Vancouver, Heartland

About:
The latest installment of the longest-running documentary project in history.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Tempo Documentary Festival 2021 Overview

Festival:
The 22nd Tempo Documentary Festival

Dates:
March 8-14

About:
Approximately two dozen new and recent features are presented in Sweden’s largest nonfiction event, which is presented online this year.

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In Theatres/Virtual Release & On VOD: STRAY

Coming to select theatres, virtual cinemas, and VOD today, Friday, March 5:
STRAY

Director:
Elizabeth Lo

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Hot Docs, London, Bergen, RIDM, Stockholm, San Diego Asian

About:
A dogs’-eye view of Istanbul.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
In Istanbul, stray dogs are an everyday part of the fabric of the community, belonging to no one and everyone at the same time. Among them are the expressive, independent Zeytin; the friendly Nazar; and the shy puppy, Kartal. But the Turkish city is home to human strays as well, as Zeytin and her friends bond with a trio of young Syrian refugees. Elizabeth Lo’s assured feature debut tracks the canines through the city’s streets, capturing their experiences and generating deep empathy without resorting to simple anthropomorphism.

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In Theatres: WELCOME TO CHECHNYA

Coming to the newly re-opened IFC Center as part of its What’d We Miss? series tomorrow, Saturday, March 6:
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA

Director:
David France

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Berlin, True/False, One World, Miami, CPH:DOX, Hot Docs, Thessaloniki Doc, Sheffield, Human Rights Watch

Notable Recognition:
The doc has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
An exposé of Chechnya’s state-sanctioned policy to rid Chechnya of LGBTQ+ individuals.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Theatres (Redux): COLLECTIVE

Coming to the newly re-opened IFC Center as part of its What’d We Miss? series today, Friday, March 5:
COLLECTIVE

Director:
Alexander Nanau

World Premiere:
Venice 2019

Select Festivals:
Sundance, DOC NYC, Toronto, IDFA, Zurich, Goteborg, Thessaloniki Doc, Docaviv, Docs Against Gravity, Docville, Moscow, Hamptons, Montclair

Notable Recognition:
The doc has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
An investigation reveals disturbing corruption in Romanian state agencies following a fatal nightclub fire in Bucharest.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Virtual Release: FTA

Coming to virtual cinema via Kino Marquee tomorrow, Friday, March 5:
FTA

Director:
Francine Parker

World Premiere:
Theatrical release (July 1972)

About:
A chronicle of the controversial anti-Vietnam War political vaudeville tour of American military bases, fronted by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland.

Restored and re-presented with a new introduction by Jane Fonda providing essential context, Francine Parker’s scrappy if somewhat shambolic film initially ran for only a week in its original release before public outrage removed it from theatres. The doc follows the FTA show – its initials standing for either “Free the Army” or “Fuck the Army,” depending on how riled up the performers got – a 1970s agitprop collective that was developed to support the sizeable and growing voice of anti-war soldiers. Obviously unable to play on military bases, the tour instead performed in towns just outside, drawing servicemen and women with explicitly anti-war messages – a deliberate alternative to Bob Hope’s jingoistic – and often sexist – USO tours. Parker’s film alternates between footage of the skits, songs, and spoken word performances by the likes of Fonda, Sutherland, Holly Near, and, especially, folk singer/civil rights activist Len Chandler, with vox pop interviews with disgruntled and straight-talking soldiers. Speaking frankly, as a film, it’s all a bit messy, but there’s no denying its energy and power, making the project and its reissue a worthwhile reminder of the activism that sprung up around the deeply unpopular Vietnam War – and the pivotal influence active military played in the anti-war movement.

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In Theatres (Redux): MLK/FBI

Coming to the newly re-opened IFC Center as part of its What’d We Miss? series tomorrow, Friday, March 5:
MLK/FBI

Director:
Sam Pollard

World Premiere:
Toronto 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, New York, Chicago, IDFA

Notable Recognition:
The doc has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
An exposé of the FBI’s adversarial relationship to the Civil Rights leader.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS

Coming to select theatres tomorrow, Friday, March 5:
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS

Director:
Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York, San Sebastian, Zurich, Hamptons, Mill Valley, El Gouna, Aspen, Taipei Golden Horse, Thessaloniki Doc, Stockholm, Singapore

Notable Recognition:
The doc has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
Enter the secretive world of the only people–and dogs–who are able to find the elusive white Alba truffle, the most expensive ingredient in the world.

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

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Miami 2021: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 38th Miami Film Festival

Dates:
March 5-14

About:
This popular Florida event adopts a hybrid online and in-person model this year, and screens just over a dozen doc features or series among its approximately 50 features.

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