Category Archives: Documentary

Camden 2020 Overview

Festival:
The 16th Camden International Film Festival

Dates:
October 1-12

About:
This Maine nonfiction event, delayed from its typical September dates by the pandemic, returns with a hybrid format of online and drive-in offerings of just over 30 documentary features. Continue reading

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On DVD/VOD: URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN

New to DVD/VOD this week:
URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN

Director:
Daniel Traub

World Premiere:
Vancouver 2019

Select Festivals:
Berkshire, Architecture Design Art, Hamptons Doc

About:
A portrait of the noted sculptor.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, September 29:
HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Director:
Gero von Boehm

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

About:
A portrait of the often controversial fashion photographer.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE

Coming to DVD tody, Tuesday, September 29:
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE

Director:
Dawn Porter

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

About:
A wide-ranging look at the life, activism, and political career of the esteemed civil rights icon.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: I’M LEAVING NOW (YA ME VOY)

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 29:
I’M LEAVING NOW (YA ME VOY)

Directors:
Lindsey Cordero and Armando Croda

Premiere:
Hot Docs 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, DocsMx, Morelia

About:
An undocumented Mexican immigrant faces the limits of self-sacrifice.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: OUR TIME MACHINE

Coming to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, September 28:
OUR TIME MACHINE

Directors:
S Leo Chiang and Yang Sun

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, IDFA, CAAMFest, Palm Springs, Doc Edge, Guth Gafa, LA Asian Pacific, Salem, Indie Street

About:
An artist constructs an elaborate puppet play to explore his father’s fading memories.

As his father, Ma Ke, struggles with memory loss due to Alzheimer’s, Shanghai artist Maleonn begins an autobiographical artistic collaboration with both of his parents. Though they suffered from the Cultural Revolution, both had successful careers in the arts – Maleonn’s mother, Zheng Wei Tong, as an actress, and Ma Ke as an opera director for prestigious institutions in both Beijing and Shanghai. In his own practice, Maleonn fuses a range of disciplines, from remarkably lifelike, life-sized puppets and shadow theatre to mechanical engineering and photography, to create an ambitious project conceived as a “time machine” to revisit moments from his father’s past. With sensitivity, filmmakers S Leo Chiang and Yang Sun follow the parallel, interconnected stories of the development of the project, with all of its behind-the-scene dramas and problems, and Maleonn’s personal drive to connect with his father before Ma Ke’s disease robs them of that ability.

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On TV: JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE

Coming to CNN this Sunday, September 27:
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE

Director:
Dawn Porter

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

About:
A wide-ranging look at the life, activism, and political career of the esteemed civil rights icon.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres & In Virtual Release: OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES

Coming to select theatres and to virtual cinemas today, Friday, September 25:
OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES

Director:
Laura Gabbert

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Sedona, Hot Springs Doc, Florida

About:
Renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi assembles a confectionary tribute to Versailles for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On the occasion of the Met’s 2018 “Visitors to Versailles” exhibition, the museum commissioned the famed Israeli-born Ottolenghi to explore the food culture of the court between 1682-1789. To realize the task, he recruits an international troupe of patissiers to showcase their innovative approaches to desserts: cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, Daniel’s Ghaya Oliveira, social media sensations Bompas and Parr, edible art-maker Janice Wong, and architect-turned-cake maker Dinara Kasko. Filmmaker Laura Gabbert follows these culinary dynamos as they contend with logistical challenges to pull off their impressive creations, while providing audiences with the ever-excited Ottolenghi’s exploration of French history through food. While the film largely leaves out larger considerations of the class disparities that led to the French Revolution and the end of Versailles, that’s not something one should really expect from a lighter, arts-focused project like this one.

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In Virtual Release: THE DISRUPTED

Coming to virtual cinemas tomorrow, Friday, September 25:
THE DISRUPTED

Director:
Sarah Colt

Co-Director:
Josh Gleason

World Premiere:
DOK.fest Munich 2020

Select Festivals:
Mountainfilm, Woods Hole

About:
A portrait of three working class individuals facing disruption and change in their economic situations.

Filmmakers Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason explore the lives of working Americans in this engaging project following three wholly separate but thematically related strands. Pete, a Latino father in Ohio, is laid off when his factory shuts down, losing a union job that helped him turn his life around, and putting strain on his marriage. In Florida, Cheryl turns to driving for Uber and Lyft after losing an 18 year career as a mortgage broker, but finds the competition cutthroat and her income meager. Donn is a fifth generation Kansas farmer who faces the reality that he’s not able to make a living any more, putting the fate of the family farm in jeopardy. While a subdued film – and an oddly but likely deliberately apolitical one – it’s an honest portrait of working class survival and resilience.

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On TV: FANDANGO AT THE WALL

Coming to HBO Latino tomorrow, Friday, September 25:
FANDANGO AT THE WALL

Director:
Varda Bar-Kar

World Premiere:
Cinequest 2020

Select Festivals:
Heartland, Calgary, San Diego Latino, Atlanta, Florida, Cleveland

About:
Afro Latin jazz musicians from NYC unite with Mexican musicians to stage a small simultaneous concert on both sides of the US/Mexico border wall.

Varda Bar-Bar’s slight film follows its producer, Kabir Sehgal, who unites with Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s Arturo O’Farrill to travel around Veracruz Mexico to identify and profile musicians who specialize in the region’s local son jarocho folk music tradition. They gather these and other musicians to stage a unifying concert – a fandango – on both sides of the border, then take the concert to other cities, notably NYC, where the bulk of the performance footage was filmed. Of interest chiefly for fans of the profiled music, the doc suffers from a repetitive, survey structure that makes the proceedings feel far too long.

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