Category Archives: Documentary

On TV: REAL BOY

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens today, Monday, June 19:
REAL BOY

Director:
Shaleece Haas

Premiere:
BFI Flare 2016

Select Festivals:
IFF Boston, Woodstock, United Nations Association, Inside Out, Frameline, Outfest, NewFest, LGBT fests in Sydney, Rio, Philadelphia, Dublin, Oslo, Austin, Portland, Lisbon, and Vancouver

About:
A mother navigates the personal impact of her transgender teen’s transition to male.

Haas tells the story of Bennett, born Rachel, whose struggle over his gender identity led to drug and alcohol addiction at an early age. Over several years, the film follows Bennett as he makes his transition to fully embrace his male identity, and, importantly, simultaneously tracks his mother’s initial confusion and resistance to losing her daughter as this gives way to acceptance and an embrace of her son. This aspect of the project helps to offset the overly familiar Trans 101 conventions of the transitioning doc – scenes of starting hormones, coming out to friends and family, beginning to demonstrate secondary sex characteristics, etc. Haas also tries to distinguish her film by focusing on Bennett’s music career, but its used to such an extent that it stops feeling organic and starts feeling overtly promotional. Still, the filmmaker has found compelling subjects in the son and mother, and crafted a solid coming of age and coming to terms portrait.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

In Theatres & On VOD: HEARING IS BELIEVING

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, June 16 and to VOD this coming Tuesday, June 20:
HEARING IS BELIEVING

Director:
Lorenzo DeStefano

Premiere:
Hawaii 2016

About:
A portrait of Rachel Flowers, a blind musical prodigy.

Flowers was born more than three months premature, which soon cost her her vision. Her parents recognized and nurtured an affinity for music, providing formal training and encouraging her exploration of different instrument instruments, singing, and composing. After the young musician began posting videos to YouTube, she developed a fanbase and began performing around the country. While Flowers is likeable, DeStafano’s clunky film is a largely structureless project that spends the bulk of its running time following its protagonist to a series of unremarkable performances and school visits before eventually culminating in a guest performance during a Dweezil Zappa Las Vegas show.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

In Theatres: F(L)AG FOOTBALL

Coming to theatres today, Friday, June 16:
F(L)AG FOOTBALL

Director:
Seth Greenleaf

Premiere:
Ft Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival 2014

Select Festivals:
Phoenix, BendFilm

About:
Profiles of three gay flag football teams as they prepare for the championships.

In Greenleaf’s film, teams from New York City, Los Angeles, and to a much lesser degree, Phoenix, train to claim the championship title of the National Gay Flag Football League. The focus is primarily on New York, whose team lost their captain – and a three-year winning streak – to the Los Angeles team. As their new coach, a former NFL pro, sets out to prove himself and reclaim the title, players reveal their backgrounds and speak to the importance of the game in providing a space for gay men to embrace sports and masculinity. While fairly conventional in approach, and saddled with an ill-thought out title and an excess of subjects, the doc does counter stereotypes about gay men and sports.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

In Theatres: SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, June 16:
SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

Director:
Matt Schrader

Premiere:
Hamptons 2016

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Denver, Hawaii, Santa Barbara, CPH:DOX, RiverRun, Dallas, Cleveland, Ashland, San Francisco, Nashville, deadCENTER

About:
An inside look at the art of the film score.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Music is an integral part of most films, adding emotion and nuance while often remaining invisible to audiences. Matt Schrader shines a spotlight on the overlooked craft of film composing, gathering many of the art form’s most influential practitioners, from Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman to Quincy Jones and Randy Newman, to uncover their creative process. Tracing key developments in the evolution of music in film, and exploring some of cinema’s most iconic soundtracks, Sxchrader’s doc is an aural valentine for film lovers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

Frameline 2017: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 41st Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival

Dates:
June 15-25

About:
The world’s oldest LGBT film festival presents two dozen documentaries among its more than 60 features. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

On VOD: TICKLING GIANTS

tickling-giants-3New to VOD this week:
TICKLING GIANTS

Director:
Sara Taksler

Premiere:
Tribeca 2016

Select Festivals:
BFI London, Just for Laughs, Bergen, Vancouver, DocPoint, Glasgow, Big Sky Doc, Stockholm, Salem, Human Rights Watch London and Toronto, Movies That Matter, Cleveland

About:
A heart surgeon-turned-comedian tests the limits of free speech in post-Mubarak Egypt.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

On DVD: MY OWN MAN

New to DVD this week:
MY OWN MAN

Director:
David Sampliner

Premiere:
Tribeca 2014

Select Festivals:
San Francisco and Boston Jewish fests, Big Eddy, LA’s ArcLight Documentary series

About:
A personal exploration of what it means to be a man.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases