Category Archives: Documentary

On TV: FEELS GOOD MAN

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, October 19:
FEELS GOOD MAN

Director:
Arthur Jones

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
True/False, SXSW, Big Sky Doc, Taipei, Fantasia, Sidewalk, Kyiv

About:
An exploration of the unpredictable development of an influential Internet meme.

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

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In Theatres & In Virtual Release: BELLY OF THE BEAST

Coming to select theatres and to virtual cinema today, Friday, October 16:
BELLY OF THE BEAST

Director:
Erika Cohn

World Premiere:
Human Rights Watch NYC 2020

Select Festivals:
Mill Valley, Heartland, Double Exposure, Cucalorus, Rocky Mountain Women’s

About:
A woman sterilized without her consent while in prison teams with a dedicated attorney to stop the process.

When Kelli Dillon was serving time in a Californian prison for defending herself and her children from an abusive partner, she was misdiagnosed with cervical cancer. Without her consent, the treatment included the removal of her uterus. Soon, she found that this was neither an unfortunate error nor a unique case, but instead a common experience for other female inmates, particularly for other women of color. Working with attorney and activist Cynthia Chandler, Kelli fights to expose and prevent the illegal practice. Delving into America’s disturbing history of eugenics and the continued inhumane treatment of prisoners, Erika Cohn’s film profiles the hurdles still faced by those seeking to prevent racial and reproductive injustice.

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In Virtual Release: THIS IS NOT A MOVIE

Coming to virtual cinemas today, Friday, October 16:
THIS IS NOT A MOVIE

Director:
Yung Chang

World Premiere:
Toronto 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Palm Springs, Docs Against Gravity

About:
A portrait of legendary foreign correspondent Robert Fisk.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (UP THE YANGTZE) profiles the legendary Middle East journalist Robert Fisk, known for his books PITY THE NATION and THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION. Now in his 70s, Fisk remains vital and intrepid. The film follows him on contemporary reporting missions from Syria to Bosnia, while also looking back on the incomparable career that brought him face to face with Osama Bin Laden and virtually every other historic figure in the region.

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NewFest 2020: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 32nd NewFest

Dates:
October 16-27

About:
About a third of the features screening at this year’s hybrid online/drive-in edition of New York’s LGBTQ film festival are documentaries.

Continue reading

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On VOD: TIME

Coming to Amazon Prime tomorrow, Friday, October 16:
TIME

Director:
Garrett Bradley

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
New York, London, Hamptons, Miami, Zurich, Camden, Mill Valley

About:
A longitudinal portrait of a marriage and a family separated by incarceration.

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

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On DVD: SILICONE SOUL

New to DVD this week:
SILICONE SOUL

Director:
Melody Gilbert

World Premiere:
Thessaloniki Doc 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, One World, Fargo, SF DocFest, Minneapolis-St Paul, Sofia, BendFilm, Chagrin Doc, AmDocs, DocuWest

About:
Profiles of individuals who have developed attachments to lifelike dolls.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: THE DISRUPTED

New to VOD this week:
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.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: THE DOG DOC

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 13:
THE DOG DOC

Director:
Cindy Meehl

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Boulder, Palm Springs, Sedona, St Louis, Hot Springs Doc, Heartland, Mill Valley, Berkshire

About:
A portrait of a pioneering alternative holistic veterinarian.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Virtual Release & On VOD: TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL

Coming to virtual cinemas and to VOD today, Tuesday, October 13:
TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL

Director:
Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger

World Premiere:
Drive-in engagements (October 2020)

About:
A thorough investigation of the failures of the US government to properly manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Synthesizing the detection, spread, and failed response to COVID-19 over the past nine months in a surprisingly cogent and relatively concise manner, Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger’s film, released less then a month before the US presidential election, has an obvious urgency and mission: to rightfully hold the Trump administration to task. While unlikely to reach, much less convince, die-hard MAGA supporters, one hopes that it may have some impact on those who are either on the fence or potentially considering avoiding the polls. While the film is crystal clear in its criticism of the administration, it backs up its arguments with legitimate science and facts, delivered by actual pandemic experts and whistleblowers, creating a sharp contrast with the federal government’s pandemic response: denial and dismissal of science, management by political yes-men with no scientific expertise, passing the buck to either the Obama administration or to state governments, and sowing misinformation, including unfounded pseudo-science. While those who have been closely following the unfolding story of the pandemic may already know much of what is onscreen, the film’s careful organization of every misstep and deliberate obfuscation allows for focused concentration in contrast to the dizzying news cycle we’ve grown accustomed to over the past seven months. It’s an infuriating watch, and that’s the point.

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On DVD: HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 13:
HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Directors:
Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Big Sky Doc, San Francisco, Cleveland

About:
An exploration of the groundbreaking animated series and its controversial creator.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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