Category Archives: Film Festivals

Traverse City 2016: Documentary Overview

Traverse-City-Film-Festival-2016Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival opens tomorrow, Tuesday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 31. The 12th edition of the event has generated headlines for championing the visibility of women filmmakers by including only female-helmed or co-helmed works in its competition sections, and cheekily naming a male-directed out-of-competition sidebar “Men Make Movies – The Struggle Continues.” In total, more than a hundred new and recent features will screen at the event, with about half representing documentaries. The well-curated event curates much of its lineup from larger festivals like Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, and Tribeca, but also includes a few world premieres or lesser-know titles, such as the films noted below:

generation_startup_NEWThe US documentary competition includes the debut of Kamala Lopez’s EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, which looks at the current state of gender inequality, while the international competition features the North American premiere of Yacine Brahem, Dario Cerruti, and Laurent Negre’s hybrid CONFUSION, about the extradition of a Guantanamo prisoner to Switzerland. Appearing in the Premieres section are the first screenings of Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser’s GENERATION STARTUP (pictured), a look at several young entrepreneurs trying to make a go of it in Detroit; Jesse Nesser’s WALK WITH ME: THE TRIALS OF DAMON J KEITH, about a 94-year-old janitor-turned-federal judge; and Bob Apisa’s MEN OF SPARTA, on Michigan State University’s pioneering integrated 1960s football team. The fest’s Avant Garde section includes Alexandra Cuesta’s TERRITORIO, an immersive exploration of the filmmaker’s Ecuador. Finally, the event wraps with closing night film CONCERTO: A BEETHOVEN JOURNEY, Phil Grabsky’s chronicle of an acclaimed pianist’s three-year international quest to master several of the German composer’s concertos.

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On DVD: THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER

russian woodpeckerComing to DVD next Tuesday, July 26: THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER

Chad Gracia’s investigation into the truth behind Chernobyl had its world premiere at Sundance last year, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Screenings followed at Nantucket, BAMcinemaFest, AFI Docs, Milwaukee, Zurich, and Sydney, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Asian American International Film Festival 2016: Documentary Overview

BANNER1-finalNew York City’s Asian American International Film Festival returns for its 39th edition starting tonight, Thursday, July 21. By the time the event wraps on Saturday, July 30, it will present approximately 30 new features, including a dozen documentaries, in addition to shorts, panels, and special retrospective screenings.

Jolin-740x416Among the nonfiction programming are the international premiere of Ng Xi Jie’s SINGAPORE MINSTREL, a portrait of a street busker and his environment; as well as the NYC debuts of Siyan Liu and Danni Wang’s JOLIN (pictured), about a young Chinese country girl turned factory worker turned sex worker; Pamela Tom’s TYRUS, a profile of a centenarian Chinese-born visual artist; Michael Siv’s DAZE OF JUSTICE, a personal film about the Khmer Rouge trials; and Ben Wang’s BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY, about a former convict turned prison reformer. Also screening at the festival is Haito Guo’s BRIGHT SUN MANSION, which follows a Peking Opera master as he tries to keep his art form’s tradition alive in New York City.

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In Theatres & On VOD: THE BLACKOUT EXPERIMENTS

blackoutComing to theatres and to VOD tomorrow, Friday, July 22: THE BLACKOUT EXPERIMENTS

Rich Fox’s exploration of an infamous horror experience made its debut at Sundance this year. It has screened at genre/horror events since, and now becomes available through Gravitas.

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

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Special Screening: SONITA

sonitaComing to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Wednesday, July 20: SONITA

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s look at a teenage girl’s unlikely hip-hop aspirations debuted at IDFA, where it claimed an audience award. It came stateside at Sundance, where it claimed both the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, and has also screened at Nantucket, Cleveland, True/False, Montclair, Sydney, AFI Docs, and the Human Rights Watch fests, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD: OJ: MADE IN AMERICA

ojComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, July 19: OJ: MADE IN AMERICA

Ezra Edelman’s expansive look at OJ Simpson had its world premiere at Sundance this year. The film also screened at Hot Docs, Tribeca, and the Freep Film Festival before its broadcast debut last month.

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

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In Theatres: HOOLIGAN SPARROW

hooliganComing to Made in New York Media Center as part of IFP Screen Forward starting tomorrow, Friday, July 15: HOOLIGAN SPARROW

Nanfu Wang’s profile of an embattled human rights activist premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The film has gone on to screen at Nantucket, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Sheffield, Cleveland, Human Rights Watch, Nashville, Dallas, One World, Thessaloniki Doc, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, Documenta Madrid, Encounters, and the upcoming Traverse City fests.

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

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