Category Archives: Overviews

Big Sky 2020 Overview

Festival:
The 17th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Dates:
February 14-23

About:
Montana’s largest film event presents approximately 45 new and recent documentary features, as well as retrospective work, shorts, and panels. Continue reading

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SXSW 2020: Additional Features Announced

SXSW has announced the remainder of its feature film line-up today, for a total of 135 projects. Following is the list of documentary features just revealed, broken down by section:

Festival Favorites:

I’M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE ME

BE WATER
Director: Bao Nguyen
A layered and intimate portrait of Bruce Lee, an underdog who was able to transcend racism, colonialism, and xenophobia to become one of the most influential cultural figures of our time.

BOYS STATE
Directors: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
A political coming-of-age story examining the health of American democracy through an unusual experiment in which a thousand 17-year-old boys from across Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

CODED BIAS
Director: Shalini Kantayya
MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini makes a startling discovery that most facial recognition does not accurately see dark-skinned faces, spurring her transformation from scientist to tireless advocate to push for first-ever legislation.

FEELS GOOD MAN
Director: Arthur Jones
When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness.

I’M GONNA MAKE YOU LOVE ME
Director: Karen Bernstein
Fellini meets Motown in this story of one man’s search for self-acceptance, a journey that includes tabloid celebrity, Tupperware parties, and two coming outs – first as a straight woman, then as the gay man he was meant to be.

MUCHO MUCHO AMOR
Directors: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch
The iconic, gender non-conforming astrologer Walter Mercado mesmerized Latino viewers with his extravagance and positivity for decades. Then, one day, he vanished from the public eye.

THE REASON I JUMP
Director: Jerry Rothwell
Based on the book by Naoki Higashida, this immersive film explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people around the world.

A THOUSAND CUTS
Director: Ramona S Diaz
A film about the role of journalism and disinformation’s accelerating effect in the erosion of democracy under the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as told through the story of embattled journalist Maria Ressa.

US KIDS
Director: Kim A Snyder
Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland FL catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of youth take back democracy.

Special Events:

HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS

HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
Director/Screenwriter: Donick Cary
The epic story of psychedelics as revealed through the surprising and often hilarious drug trips of celebrity storytellers.

Episodic Pilot Competition:

HOMECOMING: THE JOURNEY OF CARDBOARD

BANANAS
Director: Rachel Anderson, Screenwriters: Rachel Anderson, Mary Duong
A curious and playful look at growing up between two cultures in Queensland – the Sunshine State – with particular focus on food and family, presented by two Australian-born Asian friends who are awkward, honest, and warm in equal parts.

HOMECOMING: THE JOURNEY OF CARDBOARD
Directors: Yuko Shiomaki, Anna Thorson Mayer
Fuyuki Shimazu is an artist and cardboard lover who travels around the world to pick up cardboard he likes.

RACIST TREES
Directors: Sara Newens, Mina T Son
Racial tensions are reignited as a historically Black neighborhood in Palm Springs continues the decades-long fight for the removal of a wall of trees that many believe were originally planted as a totem of segregation.

Documentary Spotlight:

GOOD OL GIRL

AFTER TRUTH: DISINFORMATION AND THE COST OF FAKE NEWS
Director: Andrew Rossi
Capturing the human toll of false news and conspiracies with unprecedented access to figures in the Pizzagate, Seth Rich, Jade Helm, and Alabama special election cases.

GOOD OL GIRL
Director: Sarah Brennan Kolb
A doc western following three modern day cowgirls as they hustle for land, cattle, and respect across Texas.

A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING
Director/Screenwriter: Mary Mazzio
A chronicle of the first African American high school rowing team in this country, made up of young men in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, all literally coming together to row in the same boat.

THE PUSHBACK
Director: Kevin Ford
Two women of color run for public office and fight against decades of institutional racism, redefining what it means to be a Texan.

THE SCHEME
Director: Pat Kondelis
The true story of basketball insider Christian Dawkins, who hustled the FBI in a scandal that threatened to take down the NCAA.

Episodic Premieres:

WE’RE HERE

WE’RE HERE
Director: Peter LoGreco
From creators Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram, this six-part unscripted series recruits small-town residents across America to participate in a one-night-only drag show. Renowned drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley will inspire and teach their own “drag daughters” to step outside their comfort zone for a night of no-holds-barred, full-on drag.

24 Beats Per Second:

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS

DARK CITY BENEATH THE BEAT
Director: TT The Artist
A musical documentary reimagining the narrative of Baltimore, a city rising above social and economic turmoil to develop a vibrant and close-knit community for the arts through its homegrown sound, Baltimore club music.

JOSE FELICIANO: BEHIND THIS GUITAR
Directors/Screenwriters: Frank Licari, Helen Murphy
An official biography of the eight-time Grammy winner and international music icon.

LAUREL CANYON: A PLACE IN TIME
Director: Alison Ellwood
Pulling back the curtain on a mythical world, this film provides an up-close look at the lives of the musicians who inhabited it. It paints an intimate portrait of the artists who created a music revolution that would change popular culture.

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS
Director: Lisa Rovner
The remarkable untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers, composers who embraced machines and their liberating technologies to utterly transform how we produce and listen to music today.

Global:

THE MYSTERY OF THE PINK FLAMINGO

THE MYSTERY OF THE PINK FLAMINGO
Director: Javier Polo, Screenwriters: Javier Polo, Sixto Xavier García
A square sound engineer employs unusual research efforts to reveal the secrets behind the quintessential icon of kitsch, the Pink Flamingo. His bizarre adventure will unexpectedly turn into a creative journey to self-discovery.

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Documentary Fortnight 2020 Overview

Festival:
The 19th Documentary Fortnight

Dates:
February 5-19

About:
This year’s edition of MoMA’s annual nonfiction showcase presents more than 30 new and recent features, hybrids, shorts, VR, and performances. Continue reading

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Slamdance 2020: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 26th Slamdance Film Festival

Dates:
January 24-30

About:
This scrappy Park City event includes 14 docs among its 27 features, an increase over last year’s edition. Continue reading

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SXSW 2020: Features Lineup Announced

SXSW announced the first part of the 2020 feature film and episodic line-up today, a total of 102 projects. Following is the list of nonfiction features and episodics so far, broken down by section:

Headliners:

BEASTIE BOYS STORY

Big names, big talent.

BEASTIE BOYS STORY
Director: Spike Jonze
Beastie Boys’ Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz tell an intimate, personal story of their band and 40 years of friendship in this live documentary experience directed by their longtime friend and collaborator, and their former grandfather, filmmaker Spike Jonze.

LA ORIGINALS​
Director: Estevan Oriol
An exploration of the culture and landmarks of the chicano and street art movement that cemented Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol’s status as behind-the-scenes hip hop legends.

Documentary Feature Competition:

LIGHTS CAMERA UGANDA


Real world stories that demonstrate innovation, energy, and bold voices.

THE BOY WHO SOLD THE WORLD
Director: Adam Barton
At age 15, Ben Pasternak dropped out of high school and moved to NYC. Leaving behind his family in Australia, Ben sacrificed his childhood to pursue his dream of changing the world through innovation. But things didn’t quite go according to plan.

BULLETPROOF
Director: Todd Chandler
What does it mean to be safe in school in the United States? Safe from what, and from whom? BULLETPROOF​ poses and complicates these questions through a provocative exploration of fear and American violence.

THE DONUT KING
Director: Alice Gu
The rise, fall, and rise again of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself and hundreds of other immigrant families by baking America’s favorite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops.

AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Director: Katrine Philp
At Good Grief in New Jersey, groups of children meet to understand the passing of a parent or a sibling through play. Death may come suddenly or slowly, violently or peacefully, but it leaves a pain that the child has never felt before.

FINDING YINGYING
Director: Jiayan “Jenny” Shi
After a young Chinese student is kidnapped on a university campus, her family travels to the US for the first time, first hoping to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, and then to seek justice, find closure, and reclaim their daughter.

FOR MADMEN ONLY
Director: Heather Ross
Del Close, the hidden architect of modern comedy, sets out to smash open the creative process by writing an autobiographical comic book.

KENNY SCHARF: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Directors: Malia Scharf, Max Basch
Kenny Scharf is surveyed through the eyes of his daughter — revealing a private struggle for identity and acceptance through the ups and downs of a prolific career driven by a passion for making his fantastical inner worlds a very public reality.

LIGHTS CAMERA UGANDA
Directors: Cathryne Czubek, Hugo Perez
When “Africa’s Tarantino” casts a New York film nerd as his next action hero, it’s the beginning of a friendship that makes their no-budget studio world famous. But as their success grows, tensions flare and threaten everything they built.

RED HEAVEN
Directors: Lauren DeFilippo, Katherine Gorringe
Six people live for a year on “Mars” in a NASA experiment studying what happens to humans when they are isolated from Earth.

WE DON’T DESERVE DOGS
Director: Matthew Salleh
A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives. People need dogs, and perhaps they need us, but what do humans do to deserve the unconditional love they provide?

Documentary Spotlight:

9TO5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT


Shining a light on new documentary features.

9TO5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT
Directors: Julia Reichert, Steve Bognar
In the 1970s, America’s secretaries took to the streets, fed up with on-the-job abuse. They created a movement called 9to5, which later inspired Jane Fonda to make a movie and Dolly Parton to write a song. This is the untold story of their fight.

THE ALPINIST
Directors: Peter Mortimer, Nicholas Rosen
An elusive young climber explores the limits of solo mountaineering.

AND WE GO GREEN
Directors: Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville
Professional drivers on the international Formula E circuit race for victory across 10 cities in this white-knuckle documentary from filmmaker Malcolm Venville, Oscar-winning director Fisher Stevens (THE COVE), and producer Leonardo DiCaprio.

BABY GOD
Director: Hannah Olson
For more than 30 years, Dr Quincy Fortier covertly used his own sperm to inseminate his fertility patients. Now his secret is out. ​BABY GOD follows his children as they seek the truth about his motives and try to make sense of their own identities.

CLERK
Director: Malcolm Ingram
A documentary on the career of filmmaker and raconteur Kevin Smith.

CONSOLE WARS
Directors: Jonah Tulis, Blake J Harris
In 1990, Sega assembled a team of misfits to take on the greatest video game company in the world, Nintendo. ​CONSOLE WARS​ goes behind the scenes to meet the men and women who fought for both sides in this epic battle that defined a generation.

CRAZY, NOT INSANE
Director: Alex Gibney
Dr Dorothy Lewis is a psychiatrist who’s spent her career examining violent people. Through the use of chilling never-before-seen inmate interviews, ​CRAZY, NOT INSANE​ looks into the mind of a killer in an attempt to understand why people kill.

THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE
Director: Maria Finitzo
THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the clash between the external power of gender politics and the equally powerful imperative of female sexual desire. How different would the world look if women’s libidos were taken as seriously as men’s?

HAMTRAMCK, USA
Directors: Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman
Through the exploration of daily life and democracy in America’s first Muslim-majority city, HAMTRAMCK, USA examines the benefits and tensions of multiculturalism.

HOOD RIVER
Director: Steven Cantor
In a small Oregon community, a high school soccer team struggles to overcome class and racial divide in a quest for team success. They are torn between their individual commitment to the team and the expectations of the town itself.

INSERT COIN
Director: Joshua Tsui
The oral history of a team of geeks and misfits in the back of a Chicago factory creating the biggest video games (​MORTAL KOMBAT,​ ​NBA JAM​, and others) of all time.

M FOR MAGIC
Director: Alexis Manya Spraic
M FOR MAGIC is the never-told story of the royal family of magic – four generations of the legendary Larsen family – and their tireless endeavor to save the art of magic with a private club for magicians – the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.

ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES
Director: Yemi Bamiro
ONE MAN AND HIS SHOES tells the story of Air Jordan sneakers, depicting their social, cultural, and racial significance, showing how ground-breaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion-dollar business.

A SECRET LOVE
Director: Chris Bolan
A moving and triumphant love story about two trailblazing women who break barriers and conventional norms, coming out to their conservative families as they face the difficulties of aging.

WE ARE AS GODS
Directors: Jason Sussberg, David Alvarado
“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” Stewart Brand wrote in ‘68. The legendary pioneer of LSD, cyberspace, futurism, and modern environmentalism now urges people to use our god-like powers to fight extinction by reviving lost species.

YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE
Directors: David Darg, Price James
In 2000, actor David Arquette infamously became the world wrestling champion as a promotion for his movie ​READY TO RUMBLE. He wasn’t prepared for the backlash. 20 years later, Arquette seeks redemption by returning to the ring… for real this time.

Visions:

TFW NO GF


Audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape who demonstrate raw innovation and creativity.

CRESTONE
Director: Marnie Ellen Hertzle
In the desert of Crestone, Colorado, a group of SoundCloud rappers live in solitude, growing weed and making music for the internet. When an old friend arrives to make a movie, reality and fiction begin to blur.

ECHOES OF THE INVISIBLE
Director: Steve Elkins
Daring explorers embark upon seemingly impossible journeys into the most extreme environments on Earth to find the connective tissue between all things seen and unseen.

IN & OF ITSELF
Director: Frank Oz
Storyteller and conceptual magician Derek DelGaudio attempts to understand the illusory nature of identity and answer one deceptively simple question: Who am I?​

TFW NO GF
Director: Alex Lee Moyer
A generation of disaffected young men searches for meaning in the dark corners of the internet. TFW NO GF​ offers an intimate portrait of five such individuals- as shared through the metaphor of an iconic meme.

Episodic Premieres:

CURSED FILMS

Prestige serials.

CURSED FILMS
Showrunner: Jay Cheel
CURSED FILMS is a five-part documentary series which explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously cursed horror film productions.

HOME
Showrunners: Doug Prey and Matt Weaver
HOME​ is a nine-part series that explores extraordinary interpretations of domestic architecture and the concept of “home.” The first season features homes in six different countries and was filmed in eight countries and 16 cities around the world.

OUTCRY
Showrunner: ​Pat Kondelis
In a small Texan town in 2014, star football player, Greg Kelley, was convicted of a child sexual assault case. In an outpour of support, his community bands together to prove his innocence and rectify a crime that ruined lives.

24 Beats Per Second:

ZAPPA


Showcasing the sounds, culture, and influence of music and musicians.

AMERICAN RAPSTAR
Director: Justin Staple
AMERICAN RAPSTAR chronicles the rise of a subculture of young rappers who utilized the SoundCloud streaming platform to disrupt the traditional norms of the music industry with their distinct self expression and rebellious approach.

BIOGRAPHY: THE NINE LIVES OF OZZY OSBOURNE
Director: R Greg Johnston
A&E’s BIOGRAPHY: THE NINE LIVES OF OZZY OSBOURNE celebrates the life of rock icon and godfather of heavy metal Ozzy Osbourne and features interviews with Sharon Osbourne, Rick Rubin, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Jonathan Davis, and Post Malone.

LYDIA LUNCH: THE WAR IS NEVER OVER
Director: Beth B
The first career-spanning documentary retrospective of Lydia Lunch’s confrontational, acerbic, and always electric music and art.

THE MOJO MANIFESTO: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOJO NIXON
Director: Matt Eskey
On a bicycle trip across the country, a young Neill Kirby McMillan Jr experiences The Mojo Revelation. After teaming up with the enigmatic Skid Roper, he unexpectedly finds mainstream success but makes a decision that could jeopardize his career.

MY DARLING VIVIAN
Director: Matt Riddlehoover
Tracing the dizzying journey of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Featuring unseen footage and photographs, the film was produced by Dustin Tittle, Vivian and Johnny’s grandson.

ROCKFIELD: THE STUDIO ON THE FARM
Director: Hannah Berryman
The unlikely tale of two Welsh brothers who turned their dairy farm into one of the most successful recording studios of all time. This is a story of rock and roll dreams intertwined with a family business’ fight for survival.

TOMBOY
Director: Lindsay Lindenbaum
TOMBOY shines a light on four women drummers in a field that was once the exclusive domain of men. The narratives of these trailblazing musicians interweave, launching a dialogue on gender and artistry which extends far beyond the musical sphere.

WE ARE THE THOUSAND
Director: Anita Rivaroli
Fan of rock music Fabio wants to convince the Foo Fighters to perform in his little village in Italy. To do that he gathered 1,000 musicians to play their song together… He created a huge community who became the biggest rock band on Earth.

WITHOUT GETTING KILLED OR CAUGHT
Directors: Tamara Saviano, Paul Whitfield
Guy Clark, the dean of Texas songwriters, struggles to write poetic songs while balancing a complicated marriage with wife Susanna, and a deep friendship with legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt, on whom Susanna forges a passionate dependence.

ZAPPA
Director: Alex Winter
The first all-access documentary on the life and times of Frank Zappa.

Global:
A diverse selection of international filmmaking talent.

LA MAMI
Director: Laura Herrero Garvín
Night after night, La Mami, in charge of the women’s restroom at the mythical Cabaret Barba Azul offers care to the women who work there dancing.

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New York Jewish Film Festival 2020: Documentary Overview

FOUR WINTERS: A STORY OF JEWISH PARTISAN RESISTANCE AND BRAVERY IN WWII

Festival:
The 29th New York Jewish Film Festival

Dates:
January 15-28

About:
This collaboration between Film at Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum presents 9 documentary features among its 20 new feature offerings. Continue reading

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Sundance 2020: Additional Feature Programming Announced

This post is a pointer to the fourth lineup announcement for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Additional selections in the Documentary Premieres and From the Collection sections have just been announced and may be found here.

Previous lineup announcements include the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, NEXT, Documentary Premieres, Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, and Kids sections, as well as the Indie Episodic, Special Events, and Shorts lineups, and New Frontier.

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