Category Archives: Overviews

Slamdance 2017: Documentary Overview

slamdanceThe 23rd edition of the Slamdance Film Festival runs this Friday, January 20 through next Thursday, January 26. The event offers just over two dozen features to compete with its higher-profile neighbor, Sundance, among them the below ten doc features:

the-children-send-their-regards-program-film-still-02_600Making their world premiere are: Cullen Hoback’s WHAT LIES UPSTREAM, following the filmmaker’s investigation into drinking water contamination; Stephen Richardson’s BOGALUSA CHARM, a portrait of a Louisiana charm school; Patricia Josefine Marchart’s THE CHILDREN SEND THEIR REGARDS (pictured), about now adult victims of clergy sexual abuse; Scott Drucker and Yu Gu’s WHO IS ARTHUR CHU?, a profile of a JEOPARDY winner-turned-cultural critic; Michael Rubenstone’s ON THE SLY: IN SEARCH OF THE FAMILY STONE, about the filmmaker’s ill-fated quest to track down the reclusive musician; and Stefan Avalos’ STRAD STYLE, which follows a man’s attempt to reproduce a Stradivari violin.

the_modern_jungle-5x7-3_600Charles Fairbanks and Saul Kak’s look at indigenous Oaxacan lives, THE MODERN JUNGLE (pictured), makes its North American premiere at the festival. US premieres include Matteo Borgardt’s YOU NEVER HAD IT: AN EVENING WITH BUKOWSKI, which repurposes a lost interview into a new portrait of the writer; and Pete Gleeson’s HOTEL COOLGARDIE, which follows the latest in a string of new young female bartenders in an Australian mining town. Finally, the festival also screens DOC NYC alum SUPERGIRL, Jesse Auritt’s portrait of an Orthodox Jewish teenage powerlifting champion.

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New York Jewish Film Festival 2016: Documentary Overview

nyjffThe 26th annual New York Jewish Film Festival opens tonight, Wednesday, January 11, and runs through Tuesday, January 24. The event, co-presented by Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum, has a smaller lineup than in the past, presenting just over 20 new and retrospective features, including 11 new works of nonfiction.

shalomrabin-1_lgAmong these offerings are the world premieres of SHALOM RABIN (pictured), Amos Gitai’s essay film of the months prior to the controversial Israeli leader’s assassination; and ANGEL WAGENSTEIN: ART IS A WEAPON, Andrea Simon’s portrait of the Cannes award-winning Bulgarian Jewish director and author.

doingjewish-1_lgUS premieres include Gabrielle Zilkha’s DOING JEWISH: A STORY FROM GHANA (pictured), which follows the filmmaker as she connects with African Jews; and Giovanni Troilo’s WILLIAM KENTRIDGE: TRIUMPHS AND LAMENTS, a behind-the-scenes look at the Jewish South African artist as he undertakes a massive project in Rome.

thepatriarchsroom-1_lgFinally, New York City premieres appearing at the fest are Danae Elon’s THE PATRIARCH’S ROOM (pictured), about Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church leader, living under house arrest; and Oren Rosenfeld’s HUMMUS! THE MOVIE, which profiles three diverse Israelis and the food that connects them.

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2017 Sundance Docs in Focus

sundance 2017The Sundance Film Festival’s 33rd edition takes place next month, running January 19-29, with a lineup consisting of 118 features, 68 shorts, 11 installations/performances, and 16 VR experiences. Since the 2011 festival, I’ve profiled the feature documentary programming in advance of the festival, offering background about the exciting new crop of films. The 2017 lineup focus commences tomorrow, beginning with the US Documentary Competition, and will continue film-by-film, section-by-section, until I’ve covered the approximately 50 nonfiction titles, concluding right before the festival begins.

Given my role as Documentary Programming Associate for Sundance, please note that these profiles are not reviews – instead, they simply include select background, noting past Sundance projects where applicable, and reasons why readers should seek the films out, either in Park City during the festival or later in the year at other upcoming festivals and/or ijn release. For a sample, check out last year’s series, which began here.

I’ve also prepared a new Twitter list to give readers a look at the festival through the eyes of the Sundance 2017 films.

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Sundance 2017: Additional Titles Announced

sundance 2017Several additional titles have just been announced for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival:

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES:

BENDING THE ARC
Directors: Kief Davidson & Pedro Kos / USA
This powerful epic is about the extraordinary doctors and activists—including Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, and Ophelia Dahl – whose work 30 years ago to save lives in a rural Haitian village grew into a global battle in the halls of power for the right to health for all. World Premiere

LONG STRANGE TRIP
Director: Amir Bar-Lev / USA
The tale of The Grateful Dead is inspiring, complicated and downright messy. A tribe of contrarians, they made art out of open-ended chaos and inadvertently achieved success on their own terms. Never-before-seen footage and interviews offer this unprecedented and unvarnished look at the life of the Dead. World Premiere

FROM THE COLLECTION:

DESERT HEARTS
Director: Donna Deitch, Screenwriter: Natalie Cooper / USA
Nevada, 1959: Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce and finds herself increasingly drawn to Cay Rivvers, a self-assured lesbian. The emotions released by their developing intimacy combined with Vivian’s insecurities are played out against a backdrop of rocky landscapes and country and western songs. The Festival will screen a new digitally restored version by the Criterion Collection and UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project.

RESERVOIR DOGS
Director and screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino / USA
They were perfect strangers, assembled to pull off the perfect crime. Then their simple robbery explodes into a bloody ambush and the ruthless killers realize one of them is a police informant. But which one? Miramax provided a brand-new 35mm print for this special 25th anniversary screening, which will be followed by an extended Q&A with Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender.

These lineup additions join the Day One Documentary Premieres and New Climate title which was announced last Friday, an as-yet untitled follow-up to AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk.

Earlier lineup announcements include the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT; New Frontier; Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, Kids, and Special Events; and Shorts.

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Dubai 2016: Documentary Overview

dubai-international-film-festival-2016-events-uae-featured-1The 13th Dubai International Film Festival begins today, Wednesday, December 7, and runs through next Wednesday, December 14. The Gulf State event ups its nonfiction offerings this year slightly, presenting 23 documentary features compared to last year’s slim 17. Among these are the following:

honeyDocumentaries in competition include a single entry in the Muhr Emirati category, Nujoom Alghanem’s HONEY, RAIN & DUST (pictured), about three individuals involved with apiary and honey collection; as well as several in the Muhr Feature section, such as: Laurent Aït Benalla’s TERRA FIRMA, a study of a French harbor and its traffic with north Africa and the Middle East; Mohamed Rashad’s LITTLE EAGLES, in which the Egyptian filmmaker explores 1970s political activism while contemplating his career; Iman Kamel’s EGYPTIAN JEANNE D’ARC, an experimental meditation on present-day Egyptian women’s lives; Eliane Raheb’s THOSE WHO REMAIN, a portrait of a Christian Lebanese farmer and restaurateur; Hady Zaccak’s 104 WRINKLES, about the filmmaker’s centenarian grandmother; and Alfoz Tanjour’s A MEMORY IN KHAKI, which shares story of refugees from Syrian repression.

beznessasusualNonfiction screening out of competition has largely been covered on this site at other events. Of note are several titles from the Arab world, showcased in the Arabian Nights section: DOC NYC alum BEZNESS AS USUAL (pictured), Dutch director Alex Pitstra’s personal reckoning with his Tunisian father; THE WAR SHOW, Obaidah Zytoon and Andreas Dalsgaard’s exploration of Syrians set against the Arab Spring and exile; ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW, Kaouther Ben Hania’s chronicle of a Tunisian girl’s coming to terms with life in Canada; THE CHALLENGE, Yuri Ancarani’s impressionistic portrait of falconry in Arab culture; and GAZA SURF CLUB, Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine’s look at surf culture in the isolated occupied land.

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Sundance 2017: Shorts Announced

sundance 2017This post is a pointer to the fourth lineup announcement for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, revealing the 2017 Shorts program. The lineup may be found here.

Earlier lineup announcements include the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT; New Frontier; and Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, Kids, and Special Events.

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Sundance 2017: Additional Feature Programming Announced

sundance 2017This post is a pointer to the third lineup announcement for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. This year’s selections in the Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Midnight, Spotlight, Kids, and Special Events sections may be found here.

Still to be revealed in further announcements are 2017’s Shorts and From the Collection selections.

Earlier lineup announcements include the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT and New Frontier.

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