Category Archives: Overviews

Big Sky Documentary 2019 Overview

Festival:
The 16th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Dates:
February 15-24

About:
Nearly 60 new or recent doc features screen as part of Montana’s largest film event. Continue reading

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Berlin 2019: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 69th Berlinale

Dates:
February 7-17

About:
Germany’s premier film festival showcases 85 new documentaries among its nearly 230 feature offerings. Continue reading

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SXSW 2019: Additional Features Announced

SXSW has announced the remainder of its feature film line-up today, for a total of 131 projects. Following is the list of documentary features just revealed, broken down by section:

Festival Favorites:

THE HOTTEST AUGUST

APOLLO 11
Director: Todd Douglas Miller
A look at the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin.

AQUARELA
Director:Victor Kossakovsky
A deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. Filmed at 96 frames per second, it’s a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and will of Earth’s most precious element.

THE HOTTEST AUGUST
Director: Brett Story
A film about climate change, disguised as a portrait of collective anxiety.

THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY
Director: Alex Gibney
Elizabeth Holmes was once the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, overnight, her $10-billion-dollar company dissolved. The rise and fall of Theranos is a window into the psychology of fraud.

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Director: Rachel Lears
Four women run for Congress, overcoming personal adversity to battle powerful political machines across the country. One of their races will change the country forever.

MAIDEN
Director: Alex Holmes
In a moving portrait of resilience, Alex Holmes chronicles the unprecedented journey of 24-year-old Tracy Edwards and the first all-female sailing crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.

PAHOKEE
Directors: Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan
In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year.

RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS
Director: Janice Engel
Six-feet of Texas trouble, Molly Ivins, a legendary journalist and a warrior for the Bill of Rights, fought Good Old Boy corruption with razor-sharp wit that left both sides of the aisle laughing and craving ink in her columns. Raise Hell y’all!

Documentary Spotlight:

SALVAGE

I AM RICHARD PRYOR
Director: Jesse James Miller
The life story of the legendary performer and iconic social satirist, who transcended race and social barriers by delivering his honest irreverent and biting humor to America’s stages and living rooms until his death at 65.

SALVAGE
Director: Amy C Elliott
The Yellowknife dump, and its massive, unrestricted salvage area, has long played a central role in this remote Canadian city’s civic and social life. Can a colorful group of thrifty locals save it from city bureaucrats determined to close it down?

STATE OF PRIDE
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, Oscar winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman travel to three diverse communities – Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama – for an unflinching look at LGBTQ Pride.

24 Beats Per Second:

IRIS: A SPACE OPERA BY JUSTICE

IRIS: A SPACE OPERA BY JUSTICE
Directors: Andre Chemetoff, Armand Beraud
Iris is a film adaptation of Justice’s Woman World Wide live show from 2017-2018, which is widely regarded as the greatest live electronic concert created. Recorded in an empty and invisible space, Iris focuses on the impressive production and music.

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Film Comment Selects 2019: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 19th Film Comment Selects

Dates:
February 6-10

About:
The editors of Film Comment curate an eclectic mix of new and retrospective films, including five recent works of nonfiction.

LOS REYES

The two North American doc premieres are two IDFA debuts: Yang Zhang’s UP THE MOUNTAIN, about life in a remote Chinese mountain village, centered around a master artist; and Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff’s LOS REYES, about two stray dogs living in a Chilean skatepark.

ABSENCE

The event also presents the US premieres of Ekta Mittal’s hybrid ABSENCE, on loss felt by women whose husbands and sons have left as part of economic migration; and of Victor Moreno’s THE HIDDEN CITY, a city symphony set in Madrid’s underground. Rounding out the nonfiction offerings is Beata Bubenec’s FLIGHT OF A BULLET, which follows combat in Ukraine in a single-take.

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Slamdance 2019: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 25th Slamdance Film Festival

Dates:
January 25-31

About:
The smaller, alternative January Park City film festival has an anniversary year, screening 10 docs among its nearly 30 features. Continue reading

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SXSW 2019: Features Lineup Announced

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

Documentary Feature Competition:

STUFFED


ERNIE & JOE
Director: Jenifer McShane
Two officers with the San Antonio Police Department mental health unit divert people away from jail and into mental health treatment – one 911 call at a time.

FOR SAMA
Directors: Waad al-Khateab, Edward Watts
The epic story of a young woman’s journey through love, war and motherhood across five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria.

MUSEUM TOWN
Director: Jennifer Trainer, Screenwriters: Noah Bashevkin, Pola Rapaport, Jennifer Trainer
From the ashes of a deserted factory, an ambitious center for contemporary art has emerged. With MASS MoCA, a familiar story of deindustrialization in a rural American town finds an unconventional route to recovery.

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
Director: Elizabeth Carroll
Award-winning cookbook author, diehard environmentalist, and feisty British nonagenarian Diana Kennedy reflects on an unconventional life spent mastering the cuisines of Mexico.

STUFFED
Director: Erin Derham
On the surprising world of taxidermy and the passionate artists across the world who see life where others only see death.

TREAD
Director: Paul Solet
Pushed to his breaking point, a master welder in a small town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains quietly fortifies a bulldozer with 30 tons of concrete and steel and seeks to destroy those he believes have wronged him.

VISION PORTRAITS
Director/Screenwriter: Rodney Evans
A chronicle of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists including a photographer (John Dugdale), dancer (Kayla Hamilton), writer (Ryan Knighton), and the film’s director, Rodney Evans.

WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS
Director: Linda Goldstein Knowlton
The Radical Monarchs are a group of young girls of color at the front lines of social justice. Set in Oakland, the film documents the journey of the group as they form, grow, and earn badges for units like “Black Lives Matter” and “Radical Beauty.”

WELL GROOMED
Director/Screenwriter: Rebecca Stern
Traveling the humorous, visually stunning world of Competitive Creative Dog Grooming alongside the colorful women transforming their beloved poodles into living sculptures.

WHY CAN’T I BE ME? AROUND YOU
Directors/Screenwriters: Harrod Blank, Sjoerd Dijk
Rusty, a male race enthusiast, decides at 53 to get breasts. His father cuts his pay, his motorcycle friends abandon him and the women he dates all reject him. Rusty pursues her new identity and only hopes to gain acceptance from others.

Documentary Spotlight:

RUNNING WITH BETO

ANY ONE OF US
Director: Fernando Villena
The inspiring journey of a recovering athlete offers an unprecedented glimpse into the traumatic world of spinal cord injuries.

AUTONOMY
Director: Alex Horwitz
On the emerging technology of self-driving vehicles and the big questions they raise: what is control and who do we become as we relinquish it to machines?

BELLINGCAT – TRUTH IN A POST-TRUTH WORLD
Director/Screenwriter: Hans Pool
An exploration of the exclusive world of Bellingcat, a highly-skilled and controversial collective of “citizen investigative journalists” dedicated to redefining breaking news in the 21st century.

BREAKTHROUGH
Director/Screenwriter: Bill Haney
The story of a renegade, blues-playing, Nobel prize-winning Texas scientist who created a cure for the world’s deadliest disease.

BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
Director: Chelsea Hernandez
In Texas, construction workers face the deadliest conditions in the country. Three immigrant families rise up to seek justice and equality in an industry rife with exploitation.

COMMUNITY FIRST, A HOME FOR THE HOMELESS
Director: Layton Blaylock
On a totally unique concept for mitigating homelessness. Conceived and created in Austin, Community First! Village is truly transforming the lives of homeless people.

HUMAN NATURE
Director: Adam Bolt, Screenwriters: Adam Bolt, Regina Sobel
A once-in-a-lifetime scientific discovery called CRISPR gives us the power to change what it means to be human. Now it’s up to us to decide how far we should go.

I LOVE YOU, NOW DIE: THE COMMONWEALTH VS MICHELLE CARTER
Director: Erin Lee Carr
Teen Michelle Carter’s actions shocked a nation – but what really happened behind closed doors? A showcase of the prosecution’s point of view and alternately the defense’s. Which side do you fall on?

IT STARTED AS A JOKE
Directors: Julie Smith Clem, Ken Druckerman
A chronicle of the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, celebrating Eugene’s unique brand of humor and reminding us of the healing properties of comedy – even in the most challenging of life’s circumstances.

JUMP SHOT
Director: Jacob Ryan Hamilton
The inspiring true story of Kenny Sailors, the developer of the modern day jump shot in basketball, and how he defined the game, but why the game never defined him.

KATHY GRIFFIN: A HELL OF A STORY
Director: Troy Miller, Screenwriter: Kathy Griffin
In her first ever comedy concert film, comedian Kathy Griffin details the aftermath of lost work and being the subject of a federal investigation following the release of her now infamous photo depicting President Donald J Trump.

QUALIFIED
Director: Jenna Ricker
In the world of motorsports, the Indianapolis 500 has long been considered the only race. In May 1977, Janet Guthrie – the first woman to attempt Indy – earned herself a spot in the prestigious field of 33.

RED DOG
Directors: Casey Pinkston, Luke Dick
In the early 1980s, the only family that toddler Luke knew were the strippers, bouncers, and outcasts that made OKC’s rowdiest strip club their home.

THE RIVER AND THE WALL
Director: Ben Masters
Five friends venture into the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands to document the environment before a wall is built. As the wilderness gives way to the bustling Rio Grande Valley, they encounter the unexpected and enter uncharted emotional waters.

RUNNING WITH BETO
Director: David Modigliani
Follow Beto O’Rourke behind the scenes of his breakaway campaign to unseat Ted Cruz in the US Senate. With intimate access to the candidate, his family and team, the film captures Beto’s rise from a virtual unknown to a national political sensation.

SUNSET OVER MULHOLLAND DRIVE
Director: Uli Gaulke, Screenwriters: Uli Gaulke, Marc Pitzke
The vital power of creativity – a behind the scenes look into Hollywood’s retirement home.

Visions:

LEAVE THE BUS THROUGH THE BROKEN WINDOW

BECOMING LESLIE
Director: Tracy Frazier, Screenwriters: Sandra Guardado, Tracy Frazier
The inner and bizarre world of Leslie Cochran, a cross-dressing homeless misfit who became the most iconic and unlikely civic symbol of Austin.

JR “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS
Director: Sandy K Boone, Screenwriters: Sandy K Boone, Jason Wehling
An exploration of the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged – to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it… except, maybe, poke fun at it all.

LEAVE THE BUS THROUGH THE BROKEN WINDOW
Director: Andrew Hevia
A broken-hearted filmmaker navigates an unfamiliar city, an international art fair and his personal baggage in this intimate, playful and unexpectedly comedic documentary.

ROMANTIC COMEDY
Director: Elizabeth Sankey
Musician and writer Elizabeth Sankey investigates the past, present and future of romantic comedies, assisted by a chorus of critics, actors, and filmmakers.

SAKAWA
Director/Screenwriter: Ben Asamoah
What human story lies behind the phenomenon of “internet fraud”? Three Ghanaian youngsters, out of desperation, turn to internet scamming with the help of black magic.

24 Beats Per Second:

MR JIMMY

AMAZÔNIA GROOVE
Director/Screenwriter: Bruno Murtinho
Leaving Belem and crossing much of the Para State Amazon region, its towns, and riverside villages, this doc reveals artists and their traditions, faith and mysticism, music and life that pound in the northern region of Brazil.

BLUEBIRD
Director: Brian Loschiavo
Discover the origin stories of megastars like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift while following emerging singer-songwriters as they chase their dreams inside The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville’s accidental landmark that has altered the course of music history.

THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY
Director: Aaron Kunkel
The life and crimes of boy band impresario Lou Pearlman, tracking his life from discovering NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, to his perpetration of one of the largest ponzi schemes in US history.

BOY HOWDY! THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE
Director: Scott Crawford, Screenwriters: Scott Crawford, Jaan Uhelszki
Ripping back the curtain on legendary rock rag Creem magazine’s wild and disruptive newsroom – a dysfunctional band of unruly outsiders who weren’t all that different from the artists they covered.

BRAINIAC: TRANSMISSIONS AFTER ZERO
Director: Eric Mahoney
An exploration of the seminal ’90’s band Brainiac from Dayton, and its creative force Tim Taylor. Just days before signing a major record contract Taylor was killed in a bizarre auto accident leaving his family and bandmates to pick up the pieces.

CARMINE STREET GUITARS
Director: Ron Mann, Screenwriter: Len Blum
Five days in the life of the titular Greenwich Village guitar shop.

THE CHILLS: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF MARTIN PHILLIPPS
Director: Julia Parnell, Rob Curry
New Zealand music genius Martin Phillipps fights his creative demons, conquers the music world, inspires a generation, and then retreats into depression, addiction and anonymity.

DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME
Director: A.J. Eaton
David Crosby reflects on his life of music stardom, while forging new paths to relevancy at his age of 77 in this deeply personal film.

EVERYBODY’S EVERYTHING
Directors: Sebastian Jones, Ramez Silyan
The story of artist Lil Peep (Gustav Ahr) from his birth in Long Island and meteoric rise as a genre blending pop star and style icon, to his death due to an accidental opioid overdose in Arizona at just 21 years of age.

THE GIFT: THE JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH
Director: Thom Zimny, Screenwriter: Warren Zanes
Johnny Cash stands among the giants of 20th century American life, but his story remains tangled in mystery and myth. This documentary brings Cash the man out from behind the legend.

MR JIMMY
Director: Peter Michael Dowd
Akio Sakurai has dedicated his life to honoring Jimmy Page. For 30 years he recreated vintage Zeppelin concerts note-for-note in small Tokyo clubs. Moving to LA to pursue his tribute dream, cultures clash and Akio’s idyllic vision meets reality.

NOTHING STAYS THE SAME: THE STORY OF THE SAXON PUB
Director: Jeff Sandmann, Screenwriters: Jeff Sandmann, Jeffrey Brown, Lisa Kay Pfannenstiel
Celebrating the last 30 years of live music in Austin, while also examining the challenges faced by musicians and music venues in one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, all through the lens of the legendary Saxon Pub.

SHOW ME THE PICTURE: THE STORY OF JIM MARSHALL
Director: Alfred George Bailey
Jim Marshall was a maverick with a camera. An outsider who captured the heights of Rock’N’Roll music and the seismic changes of an era, from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to the civil rights movements and some of the most iconic moments of the ’60’s.

STRANGE NEGOTIATIONS
Director: Brandon Vedder
Exploring the existential, artistic, and family life of musician and former evangelical, David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), set against America’s own crisis of faith highlighted during the 2016 presidential election.

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT
Director: Brent Hodge, Screenwriters: Brent Hodge, John Diemer, Jasleen Kaur
The origin story of the smash hit “Who Let the Dogs Out” goes back further than anyone could have imagined; steeped in legal battles, female empowerment and artist integrity, which beckons the question: will we ever know who let the dogs out?

Global:

CACHADA: THE OPPORTUNITY


CACHADA: THE OPPORTUNITY
Director/Screenwriter: Marlén Viñayo
Five Salvadoran saleswomen want to take their cruel life stories to the stage. During the rehearsal process of their play, they’ll discover themselves as victims and victimizers in a cycle of violence that has plagued their families for generations.

Special Events:

UNTITLED RICK RUBIN PROJECT


UNTITLED RICK RUBIN PROJECT (Work-in-Progress)
Directors: Morgan Neville, Jeff Malmberg
An intimate look at the creative process through the lens of legendary music producer Rick Rubin.

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New York Jewish Film Festival 2019: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 29th New York Jewish Film Festival

Dates:
January 9-22

About:
This annual event, co-presented by The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, offers eight documentary features among its 21 new feature offerings. Continue reading

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