Category Archives: Film

On DVD: 44 PAGES

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, July 17:
44 PAGES

Director:
Tony Shaff

Premiere:
SXSW Edu 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Dallas, Sarasota, Cleveland, RiverRun, Nashville, Sidewalk, Indie Memphis, St Louis,

About:
A behind the scenes look at the most popular children’s magazine in the world.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Special Screening: YOURS IN SISTERHOOD

Coming to NYC’s DCTV Presents series tonight, Monday, July 16:
YOURS IN SISTERHOOD

Director:
Irene Lusztig

Premiere:
Berlin 2018

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, AFI Docs, Art of the Real, Documenta Madrid, Docaviv, Inside Out, Frameline

About:
Unpublished letters to Ms. Magazine bridge feminism’s past and present.

Lusztig’s unusually engaging project operates on a very simple but unusually revealing premise: Having found an archive of unpublished letters to the editors of the pioneering feminist magazine, Ms., the filmmaker travels to the towns from which they originated and has present-day women read and comment on them, directly to the camera. Sometimes it seems obvious why a particular woman or girl has been asked to read a specific letter – on the surface, they might share the same job, age, or ethnicity – but it’s when they are asked their thoughts about the content of what they’ve spoken aloud, or about their impressions of the writer, that some interesting ruptures emerge. Not surprisingly, blindspots around race, class, and sexuality that readers sought to bring to the attention of the magazine in the 1970s still reverberate for today’s participants. In addition to presenting a remarkably diverse, complex, and intersectional representation of feminism, Lusztig also elicits a surprisingly emotional reaction from the viewer at times, peppering in several participants who reveal themselves to be the actual writers of the letters, adding a layer of self-reflection to this thought-provoking film.

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On TV: ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND

photo by Mark Sennet

Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, July 16:
ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND

Director:
Marina Zenovich

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Karlovy Vary, San Francisco, Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard

About:
A revealing look at the life and career of the late comedian/actor.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Theatres: PATH OF BLOOD

Coming to theatres today, Friday, July 13:
PATH OF BLOOD

Director:
Jonathan Hacker

Premiere:
UK theatres (July 2018)

About:
An inside look at al Qaeda terrorists and their campaign against Saudi Arabia in the early 2000s.

A companion to the director’s book of the same name and produced by ZERO DARK THIRTY’s Mark Boal, Hacker’s film is composed entirely of jihadist recordings and Saudi security services footage, chronicling several years of terrorist cell activity directed against perceived enemies of Islam within Saudi Arabia. Opening with seemingly familiar, home movie footage of a jihadist announcing his latest plot, it’s revealed instead to be several outtakes that demonstrate the youth, immaturity, and lack of education of the terrorists, even as they record a message before a suicide bomb attack. From there, this unusual project, disturbing both for showing the brutality of al Qaeda’s actions and for somehow humanizing the people behind their horrific attacks, catalogues a range of jihadist activities within Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis’ response to curb the threat. It’s a chillingly effective way to convey the terrorists’ perspective, not to sympathize with them, but to gain insight into the misguided motivations that have led them to turn to violence not only against the expected non-Muslim targets, but against those Saudi Muslims they view as aiding the US. At the same time, the film sits on uneasy ground, strangely avoiding explicit reference to 9/11 and championing Saudi forces without acknowledging or contextualizing that nation’s role in propagating extremist ideologies that have fed into jihad across the Middle East.

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In Theatres: MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, July 13:
MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTIS

Director:
Jake Meginsky

Co-Director:
Neil Young

Premiere:
Rotterdam 2018

Select Festivals:
SXSW, CPH:DOX, Sheffield, Art of the Real, Sarasota, Indielisboa, Maryland

About:
An eclectic portrait of the avant-garde jazz percussionist.

Faced with the eccentricities of their singular subject, director Meginsky and co-director Young take a decidedly non-conventional approach to this profile. Those unfamiliar with Graves’ biography or musical accomplishments will only glean very basic background information here through archival footage of past performances. Instead, the uninitiated is more likely to learn about the titular subject’s unusual world view, interest in martial arts and gardens, theories about physiology and their relationship to tonal scales, and the like. Less a biography and more a master class in whatever crosses Graves’ mind at the moment – sometimes intriguing, but often just shy of nonsensical – this free-ranging film will likely strain the patience and goodwill of most viewers, though the musician’s fans will likely find much more to appreciate.

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In Theatres: ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND

photo by Mark Sennet

Coming to theatres this Friday, July 13:
ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND

Director:
Marina Zenovich

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Karlovy Vary, San Francisco, Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard

About:
A revealing look at the life and career of the late comedian/actor.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Releases, Sundance

Outfest 2018: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 36th Outfest

Dates:
July 12-22

About:
Los Angeles’ LGBT festival presents more than 60 features, including nearly 30 documentaries. Continue reading

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