Category Archives: Film

On DVD/Digital: ASIAN AMERICANS

Courtesy of PBS

Coming to DVD and digital tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11:
ASIAN AMERICANS

Series Producer:
Renee Tajima-Peña

World Premiere:
PBS broadcast (May 2020)

About:
A sweeping overview of the Asian experience in America.

I previously wrote about the docuseries here.

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On TV: ABOUT LOVE

Coming to POV tonight, Monday, August 10:
ABOUT LOVE

Director:
Archana Atul Phadke

World Premiere:
Sheffield 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, DMZ Docs, Mumbai

About:
An observational portrait of three generations of the filmmaker’s family.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
In this intimate and often funny observational portrait, director Archana Phadke trains her camera on three generations of her family, all living together in the same home in Mumbai. As the household prepares for her brother Rohan’s wedding, Archana – determined, like her sister, to remain single – captures the rhythms of the ever-busy household. Coming into particular focus are Archana’s long-suffering grandmother, Neela, who tends to her ailing, sexist husband, and her mother, Maneesha, who confesses a secret escape from her own feelings of marital frustration.

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In Theatres & In Virtual Release: A THOUSAND CUTS

Coming to select theatres and virtual cinema today, Friday, August 7:
A THOUSAND CUTS

Director:
Ramona Diaz

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, SXSW, AFI Docs, Full Frame, San Francisco, Cleveland

About:
A chilling look at the assault on fundamental democratic freedoms in the Philippines.

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

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In Virtual Release: RIVER CITY DRUMBEAT

Coming to virtual cinemas tomorrow, Friday, August 7:
RIVER CITY DRUMBEAT

Directors:
Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, SXSW EDU, San Francisco, Miami, Salem

About:
The co-founder of a celebrated Louisville drum corps passes the torch to the next generation.

The film screened at DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
For 30 years, the indefatigable Nardie White has offered a path to empowerment for African-American youth in Louisville KY through his River City Drum Corps. White has dedicated his life to teaching communities about their Pan-African roots, but with retirement approaching, he must train his successor. Set against the backdrop of the American South and featuring glorious drum battles, this uplifting film is a timely reminder of the incredible change one person can create.

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On VOD: THE STAND: HOW ONE GESTURE SHOOK THE WORLD

New to VOD this week:
THE STAND: HOW ONE GESTURE SHOOK THE WORLD

Director:
Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige

World Premiere:
GlobeDocs Presents 2018

About:
An in-depth look back at the iconic but controversial protest staged by two African-American Olympians in 1968.

When Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two sprinters from Team USA, approached the 200m winners’ podium during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, they carried their shoes and both wore black gloves. When the American national anthem played, they bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists, protesting racial inequality in the US with the world’s attention. As a result, they were booed as they left the stadium and, soon thereafter, were forced to leave the games and, back in America, faced stigma that effectively ended whatever further sports careers they might have had. Filmmakers Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige revisit this indelible moment, which continues to resonate in the cultural consciousness through the actions of modern-day sports figures like Colin Kaepernick, but, most importantly, they provide the wider context that led these principled athletes to take their stand. Leading up to the Olympics was a very public debate about whether the games were an appropriate site for politics and protest, with African-American athletes and some staunch allies threatening a boycott, and the head of the International Olympic Committee standing firm that any political actions would not be tolerated – this from a man who did not object to the 1936 Olympics taking place amidst frequent Nazi salutes. While hampered by an incessant score and too reliant on talking heads, the film illuminates a valuable chapter in the history of athletics and social justice that remains instructive today.

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DokuFest 2020 Overview

Festival:
The 19th DokuFest

Dates:
August 7-25 (online)

About:
More than 60 new and recent features make up the online edition of this noted event based in Prizren, Kosovo. Continue reading

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In Theatres & In Virtual Release: CREEM: AMERICA’S ONLY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MAGAZINE

Coming to select theatres and to virtual cinemas this Friday, August 7:
CREEM: AMERICA’S ONLY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MAGAZINE

Director:
Scott Crawford

World Premiere:
SXSW 2019 (under its original title, BOY HOWDY! THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Freep, Cleveland, Maryland, Asbury Park

About:
The history of the influential Detroit-based rock publication.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Cheekily declaring itself “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine,” CREEM launched in 1969 Detroit as an irreverent upstart to rival the pre-eminent rock publication of the day, Rolling Stone. Scrappy, subversive, and gleefully puerile, the magazine soon became wildly popular, thanks in large part to its forward-thinking publisher, Barry Kramer, and its gonzo journalist, Lester Bangs. Scott Crawford’s film offers a riotous look back on CREEM‘s history, the dysfunctional family of outsiders behind its pages, and its lasting impact on music and culture.

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On DVD: CODE OF THE FREAKS

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, August 4:
CODE OF THE FREAKS

Director:
Salome Chasnoff

World Premiere:
ReelAbilities Boston 2020 (online)

Select Festivals:
ReelAbilities NY, ReelAbilities Toronto, Southern Circuit

About:
Disability through a filmic lens.

Like THE CELLULOID CLOSET, the the 1995 documentary on LGBT representation in film, Salome Chasnoff’s project assembles disability activists, filmmakers, film historians, and actors – all from within the larger US disability community – to comment on film clips that demonstrate various aspects, tropes, and stereotypes of the representation of disability on screen. Opening and closing with Tod Browning’s 1932 horror film FREAKS, which lends it its title, Chasnoff’s doc singles out Browning’s tale as one of insiderness in contrast to the representation of disability as an outsider condition to be pitied, cured, or inspired by, as is the case in most other mainstream films. Commentators discuss pervasive stereotypes – from overcoming disability and cliched inspiration tales to the interplay of disability with race, gender, and (lack of) sexuality, as well as particularly dangerous tropes like disabled characters preferring death to disability. Referencing a mix of films – some well-known, others very obscure – the doc explores the importance of parsing these limited representations and the impact, unconscious or otherwise, that they have on the general public’s perception of the disabled community. While a worthwhile and timely project, its conventional, talking heads focused approach becomes somewhat repetitive and reductive, making it function primarily as a work of advocacy and education.

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On DVD: CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, August 4:
CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Director:
Justin Pemberton

World Premiere:
Sydney 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Melbourne, New Zealand, Jerusalem, Hamburg

About:
An adaptation of the unexpected international bestselling economics book.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: RED PENGUINS

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4:
RED PENGUINS

Director:
Gabe Polsky

World Premiere:
Toronto 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Hamptons, Palm Springs, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Santa Barbara, Miami Jewish

About:
A look back at an American-backed hockey team in post-Soviet Russia.

The film screened at DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Filmmaker Gabe Polsky’s previous film, RED ARMY, was an entertaining history of Soviet hockey players migrating to the United States. Now he examines a reverse trend after the Soviet Union’s collapse, when American hustlers tried bringing capitalism to Moscow by investing in its hockey team. This dark comedy contains strippers, gangsters, and live bears serving beer on ice. It’s a lively history lesson that helps us understand relations between the US and Russia today.

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