Category Archives: Film

On DVD: MY REMBRANDT

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, April 6:
MY REMBRANDT

Director:
Oeke Hoogendijk

World Premiere:
IDFA 2019

Select Festivals:
Docs Against Gravity, Montclair, Vancouver, GlobeDocs, Docville, Cologne

About:
Profiles of various owners – private and institutional – of works by the Old Master.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: ACASA, MY HOME

photo by Mircea Topoleanu

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, April 6:
ACASA, MY HOME

Director:
Radu Ciorniciuc

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Docaviv, DOK.fest Munich, Thessaloniki Doc, Doc Edge, One World, Moscow Doc, Sarajevo, Cartagena, Krakow, Transilvania, Zurich, Cologne, El Gouna

About:
A Roma family is forced to leave their self-sufficient life off the grid for the city.

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

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On TV: MAMA GLORIA

Coming to The WORLD Channel’s AfroPoP today, Monday, April 5:
MAMA GLORIA

Director:
Luchina Fisher

World Premiere:
Chicago 2020

Select Festivals:
Athena, BFI Flare, Oxford, Kansas City

About:
A profile of a pioneering Black transwoman.

Growing up Black and gender nonconforming on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s, Gloria Allen suffered dearly in her early years, facing brutal violence and rape in high school. Despite this, she found support and acceptance from her mother and grandmother, as well as from the vibrant community of the city’s drag ball culture, and professional fulfillment as a nurse. In more recent years, recognizing her relative good fortune and the serious challenges faced by her trans sisters, Allen began offering charm school classes for young homeless trans women, passing on the lessons she learned from her mother and grandmother to instill self-confidence and pride. As an older trans woman of color, Allen is a notably worthwhile subject for a portrait, but one wishes the film were stronger as a whole. Feeling at times like a filmed oral history, Luchina Fisher’s doc lacks polish and visual interest, and is buoyed primarily by Allen’s positivity and charm.

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On VOD: CODED BIAS

Coming to Netflix today, Monday, April 5:
CODED BIAS

Director:
Shalini Kantayya

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Human Rights Watch, Hot Docs, Full Frame, SXSW, San Francisco, Hamptons, Provincetown, New Zealand, Melbourne, DokuFest, BlackStar, Docaviv, Warsaw, Mill Valley, Denver

About:
An exploration of the disturbing gender and racial bias prevalent in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On TV: HYSTERICAL

Coming to FX tonight, Friday, April 2:
HYSTERICAL

Director:
Andrea Nevins

World Premiere:
SXSW 2021

About:
A look at stand-up comedy from the perspective of female comedians.

Stand up comedy has long been a boy’s club. Women in the field have been dismissed as just not being funny, frequently are pitted against each other, and subjected to sexual harassment or worse. This and more is covered in filmmaker Andrea Nevins’ survey, which gathers the perspectives of 15 or so female comedians, ranging from vets like Margaret Cho and Judy Gold to more relative newcomers like Kelly Bachman. Separated into loose chapters – unfortunately complete with that over-used convention, the definition entry heading – the film explores the real obstacles that have been in the way of woman in comedy, but ultimately embraces an affirming tone that celebrates its subjects achievements. The comics featured are funny, candid, and vulnerable, making the project worth the watch, but the film suffers from the basic problem of surveys: in attempting to profile so many subjects, and cover so many topics, it can only scratch the surface before moving on to the next funny lady or the next serious point.

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In Theatres (Redux): THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS

Coming to the newly re-opened Film Forum today, Friday, April 2:
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS

Director:
Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York, San Sebastian, Zurich, Hamptons, Mill Valley, El Gouna, Aspen, Taipei Golden Horse, Thessaloniki Doc, Stockholm, Singapore

Notable Recognition:
The doc has been shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
Enter the secretive world of the only people–and dogs–who are able to find the elusive white Alba truffle, the most expensive ingredient in the world.

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

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In Virtual Release: MAŁNI – TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE

Coming to virtual cinemas via the Metrograph tomorrow, Friday, April 2:
MAŁNI – TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE

Director:
Sky Hopinka

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
True/False, Dokufest, BlackStar, Milwaukee, RIDM, Vienna, ImagineNative, Art of the Real

About:
A poetic reflection on indigenous language, myths, and the spirit world.

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

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On TV: NEVER TOO LATE: THE DOC SEVERINSEN STORY

Coming to PBS’s American Masters tomorrow, Friday, April 2:
NEVER TOO LATE: THE DOC SEVERINSEN STORY

Director:
Kevin S Bright, Jeff Consiglio

World Premiere:
Cleveland 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
Full Frame, Nashville, Milwaukee, Virginia, Guanajuato, Mill Valley, BendFilm, Tallgrass, Portland, Sound Unseen

About:
A portrait of the legendary TONIGHT SHOW bandleader.

Doc Severinsen entered the homes of American audiences nightly for three decades as the eccentrically-dressed bandleader of Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW. While the musician left the show upon the host’s retirement in 1992, he never stopped performing. Now, in his nineties, Severinsen maintains a grueling touring, performance, and teaching schedule, working out multiple times a week to maintain his health and strength. Filmmakers Kevin S Bright and Jeff Consiglio compose a loving tribute to the performer, exploring both his past and his present-day activities. While they address some heavier elements – notably the impact of Doc’s career on his personal life, including some infidelity – the filmmakers generally keep the proceedings fairly light and entertaining, resulting in a solid portrait with considerable nostalgic appeal.

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On VOD: SAMUEL IN THE CLOUDS

New to VOD this week:
SAMUEL IN THE CLOUDS

Director:
Pieter Van Eecke

World Premiere:
Mooov 2016

Select Festivals:
Docville, Docaviv, Nederlands, Docs Barcelona, Full Frame, Chicago, One World, Thessaloniki Doc, Washington DC Environmental, Beldocs, SF Green, Mountainfilm

About:
A portrait of Bolivia’s only ski lift operator as he contemplates his future after climate change causes the permanent closure of the ski resort.

Samuel operated Chacaltaya’s ski lift like his father did before him, before the latter’s death years ago. He still manages the ski lodge, hosting small groups of tourists and making them tea, though he does not get paid anymore. Instead of skiing, tourists take in the views. Samuel and his wife contemplate what the future holds if he can no longer do his job. Meanwhile a small group of climate scientists record data in their lab near the ski resort, noting the rate of glacier melting, and worry about the seemingly irreversible temperature shift which may likely lead to drought in the region. Filmmaker Pieter Van Eecke takes a strictly observational approach and benefits from the photogenic scenery, but, as a whole, constructs a quiet, low-energy film that feels longer than it actually is.

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Neighboring Scenes 2021: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 6th Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema

Dates:
March 31-April 12

About:
This annual showcase from Film at Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical goes online this year with a scaled-back lineup that includes only three doc features:

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