Category Archives: Recommendations

New Orleans 2018: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 29th New Orleans Film Festival

Dates:
October 17-25

About:
Filmmakers and industry continue to be drawn to this popular and well-regarded Southern regional event, which presents nearly 40 docs among its 60+ feature offerings.

WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE

Among the films competing in the Documentary Competition are: Emily Harrold’s WHILE I BREATHE, I HOPE, which follows Bakari Sellers uphill struggle as he runs for lieutenant governor in South Carolina; Nadia Shihab’s JADDOLAND, a portrait of the filmmaker’s mother, an Iraqi artist in Texas; and Hao Zhang’s GIMME A FAITH, which follows evangelical Christian Chinese students studied in North Carolina.

BUCKJUMPING

The Louisiana Competition’s nonfiction titles include: Mark K Brockway and Timothy Givens’ MISSISSIPPI MADAM: THE LIFE OF NELLIE JACKSON, about an African-American divorcee-turned-brothel madam; Allison Bohl Dehart and Peter Dehart’s BENDING LINES: THE SCULPTURE OF ROBERT WIGGS, a portrait of an artist and his unique scientific approach to his work; and Lily Keber’s BUCKJUMPING, a look at New Orleans’ dance traditions.

THIS TACO TRUCK KILLS FASCISTS

Other sections featuring documentaries include: Spotlight Films, with upcoming DOC NYC opening night selection, John Chester’s THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM, which follows a couple’s odyssey to establish a biodynamic farm; Caribbean Voices, with Jose Hiriart’s PÉP SOUVREN (SOVEREIGN PEOPLE), about activists fighting for true democracy in Haiti; and Change-Makers, which includes Harry Moses’ GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, a case study exposing the injustices in New Orleans’ criminal justice system; Ada McMahon and Wendi Moore-O’Neal’s THIS LITTLE LIGHT, about a woman forced to stay closeted to do relief work post-Katrina; and Rodrigo Dorfman’s THIS TACO TRUCK KILLS FASCISTS, about a traveling theatre project exposing the impact of immigration on New Orleans.

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On VOD: THE DEVIL WE KNOW

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, October 16:
THE DEVIL WE KNOW

Director:
Stephanie Soechtig

Co-Director:
Jeremy Seifert

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Vancouver, Santa Barbara, Lunenberg Doc, New Zealand, SF Jewish, Washington DC Environmental, Greenwich, Riverrun, Sun Valley, Martha’s Vineyard, Boulder, Philadelphia

About:
An exposé of a corporation’s widespread use of dangerous chemicals, despite their known impact on human health.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here

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On DVD: GENERATION WEALTH

photo by Lauren Greenfield

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 16:
GENERATION WEALTH

Director:
Lauren Greenfield

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Berlin, SXSW, CPH:DOX, Docville, Full Frame, San Francisco, Sarasota, IFF Boston, Transilvania, Ambulante, Jeonju, Dallas, Docs Against Gravity, Greenwich, Provincetown

About:
A film essay and career retrospective examining society’s preoccupation with materialism.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Special Screening & On TV: THE SENTENCE

Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, October 15 and to Stranger Than Fiction tomorrow, Tuesday, October 16:
THE SENTENCE

Director:
Rudy Valdez

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, DOC NYC, Locarno, Traverse City, Montclair, Sarasota, Urbanworld, Thin Line, Provincetown, LA Latino, Aspen Ideas, SF Jewish, Freep, GlobeDocs

About:
A filmmaker reveals the personal impact of mandatory minimum laws on his own family.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On TV: ITZHAK

Coming to PBS’s American Masters this Sunday, October 14:
ITZHAK

Director:
Alison Chernick

Premiere:
Hamptons 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Palm Springs, Jewish fests in Miami, Palm Beach, Atlanta, and Phoenix

About:
A deeply intimate portrait of acclaimed violin master, Itzhak Perlman.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW

Coming to Discovery tomorrow, Saturday, October 13:
ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW

Director:
Rory Kennedy

Premiere:
Sarasota 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, AFI Docs, Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, GlobeDocs

About:
A celebration of the pioneering and continuing work of NASA.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: OVER THE LIMIT

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, October 12:
OVER THE LIMIT

Director:
Marta Prus

Premiere:
IDFA 2017

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Moscow Doc, Visions du Reél, DOK.fest Munich, DocsBarcelona, Zagreb Dox, Krakow, Docpoint, Göteborg, Thessaloniki Doc, One World, Ambulante

About:
A brutally candid look at a rhythmic gymnast’s Olympic training.

Prus’ observational portrait focuses on Margarita Mamun, facing high expectations to win the gold medal for Russia at the 2016 Summer Olympics, her last. Subject to a rigorous training regimen, she barely is shown outside of the gym here, save for a few moments talking remotely via FaceTime to her boyfriend, another Olympian, or dealing with family matters. But fears that this would result in a dull film are quickly dismissed when Irina Viner-Usmanova the head coach of Russia’s national gymnastics program, makes her presence known. A larger-than-life figure, prone to extravagant hats, Viner-Usmanova doesn’t mince words – instead she swears, berates, and verbally uses her young athletes to a shocking degree, and, here, Mamun seems to take the brunt. Her unrelenting abuse is tempered to some degree by Mamun’s personal coach, Amina Zaripova, but it’s clear that the young gymnast is miserable, but still she perseveres. Though not always an easy watch, Prus’ well-constructed film offers a provocative inside look at the pressures facing a world-class athlete and questions if it’s all worth it in the end.

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