Category Archives: Recommendations

On VOD: THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS

3lVpPx_musicofstrangers_01_o3_8728480_1439322355_720_370_90Coming to VOD this coming Tuesday, December 6: THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO YO MA & THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

Morgan Neville’s profile of the world music collective debuted at Toronto in 2015. Screenings followed at Berlin, True/False, San Francisco, Montclair, DocAviv, Los Angeles, Sydney, Provincetown, and Biografilm, among other fests.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’

twotrainsrunnin_finalComing to theatres today, Friday, June 2: TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’

Sam Pollard’s chronicle of the 1964 search for unsung blues performers made its bow at Full Frame earlier this year. Screenings also include New York Film Festival, New Orleans, Sheffield, Traverse City, Vancouver, Portland, DocuWest, deadCENTER, March on Washington, Hot Springs Doc, Woodstock, Austin, and Chicago, among other events.

As signaled by its title, Pollard’s project follows two parallel tracks: the pivotal activities taking place in Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer, an volunteer-driven effort to register African-American voters in the state; and a separate search by groups of blues aficionados for two lost pioneering African-American musicians, Skip James and Son House, in the same region. These two threads occasionally intersect – though the film perhaps overemphasizes the connections – but the bulk of the story is about the musician search and resultant revival of interest in their music for a new generation of, pointedly, largely white audiences, making an argument for the importance of this acknowledgement of the influence of African-American music on popular mainstream culture. Pollard employs animation and music as a welcome counterbalance to a sometimes too-heavy use of narration delivered by musician Common, helping to elevate the proceedings and making for compelling viewing.

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Sundance 2017: New Frontier Announced

sundance 2017This post is a pointer to the second lineup announcement for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. This year’s selections in the New Frontier section may be found here.

The remaining non-competition feature sections will be revealed in further announcements.

If you missed yesterday’s announcement, the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT, click here.

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In Theatres: BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS

best and most beautifulComing to theatres tomorrow, Friday, December 2: BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS

Garrett Zevgetis’ profile of a quirky young blind woman on the autism spectrum debuted at SXSW this Spring. Its fest circuit also included Hot Docs, Camden, Margaret Mead, Mill Valley, Florida, IFFBoston, Dallas, Bentonville, Philadelphia, Denver, and IndieBo.

Michelle is a 20 year old self-proclaimed outcast living in rural Maine with her mother. Since being graduated from the Perkins School for the Blind, she has struggled to engage with the outside world, but finds an outlet for her creativity and need for belonging through the Internet. Unexpectedly, it is here that she finds a boyfriend and a mutual interest in kink, an intriguing curveball that Zevegtis cautiously rolls with as he follows his appealing protagonist over several years. The result is a strange little film, but one with charm – part universal coming of ager, part celebration of self-assured difference.

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On DVD/VOD: MAVIS!

mavisComing to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Friday, December 2: MAVIS!

Jessica Edwards’ affectionate tribute to the soul singer debuted at SXSW last year. Its fest circuit also included Nantucket, IDFA, Sheffield, New Zealand, Melbourne, Martha’s Vineyard African American, Vancouver, Woodstock, Mill Valley, Rocky Mountain Women’s, Athena, and Big Sky, among other events. In addition to its DVD release, the doc now comes to iTunes and Amazon.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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Sundance 2017: Competition & NEXT Lineups Announced

sundance 2017As the lineup of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival is revealed, I’ll be including pointers here. The US and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions, plus the NEXT section, have just been announced today here.

Pointers for other sections will follow as they are announced over the next week.

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In Theatres: FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION

first ladyComing to theatres this Friday, December 2: FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION

Andrea Kalin’s profile of a Southern belle turned Central American political figure bowed at Sidewalk Film Festival this Summer. It also has screened at Hot Springs Doc, Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, and theatrically throughout Costa Rica.

Kalin chronicles the 1948 civil war in Costa Rica that presaged radical changes to the Central American nation from the perspective of one of its most unlikely players: Henrietta Boggs. The young woman, born in South Carolina and later a resident of Alabama, was a college student and aspiring journalist when she visited family in Costa Rica in 1940, met coffee farmer José Figueres, and decided to marry him. Over the next few years, Figueres emerged as popular opposition leader to the repressive government. With Boggs at his side as a pivotal behind-the-scenes advisor and confidante, Figueres fled the country in exile before finally coming to power in the aftermath of the 1948 revolution. Together the couple established a new constitution and government, introducing progressive reforms like the abolishment of the nation’s military which led to unprecedented stability and peace. Kalin has found a very appealing subject around whom to frame a largely forgotten but compelling story.

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