Category Archives: Recommendations

Visions du Réel 2021 Overview

Festival:
The 52nd Visions du Réel

Dates:
April 15-25

About:
More than 70 new or recent feature docs are included in the lineup of this Nyon, Switzerland event, which will be presented primarily online.

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On DVD: THIS IS NOT A MOVIE

New to DVD this week:
THIS IS NOT A MOVIE

Director:
Yung Chang

World Premiere:
Toronto 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Palm Springs, Docs Against Gravity

About:
A portrait of legendary foreign correspondent Robert Fisk.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: SOME KIND OF HEAVEN

photo by David Bolen

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, April 13:
SOME KIND OF HEAVEN

Director:
Lance Oppenheim

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Rotterdam, Doc Fortnight, Visions du Reel, New Zealand, Florida, Atlanta, Philadelphia

About:
A profile of several residents of America’s largest retirement community.

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

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On DVD: OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, April 13:
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE

Director:
Ric Burns

World Premiere:
Telluride 2019

Select Festivals:
New York, Hamptons, AFI Fest, Palm Springs, Glasgow, Full Frame, Big Sky Doc, Virginia, ReelAbilities, Atlanta Jewish

About:
Facing a terminal diagnosis, the famed British neurologist and popular science author reflects on his life and work.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, April 12:
DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL

Director:
Ursula Liang

World Premiere:
True/False 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, New Orleans, Human Rights Watch, BlackStar, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, San Diego Asian, Montclair, Hot Springs Doc, Milwaukee, Ashland,

About:
A death in a Brooklyn housing project sets off a complex fight for justice by two marginalized communities.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
In 2014, Peter Liang, a Chinese-American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed Black man named Akai Gurley in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. In the midst of high racial tension surrounding police conduct, Liang becomes the first NYPD officer to receive a guilty verdict in such a case in over a decade. The highly publicized incident polarizes New York’s Asian and African American communities in this insightful look into the complexities of police reform.

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On VOD: FUTURE PEOPLE: THE FAMILY OF DONOR 5114

Coming to Discovery+ tomorrow, Saturday, April 10:
FUTURE PEOPLE: THE FAMILY OF DONOR 5114 

Director:
Michael Rothman

World Premiere:
Discovery+ (April 2021)

About:
The offspring of the same sperm donor form an alternative family when they discover each other’s existence.

The subjects of director Michael Rothman’s affectionate film were all conceived via sperm donated by the same individual, the anonymous and prolific donor 5114, at a cryobank in California. Using easily accessible DNA information and the connectivity of social media, these half-siblings found one another – and keep finding more – and start to develop an unusual bond. Over the course of eight years, Rothman profiles the photogenic kids and their moms, and follows them as they organize meet-ups, discover similarities and differences, and consider their unusual connection through donor 5114. As time passes, the first of the half-siblings turns 18, and thus is legally able to attempt contact with the donor through the sperm bank, leading to further contemplation about nature vs nurture. As a whole, the film is strengthened by its longitudinal approach, moving from a simply curious story to something more measured and thoughtful.

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On TV: OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE

Coming to PBS’s American Masters today, Friday, April 9:
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE

Director:
Ric Burns

World Premiere:
Telluride 2019

Select Festivals:
New York, Hamptons, AFI Fest, Palm Springs, Glasgow, Full Frame, Big Sky Doc, Virginia, ReelAbilities, Atlanta Jewish

About:
Facing a terminal diagnosis, the famed British neurologist and popular science author reflects on his life and work.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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It’s All True 2021 Overview

Festival:
The 26th É Tudo Verdade/It’s All True

Dates:
April 8-18

About:
This Brazilian nonfiction event returns with approximately 35 new documentary features.

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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 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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