Category Archives: Recommendations

On VOD: ROLL RED ROLL

New to VOD via Netflix this week:
ROLL RED ROLL

Director:
Nancy Schwartzman

Premiere:
Tribeca 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, New Orleans, Hot Docs, Traverse City, Hamptons, Denver, Göteborg, Guanajuato, Globe Docs, Sidewalk, Santa Barbara, Double Exposure, Bend, Tallgrass, Hot Springs Doc, Big Sky Doc, SF Jewish, Human Rights Watch

About:
An exploration of rape and its cover-up in a small town.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Special Screening: DESOLATION CENTER

Coming to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Thursday, August 15:
DESOLATION CENTER

Director:
Stuart Swezey

World Premiere:
CPH:DOX 2018

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, DokuFest, Big Sky Doc, Slamdance, DOXA, Indielisboa, Chicago Underground, Revelation, Sydney Underground, In-Edit Spain, Cork, Freep, Florida

About:
A look back at underground happenings stemming from the 1980s LA punk and industrial scene.

Years before Burning Man, a like-minded community of outsiders left their ordinary lives behind to experience music and performances in the desert – as well as one gathering on a cruise. Though lasting only a couple of years, Stuart Swezey’s Desolation Center events left their mark on organizers, attendees, and performers alike. In his directorial debut, Swezey recounts the origin and history of this undertaking, born of the surprisingly inclusive early 1980s LA scene and the resistance it experienced from the LAPD. When the latter made it virtually impossible to stage larger events within the city, Swezey, then in his early 20s, and his collaborators rented buses and headed out to the Mojave Desert. Aside from his first-hand account, Swezey draws from other organizers, attendees, performers, and musicians to supplement a wealth of archival recordings and material to tell a fascinating, little-known chapter of music history.

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On TV: ALTERNATE ENDINGS: SIX NEW WAYS TO DIE IN AMERICA

Coming to HBO tonight, Wednesday, August 14:
ALTERNATE ENDINGS: SIX NEW WAYS TO DIE IN AMERICA

Directors:
Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill

World Premiere:
Aspen Ideas 2019

About:
An exploration of how Americans are confronting death and celebrating life.

At the beginning of Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill’s film, it’s noted that last year was the first in which cremation was the preferred choice of Americans. With traditional burial-focused funerals losing favor, alternative and unconventional end-of-life choices are on the upswing, as represented in a brief walk through an annual funeral directors convention and a look at a drive-through viewing. While the film maintains a survey approach for its remainder, it’s a more respectful and considered one, putting the spotlight, each in turn, on six alternative ways of recognizing the dead or dying: environmentally-minded memorial reefs and green burials, freedom of autonomy-focused death with dignity/medial aid in dying and living wakes, and unorthodox ways of honoring the wishes of the recently departed, including space burials and celebrations of life – in the latter case, a Batman-themed party for the friends and family of a young boy who died of cancer. The filmmakers offer sensitive profiles in each of these cases, inviting in the audience to experience the love and loss felt by family members – in one case, watching a subject pass on camera. The result is a fitting and affecting tribute to life.

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In Theatres: LOS REYES

LOS REYES

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Wednesday, August 14:
LOS REYES

Directors:
Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff

World Premiere:
IDFA 2018

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, Film Comment Selects, DocPoint, Göteborg, Montclair, Biografilm, Miami, Portland

About:
A portrait of two stray dogs living in a Chilean skatepark.

Skateboarding teenagers are not the only regulars in Santiago’s first skate park. The site also is home to Footbol and Chola, two beautiful stray dogs who spend their time running around and fetching balls, soda bottles, and other objects. As filmmakers Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff capture these furry friends on camera, they also eavesdrop on the youth of the park. Revealed through their offscreen voices, the skater kids display the brashness and braggadocio of teenage boys, telling stories of girlfriends, getting high, selling weed, and rebelling against parents and other authorities. Ultimately, however, the canines take center stage, drawing in the audience to their rhythms and companionship while smartly resisting overt anthropomorphism that easily could have turned this bittersweet, exceptionally warm project into a schmaltzy affair.

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On VOD: HALSTON

photo by Berry Berenson Perkins

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, August 13:
HALSTON

Director:
Frédéric Tcheng

Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, Tribeca, Seattle, Montclair, Sarasota

About:
An exploration of the life and legacy of America’s first celebrity designer.

My pre-Sundance doc profile may be found here.

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On DVD: THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 13:
THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING

Director:
Mila Turajlic

World Premiere:
Toronto 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Double Exposure, DocPoint, ZagrebDox, Thessaloniki Doc, Tempo Doc, One World, Göteborg, Vilnius, Hong Kong, Doc10, Cleveland, San Francisco, Vision du Reel, DOK.fest Munich, Docs Against Gravity, Seattle, Docaviv, Doc Edge, Sydney, Dokufest, Melbourne

About:
The filmmaker explores her remarkable mother and Serbia’s tumultuous political inheritance.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Acclaimed filmmaker MilaHe Turajlic follows the recent troubled history of Serbia through the experiences of her mother, Srbijanka, a tireless dissident against multiple regimes. Over the course of several months, Mila and Srbijanka engage in probing and humorous dialogues over Serbia’s past, present, and future. Their country has typically gained more media attention for its war criminals than its dissidents; this poignant film lets us into a world we’ve seldom seen.

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On TV: HAPPY WINTER

Coming to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, August 12:
HAPPY WINTER

Director:
Giovanni Totaro

World Premiere:
Venice 2017

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, IDFA, Docs Against Gravity, Zurich, DocPoint, ZagrebDox, Vilnius, Istanbul, Visions du Reel, Docaviv, AFI Docs, Edinburgh, Bergen, Antenna

About:
A revealing look at the economic crisis through the goings on at an Italian beach.

Set during a summer in Palermo, Giovanni Totaro’s largely observational film focuses on the vacationers on Mondello Beach. These Italian sun worshippers set up more than 1000 small cabins, personalizing them with decorations to create a home away from home, and, for many, to escape from the challenges of their real lives. Though suffering economic hardship due to the crisis of the past decade, families insist on keeping up appearances, while other beach denizens, like a man selling refreshments, struggles to earn as much money as he can before the end of the season. Perhaps most pointedly revealing these barely below-the-surface anxieties is the increasingly obvious campaigning of a would-be politician as he taps into xenophobia to rally support among his fellow beachgoers. The result is a disarming study in microcosm of modern day Italian society.

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