Category Archives: Recommendations

NewFest 2020: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 32nd NewFest

Dates:
October 16-27

About:
About a third of the features screening at this year’s hybrid online/drive-in edition of New York’s LGBTQ film festival are documentaries.

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On VOD: TIME

Coming to Amazon Prime tomorrow, Friday, October 16:
TIME

Director:
Garrett Bradley

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
New York, London, Hamptons, Miami, Zurich, Camden, Mill Valley

About:
A longitudinal portrait of a marriage and a family separated by incarceration.

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

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On DVD: SILICONE SOUL

New to DVD this week:
SILICONE SOUL

Director:
Melody Gilbert

World Premiere:
Thessaloniki Doc 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, One World, Fargo, SF DocFest, Minneapolis-St Paul, Sofia, BendFilm, Chagrin Doc, AmDocs, DocuWest

About:
Profiles of individuals who have developed attachments to lifelike dolls.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: THE DISRUPTED

New to VOD this week:
THE DISRUPTED

Director:
Sarah Colt

Co-Director:
Josh Gleason

World Premiere:
DOK.fest Munich 2020

Select Festivals:
Mountainfilm, Woods Hole

About:
A portrait of three working class individuals facing disruption and change in their economic situations.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: THE DOG DOC

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 13:
THE DOG DOC

Director:
Cindy Meehl

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Boulder, Palm Springs, Sedona, St Louis, Hot Springs Doc, Heartland, Mill Valley, Berkshire

About:
A portrait of a pioneering alternative holistic veterinarian.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Virtual Release & On VOD: TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL

Coming to virtual cinemas and to VOD today, Tuesday, October 13:
TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL

Director:
Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger

World Premiere:
Drive-in engagements (October 2020)

About:
A thorough investigation of the failures of the US government to properly manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Synthesizing the detection, spread, and failed response to COVID-19 over the past nine months in a surprisingly cogent and relatively concise manner, Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger’s film, released less then a month before the US presidential election, has an obvious urgency and mission: to rightfully hold the Trump administration to task. While unlikely to reach, much less convince, die-hard MAGA supporters, one hopes that it may have some impact on those who are either on the fence or potentially considering avoiding the polls. While the film is crystal clear in its criticism of the administration, it backs up its arguments with legitimate science and facts, delivered by actual pandemic experts and whistleblowers, creating a sharp contrast with the federal government’s pandemic response: denial and dismissal of science, management by political yes-men with no scientific expertise, passing the buck to either the Obama administration or to state governments, and sowing misinformation, including unfounded pseudo-science. While those who have been closely following the unfolding story of the pandemic may already know much of what is onscreen, the film’s careful organization of every misstep and deliberate obfuscation allows for focused concentration in contrast to the dizzying news cycle we’ve grown accustomed to over the past seven months. It’s an infuriating watch, and that’s the point.

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On DVD: HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 13:
HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Directors:
Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Big Sky Doc, San Francisco, Cleveland

About:
An exploration of the groundbreaking animated series and its controversial creator.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On TV: THE LAST ICE

Coming to Nat Geo Wild tonight, Monday, October 12:
THE LAST ICE

Director:
Scott Ressler

World Premiere:
Mountainfilm 2020

Select Festivals:
Hot Springs Doc, Take One Action, Movies That Matter, Edmonton, United Nations Association

About:
Arctic Inuit communities are threatened by exploitative development made possible by climate change.

In the Arctic, Inuit communities in Canada and Greenland have been separated for centuries by a frozen ocean, developing their own way of life in harmony with nature. As the impact of climate change is felt in rapidly vanishing ice, these communities must face not only a transformation in their traditions, but the encroaching presence of new colonial forces eager to exploit now accessible natural resources and shipping routes. Filmmaker Scott Ressler provides a sobering reality check in his strikingly shot portrait of the fragility of indigenous sovereignty in the face of global corporate interests.

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On DVD: HOUSE OF CARDIN

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 13:
HOUSE OF CARDIN

Directors:
P David Ebersole and Todd Hughes

World Premiere:
Venice 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Chicago, Frameline, Provincetown, Palm Springs, Cleveland, RiverRun, Outfest

About:
A portrait of legendary fashion designer Pierre Cardin.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: SOFTIE

Coming to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, October 12:
SOFTIE

Director:
Sam Soko

Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, CPH:DOX, BlackStar, Durban, Encounters, Salem, Galway, DOXA, Thin Line

About:
A chronicle of the personal and professional challenges facing an idealistic Kenyan political activist as he decides to run for office.

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

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