Category Archives: Releases

On DVD: UNLOCKING THE CAGE

unlocking the cageComing to DVD today, Tuesday, May 23:
UNLOCKING THE CAGE

Directors:
Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker

Premiere:
Sundance 2016

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Full Frame, Sarasota, Minneapolis/St Paul, Montclair, Visions du Réel, DocAviv, New Zealand, Melbourne, deadCENTER

About:
Animal rights activists champion legal rights for chimpanzees.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD: ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: TRUTH, DECEPTION, AND THE SPIRIT OF I F STONE

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, May 23:
ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: TRUTH, DECEPTION, AND THE SPIRIT OF I F STONE

Director:
Fred Peabody

Premiere:
Toronto 2016

Select Festivals:
IDFA, Thessaloniki Doc, CPH:DOX

About:
A consideration of the work of independent journalists, through the lens of the pioneering I F Stone.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY

Coming to the World Channel’s America ReFramed tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23:
BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY

Director:
Ben Wang

Premiere:
CAAMFest 2016

Select Festivals:
Asian/Asian Pacific fests in LA, DC, Sacramento, NYC, Austin, San Diego, Boston, and Philadelphia

About:
The story of a Chinese immigrant who entered the US criminal justice system as a juvenile and emerged a leader of prison reform.

Less than four years after arriving in America from China, 16-year-old Eddy Zheng took part in a crime that resulted in charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. Tried as an adult, he became the youngest prisoner at San Quentin, and served over 20 years behind bars. While incarcerated, he embraced the opportunity for rehabilitation and betterment, learning English, completing a college degree, and turning his experience into a cautionary tale about youth violence to share with others. Wang chronicles Zheng’s turn to and away from criminality, his work in prison reform, and his attempts to reconcile with both his family and the victims of his crime. While Zheng is an interesting subject emblematic of rehabilitation and redemption, the film’s structure unfortunately offers little dramatic development, and its running time is too brief to allow the impact of his story to fully resonate.

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On VOD: SCOTT’S PIZZA TOURS

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, May 23:
SCOTT’S PIZZA TOURS

Directors:
K Ryan Jones and Shawn Willis

Premiere:
DOC NYC 2016

About:
A man transforms his love for pizza into a career.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Scott Wiener probably knows more about pizza than anyone else in the world. Channeling his infectious enthusiasm into a successful pizza-tasting tour business, the New Yorker has found unlikely fame, winning fans around the world, who contribute to his massive collection of pizza boxes. Jones and Willis’ film delectably demonstrates Wiener’s appeal, following him on several tours, on a trip to Naples – the birthplace of pizza – and as he organizes his annual charity event to feed the hungry.

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On TV: THEY CALL US MONSTERS

they_call_us_monsters_still_2_h_2016Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, May 22:
THEY CALL US MONSTERS

Director:
Ben Lear

Premiere:
Los Angeles Film Festival 2016

Select Festivals:
AFI Docs, Austin, Human Rights Watch, Hot Springs Doc, Antenna Doc, Heartland,

About:
A consideration of juvenile offenders who are tried as adults.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: BECOMING BOND

Coming to Hulu tomorrow, Saturday, May 20:
BECOMING BOND

Director:
Josh Greenbaum

Premiere:
SXSW 2017

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Cinedelphia

About:
The unlikely story behind George Lazenby’s single turn at portraying Agent 007.

Greenbaum blends extensive semi-fictionalized re-enactments with interviews in this fun look back at the remarkably quick rise and fall of Lazenby’s James Bond. He bluffed his way into the starring role in 1969’s ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, but even after his ruse was discovered, his charm – and later positive notices – would have kept him Bond for several other pictures. Against expectations, Lazenby bristled at the idea of losing his life to the celebrity spotlight and instead walked away. The debonair Australian model-turned-actor, now in his late 70s, confessionally spins his yarn directly to the camera, with actors recreating key developments in his freewheeling career. Greenbaum embraces the camp and tell-all nature of the project, making the usual clunky technique of re-enactments actually work much better than expected.

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On VOD: THE KEEPERS

Coming to Netflix today, Friday, May 19:
THE KEEPERS

Director:
Ryan White

Premiere:
Netflix (May 2017)

Select Festivals:
Nantucket

About:
An engrossing docuseries re-examining the unsolved murder of a nun in 1969 uncovers a larger, disturbing story of clergy abuse.

Who killed Sister Cathy? This question is at the heart of White’s seven-part series, but it only scratches the surface of a much bigger story, one with profound consequences that reverberate over close to half a century. This true crime hook concerns the fate of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun and schoolteacher in Baltimore who vanished in November 1969, and whose body was discovered dumped in a field two months later. In the first episode. White introduces two unlikely investigators, who have renewed interest in the cold case over the past several years: Gemma and Abbie, former students of the beloved nun. Armed with little more than Facebook and their personal connection to Cesnik, these amateur sleuths have dug up a surprising amount of information. But just as the viewer settles into the assumption that Gemma and Abbie will be the central figures in the investigation, White upends expectations by introducing a new player in the final moments of the initial episode: “Jane Doe,” another of Sister Cathy’s former students, and one who came forward in the 1990s to reveal a harrowing tale of abuse suffered at the school in which Cesnik taught. From here, White expands the scope of his investigation to tell Jane Doe’s story – revealing her identity as Jean Hargadon Wehner – and, in the process, confronts an even more disturbing tale of extensive, ongoing victimization and high-level cover-ups that indicts the Catholic Church. Taking full advantage of the project’s serialized structure, White offers viewers intriguing cliffhangers and unexpected developments that encourage obsessive viewing and spark debate.

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