Category Archives: Releases

On DVD: BLACK MOTHER

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, December 10:
BLACK MOTHER

Director:
Khalik Allah

Premiere:
True/False 2018

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, Sheffield, New Directors/New Films, Sarasota, Montclair

About:
An essay offering a meditation on Jamaican identity, history, and spirituality.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: WORLDS OF URSULA K LE GUIN

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, December 10:
WORLDS OF URSULA K LE GUIN

Director:
Arwen Curry

World Premiere:
Sheffield 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Ashland, Mill Valley, BendFilm, Austin, Boston Sci-Fi, Berlin Sci-Fi, Sebastopol Doc, Belfast, Newport Beach

About:
An intimate portrait of the pioneering author.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: A GERMAN YOUTH

Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 6:
A GERMAN YOUTH

Director:
Jean-Gabriel Périot

Premiere:
Berlin 2015

Select Festivals:
IDFA, Art of the Real, Cinéma du Réel, Visions du Réel, BAFICI, San Francisco, IndieLisboa, Docaviv, Moscow, Transilvania, Melbourne, Sarajevo, Bergen, Hamptons, New Horizons

About:
A rich portrait of key members of the Red Army Faction, composed entirely through found footage.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS

Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 6:
WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS

Director:
Jon Kasbe

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2018

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, New Orleans, Mountainfilm, Denver, Zurich, Planet in Focus, San Diego, Movies That Matter, Docs Against Gravity, Budapest Docs, Wild & Scenic, Washington DC Enviro, Philadelphia Enviro, Indie Grits

About:
A complex exploration of ivory hunting, from the perspectives of ranger and poacher.

Set in Kenya, director Jon Kasbe’s well-constructed film offers a remarkably insider look at the ivory trade, focused on an ivory dealer called X and his cousin, Asan, a former poacher turned ranger tasked with preventing poaching. Embedding with both men, the filmmaker demonstrates the unforgiving economic reality that sustains the illegal killing of elephants. While X is an unlikable figure, disingenuously attempting to elide his role in the slaughter of animals by noting that his colleague, Lukas, is the one who shoots them while he only supervises, it’s made evident that X seems to have few options. He was born into this detestable profession and there are few ways to support his family – a situation facing Asan, who has worked unpaid for months, and faces the moral dilemma of helping his cousin with his illegal activities. Kasbe’s observational approach provides no easy answers or judgement, which will rankle some viewers, but it makes for an impressive and distinct portrait of a well-covered topic.

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On VOD: OVERLOAD: AMERICA’S TOXIC LOVE STORY

Coming to OVID.tv today, Friday, December 6:
OVERLOAD: AMERICA’S TOXIC LOVE STORY

Director:
Soozie Eastman

World Premiere:
Rocky Mountain Women’s 2018

Select Festivals:
Flyover

About:
The filmmaker attempts to reduce the toxic substances in her body in preparation for having children.

Director Soozie Eastman, a former make-up artist and daughter of an industrial chemical distributor, is starting to contemplate having kids, but is concerned about all the chemicals she’s exposed to after she learns that newborns already have high levels of toxic substances in their bodies. She sets out to find out what toxins she’s carrying, and to see if she can reduce them through changing what she buys and eats. Borrowing heavily from the Morgan Spurlock school of documentary filmmaking, Eastman is not an unpleasant presence, but her film is very familiar, taking the same route countless other films have in putting the concerned filmmaker in the role of human guinea pig in an experiment on the impact of a given substance or industry – visiting experts, reviewing products, calling companies and getting stonewalled, providing advice and solutions to consumers, etc. It’s a well intentioned project, and Eastman tries to liven things up with some hokey animation, but feels overlong for what it is.

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In Theatres: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, December 6:
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

Director:
Beniamino Barrese

World Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, Hot Docs, Cartagena, DokuFest, Docs Against Gravity, Transilvania, Shanghai, Munich, Biografilm, MakeDox, Taipei, Frameline

About:
The filmmaker films his mother as she plans to leave the modern world behind.

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

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On DVD/VOD: VALIANT

New to DVD/VOD this week:
VALIANT

Director:
Cruz Angeles

World Premiere:
Vegas Golden Knights game (Las Vegas, November 2019)

About:
Las Vegas’ first professional hockey team unites the city in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history.

The Golden Knights debuted in 2017 as an NHL expansion team, the brainchild of owner Bill Foley, a successful businessman. Despite having notable players like Stanley Cup winner Mac-Andre Fleury in its roster, expectations were low for the team, with skepticism about the support hockey might be able to engender in a one-industry town like Las Vegas. Then, on October 1, just days before the Knights’ debut game in Dallas, Las Vegas became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the US, when a gunman targeted concert attendees on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 and wounding or injuring nearly 900 others. On October 10, the Golden Knights had their inaugural home game, honoring the victims in their pregame show, and winning the game, providing the city with a hopeful focus after the tragedy. They continued a winning streak unprecedented for a new team, ultimately making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Director Cruz Angeles tells their unlikely underdog story in an overly slick manner, with an over the top score and unearned sense of gravitas, but likely will find appreciative viewers even outside of the core hockey fanbase.

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