In Theatres: OVER THE LIMIT

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, October 12:
OVER THE LIMIT

Director:
Marta Prus

Premiere:
IDFA 2017

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Moscow Doc, Visions du Reél, DOK.fest Munich, DocsBarcelona, Zagreb Dox, Krakow, Docpoint, Göteborg, Thessaloniki Doc, One World, Ambulante

About:
A brutally candid look at a rhythmic gymnast’s Olympic training.

Prus’ observational portrait focuses on Margarita Mamun, facing high expectations to win the gold medal for Russia at the 2016 Summer Olympics, her last. Subject to a rigorous training regimen, she barely is shown outside of the gym here, save for a few moments talking remotely via FaceTime to her boyfriend, another Olympian, or dealing with family matters. But fears that this would result in a dull film are quickly dismissed when Irina Viner-Usmanova the head coach of Russia’s national gymnastics program, makes her presence known. A larger-than-life figure, prone to extravagant hats, Viner-Usmanova doesn’t mince words – instead she swears, berates, and verbally uses her young athletes to a shocking degree, and, here, Mamun seems to take the brunt. Her unrelenting abuse is tempered to some degree by Mamun’s personal coach, Amina Zaripova, but it’s clear that the young gymnast is miserable, but still she perseveres. Though not always an easy watch, Prus’ well-constructed film offers a provocative inside look at the pressures facing a world-class athlete and questions if it’s all worth it in the end.

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DOC NYC 2018 Lineup Announced

As DOC NYC’s Director of Programming, I’m excited to share that the full lineup for America’s largest documentary festival has just been revealed. DOC NYC’s ninth edition will run November 8-15, and includes 135 features, representing 42 world premieres, 3 international premieres, 4 North American premieres, 7 US premieres, and 68 NYC premieres, in addition to short films and our parallel DOC NYC PRO series of industry programming.

Our website has full information here, and ticketing is live now.

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In Theatres: THE SENTENCE

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, October 12:
THE SENTENCE

Director:
Rudy Valdez

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, DOC NYC, Locarno, Traverse City, Montclair, Sarasota, Urbanworld, Thin Line, Provincetown, LA Latino, Aspen Ideas, SF Jewish, Freep, GlobeDocs

About:
A filmmaker reveals the personal impact of mandatory minimum laws on his own family.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD/VOD: CATWALK: TALES FROM THE CAT SHOW CIRCUIT

New to DVD and VOD this week:
CATWALK: TALES FROM THE CAT SHOW CIRCUIT

Directors:
Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox

Premiere:
Toronto theatrical premiere (March 2018)

Select Festivals:
Seattle, Milwaukee

About:
An inside look at the world of competitive cat shows.

Following one season in the Canadian cat show circuit, filmmakers McNamara and Hancox craft a playful, at times knowingly self-deprecating look at the fortunes of two felines in the running to win it all. Kim’s Turksih Angora, Bobby, is poised for victory, but then frenemy Shirley comes around with the fluffy Persian, Oh La La, setting the judges’ hearts atwitter, and the race is on. The cats’ owners, helped by some simple animation, explain and track the scoring system and reveal the high stakes – bragging rights on the southern Ontario circuit. Never taking themselves too seriously, they’re mostly having fun – though Kim really wants to win. While on the whole the production feels more suited for the small screen, and should have cut back on the overly goofy score, it’s an enjoyable exploration of a subculture – and the cats are fun to watch.

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In Theatres: LIYANA

Coming to theatres today, Wednesday, October 10:
LIYANA

Directors:
Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp

Premiere:
Los Angeles 2017

Select Festivals:
BFI London, Mill Valley, Citizen Jane, Durban, Hot Springs Doc, Denver, Bahamas, Palm Springs, Oxford, Southern Circuit, Toronto Black, Zagreb Dox, Miami, NY Children’s, Ashland, Cleveland, Montclair, NY African, Blackstar

About:
Swaziland orphans collectively create an adventure folk tale.

The Kopps’ film centers on a storytelling workshop run by Gcina Mhlophe at a rural home for orphans. Drawing from their own harrowing experiences, several of the young residents develop the titular character, and spin her narrative, one involving starkly realistic travails like violence and HIV, the death of the heroine’s parents, and an adventure to rescue her brothers from kidnappers. As they tell the camera their story, the very cute kids often ham it up, while semi-animated sequences (sort of) bring Liyana’s adventure’s to life – the effect, even if deliberate, is not wholly successful and seems unfinished. The film’s approach to covering otherwise wellworn and dark territory is certainly creative, though a little of this goes a long way, and the filmmakers don’t complete trust in the audience to fill in the blanks themselves.

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London 2018: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 62nd BFI London Film Festival

Dates:
October 10-21

About:
This noted UK event presents more than 200 new features, but has reduced the number of nonfiction offerings substantially this year, with just over 40 docs compared to last year’s nearly 60. Continue reading

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On DVD: DARK MONEY

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 9:
DARK MONEY

Director:
Kimberly Reed

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Big Sky, Full Frame, AFI Docs, Boulder, Martha’s Vineyard, Florida, Ashland, Cleveland, Freep, Montclair, Dallas, Nashville, Telluride Mountainfilm

About:
Montana serves as a case study for the dangerous impact of Citizens United on politics.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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