In Theatres: 16 BARS

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, November 8:
16 BARS

Director:
Samuel Bathrick

Premiere:
DocLands 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Miami, Big Sky Doc, Salem, Virginia, Milwaukee

About:
An acclaimed musician leads a transformative program in a Virginia jail.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: MAN MADE

New to VOD this week:
MAN MADE

Director:
T Cooper

World Premiere:
Atlanta 2018

Select Festivals:
Guadalajara, New Orleans, Thessaloniki Doc, Cleveland, Bentonville, Southern Circuit, Heartland, Sidewalk, Frameline, Outfest, Inside Out, NewFest, LGBT fests in Hamburg, Seattle, Melbourne, Memphis, Rochester, Miami, Portland, Halifax, Kansas City, Austin, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Taiwan

About:
Profiles of several transgender men who compete in a bodybuilding contest.

Director T Cooper’s thoughtful but somewhat scattered project ostensibly focuses on trans bodybuilders as they prepare for Trans FitCon, the only trans bodybuilding competition in the world. Aside from a small handful of scenes of working out, and Trans FitCon footage in the final stretch of the film, the project actually more or less ignores the bodybuilding to instead chronicle other, far more familiar issues related to transitioning and the trans experience. Cooper’s four subjects are likeable and interesting, but there could have been more time devoted to what bodybuilding does for them, the power of the sport to transform their bodies and to give them confidence, as well as addressing transphobia in the sport and in sports in general, which could further distinguish this project from the countless others that also explore details around transitioning, surgery, pronouns, and family relationships. The return to Trans FitCon towards the end of the film is also complicated by tangential explorations of new characters, while losing sight of the four principles.

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On DVD: SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

New to DVD this week:
SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

Director:
Morgan Spurlock

World Premiere:
Toronto 2017

About:
The director takes on fast food once again, opening up his own chicken restaurant.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: FOOD COOP

New to DVD this week:
FOOD COOP

Director:
Tom Boothe

World Premiere:
Paris theatrical release (October 2016)

Select Festivals:
Planet in Focus, San Francisco Green, Twin Cities

About:
An in-depth look at Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop.

Established in 1973, the Coop is a member-run collective that is able to offer a wide range of fresh food at substantially lower than average prices because they keep down costs by having the membership work the store. Planning his own Paris version of the Coop, director Tom Boothe observes the inner workings while also interviewing various members as they fulfill their work obligations, such as composting, clean up, check out, and walking customers to the subway; follows the activities of some of the small paid administrative staff; and checks in on various committees, who handle disciplinary matters, food selection, events, etc. While the project feels a bit overlong and shapeless, it works as an institutional portrait and successfully captures how this unique entity has managed to be a sustainable, successful business in the long-term.

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On DVD/VOD: LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL

New to DVD/VOD this week:
LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL

Directors:
Tim O’Donnell and Jon Mercer

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2018

Select Festivals:
Athena, Atlanta, IFF Boston, Toronto Human Rights Watch

About:
A Muslim athlete fights back against a ban on the hijab.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
After a controversial basketball ruling about head coverings makes it impossible for Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir to maintain her religious convictions while playing professionally, she begins training the next generation of Muslim girls at an Islamic school’s athletics program. As she reckons with the possibility of life without basketball, Bilqis fights to change the rules of the International Basketball Federation so she might become the first Division I basketball player to play wearing the hijab.

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On DVD: TO END A WAR

New to DVD this week:
TO END A WAR

Director:
Marc Silver

Premiere:
Colombia (September 2017)

Select Festivals:
Colombian Film Festival NY

About:
The Colombian government tries to broker peace with guerrilla forces to end a 50+ year conflict.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV & In Theatres: THE APOLLO

Coming to HBO tomorrow, Wednesday, November 6 and to theatres this Friday, November 8:
THE APOLLO

Director:
Roger Ross Williams

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Nantucket, Seattle, Chicago, Provincetown, Montclair

About:
On the history and legacy of the legendary Harlem theatre.

I wrote about the doc for Nantucket’s program, saying:
From the director of the Oscar®-nominated LIFE, ANIMATED comes this rich history of Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. For 85 years, this cultural landmark has played host to legendary African-American artists and to newcomers willing to take the stage on the venue’s famed Amateur Night. Framed around the inaugural staging of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ acclaimed BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, this portrait demonstrates the pivotal role that the arts play in the African-American experience.

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