On DVD: BLOODSWORTH: AN INNOCENT MAN

bloodsworthComing to DVD today, Tuesday, August 16: BLOODSWORTH: AN INNOCENT MAN

Gregory Bayne’s portrait of a man wrongly sentenced to death row debuted in Baltimore last August. It came to VOD this past February.

In 1985, based solely on eyewitness testimony, Kirk Bloodsworth, a 22-year-old former Marine was convicted of the rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton. As recounted in Bayne’s film, the authorities arrested the wrong man. Over the course of nearly a decade, Bloodsworth maintained his innocence, and, once he learned about the possibility of testing DNA, found a means to clear his name, ultimately becoming the first American sentenced to death to be exonerated in this matter. Since his release, he has become a crusader against wrongful convictions, with this project his latest tool to share his story. While Bayne’s sparse approach provides the viewer with an intimate experience of his captivating subject, the film’s structure unfortunately robs his story of full dramatic impact, moving back and forth in time and revealing the would-be surprising details of Bloodsworth’s case too early.

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On VOD: TIN SOLDIERS

tin soldiersComing to VOD today, Tuesday, August 16: TIN SOLDIERS

Ben Duffy’s look at adaptive sports athletes debuted at San Juan earlier this year. The Orchard now releases the doc on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Xbox, and other VOD platforms.

After an unnecessary prologue, Duffy proceeds to profile several individuals of varying ages and ability who take part in sports adapted to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. This survey approach introduces viewers to the likes of a double amputee power lifter and CrossFit trainer, a Paralympian gold medalist in both wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing, and an adorable three-year-old with spina bifida who participates in WCMX – BMX with wheelchairs. Earnest in its desire to demonstrate the inspirational nature of its subjects and their adaptability to adversity, the film is unfortunately hampered by a distracting score but will serve as a useful educational and awareness-building tool.

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On DVD: MIKE NICHOLS: AN AMERICAN MASTER

American-Masters_Mike-Nichols_878x494Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16: MIKE NICHOLS: AN AMERICAN MASTER

Elaine May’s tribute to her legendary comedy partner made its debut as part of PBS’s American Masters series at the start of the year.

The second of two Nichols-focused films this year, following the Sundance-debuting BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS, also draws much of its running time from an extended interview with the acclaimed director, supplemented with brief comments from collaborators and with a few scenes of his work. He’s an engaging and warm presence, offering insight into his work on stage and screen, while the likes of Meryl Streep, Tony Kushner, and Matthew Broderick express their admiration for his talent and wit. Surprisingly, May herself only appears in archival clips, choosing, it seems, to allow this film instead of a talking head interview to address her feelings for the late Nichols. Limited in its scope by the television-hour running time, however, this project is best watched in conjunction with the other Nichols profile to provide a fuller sense of the multi-hyphenate’s long career and achievements.

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On DVD: BOLSHOI BABYLON

20151111bolshoi_promo1Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16: BOLSHOI BABYLON

Director Nick Read and co-director Mark Franchetti’s exploration of dramatic turmoil behind the legendary ballet company made its bow at Toronto last year. Screenings followed at DOC NYC, Hamptons, CPH:DOX, IDFA, New Zealand, Docville, Stockholm, Hong Kong, and Munich, among other fests.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: OUR LAST TANGO

our_last_tango_-_h_2015Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16: OUR LAST TANGO

German Kral’s tale of passion and drama between legendary dancers debuted at Toronto last year. It also screened at Miami, Cleveland, Stockholm, San Diego Latino, Sarasota, the Film Society’s Dance on Film, and Minneapolis/St Paul, among other events.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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On TV: DREAM/KILLER

dreamkiller_stillComing to Investigation Discovery this Sunday, August 14: DREAM/KILLER

Andrew Jenks’ look at a bizarre murder conviction debuted at Tribeca last year. The film went on to screen at Montclair, Sidewalk, Kansas, Hot Springs Doc, Heartland, Hamptons, and CPH:DOX, among other events.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: ABORTION: STORIES WOMEN TELL

abortion-stories-women-tell-1-credit-courtesy_of_hboComing to theatres today, Friday, August 12: ABORTION: STORIES WOMEN TELL

Tracy Droz Tragos’ intimate exploration of women’s feelings on a divisive issue had its world premiere at Tribeca earlier this year. It also screened at AFI Docs, San Francisco DocFest, and the San Francisco Jewish film festivals.

As denoted by its subtitle, Tragos’ film is focused primarily on personal stories, even as it addresses the inescapable political and religious sentiments that accompany any consideration of the reproductive rights debate. Grounding her project in Missouri, due to that state’s restrictive laws, the filmmaker follows women who must make a long journey across the border to seek help in Illinois, while also profiling those who work in reproductive health, and, notably, others who have made it their mission to do away with abortion rights altogether. What emerges is a deeply compassionate multiperspectival portrait of the impact of abortion on these individuals lives, from a clinic’s non-nonsense security officer contending with daily irritation from pro-life protestors to a financial-strapped working mother in the process of ending her third pregnancy. Anti-abortion activists are offered respectful space to air their convictions, but their purely religiously-motivated arguments are unlikely to sway their opponents, who are instead influenced by a wider range of factors, systemic inequities encompassing class, race, education, and, most significantly, gender.

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