Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 23: SEED: THE UNTOLD STORY
Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz’s look at the battle to save seed diversity debuted at Washington DC’s Environmental Film Festival. Screenings followed at Nashville, Rhode Island, Princeton Environmental, Sheffield, Florida, DOXA, and Woods Hole, among other events.
Recognizing the rapid disappearance of agricultural biodiversity over the past century, seed keepers are on a mission to protect what little we have left. Siegel and Betz survey the range of stakeholders – from independent farmers and community seed bank organizers to indigenous practitioners and food scientists – as they face off against biotech companies for the future of the world’s food sources. While covering similar territory as other recent films about seeds and biodiversity, and spending a bit too much screen time on repetitious proclamations on the sacredness of seeds, the film succeeds in conveying an urgency around the issue.
Coming to theatres and to Netflix today, Friday, September 23: AUDRIE & DAISY
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s examination of the impact of online bullying on teenage sexual assault victims premiered at Sundance this year. Screenings followed at San Francisco, Hot Docs, Traverse City, Melbourne, and Montclair, among others. In addition to its theatrical and Netflix release, free community and university screenings have been set up across the country.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 23: THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W EUGENE SMITH
Sara Fishko’s look at legendary jazz history debuted at the New Orleans Film Festival last year. Its fest circuit also included DOC NYC, Rotterdam, Full Frame, Cleveland, Florida, BAFICI, and the Copenhagen Jazz Film Festival, among other events.
I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Between 1957 and 1965, former LIFE Magazine photojournalist W Eugene Smith obsessively photographed and taped the goings-on at the dilapidated Sixth Avenue loft he called home. As revealed in this astonishing WNYC-produced time capsule, what he captured is a treasure trove of NYC jazz of that period, including a three-week rehearsal by the legendary Thelonious Monk and jazz and classical music lessons given by the Juilliard-trained Hall Overton.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 23: GENERATION STARTUP
Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser’s look at young entrepreneurs in Detroit debuted at Traverse City earlier this year. In addition to its limited theatrical release, the film will screen at the upcoming Milwaukee Film Festival and at other special events.
With American entrepreneurship at its nadir, and industry still seeking cheaper labor overseas, the prospects for a lasting economic upswing are uncertain. While Wade and Houser’s film celebrates some of the forward-thinking risk-takers who are trying to launch businesses, it refreshingly doesn’t sugarcoat the obstacles they face. Working in the particularly economically-depressed city of Detroit, the six subjects exploit the advantages of their location while trying to be part of the community that helps to build it back up, but acknowledge that they have an uphill battle to climb. Notably, they also address issues of diversity and the barriers traditionally faced by women and people of color, who often find themselves woefully under-represented relative to white men in startup enterprises. Nevertheless, the film’s cautious optimism gives hope, and potential inspiration, to other would-be innovators.
Coming to theatres and VOD tomorrow, Friday, September 23: THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT
Robert Cannan and Ross Adam’s tale of a dictator’s cinephilia bowed at Sundance earlier this year. Screenings followed at Berlin, Cleveland, RiverRun, IFF Boston, Sarasota, Seattle, DocAviv, and Docs Against Gravity.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.
New to VOD this week: RADICAL GRACE
Rebecca Parrish’s profile of social justice activist nuns debuted at Hot Docs last year. Additional screenings followed at AFI Docs, Chicago, Denver, Athena, Ebertfest, Martha’s Vineyard, and Virginia, among other events. It now comes to iTunes, and expands to Vudu and Google Play next week.
Drawn to address injustice and promote equality, three Roman Catholic nuns find themselves facing censure from the Vatican for what’s viewed as their radical feminism. Over the course of several years, Parrish follows these women as they fearlessly risk their standing in the church to follow their conscience, refusing to bow to pressure as they continue their work, from counseling former prisoners to organizing cross-country Nuns on the Bus tours to support the Affordable Care Act, all against the backdrop of a time of change in Catholic leadership, as Pope Benedict XVI surprisingly resigns and is replaced by the progressive Pope Francis. While conventional in approach, the crowdpleasing film features immediately likeable protagonists, refreshingly positive religious role models who don’t come off as preachy.
New to DVD this week: THEY WILL HAVE TO KILL US FIRST
Johanna Schwartz’s profile of musicians exiled over religion debuted at SXSW last year. Screenings followed at London, Göteborg, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision, Hot Docs, Singapore, RIDM, and Durban, among other events.
I previously wrote about the doc here.