In Theatres: THE CHALLENGE

Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 8:
THE CHALLENGE

Director:
Yuri Ancarani

Premiere:
Locarno 2016

Select Festivals:
IDFA, Hot Docs, Edinburgh, SXSW, Dubai, New Directors/New Films, True/False, Thessaloniki Doc, Göteborg, Encounters, Taipei, Traverse City, Melbourne, Docs Against Gravity, Docaviv, San Francisco

About:
A privileged look at the lives of ultra-rich Qatari amateur falconers.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: COMPANY TOWN

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 8:
COMPANY TOWN

Directors:
Natalie Kottke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian

Premiere:
Los Angeles 2016

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, Mill Valley, Hot Springs Doc, Wild & Scenic

About:
Residents of a small Arkansas town fight back against the dangers of a nearby industrial plant.

Crossett AR, population 5500, is the site of Georgia-Pacific, one of the largest paper-products manufacturers in the country, and a subsidiary of Koch Industries. While many of Crossett’s residents are dependent on the company for their livelihood, it’s very presence may be costing them their lives. Cancer clusters and serious medical conditions abound, with allegations of toxic chemical dumping blamed, and a cover-up that shields Georgia-Pacific from accountability. The filmmakers delve into this small town public health emergency, profiling a local pastor and former plant employee, David Bouie, who himself suffers from health concerns, as he tries to bring attention to Crossett’s plight, aided by testimony from other afflicted citizens and a former Georgia-Pacific contractor turned whistleblower. Kottke-Masocco and Sardarian lay out the evidence against the company in a clear manner, but in the absence of a clear resolution for Crossett’s situation, their film is less a fully satisfying story and more of a small-scale call to action.

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On TV: TYRUS

Photograph by Irene Poon Andersen.

Coming to PBS’s American Masters tomorrow, Friday, September 8:
TYRUS

Director:
Pamela Tom

Premiere:
Telluride 2015

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, Hawaii, Asian American fests in NYC, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle

About:
A portrait of artist Tyrus Wong, best known for inspiring the look of Disney’s BAMBI.

Wong died at the age of 106 last year and only late in life received proper acknowledgement for his contributions to the Disney classic, as well as scores of other films during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Tom’s tribute, while conventionally constructed, benefits greatly from the artist’s participation in extensive interviews, demonstrating warmth and offering personal reflections on his long, varied career as an artist. In addition to developing inspirational artwork for BAMBI and serving as a production illustrator for Warner Bros, Wong’s oeuvre includes Hallmark greeting cards, kite-making, and ceramic design. The supercentenarian relates his background, emigrating from China to California as a child, and how his father supported his at-the-time unusual career path as an artist, as well as the economic difficulties and racial discrimination that kept his work under-appreciated and unheralded for decades.

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In Theatres: TROPHY

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 8:
TROPHY

Directors:
Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau

Premiere:
Sundance 2017

Select Festivals:
SXSW,CPH:DOX, Full Frame, Dallas, Encounters, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Moscow, Sun Valley, Montclair

About:
An exploration of the complex intersections between wildlife conservation and big game hunting.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Toronto 2017: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival

Dates:
September 7-17

About:
The annual North American Fall mecca for the film industry has deliberately slimmed down its lineup, offering just over 250 features vs last year’s near 300, with nonfiction accounting for just under 40 slots, compared to last year’s approximately 60 doc or hybrid presentations. Continue reading

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On DVD: THE APOLOGY

New to DVD this week:
THE APOLOGY

Director:
Tiffany Hsiung

Premiere:
Hot Docs 2016

Select Festivals:
Human Rights Watch, Göteborg, Vilnius, Busan, Cork, Cinemalaya, DocPoint

About:
Former comfort women speak out about the abuse they suffered in WWII.

While the Imperial Japanese Army’s use of sex slaves has already been well-documented as a devastating human rights abuse during wartime, the nation of Japan has yet to officially acknowledge this barbarous practice. With former so-called “comfort women” usually shamed into silence in the decades since World War II, and their aging population dwindling, some have begun to speak out. Hsiung’s impactful film profiles three, hailing from South Korea, China, and the Philippines, to share their harrowing stories, while also following their efforts to receive the titular apology from Japan, only to face further stigmatization and scorn. Hsiung does justice to her subjects’ stories, with the film’s somewhat overlong running time and plodding score the only real missteps, making the project feel even heavier for an already difficult topic.

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In Theatres: MOTHERLAND

Coming to theatres this Friday, September 8:
MOTHERLAND

Director:
Ramona Diaz

Premiere:
Sundance 2017

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Berlin, Docville, San Francisco, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, Montclair, Docaviv, Sheffield, Sydney, Melbourne, Moscow

About:
An immersion into the world’s busiest maternity ward.

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

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