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Ritesh Batra on Photograph


Daniel Schmidt and Gabriel Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
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Entries in Doc Corner (146)


Pride Month Doc Corner: Activists, Fighters and Organizers

By Glenn Dunks

Once again, The Film Experience and Doc Corner is celebrating Pride Month with a focus on documentaries that tackle LGBTIQ themes.

This week I am looking at four films, each of which focus around the fight for equality and LGBTIQ history across America. My favourite of the group is Southern Pride, a continuation of director Malcolm Ingram’s first documentary Small Town Gay Bar. Where that film navigated the communities around the bars Rumors and Crossroads, Southern Pride delves into two different bars – Just Us Lounge in Biloxi and KlubXclusive in Hattiesburg – as they attempt to pride events on the state’s gulf coast, the first of their kind.

Just Us owner Lynn Koval is the force behind the primary event with even RuPaul’s Drag Race competitor Gia Gunn booked, while KlubX’s Shawn Perryon, the recipient of a racist jailing for pot, who seeks to build a home for the region’s black queer population and with her own Unapologetic Black Gay Pride event.

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Pride Month Doc Corner: 'Halston'

By Glenn Dunks

Once again, The Film Experience and Doc Corner is celebrating Pride Month with a focus on documentaries that tackle LGBTIQ themes. This week is Halston, a fashion bio-doc about the famed American designer.

He was arguably the most famous out homosexual in America; feted by magazines and talk-shows, lauded in name by celebrities from coast to coast. A man of a certain time who emerged timeless; a pillar of an industry that had remained strikingly insular until his brand helped bring it to the American masses. Roy Halston Frowick left his impressionable mark on history early on, designing First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic pillbox hat and translated that mark of destiny through a career that weaved down runways, across discotheques and into department stores.

His life is given an appropriately razzle-dazzle treatment in Halston from director Frédérick Tcheng. Told through the unusual narrative device of a fictional, unknown woman researching his life through video tapes, Halston is one of the more formally interesting examples of the fashion bio-doc genre and is infused with an atmosphere that is as slinky as one of his bias-cut dresses while also embracing his extravagant Manhattan lifestyle of chic glass offices, limousines and cocaine that evoke an era of lavish and queer excess.

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Doc Corner: Dancing About Architecture in 'The Proposal'

By Glenn Dunks

There is an architectural quality to Jill Magid’s debut feature. Appropriate since it is about architect Luis Barragán. Not that that has stopped bio-docs about artists before lacking an ounce of artistry, but Magid has transferred her talents over well to the cinematic artform; among all of the wonderful things that The Proposal has going for it, it’s one of the most beautiful documentaries of the year.

This is hardly surprising given cinematographer Jarred Alterman is one of the most exciting names in the field and whose work on Bisbee ’17 and Contemporary Color were among those films’ most valuable assets.

Barragán, who died in 1988, remains Mexico’s most celebrated and acclaimed architect and with this film it is not hard to see why. “The artist among architects”, he was called.

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Doc Corner: On the Ice with 'The Russian Five'

By Glenn Dunks

Ice hockey is not a sport I tend to pay any attention to. As an Australian, it’s barely on my radar outside of the movies. And even then, my mind only goes to the fab Canadian film Goon and Michael Ontkean’s jockstrap in Slapshot as worth the time (despite being of the generation, I was never much of a Mighty Ducks devotee). Still, I know a good story when I see one and like other documentaries about pro sports I could not give any less of a hoot about – titles like Senna and When We Were Kings, for instance – this new passionately-realized debut feature from director Joshua Riehl got me involved in its sport, its personalities and its man-made mythos.

And how! As a noted non-cryer at the movies, I can say I shed several tears by the end of The Russian Five and Its story of stubborn devotion, emotional anguish, and underdog triumph.

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Doc Corner: Global Politics with AOC, Herzog, and Gorbachev

By Glenn Dunks

Two new documentaries cover politics in very different ways. One pounds the pavement on the trail of a brewing political movement from a relative newcomer, while the other examines the legacy of a presidential icon as directed by a man with nearly 40 documentary credits (and dozens more dramas) to his name.

Knock Down the House and Meeting Gorbachev are a fascinating pair; the scrappy underdog and the classic image of government. Although they have almost nothing in common beyond the surface, they offset one another, their strengths highlighting the others’ weaknesses in a particular way. One stands above the other in quality and in the sly way that they interrogate the long shadow of history...

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Doc Corner: The First Female Film Director in 'Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché'

By Glenn Dunks

For a film about a little-known name of early silent cinema, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché sure does come out of the gates swinging. Swinging and sweeping and swooping and spinning and kicking and ecstatically careening through the streets of Paris. The opening passages of Pamela B. Green’s revelatory documentary are so frenetically paced that it’s almost exhausting. When I posited that none other than Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! was an inspiration, the film’s own Twitter feed confirmed it. Indeed.

And it’s not just the opening, too. The entirety of this film is surprisingly fast-paced, often editing its collage of film clips, archival video, contemporary exploration and talking heads into a dizzying soup of cinematic nostalgia...

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