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Entries in Doc Corner (48)

Tuesday
Feb212017

Doc Corner: The Istanbul Cats of 'Kedi'

In many ways, it’s only natural that a film like Kedi should come along. The internet loves cats, of course. Even if the internet doesn’t necessarily deserve cats. And a documentary about cats is a no-brainer of a concept (we’ll pretend Lil Bub & Friendz doesn’t exist because it is terrible). The real surprise then isn’t that Kedi exists, but that it quietly subverts any lazy reading that people would no doubt all too easily assign to it. Yes, it is the movie about street cats of Istanbul, but that’s just a hook for audiences whose attentions are being torn this way and that. The truth is that Ceyda Torun’s elegant and enchanting Kedi is so much more.

Even if it was just about the cats – what cats they are! In what can only be described as a particularly unique set of casting, Torun’s film shuffles across the city with vignettes about a collection of individual moggies, following them around as they roam the streets, finding food, fighting, hunting, battling for attention from humans who aren’t so much owners as casual caretakers, and thieving fish from markets and ports.

But, as I said, Kedi is much less interested in just being a film about cats. Rather it is a film that uses cats as a platform to dive into the history of a city, its people, its culture, and questioning what our relationship with cats says about us.

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Tuesday
Feb142017

Doc Corner: Ranking the Documentary Short Nominees from Least to Most Depressing

The annual joke is that the Best Documentary Short category is routinely the most depressing, miserable, down-right soul-crushing category of any given list of Oscar nominees. Often it is for very good reason: last year’s subjects included the Ebola plague, capital punishment, honor killings and the Holocaust. This years’ nominees are perhaps a little bit lighter if just for the slim offerings of a happy ending offered up by a few. Nevertheless, we’re going to rank them from least to most depressing because I just watched the movie about end-of-life termination and I need some levity.

With four of the nominees widely available online as well as through the Oscar Nominated Shorts packages currently in limited release and on iTunes, there’s no reason to not have seen them before Oscar night!

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Tuesday
Feb072017

Doc Corner: 'Oklahoma City' As Relevant as Ever

Like many of the best documentaries, Barak Goodman’s Oklahoma City isn’t just about one thing. In fact, despite its title exclusively and definitively referencing the bombing of a federal building – the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil until 9/11 – Goodman’s compelling and ultimately very chilling and concerning film is about a larger swathe of domestic terrorism, detailing how the events of April 19 1995 were the inevitable culmination of an out-of-control spiral of white nationalism and anti-government revolt.

Despite the enormity of the event, the events of Oklahoma City have not been detailed on screen very often. For what reason that is, I’m not sure, but that absence of films (non-fiction or otherwise) would already be enough to allow this Sundance-premiering film extra weight and deserved attention. But in a depressing coincidence, and the reason Goodman’s film is as relevant 22 years later as it is, the wait to make a film has allowed the circumstances of the day, elements of the case that may have been forgotten or lost amid the debris, to hold a greater significance.

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Tuesday
Jan312017

Doc Corner Goes to Slamdance

by Glenn Dunks

Okay, so if we had really gone to Slamdance I feel like you would have noticed with some extra coverage given that it runs at the same time and in the same city as Sundance. So despite not travelling to the snowy surrounds of Park City, I was still nonetheless lucky enough to get a peek at Slamdance’s documentary slate. And here we are telling you about FIVE of the titles in this super-sized edition of Doc Corner. Those five include outback savages, musical amateurs and geniuses and more that should be coming to festivals and VOD over the next year...

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Tuesday
Jan242017

Doc Corner: The Non-Fiction Class of 2016

This year’s Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature was a fiercely competitive one. With the strength of the 15-wide finalists list, quite frankly, it would have been hard to give us a truly bad line-up. We particularly weep for the omissions of Cameraperson, Tower, Zero Days and Weiner, but personal grouching aside about a couple of the nominees, this year’s batch is quite something. We have three films about race (one with queer undertones), a foreign language title, and the longest film ever nominated for an Academy Award.

The nominees are:

• Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi, Donatella Palermo)
• I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, Hébert Peck)
• O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow)
• Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams, Julie Goldman)
• 13th (Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, Howard Barish)

We will be looking at the documentary short nominees later (I have one title left to watch, which is proving difficult!), but now we're going to hypothesize how the doc feature nominees did it. Let us break down the imaginary math…

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Doc Corner: The Timely Reminder of 'Antarctica: Ice and Sky'

Director Luc Jacquet ventures into the past to show us our future in Antarctica: Ice and Sky, one of the best enviro-docs that I have seen in recent times. A film about climate change that revels in the captivating splendour of its natural subject as much as it does science and the ravages of humanity. It’s an appropriate film to watch right on the outset of what could very well be four of the most environmentally disastrous years on record. A timely reminder that even in the depths of the Cold War, the USA, France and Russia worked together for the greater good of the planet.

Like he did with Oscar-winning March of the Penguins, Jacquet shows a distinct knack for taking the potentially dry blueprint of a nature documentary and manipulate it into something more broadly cinematic. With the particularly impressive work of editor of Stéphane Mazalaigue, Jacquet has taken the 16mm archival footage of French glaciologist Claude Lorius’s expeditions to Antarctica and turned them into a compelling, thrilling story of scientific breakthroughs.

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Tuesday
Jan102017

Doc Corner: Debbie and Carrie's Bright Lights

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.” That was Meryl Streep at last weekend’s Golden Globe Awards ending her lifetime achievement speech with a quote by her friend Carrie Fisher. Despite working as a suitable mantra for much of Fisher’s autobiographical work, a broken heart lingers over Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, not just because the pair passed away in quick succession leaving behind generations of fans whose lives were forever changed by this most unique mother and daughter team.

No, there is also the very real breaking heart of Fisher who saw her mother’s health deteriorating and decided she needed to document her mother while she still had the chance. How was she or any of us to know the tragic circumstances that would befall the two of them and surround Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens’ documentary.

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