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Entries in documentaries (375)

Wednesday
Mar202019

Doc Corner: Feminist History of Revolution in ¡Las Sandinistas!

By Glenn Dunks

A feminist tribute to the female soldiers of Nicaragua’s underground rebellion, Jenny Murray’s debut feature ¡Las Sandinistas! is an appropriately-timed documentary about the capacity of women in times of social upheaval and democratic unrest. It is an often-thrilling account of a revolution that represents in part the keen importance of women creatives behind the camera as a way of hunting stories that have gone previously unexplored and unexamined in film and yet hold worth to contemporary audiences.

Murray, who also produced and edited ¡Las Sandinistas! after a pair of short films (she is also an actress), has struck upon really fascinating subjects and it’s both her luck and ours that many are still alive and able to tell their stories...

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Monday
Mar182019

The winning films from SXSW and SLO Festivals

Austin's SXSW extravaganza (it's not just films there but music and comedy festivals simultaneously) and San Luis Obispo's 25th anniversary film festivals are both a wrap. And with festival wraps come jury and audience prizes! While each year's mainstream gold rush culminating in the Oscars sometimes get snarky reactions in terms of all the back-patting of already über successful people, festival prizes are different. They can be career-making or at least significantly augmenting moments for indie filmmakers, who don't have the benefit of millions in P&A budgets or A list careers to bolster public interest. Awards are often the way artists can begin to forge a creative career. So keep an eye out on these titles and people in case they work their way around to you.

SXSW WINNERS

Saint Frances

NARRATIVE, AUDIENCE AWARDS
• Main Slate: Saint Frances (Alex Thompson) This dramedy is about a young woman who takes a job as a nanny shortly after having an abortion.
• "Headliners": Longshot (Jonathan Levine) New comedy starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen
• "Spotlight": The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz) <-- Abe reviewed this one for us. Shia Labeouf stars...

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Saturday
Mar162019

SLO Film Fest: Wolves, Sharks, and that "Delicate Balance" 

Nathaniel R reporting from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

After a delightful trip back to 1969 iconography and disturbing peek back at 1933 fascism, the San Luis Obispo's 25th festival threw us directly into the immediate now with three engaging documentaries exploring very real, very urgent problems with our ecosystems, relationships with animal life, and the dehumanizing dangers of globalism and late stage capitalism. That may sound depressing, and it was to an extent, but all three films were suffused with enough passion and optimism to make their bitter pills easier to swallow.

The shortest and "lightest" of these with Collin Monda's hour-long documentary The Trouble With Wolves, which is locked but not quite finished (needing funds to complete its rights clearances and such). It's a surprisingly nuanced look at the success and aftershocks of a 1995 federal program to reintroduce gray wolves to the US via Yellowstone National Park.

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Wednesday
Mar132019

Doc Corner: Fyre Festival, Jean-Luc Godard and Eureka in First-Quarter Round-Up

By Glenn Dunks

We sometimes get so carried away with Oscar and all things award season adjacent that we forget there are very real movies being released in those first couple of months of the year. After last week's very topical Leaving Neverland review, we're going to back back into January and February and pluck out a few titles we have seen: Fyre, The Image Book, and The Gospel According to Eureka. 

FYRE 
It's not very often that Shoah comes up in conversation at a party, but there we were when somebody asked me about Fyre, the new documentary from the director of American Movie, Chris Smith. I had said I would rather watch all nine and a half hours of Holocaust testimonials than I would watch another 90 minutes of Fyre (including the adjacent Hulu documentary Fyre Fraud that I have no endured). I may have been several margaritas down and it may come off as unnecessary flippant, and yet here I am weeks later and it is a sentiment I would stand by...

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Tuesday
Mar052019

Doc Corner: 'Leaving Neverland'

By Glenn Dunks

Please note this review discusses topics that will be upsetting to some readers.

How long is too long for a film like Leaving Neverland? Not long enough, it would seem. Don’t get me wrong – watching Dan Reed’s four-hour document of the physical and psychological abuses heaped onto two underage boys in the 1990s by the most famous man in the world, Michael Jackson, is rough-going. It’s sickening, it’s confronting, and its hard to sit through. It’s also compelling and I, for one, believe them. --  I figure I should get that out of the way right at the top.

Reed does something great with with this material, which could so easily have been sensationalized or turned into cheap, ghoulish true crime fodder. His approach is elegant, refined and simple and yet holds the weight that such a discussion deserves...

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Thursday
Feb142019

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

by Glenn Dunks

After doing this ranking system two years ago, we took 2017 off because – in a rarity for the Best Documentary Short Subject category – most of the nominees were actually not entirely miserable! This year the branch has gone back to films that make us feel deeply sad about the world in which we live. That’s not a bad thing since, if any category should be able to confront the inequalities, the traumas, the tragedies, the inhumanities of this world, then documentary short films are it.

This year’s nominees cover themes both familiar and yet distressingly contemporary: the refugee crisis, race, the rise of fascism and Nazism in mainstream politics, third world inequalities and death.They’re certainly not the happiest lot of film you’ll ever see. They do, however, make for a solid roster of nominees...

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Wednesday
Feb132019

Berlinale 2019: Three queer selections, a doc from the Sudan, and one walkout

Hallo! Seán here reporting from the 2019 Berlinale. It's the first big European film festival of the year, where new work premieres, deals get made, parties go on (and on) and where cinephiles prove their love of film by standing around in the freezing cold. I'm doing my best "Berlinale business bear" I'm here in an offical capacity: getting a first look at the queer TEDDY titles (which we'll talk about after the jump) and the short films for festivals in London and Dublin, but aside from that I'm also here to enjoy the film festival experience i.e. standing in the wrong line and walking in completely cold to something truly bizarre and extraordinary.

The Berlinale has many distinct and diverse sections, each with their own different forms and appeal. As someone who (a year later) is only a year later beginning to figure this out, allow me to impart my knowledge on the sections before we jump into the queer selection...

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