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Entries in documentaries (196)

Thursday
Feb252016

The entire history of the directors of the Best Documentary nominees

Tim here. Since Glenn already did such a great job looking at the films that would ultimately be nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar, I wanted to approach that category from a different angle. You might call it the auteur studies approach: I've decided to highlight one film made by each of the directors whose films are up for that award.

And the best part is, you can follow along! Each of these movies is available for streaming... 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb252016

Short Film Contenders Pt 1. Who Will Win?

Eric Blume reporting for duty. We hadn't yet reviewed the short film Oscar nominees so I binged all 15 of this week. Many minds and bladders wander away from the Oscar telecast during these three categories.  Even those of us who claim we’ve “seen everything” have rarely seen all of the entries in the three shorts fields. But pay attention because these winners can bring some of the best moments of the show:  remember the 1991 show when producer Debra Chasnoff won for Documentary Short Subject for the General Electric expose Deadly Deception?  She got to the podium and said “boycott GE!” with a cut to Barbra Streisand smiling and clapping with Kevin Costner right behind her decidedly smiling and not clapping.  We Oscar lovers live for moments like this.

There’s a lot of quality among the three categories this year.  Here’s a quick overview as well as thoughts on who might prevail and why on two of the categories.

Documentary Short Subject

Body Team 12 follows the only female Liberian Red Cross member of a team which comes to remove dead bodies during the Ebola outbreak.  It’s the shortest of the five nominees at only 13 minutes, and therefore it doesn’t have a strong driving narrative, nor does it culminate in a larger meaning.  It simply follows the team while they gear up and remove the bodies, interspersed with an interview from its main subject.  It’s focused and lovely in its simplicity, but it suffers from its brevity. 

Pro:  Ebola.  Con: Uncomplicated.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness follows Saba, a Pakastani girl who is shot and left for dead by her father and uncle in an “honor killing” once she marries the young man she loves.  It’d be hard for anyone with a feminist bone or beating heart in them to not get riled up by this story, and it’s told with restraint and intelligence. 

Pro:  Angry.  Con: Angry.

Eight more shorts after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb202016

Interview: Joshua Oppenheimer and Adi on The Look of Silence

Amir here. I first fell in love with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence in September 2014, at TIFF. It was the last, and best, film I watched at that festival, and it left an emotional mark that I lived with for days. I caught up with the film again when it was released for the public and my conviction that this was one of the best documentary features of all time was reaffirmed – in my book, one of 2015’s holy trinity of films. So, you can understand my excitement when I finally had the chance to speak with director Joshua Oppenheimer, and Adi, the subject of his film.

The Look of Silence, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary, a companion piece to the director’s earlier film The Act of Killing (also nominated in its year), is about the victims of the Indonesian genocide, who live side by side with the men who perpetrated those crimes against their loved ones. In his graceful and compassionate study of these people and their haunted spaces, Oppenheimer finds the language to bring invisible pains to the screen and push the limits of documentary form.

We talk about the relationship between his two films, his experiences in Indonesia, influences on his filmmaking, where documentary cinema stands today, and Adi’s life after the film’s release.

AMIR SOLTANI: I know you’re probably tired of comparisons between your two latest films, but I feel like there’s nowhere else to start but The Act of Killing. There’s a theatrical element to the first film that The Look of Silence, despite being polished, stylized and even often staged, doesn’t have. It’s more formally understated. What initiated your formal approach to the second film?  

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: I think these two films are both rigorously about the present, or rather, the past’s role in the present. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb152016

Berlin: Fire at Sea

Amir Soltani is covering the Berlin International Film Festival for The Film Experience this year, our first time at Berlinale!. Tonight, previous Venice winner, Gianfranco Rosi's Fuocoammare.

Gianfranco Rosi shocked the film world with his Golden Lion win at Venice for Sacro GRA a few years ago. At Berlinale, the true shock would be for his latest film, Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare), to leave the festival empty-handed. The Italian maestro’s seamless hybrid of documentary and fiction is a self-reflexive and compassionate meditation on Italy’s crisis of cultural identity in the face of an unprecedented wave of refugee migration.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb132016

Podcast: Top Ten Edition

Nathaniel,  NickKatey, and Joe discuss their individual top ten lists. (There was a lot to cram in so your host apologizes for some ungraceful edits.)

43 minutes 
We discuss a lot of different titles including but not limited to: The Martian, Creed, Mistress America, Room, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Son of Saul, Spotlight, The Look of Silence and In Jackson Heights.

Related Reading:
15 Best of '15 -Nathaniel's Writeup
Carol Podcast 1 & Carol Podcast 2 ICYMI. it's high on our lists but we don't discuss it much this time due to time constraints

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes soon

Top Ten Discussion

Wednesday
Feb032016

HBO’s LGBT History: The Case Against 8 (2014)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we talked about the thrilling and necessary anger fueling Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, something not even Ryan Murphy’s at times clumsy direction could quell. From that we turn to what might be the limpest most inessential HBO LGBT film I have encountered in this entire series (sorry, The Out List, you had a good run): Ben Cotner and Ryan White’s The Case Against 8.

There’s a fascinating, informative, and entertaining doc to be made about the circuitous road to overturning California’s same-sex marriage ban, but Cotner and White’s film isn’t it...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan132016

HBO LGBT History: 1989 Oscar Flashback Best Documentary

Last week we enjoyed the eloquent musings of one Stephen Sondheim and quibbled over whether Todd Haynes’s intentionally queasy and dizzying take on “I’m Still Here” was worth including in James Lapine’s documentary on the Broadway composer. This week we’re taking a break from our regular programming and going back in time to celebrate one of HBO’s earliest Oscar victories.

As you may or may not know, films produced by HBO have won over 20 Oscars. Last year alone, HBO dominated both documentary categories with Citizenfour and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 emerging victorious in their respective categories. And so, let us travel back to March 1990 when Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (discussed here) won the Best Documentary Oscar. [More...]

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