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Entries in Whose Streets (2)

Tuesday
Dec262017

Doc Corner: Documentary Hits of 2017

Each day a new year-in-review / recap list of sorts. Here's Glenn Dunks

Nathaniel has already looked at the foreign language hits of the year and a the top-grossers for films by or about women, people of colour, LGBTQ and more. Now it's my turn to chime in with a look at what non-fiction movies were doing at the box office. It ain't exactly pretty - but, then, the figures below don't always paint an accurate picture for the world of documentary.

Much like the rest of the independent and arthouse scenes, festivals and VOD/streaming are becoming the primary way for audiences to see documentaries. Some of the most buzzed and most discussed of the year, for instance, are Strong Island, Icarus, Voyeur and Chasing Coral, which never received a theatrical release beyond minimal Oscar-qualifying runs. Meanwhile, other significant 2017 titles like LA 92, Oklahoma City, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds aired on TV.

TOP 40 DOCUMENTARIES FOR 2017
Listed by US Box Office Gross only. Linked titles leads to reviews.
Oscar finalists are in bold 
🔺 = still in theaters (Note: Figures are as of 01/21/2018)

1. BORN IN CHINA $13.8 (April 21st)
As is often the case these days, a Disneynature title tops the chart. However, the figures for these Earth Day releases are diminishing. This one about pandas is the lowest-grossing of the seven Disneynature docs to be theatrically released since Earth in 2009 (so, not including The Crimson Wing: Mysteries of the Flamingo which went curiously unreleased in America). Still, this is a great figure for a nature documentary and as long as they keep churning them out hopefully people keep going in at least these modest numbers.

2. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO $7.1 (February 3rd)
One of the lone bright spots among the first half of the year for arthouses was this Oscar-nominated James Baldwin doc. We may grimace when distributors keep films from the general public, but Magnolia were smart to see they not only had a very likely Oscar contender on their hands (it should have won, but that's not what we're here to discuss), but that there's no way for these films to thrive among the end-of-year prestige glut...

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Tuesday
Aug152017

Doc Corner: 'Whose Streets?'

It has been 25 years since the L.A. riots, an overflowing of racial unrest spurred on by the not guilty verdicts of the police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King. To mark the anniversary, there have been a number of documentaries about it including L.A. 92 and Burn, Motherf*cker, Burn! – unfortunately uncovered by The Film Experience due to access issues. It would be sad enough to watch Sabaah Folayan and co-director Damon Davis’ Whose Streets? in the shadow of that event; a sad indictment that in a quarter of century not much of anything has changed.

However, I sat down to watch this film last night, my digital screener playing in one tab of my internet browser while in another sits a news article about the Charlottesville protests, while in another is Twitter and in another Facebook, both flooded with angry, sad and hopeless words by friends and strangers (some call it a liberal leftist bubble, I call it an oasis) alike not entirely capable of reconciling the fact that actual Nazis have not just made a cultural comeback, but that they have done so with more political and police approval than the Black Lives Matter movement has ever been granted.

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