Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Festival Favorites, Part 3

March 11, 2010

A lot of quality rounds out the section seeking to capture the best of the fests. Winter’s Bone has already attracted garlands from Sundance and could become a film of the year. Then there’s Harmony Korine’s latest atrocity Trash Humpers. The real gem, though, may well be Det røde kapel, whose trailer implies it could be the looniest caper ever set in North Korea. Skip seeing that lousy R&B band and add these to your checklist. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read our SXSW Preview: Headliners here.
Read our SXSW 2010 Preview: Spotlight Premieres, Part 1 here.
Read our SXSW 2010 Preview: Spotlight Premieres, Part 2 here.

The Oath

My Country, My Country director Laura Poitras’ new doc reaches SXSW after hitting Sundance and Berlin. Poitras has taken a ride Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur and his brother-in-law. Both were former members of al Qaeda who ended up taking very different turns. In probing their choices, Poitras digs up the roots of fanaticism and hints at a future that lies beyond suicide bombings and online beheadings.

Det røde kapel (The Red Chapel)

Simon Jul Jorgensen and Jacob Nossell wanted to visit North Korea to perform their revue The Red Chapel. They invited director Mads Brügger along. He took a camera. What follows seems hardly believable, not least because one of the Korean-born comics is a spastic and everyone might be insane. Having seen the trailer, one YouTube commentator begs the question, “How did they get out alive?”

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Festival Favorites, Part 2

March 11, 2010

Is Sundance a little out of your price range, but a Greyhound bus ticket to Austin can be accommodated? Than Festival Favorites is the category for you. Here are the highlights of festivals gone have been cherry-picked … well, perhaps combine-harvested is closer to the truth. Still, all the way from Cannes comes the celebrated Kynodontas; there’s the hit Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-seller; and finally Last Train Home might make you a little more appreciative of the Austin bus terminal. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.

How to Fold a Flag

What happens when the war is over? With the impressive Iraqi war documentaries Gunner Palace and The Prisoner to their credit, Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein decided to find out. They follow four soldiers picking up the pieces after life on the firing line. Their post-war ambitions range from Jon Powers’ quest for a seat in Congress to achieving glory in the cage fighting ring.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Basquiat began his artistic life as “SAMO,” the graffiti philosopher of the 1980s New York downtown scene. He ended it with a needle in his arm, having alienated many of his friends and deciding that money was the only measure of artistic success. Music video director, Beastie Boy spouse and onetime Basquiat pal Tamra Davis tells the artistic poster boy’s story.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Festival Favorites, Part 1

March 11, 2010

They can’t all be world premieres, you know. So quit your complaining and suck up the cream of the other festivals, lovingly curated for you by an underpaid festival staffer. Floating on the surface of the great cinematic morass are the new film from Steven Soderbergh (good news, it’s shorter than Che!) and Michael Caine adding some dodder to Death Wish. Among the documentaries, the wistful trembling of Michel Gondry’s family tree is matched only by the weirdness of the global baby market. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.

And Everything is Going Fine

A guy sitting behind the desk is not everybody’s idea of entertainment. Spalding Gray, however, wasn’t everybody. His monologues explored history, show business, and his complex personal history and ailments in a way that was as riveting as open-heart surgery. Collaborator Steven Soderbergh has drawn on 90 hours of footage to fashion the late performer’s neurotic autobiography.

Crying With Laughter

Cinema has never really gotten to grips with the lonely hell of the stand-up comic. Maybe spritzing for a living is just too much of a one man show. Director Justin Molotnikov’s Scottish take adds a helping of revenge to the patter. Joey (Stephen McCole) tells a funny tale onstage about an old school friend. Alas, the buddy is in the audience and he ain’t laughing. This is one heckler Joey is going to regret snapping back at.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: SX Global

March 11, 2010

There is more to life than Texas. Although, as any Texan will tell you, not much more. So hurrah to SXSW for looking beyond its borders to the world outside. While the inclusion of a Native American-themed documentary in the “global” slot is troubling, the rest of the lineup fulfills its brief. In the U.K., CCTVs and databases makes Daily Mail readers of us all. There’s glimpses of Finnish living rooms and the very edges of time. There’s love, loss, incarceration, impotency, death. When all else fails, there’s always Viagra to act as our troubled planet’s the great uniter. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.

The DeVilles

Teri Lee Geary is a burlesque performer who looks like Marilyn Monroe and swings her tassels by the name of Kitten DeVille. She’s married to punk rocker Shawn Geary. DeVille is obsessed by the 1950s of Eisenhower. He’s mired in the 1980s. Now, after a quarter century of mismatched bliss, it’s coming undone. Documentary filmmaker Nicole Nielsen Horanyi is there to film the kitschy Strindberg action.

Erasing David

Keen to find out how much the U.K. government and its corporate databases know about him, filmmaker David Bond (Lions of Green) drops off the grid. Then he hires a pair of detectives to find him using available information. As another film once put it, we live in public. Bond’s discoveries, however, serve to fuel his paranoia about living in the surveillance state of Knifecrime Island.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: 24 Beats Per Second

March 11, 2010

Closely paired with the SXSW music festival as it is, seems only fitting that the Film Festival dedicates a swathe of programming to films about music. If writing about music, though, is like dancing about architecture, than making a movie about music is like building a novel. To help you chew over that little pensee, here’s a celluloid mixtape highlighting the ethno-funk of David Byrne, the poison pen of Magnetic Fields, the rock ‘n’ roll riot of Tehran, the continental drift of Broken Social Scene and the prune juice of Levon Helm. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.

Ain’t in It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm

With Robbie Robertson gone Hollywood and both Rick Danko and Robert Manuel plucking harps, it’s up to drummer Helm to shoulder The Band’s cosmic Americana spirit. This EPK highlights the creation and promotion of Helm’s acclaimed 2007 album Dirt Farmer. The irascible coot spices the brew with stories from the frontlines of addiction, pestilence and bankruptcy. Directed by Jacob Hanley Hatley.

Beyond Ipanema – Brazilian Waves in Global Music

Brazil often seems like America’s reflection on the other side of the equator. The two countries have enjoyed an uneasy cultural relationship where we give them Homer Simpson in return for Joao Gilberto. Guto Barra’s tuneful documentary charts the musical exchange, from the early days of Carmen Miranda and her fruit basket titfer to Talking Heads’ promotion of the tropicalia movement led by Caetano Veloso. Formerly known as Beyond Ipanema – America’s Love Affair With Brazilian Music.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Lone Star States

March 11, 2010

Texas has been a movie hotbed ever since Clyde Barrow howled from his mother’s womb back in 1909. Unlike some other film festivals that will remain nameless, SXSW makes a point of highlighting both the homegrown talent and films with a local connection. This year’s array includes a profile of architect Samuel Mockbee (who is actually from Mississippi, but it’s close enough), a legendary Houston folk venue, and the incredibly true story of the funkiest high school music program around. Click on the titles to watch trailers and more.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.

Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio

While most architects content themselves with abstract monuments to genitalia, Samuel Mockbee conceived of an artistic practice that honored rural ways and materials. In West Alabama, he founded the Rural Studio program and educated students in socially responsible erections. Sam Wainwright Douglas interviews the master and watches a promising student put ideas into action for his down ‘n’ out client.

For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair

The Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant first opened its doors in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood in 1970. We can’t speak for the quality of their “Killer Nachos,” but folk-buddies know it as a legendary venue that has hosted names like Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, and Lucinda Williams. Bruce Bryant’s homespun documentary will make music lovers hungry for Tex Mex with a side of murder ballad.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Emerging Visions, Part 2

March 11, 2010

First-time filmmakers often feel like they’re buried beneath the topsoil of indifference. Fortunately, SXSW is there ready with a shovel to help them arise blinking into the bright light shed by Indiewire.com. In the second part of our prEView (see what we did there?), there is among the budding sprouts films about aging, death, vengeance, and poverty. On the brighter side, there’s also a sure candidate for the greatest movie ever made about a parking lot. We’re serious! Click on the titles to watch trailers and more.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.

The Parking Lot Movie

To many, the parking lot is just a parking lot. To the attendants of a Charlottesville, Va., business, it’s a livelihood, a way station between brighter things, or possibly the most rewarding job of their lives. Meghan Eckman and Christopher Hlad hope to do for the humble tarmac what Spellbound did for spelling bees. It’s safe to say that you will never look at a sign reading “$5 for the half hour” the same way again.

Passenger Pigeons

The coalfields of Eastern Kentucky are the terminal backdrop for an intersecting series of narratives. Since that’s about all we know about writer-director Martha Stephens film—aside from the fact that a dead miner looms over all our characters—we’ll remind you that the region has given us such country music acts as Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, the Judds and Tom T. Hall.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Emerging Visions, Part 1

March 11, 2010

The legendary Austin hospitality is especially extended to first-time filmmakers. That’s what the Emerging Visions section is about—highlighting the talent making the move from attention-getting short to career-making features. In with a chance this time around are documentaries tackling topics like Bill Hicks and bears, as well as features revolving around mung beans and android love.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.

11/4/2008

Remember 2008? Man, wasn’t that a time! We were all running around, registering to vote, filled with hope in our hearts, shouting “Yes, we can!” at the top of their lungs … 2010 and the suck has set in. That hasn’t stopped director Jeff Deutchman, so inspired by the spirit of the times that he made this documentary on what people were doing the day Barack Obama was elected president.

A Different Path

For many, getting to work means jumping into the car and enduring a slow commute to the infernal chatter of morning zoo radio. Problem is, all this four-wheeled to-ing and fro-ing is killing our planet by degrees. Monteith McCollum took his cameras and went looking for those who do it differently. He found a quartet of characters who have taken to the pavement and waterways to get to work.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Documentary Features Competition

March 11, 2010

It’s a cliché that truth is stranger than fiction. It’s also a sign of our creative bankruptcy that we’re opening up this paragraph with such a hoary old fossil. Surveying the field in SXSW’s nonfiction film competition, however, is to look upon a group that’s bursting with eccentric characters—the guru of Ecstasy, anyone?—and hot button issues. This year, the jury can expect to be taken from Beijing to Afghanistan to Sierra Leone to a world in one man’s backyard. Time to switch the brain into its “on” position. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.

Beijing Taxi

In the Chinese capital of Beijing, the taxi-drivers are notoriously garrulous, willing to discuss anything from politics to what’s for dinner with their passengers. Filmmaker Miao Wang uses these characters as the lens through which to view a changing nation opening its doors for the 2008 Olympics. The trauma of accelerated redevelopment is seen through their windshields. Don’t forget to tip.

Camp Victory, Afghanistan

Our exit strategy in Afghanistan involves educating the country’s nascent army in how to keep their lawless country under the boot-heel. That task is down to the U.S. National Guard, who Carol Dysinger followed as they trained a green battalion in the ways of martial law. She captures inexperienced military men facing fresh challenges, as well as the unlikely friendships forming between teachers and students. Heartwarming.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Spotlight Premieres, Part 2

March 10, 2010

The film fiend stalking the streets of Austin has many questions. How does an episode of Saturday Night Live come together? How can I blast off into space? Was Thomas Wolfe right when he said you can’t go home again? What does Lemmy’s carpet smell like? Unlike anybody outside Austin City Limits from March 12 to March 20, the fiend has the answers within reach. They’re among the topics tackled head-on a series of features and documentaries getting their premiere at the SXSW Film Festival this year.

Read our SXSW Film Festival: Headliners preview here.
Read our SXSW Film Festival: Spotlight Premieres, Part 1 preview here.

Leaves of Grass

At long last, this adaptation of Walt Whitman’s … [please read the IMDB synopses you’re meant to be ripping off first – Ed.] Oh. Ed Norton follows in the footsteps of Jeremy Irons, Christian Bale and Nicholas Cage, playing identical twins in a thriller written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson (O). Keri Russell and Melanie Lynskey are the lovelies who we hope get into the bed with the right Ed.

Lebanon, Pa.

The Pennsylvania town inspired the Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Red-headed League” and is the home of some legendary bologna. But it takes a funeral to lure big city ad executive Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town) back to his hometown. There he bonds with his teenage cousin and has the plastic scales lifted from his bourgeois eyes in writer-director Ben Hickernell’s film. With Mary Beth Hurt.

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