WE ♥ DOCS
"Demands its place in front of our eyes and compels our engagement and action." The official UK trailer has debuted online for an award-winning documentary called Fire at Sea, examining the migrant crisis in Italy as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old local boy living on the island of Lampedusa. This doc won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the top prize, winning over a handful of other feature films. There's definitely a political side to that win, but it also looks like a fantastic doc which rave reviews throughout the fest. Written and directed by Gianfranco Rosi, the film follows a boy named Samuele, while examining the cultural impact of a small town on an island where thousands of migrants land on the shores every week.
"Something as simple and innocuous as this becomes a challenge for all of us to maintain accountability control…" Magnolia has debuted a second trailer (see the first one here) for the documentary Zero Days, the latest from Alex Gibney, profiling the "Stuxnet" virus. The documentary premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (read my review) and it's actually about the beginning of the cyber warfare era that we've quietly entered. This trailer barely scratches the surface of what they get into with this doc, though it does feature some of the really chilling lines and moments where you start to realize this is a global issue. This doc is terrifying in the way it makes you feel out of control with what's happening in this world. Enjoy.
With the conversion to digital cinema nearly complete worldwide, will 35mm still live on somewhere? This documentary is proof that yes, a love for film and 35mm projection will live on forever, even in the most remote places in the world where it's hard to even get electricity. The Cinema Travelers is a documentary made by directors Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya and it profiles a traveling cinema in India, which shows up in desolate places of the country with very basic projection rigs to show classic films to swarms of people. It is absolutely wonderful to discover, capturing so spectacularly the joy and wonder that movies bring to people of all ages. It evokes the same emotions as Cinema Paradiso, but this is all real life.
"We could hear laughter coming out of the vents…" Magnolia Pictures has debuted a trailer for the weird, fantastic, crazy documentary Tickled, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Made in New Zealand, the doc follows a journalist named David Farrier as he investigates the people behind "competitive endurance tickling" videos posted online. He ends up in a "wormhole" of madness when he is threatened in every way possible by the entity that is supposedly behind everything. It received rave reviews at the fest, and this trailer has some great quotes in it. I wrote in my Sundance review: "Every new discovery is more insane than the last, and watching it unfold this way was both terrifying and exhilarating." Dive in.
"This shot carries a memory within it." Kino Lorber has debuted a trailer for the documentary called Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang, directed by Walter Salles, taking a look at the life of famed Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke. It looks like a fantastic documentary with some incredible footage of Jia Zhangke in China, and all over the world. Salles last directed the Jack Kerouac adaptation On the Road, but returns to docs to make this stunning feature on another very talented filmmaker/storyteller - Jia Zhangke, of films like A Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart, Still Life, 24 City, The World and many others. This is a rather beautiful trailer with some poetic imagery, it really makes me want to see this documentary. Watch below.
"He had a million ideas! And had a huge influence on the course of popular culture." Amazon and Gland Power Films + Cartuna present the full official trailer for the documentary NUTS!, from filmmaker Penny Lane. This totally wacky, almost unbelievable true story documentary examines the life of a person named John R. Brinkley, one of the most impressive snake oil salesmen in US history, who made his fortune by surgically attaching goat testicles to men to cure impotence. It was all BS and this amazing doc turns it into an even more entertaining story by hand-animating half of it, as well as presenting bits of archival footage and interviews. Brinkley goes on to run a radio station and come up with all kinds of crazy ideas. Have at it.
"We wanted something different…" Are you ready for this? FilmRise Releasing has debuted the first trailer for a documentary called Holy Hell, from director Will Allen, profiling twenty years inside a religious cult called The Buddhafield. The doc premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year to much acclaim as it truly does include over twenty years of footage, since Allen joined the cult fresh out of school and became their official videographer. I saw the doc at Sundance and it's one of the most definitive inside looks at how a cult works, featuring interviews with many ex-members and so much remarkable footage. If you're at all curious, or intrigued, or baffled by any of this, I highly recommend catching this doc when it open this May.
"Are you somebody I'm supposed to know?" Sundance Selects has debuted the first official trailer for Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg's documentary Weiner, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The doc is an "examination of disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner's mayoral campaign and the landscape of today's political landscape." I heard rave reviews from many of my friends while at Sundance, meaning it's more than just a story about Anthony Weiner and has much more to say about what's going on with politics. This is a great trailer - the kind that shows you just enough, pulls you in, makes you curious about seeing the entire film. Looking forward to catching this.
Happy Earth Day! To celebrate the occasion, I wanted to feature a trailer for a documentary about climate change and what we can do to save this big, beautiful planet we all live on. Time to Choose is the latest documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson (of Inside Job, which won Best Doc in 2010; No End in Sight) and it focuses on the many people around the world actually coming up with and implementing creative solutions to the climate problem. It's a fantastic doc that I highly recommend. "We hope that when audiences see this film, they will see the tragedy unfolding, the urgency of stopping it, and all the remarkable and innovative ways we are using to build a sustainable, prosperous future for Earth."
"Being a director is being a watcher. We have a lot of egos in the room, and you have to sort of watch how they interact with each other." Get a load of this! A24 has debuted a trailer for the documentary De Palma, from directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow profiling filmmaking Brian De Palma, who has made plenty of memorable movies between Mission Impossible, Carrie, Scarface and Blow Out. This new doc examines his entire career and the way he pushed back against the values of Hollywood at the time he was making films early in his career. It first premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year to mostly positive reviews, even though it seems they only have one long interview with De Palma in one location. For anyone who loves filmmakers or the art of making movies, this is a must see documentary. Get your first look below.
One of the most talented, influential, and iconoclastic filmmakers of all time, Brian De Palma's career started in the 60s and has included such acclaimed and diverse films as Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, and Mission: Impossible. Take a look at the new poster for the new documentary about filmmaker Brian De Palma, titled simply just De Palma, from directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year to glowing reviews from critics and was picked up by A24 for release this year. They've put out the first poster which features artistic imagery of De Palma and some of the iconic scenes from his films outside the window next to him.
"All we can do is kick the first door open." Kick it in and make some noise! First Run Features has debuted an official trailer for a documentary called Unlocking the Cage, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this January and profiles animal rights lawyer Steven Wise and his attempt to make sure all animals are recognized with rights just like humans. Co-directed by Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker, the film follows Wise around between 2013 and 2015 as he attempts to find any and all "non-human" clients for his campaign to help them establish legal person-hood. This actually looks like a very intriguing and timely film that captures a key moment in history, somewhat like Blackfish and other recent animal activism docs.
As an avid photographer myself, I truly love coming across a documentary that expands my mind about the artistic qualities and emotional power of excellent photography. Along with The Salt of the Earth (about legendary photographer Sebastião Salgado), the documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures is the latest to leave me floored. This utterly inspiring and eye-opening doc examines the (entire) life of Robert Mapplethorpe, a controversial gay photographer whose work was banned from museums in the 90s because it was deemed too obscene. Boy were they wrong. Hearing him talk about his life and then seeing the photos he produced - I couldn't help repeating in my mind, "this guy is a true master of photography." Seriously.
"Sounds like trouble, is what it sounds like." Gravitas Ventures has debuted a trailer for the documentary Fastball, produced by Legendary Pictures and directed by Jonathan Hock, with narration by actor Kevin Costner. The film examines "the magic within the 396 milliseconds it takes a fastball to reach home plate" and focuses on the greatest fastball pitchers in the sport's history, attempting to figure out who threw the fastest pitch. There are appearances by Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan and Derek Jeter, among others. This trailer doesn't reveal everything, and it plays up the angle of "so who threw the fastest pitch? You have to watch to find out the answer!" But it does look pretty good. Any and every baseball fan needs to check this out below.