WE ♥ DOCS
Following a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the eye-opening documentary Ivory Tower is coming to theaters, and the first trailer has arrived. Director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times) dives into the world of higher education, looking at alternatives to the expensive universities that many of us flock towards after high school. With student debt climbing, and the quality of schools declining as they irresponsibly spend their money on many irrelevant amenities, it's a dangerous time to clamor for more education. This is a must watch for anyone considering a college education. Watch!
Though the HUVr tech hoverboards inspired by Back to the Future Part II turned out to be an obvious hoax, at least Nike's power laces are a real thing coming in 2015. The fact that we're able to talk about these things so commonly, and most of the general population knows what we're talking about, just goes to show you how engrained the Robert Zemeckis' time traveling trilogy has been on pop culture. In fact, the technology "created" to populate the year 2015 in the sequel has been referenced and used as inspiration for real science for decades. Now a new documentary aims to explore just how accurate the film's prediction of future technology turned out to be or how far we are from realizing Zemeckis' film vision of 2015. Read on!
If you frequent the internet enough, then you might already know about the phenomenon of men aged 13 to 30 who are obsessed with the Hasbro toy line and animated TV series "My Little Pony." This group of males has been dubbed "Bronies" and now they're getting the spotlight at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month in the form of A Brony Tale, a documentary that looks at the perplexing, pop culture niche which has a big enough following to warrant its own convention, BronyCon. Complete with interviews with various Bronies, this looks like a truly eye-opening documentary that should illicit some chuckles. Watch it!
With the release of the documentary Bears just under a couple weeks away, Disneynature is already beginning to show off their Earth Day documentary release coming in 2015. This time the niche release arm of the House of Mouse is focusing on a group of monkeys in the jungles of South Asia in Monkey Kingdom. The film spotlights the competitive social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a dynamic group of monkeys who live in ancient ruins found deep in the storied jungles of South Asia, alongside a rich cast of forest characters. More specifically, we follow a mother and her newborn as they struggle to survive. Watch!
"I can't believe we let them get away with that!" Radius-TWC has debuted the first trailer for Stephanie Soechtig's documentary Fed Up, produced by and featuring Katie Couric, who takes an eye-opening look at modern society's abundant use of sugar in connection with obesity. I hate to use a headline that so blatantly compares this to another food doc that had an impact, Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me which premiered at Sundance 2004. But if that will get people to see this doc and actually start eating better, then screw it. I saw the premiere of this at Sundance 2014 and I think it's a very important doc for our country to get caught up in, even if it is a bit "we already know that", it can still make a big difference. Take a look at the doc below.
Most documentaries are meant to shine a light on subjects that general audiences usually know very little about. But it just so happens that a new documentary called American Blogger focuses on an industry we're rather familiar with; or at least that's what we thought until we saw this trailer. Christopher Wiegand has decided to take a cross country trip to speak with a series of bloggers in the United States and claims to "change the way we see an industry." The biggest change in the way we see the industry turns out to be that there only appear to be attractive female bloggers in America. So that's quite a twist. Watch it!
All he said is, "I want to change the world." One of the year's must-see documentaries is Jodorowsky's Dune, profiling the Chilean filmmaker and his ambitious attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune in the 70s. Jodorowsky amassed one of the most insane casts ever: Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine and Mick Jagger of all people. This outstanding documentary, directed by Frank Pavich of the music doc N.Y.H.C. previously, debuted at last year's Cannes Film Festival where I first caught it and fell in love with it. I finally spoke with Pavich over the phone in March for a fun discussion on this excellent doc.
Now here's some acquisition news that we're very happy to report. One of our favorite, groundbreaking docs out of this year's Sundance Film Festival, called The Overnighters from filmmaker Jesse Moss, has been acquired by Drafthouse Films, the same studio that released The Act of Killing and Nick Cave's 20,000 Days on Earth. Drafthouse announced that it has acquired North American theatrical, home video, transactional and other rights to Jesse Moss' riveting documentary The Overnighters. The film will be released in theaters late 2014, likely making it a strong contender for this year's awards season, but that's too far out to discuss.
"Every time I dance... I tell a story." Today's indie trailer is for a Brooklyn street dancing documentary titled Flex is Kings, that we've actually featured on FS.net before, in a Kickstart This feature a few years ago. The doc is now completed and premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Fest in spring last year, and will be hitting very limited theaters coming up soon. Baxter Brothers Films has debuted a trailer and it's worth checking out to get a sense of the style and soul behind this music doc, which comes straight from the streets of New York City. This actually looks like it will be really good, so don't miss a beat, fire it up below.
The Only Thing Roger Loved More Than Movies... This isn't the best poster you'll see all year, but it might just be one of the best documentaries you see all year, which is why his is worth featuring anyway. With a release coming up this summer, CNN Films & Magnolia Pictures have debuted the poster for the Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams) based on Ebert's memoirs of the same name. The doc first premiered at Sundance to glowing reviews across the board. It's the kind of doc where you feel every emotion, but by the end you'll be inspired to live and love life—and movies—as much as Ebert.
"I'm his biggest fan, and I fired him." If you're a loyal follower of the NBC comedy series "Community," then you likely know about the tumultuous times the series creator Dan Harmon had behind the scenes with plenty of people. From former series regular Chevy Chase to NBC executives, Harmon became known for being a somewhat difficult guy to work with, and it turns out that just might be a regular thing. A new documentary called Harmontown premieres at SXSW this month, and it follows a comedy tour Harmon did recently mixed in with talking heads from Joel McHale, Jack Black, Sarah Silverman and more, painting a better picture of Harmon's life, career and personality. It looks pretty fascinating. Watch below!
Last year, Calvin & Hobbes and the comic strip's creator Bill Watterson got their own documentary called Dear Mr. Watterson. Now a new documentary called Stripped goes a little more broad by focusing on Jim Davis, Cathy Guisewite, Mort Walker, Mike & Jerry, Matt Inman and Jeff Keane, the names behind comic strips like Garfield, Cathy, Beetle Bailey, Penny Arcade, The Oatmeal and Family Circus respectively. And there's plenty more cartoonists interviewed in this documentary looking into the art of comic strips. We love how it spans from the oldest newspaper strips to today's online comics. In addition, the poster below is the first comic strip illustration Watterson has made in 18 years. Check it out!
"It jelled the entire VFX community into being horrifically pissed off at how they were being treated." The full online short has debuted for a documentary on visual effects company Rhythm & Hues, which became the center of attention in 2013 when their work on Life of Pi won the Oscar, despite employees protesting on the streets just outside, still waiting for their paycheck. The doc is called Life After Pi and is made by the employees of the VFX firm, discussing the events that occurred, the troubles in the industry regarding VFX work, and hopefully the outcome of their plight and the next big steps in the industry. See the full doc now.
"I've always had a dream of fame and fortune... for Elmo" Today's indie trailer is for a rather awkwardly yet oddly amusing documentary called The Final Member, about the one-and-only Icelandic Phallological Museum that houses the world's largest collection of preserved male genitalia (collected for over 40 years!). So what makes this worthwhile? The story focuses on three people: curator Sigurður "Siggi" Hjartarson, as well as the two eccentric men who want to donate their own specimens to the museum. The doc eventually becomes about the challenges of making a tough decision, and crazy enough, I have to say that this looks fascinating. Best of all, Drafthouse Films is releasing it which means it's certainly unlike anything out there.