WE ♥ DOCS
"We are fighting to maintain our identity!" While the Cannes Film Festival rages on, today's trailer is for an indie rock doc called A Band Called Death, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival this year and was picked up by Drafthouse Films in February. This trailer has been out for a bit, but we haven't featured it yet and I thought it a worthy film to highlight today. Similar to the Oscar winning doc Searching for Sugar Man, this tells the story of a three-member African-American punk rock band called Death from Detroit that never hit it big until 30 years later when tapes were found in an attic. This looks badass. The Ultimate Trip.
This is a great year for music documentaries. Earlier this year, I absolutely adored Sound City at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival (you can buy/rent it from iTunes now), but another stellar music centric documentary I missed was Twenty Feet from Stardom. The film traces the back-up singers’ history from those famous Phil Spector–produced pop songs and British Explosion acts of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today complete with interviews with names like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and more. Now the first trailer is available to watch below!
What does "living life to the fullest" really mean? There is an icon, a sports legend, who revolutionized and changed the entire sport he excelled in. He was loved by all, a goofball at heart who lived for the thrill and always kept pushing the limits no matter what that meant. His name was Shane McConkey and he lived a wonderful life, until his tragic demise in 2009 in a skiing BASE jump that went wrong. Collecting years of archival footage, Red Bull, who sponsored the extreme athlete for many years, put together the documentary McConkey chronicling the incredible story of one man who truly lived an exceptional life. It's outstanding.
The Sundance selected documentary Manhunt, about the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, hits HBO on May 1st, but another War on Terror fueled doc from the indie festival is on the way to theaters. Dirty Wars follows the underground, sometimes shady, operations of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history, exposing operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. With a clear agenda, the film seeks to open the eyes of Americans who might not be aware what their country is up to overseas as we fight terrorism around the world. Watch below!
Following in the footsteps of surfing documentaries like Step into Liquid, Riding Giants and The Endless Summer, a new documentary is diving into the ocean, showing the seemingly insane thrill-seeking hobby of big-wave riding. But this time, the action will come at audiences in another dimension with Storm Surfers 3D. Not only are Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones surfing legends, but they have surf forecaster Ben Matson helping them track and chase giant storm systems in order to catch the biggest and most dangerous waves. Seriously, some of this footage is breathtaking and unbelievable. It should be impressive in theaters.
Welcome back to another edition of Kickstart This, FirstShowing's weekly column dedicated to spreading the word about cool indie projects that need your help to become a reality. This week, we want to shine a light on a documentary film project called That's Not Funny, which wonders "how far is too far?" when it comes to comedy. Are there limits and rules to humor that everyone must abide by? When is it OK to cross a line? These kinds of questions and many more are explored through interviews with comedians, writers, and journalists. Take a look at the pitch video below, leave us a comment, and don't forget to donate if you can.
Director Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 has stuck with me ever since I first saw it at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie is an exploration of the deeper themes and meanings found in Stanley Kubrick's classic 1980 psychological horror film The Shining as told by five different fans who have come up with some quasi-insane but often-convincing theories about what's really going on at the Overlook Hotel. (The trailer is here.) I had a chance to speak with Ascher and the film's producer Tim Kirk here in L.A., and we talked about the movie as a piece of film criticism, getting a release beyond the festival circuit, and more.
"The truth has consequences." Focus World has debuted the first official trailer and poster (seen below) for Alex Gibney's new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which does tell exactly that, the story of WikiLeaks, run by Julian Assange. This actually looks like an incredibly fascinating, in-depth, inside look at the story of what went down before and during the WikiLeaks event, and who the man behind this historic digital site really is. Or perhaps isn't? A twist! This first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews, and will be out in select theaters by this summer. Everybody has secrets...
While you may not know Yoav Goren by name, you've undoubtedly heard his work as a composer through his company Immediate Music, which he owns with Jeffrey Fayman. Still not ringing a bell? If you've seen the trailers for films like The Amazing Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Dark Knight Rises and countless more, It's Goren and Fayman's music that makes them feel that much more epic as they compose custom and licensed tracks to help bring movies to life before they're even finished. Now SoundWorks Collection (via SlashFilm) has put together a cool documentary short on the composition of trailer music. Watch it below!
Many ways in, no ways out. A perfect tagline for a great documentary about filmmaking. After playing the festival circuit throughout all of 2012, the doc Room 237 about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and the conspiracy theories held within, is finally about to hit theaters. IFC Films has been building up the buzz with a few trailers and art, like that Mondo print last year, but now we have the final poster for Room 237 and it's a huge homage/nod to The Shining's poster in almost every way. Same font, same bright yellow color, same minimal design, except we get a maze keyhole on this. Time to enter the room and find out what lies within.
Rarely do we take the time to feature items from television, but when we do, it's because of some sort of great tie-in to the world of cinema, or because it's worthy of the same attention that films on the big screen deserve. PBS has one such project as part of their American Masters documentary series, focusing on distinctively American people that made our culture, the people that changed our history. Every now and then this includes some of cinema's most iconic minds, and in May, we'll get to see Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, a documentary taking a look at the prolific comedian and longtime writer/director of such films as Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and more. Now we can see the first trailer below!
Wreck-It Ralph (now on Blu-Ray and DVD) was one of my favorite movies of 2012, and though talks of a sequel have been brewing ever since its release, Disney is continuing the story in a more unique way first. They've released a thirty minute short online called Garlan Hulse: Where Potential Lives," a fake King of Kong-style documentary about the kid who once held the high score on the arcade version of Fix-It Felix Jr. game before it was overtaken by a Billy Mitchell-type rival. Ralph director Rich Moore hosts this live action tale, and if you're a fan of both Wreck-It Ralph and King of Kong, this is a must-watch. Watch it!
"I'm interested in the way we tell stories about our lives..." Roadside Attractions has unveiled the theatrical trailer for Sarah Polley's documentary Stories We Tell, about her own life and her own mother and father. Ah, but there's much more to it than that. This is hopefully one of those docs you've been hearing a lot of buzz about, because it really gets into a fascinating topic of how we tell stories about our life, and the people we knew, and how each person's recollection is different. It was made by actress Sarah Polley, and there's a revelation in the film that changes everything but then it uses some interesting cinematic twists after that.
About two and a half years ago, we heard about a documentary from James Franco that went behind the scenes of "Saturday Night Live" with unprecedented access during the production of an episode which John Malkovich hosted in 2008. Originally, Saturday Night was part of an assignment that Franco was working on as a film student at NYU, and while it was supposed to be much shorter, focusing on cast member Bill Hader. But Franco realized it could be much bigger and thankfully turned it into a feature length documentary capturing behind-the-scenes footage that has yet to be seen by audiences. More below!