WE ♥ DOCS
"You have no idea how hard he hit American culture." Oscilloscope Labs has released the official US trailer for a documentary titled The King, formerly known as Promised Land when it first premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival. This doc is the latest made by Eugene Jarecki (The Trials of Henry Kissinger, Why We Fight, Reagan, The House I Live In) who delivers a deeply engaging, uber-intelligent, thoughtful documentary comparing Elvis Presley's rise & fall over his life to the rise & fall of America. It's a fascinating, thought-provoking, and considerably entertaining film framed around taking Elvis' 1963 Rolls Royce around the country to explore the places he frequented. I saw this film in Cannes last year and loved it, one of the most intriguing docs I've seen in a while, featuring so much intelligent discussion and discourse. A must see.
"There were always a lot of secrets… When you don't resolve things, and you don't deal with things, they never go away…" Roadside Attractions has debuted a full-length trailer for the documentary Whitney, a new film about the life and music of the late Whitney Houston. This doc just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week, and is getting good reviews as a comprehensive and revealing examination of her life and struggles. They ask all the questions, and get all the answers, even the tough ones. Whitney directed by the talented doc filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, who explains: "I approached Whitney’s life like a mystery story; why did someone with so much raw talent and beauty self-destruct so publicly and painfully? [Her estate] entrusted me with the 'keys to the vault' while giving me complete freedom to follow the story wherever it went. At [its] heart, Whitney is an intimate family story that reveals a new side to a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew." This looks very intense and very engaging, perhaps worth a watch.
"Our hope was always to bring civilization to Congo…" Abramorama has debuted the official trailer for a documentary titled This Is Congo, a film made by war photographer Daniel McCabe. This looks like an incredible inside look at the African country known as the Congo (in full: the Democratic Republic of the Congo). "From embedding on the front lines with the national army, to displacement camps, to the black market for minerals, McCabe had unprecedented access to many sides of a decades long struggle for control over the most mineral-rich country in Africa. To capture the footage, McCabe shot with customized camera rigs and used creative sound recording solutions often acting as a one-man crew." This will be released in theaters in NY & LA in late June this summer, timed to the 60th Anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo's independence. Holy hell does this look terrific, a definitive portrait of a country perpetually at war.
"They are in the business of helping people in pain." Wait, what? Nuns who grow weed? Get out of here. Deadline has debuted a trailer for a new documentary that is being shopped at the Cannes market this week. Titled Breaking Habits, the new film from Robert Ryan is a feature documentary about a group of women who started a medical marijuana growing business in California. These are really real nuns, per se, but they operate under the guise of nuns at a convent/farm called "Sisters of the Valley" taking names like "Sister Kate" in order to run their business and safely grow their weed. Of course, she has also "faced a number of challenges over the years including run-ins with the county sheriff and black-market thieves playing a role as well as threats from local drug cartels and the California state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation." Say no more, I'm already way into this, and I want to see it as soon as I can. This trailer is just about perfect.
"You have a puzzle with a billion pieces, and we've got one piece." Motherboard and Abramorama will be releasing this official science documentary later this month, so there's no better time than now to feature a trailer for The Most Unknown. The "epic" feature documentary is an ambitious look at a side of science never before shown on screen. The film follows scientists around the globe as they explore new fields and visit new places. "Through these scientists' journey — the film begins underneath a mountain and ends on a Monkey Island — The Most Unknown examines what it means to dedicate one's life to questions humanity has yet to find answers for." It's directed by Ian Cheney, with advice from the great Werner Herzog; funded by a grant from Science Sandbox, an initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. This looks cool, I'm intrigued to see what it shows and learn about all the questions they're trying to answer.
"What if I told you I had the cure for the opioid crisis in my hand?" The Orchard has released an official trailer for a (potentially controversial) medicinal health documentary titled A Leaf of Faith, the latest film from doc director Chris Bell (Bigger Stronger Faster, Trophy Kids, Prescription Thugs). Even though the title might make you think this doc is about medicinal marijuana, it's actually about another kind of potent, powerful plant - one called "Kratom". Grown in Southeast Asia, the plant is part of the coffee family and is, supposedly, a safe and effective alternative to medicinal opioid painkillers. Why is this important? Because opioids are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Really. Which is a bit freaky, but it's true. "Join Chris Bell as he explores the natural world of this never before known harmless leaf that could be the perfect human medicine, while providing answers to all his questions and no doubt test[ing] his faith."
"We're not really an indie band anymore, now we're like a cult band." Abramorama has debuted an official trailer for a new rock documentary titled Straight Into a Storm, profiling the band known as Deer Tick, an American alternative rock band from Providence, Rhode Island. The film profiles their last 10 years and rise to fame, focusing around their 10th anniversary shows in 2014/2015, and including lots of old footage, too. "Our 10-year anniversary shows were a celebration for our fans and for us. It was a lot of work, but also a blast! William Miller was there every night to capture that spirit. We're proud and excited for his film to get an official release and proper distribution by partnering with Abramorama." This looks like another fun rock doc, profiling a band that has had its ups & downs, still continuing to rock on no matter what. Dive in.
"There's inherent cruelty in that system." IFC Films has released the official trailer for indie documentary Eating Animals, the latest by doc filmmaker Christopher Dillon Quinn (21 Up America, God Grew Tired of Us). This film is actually an adaptation of the very popular book also titled Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's an examination of our dietary choices and the food we put in our bodies. Don't be alarmed - it's not all about giving up meat and only eating plants. I saw this doc at IDFA in Amsterdam last year, and it's dang good, much better than you're probably expecting. It presents a very honest and objective look at the debate over eating meat, but also discusses how we can sustainably raise animals and not use factories. There are talks with farmers and scientists, and it features narration by Natalie Portman. Worth a watch.
I can't stop thinking about this documentary series. I can't stop thinking about the stories in it. I can't stop thinking about all the people in it. Wild Wild Country, directed by Maclain Way and Chapman Way, produced by filmmakers Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, is an incredible documentary series from Netflix. I am floored, totally blown away, by everything in it. It's not just the crazy story it tells, it's everything else that goes with it - the questions, the implications, the discussions. I don't want to say my life is changed, but there are definitely things I will never forget. There are big ideas, major philosophical / moral implications, so much to talk about. And I can't help but start writing about it, I have to talk about it, I have to get all of these thoughts out of my mind. I have to rave about how phenomenal this series is and how much I loved it.
"If you leave without emotion, than I'm not doing my job properly." Lionsgate UK has unveiled a new, full-length trailer for McQueen, the definitive documentary about the world famous British fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. Those who know him know that he sadly died in 2010 by suicide at the age of 40. Those who don't know him, well, this documentary provides a comprehensive introduction. McQueen is a "personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of Alexander McQueen." Featuring "exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, McQueen is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary." I hope that line about emotion is also true about this doc, but it definitely looks like it might have that intensity. See below.
"2:28 PM. August 28, 2003. A man walks into a bank with a bomb locked around his neck. This is a true story." Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a new documentary series titled Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist, available in just a few weeks. This four-part series is another in Netflix's growing documentary line-up, from the same producers behind Wild Wild Country. And since I totally loved that series, I'm featuring this anyway since it's basically just a four-hour documentary split up into four episodes. Evil Genius tells the extraordinary story of the "pizza bomber heist" and the FBI's investigation into a bizarre collection of suspects. It only gets weirder, proving there is "more to the conspiracy and murders than was ever thought." This looks crazy twisted and baffling, indeed. Check it out.
"You don't know her story until you hear the truth." Roadside Attractions has debuted the very first teaser trailer for the documentary titled Whitney, an official documentary about the life and music of the late Whitney Houston. This film is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, which is a major debut, and is the only documentary officially approved by Houston's estate. It's directed by the talented doc filmmaker Kevin Macdonald, who explains: "I approached Whitney’s life like a mystery story; why did someone with so much raw talent and beauty self-destruct so publicly and painfully? [Her estate] entrusted me with the 'keys to the vault' while giving me complete freedom to follow the story wherever it went. At [its] heart, Whitney is an intimate family story that reveals a new side to a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew." This is only the first teaser so it doesn't have a ton of footage, but it certainly looks very powerful and emotional.