WE ♥ DOCS
"I haven't felt that magic has ever let me down." I've always been a fan of magic since I was a kid, and I love going to shows, even still as an adult. Magicians: Life in the Impossible is a documentary about the lives of professional magicians, and how hard it is and how dedicated they have to be. We've seen quite a few movies about magicians recently (between Now You See Me and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) but it's nice to actually see a story about the real people, the real men and women who make us all believe in magic. One could say this doc almost looks like Hoop Dreams for magicians, following four different performers as they try to establish themselves in the entertainment industry. Fellow magic lover Peter from SlashFilm says this doc is worth watching and it's already out on VOD, so give this a look and let us know what you think.
"To believe in the boogeyman isn't that hard… And they believed it was real." HBO has debuted an official trailer for the documentary Beware the Slenderman, about the myth of the Slenderman which resulted in two young girls trying to murder one of their friends to see if he was real. Does anyone know this story already? It's a true story, at least the part about the two delusional girls who believed in this myth, and the internet helped fuel their fascination with him. This doc seems to examine the before and after, looking at how it happened and what the myth of the Slenderman means, how it's even possible that something like this created online can seem so real in the minds of these two girls. This looks fascinating, and quite freaky.
"The Science is Clear. The Future is Not." Good news, documentary fans! National Geographic has released the full-length version of the documentary Before the Flood (watch the trailer), produced by and starring Leonardo DiCpario, online on YouTube for free. Completely free! In fact, if you mention the hashtag #BeforeTheFlood online, they'll even donate money to different wildlife conservation organizations. It also features a fantastic score composed by Mogwai, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, + Gustavo Santaolalla (you can buy the album here). I had the chance to watch this recently and I thought it was a superb doc, inspiring and encouraging. I've seen pretty much every single recent doc about climate change and the environment, and this is one of the best. Really. Not only is DiCaprio honest and entertaining, he's hopeful about our future - as long as we all come together and recognize we need to change. Just watch! Link below.
"On the edge of civilization, her mind will be tested, her strength will be challeged, and her spirit will take her on the adventure of a lifetime." Sony Classics has debuted a second trailer for the documentary The Eagle Huntress, directed by Otto Bell, one of my favorite docs out of the Sundance Film Festival this year. The doc follows the story of a young teenage girl in Mongolia named Aisholpan, living in the mountains with her family, who becomes the first ever female "Eagle Hunter" in over 2,000 years male dominance in their culture. I totally fell for this documentary when I first saw it at Sundance, and I've been hoping that Sony Classics will throw their weight behind it and help it find an audience in US theaters. This new trailer is not as good as the first one, as it has some overly-dramatic voiceover that is a bit distracting, but give it a shot.
"If a few hillbillies get killed in the name of progress, so be it." Abramorama has released an official trailer for a powerful documentary titled Blood on the Mountain, a brutally honest look at the environmental and economic injustice and corporate control in West Virginia and its effect on all American workers. The film is made by the same filmmakers behind Coal Country, and is described as a searing and impassioned examination of the struggles of hard-working, misunderstood people. It's about how the coal industry has evolved to become so bad in West Virginia, that it's exploiting and controlling citizens, without any chance for them to speak up. "If our government won’t hold them responsible, who will? We will." This looks good.
"How many other people have been through this?" FilmRise has debuted a trailer for the documentary The Bad Kids, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to quite a bit of buzz earlier this year. The doc has also played at True/False and Hot Docs, which I'm mentioning only to show it's worthy of attention. The Bad Kids is about a group of teachers at a Mojave Desert high school who take an unconventional approach to improve the lives of their struggling students. It's a powerful film about recognizing there are alternatives to helping educate at risk teens other than giving up on them or locking them up. From the trailer, this looks like one of the most important docs all year - and I'm definitely interested in watching it. Get a look below.
"I had been searching for my Uncle Howard's first film…" Pinball London has debuted a trailer for a doc called Uncle Howard, which has played at film fests all over the world including Sundance, Berlinale and the New York Film Festival most recently. Uncle Howard is made by Aaron Brookner, nephew of American director Howard Brookner, a little-known but well-regarded filmmaker who died of AIDS in the late 80s. In the film, Aaron goes on a journey to "discover his uncle's films and the legacy" - meeting people like Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo along the way. It's a very fascinating, very personal doc but should be inspiring to other filmmakers. It's not my favorite doc I've seen this year, but it's one of the better ones. Take a look.
"What have we become if everything we value, everything we care about, we consume…?" The kind of question you should be thinking about every day. Netflix has debuted an official trailer for the documentary The Ivory Game, a powerful and vitally important doc about elephants and the horrors they're suffering at the hands of ivory traders. This is one of the best documentaries you might see all year, it's intense and well-made and pulls you into the story. Not only does this examine the ivory industry and how buyers and sellers are complicit in the poaching of elephants, but it also follows a group of wildlife activists in Africa. They go on a hunt to find and arrest one of the top poachers, and it's riveting to follow them on the journey.
"Every year I worry: 'Am I still fast?'" Universal has released an inspiring official trailer for the sports documentary titled I Am Bolt, profiling the life and legacy of Olympic running champion Usain Bolt. Bolt just won three more medals in Rio this summer, putting his total at nine Gold medals since his first Olympic games in 2008. This documentary includes intimate footage of Bolt's daily life and was filmed on location in Beijing, Rio, London, Germany and Jamaica. This actually looks like a full-on documentary, and not some made-for-TV special, with lots of footage of his personal life and his training. I really want to check this out.
"It was the greatest rivalry in the history of racing…" That sounds gnarly. Chassy Media has debuted a trailer for the racing documentary titled The 24 Hour War, about the rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. Specifically, this focuses on the battle between the two automakers and their race cars that took place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in the 1960s. The story goes that, after the rise of Ferrari in the 60s, Henry Ford tried to just buy Ferrari outright since they didn't have much to compete with. Enzo Ferrari eventually said no, and Henry Ford was so upset he responded by building his own cars that could challenge the red Ferraris on the racetrack. This seems like a fun history lesson about the power of rivalries.
"It is hard to take your eyes off the fire that burns deep under our feet." Netflix has unveiled the official trailer for Werner Herzog's other new documentary this year, titled Into the Inferno, which premiered at the Telluride & Toronto Film Festivals. Into the Inferno is Herzog's investigation into volcanoes, along with volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer. They travel the world and explore various cultures and concepts related to volcanoes. It's one of Herzog's best, and is definitely worth seeing, I totally loved it. Not only does he have some jaw-dropping footage, but it's fascinating to follow his tangents and side stories. I wrote in my review that it "examines the act of creation, with vivid imagery and utterly engrossing discussions." Watch below.
"This case is about exonerating our entire community." There's a brand new film from the director behind Ebert's Life Itself and the classic documentary Hoop Dreams. Steve James' latest documentary is titled Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, and it first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is playing at the New York Film Festival next. Abacus is about the Abacus Federal Savings Bank in Chinatown in New York City, which was one of the few banks labeled as "small enough to jail" during the mortgage crisis. They were targeted by the Manhattan District Attorney, despite that all the bigger banks were given free passes and government support. This doc examines how Abacus, a family-run bank, is fighting to stay alive and clear their name. This isn't a full trailer, but it is our first look - this seems to be another unique doc worth seeing.