WE ♥ DOCS
"Everyone's unique. And the Kiki scene is a place for young people to explore that uniqueness." IFC Films has debuted a trailer for a fantastic documentary titled Kiki, about the "Kiki" community of LGBTQ youths in New York City. Directed Sara Jordenö, the film profiles a community in NYC known as Kiki, where any young LGBTQ can find support and friendship, and their chosen form of expression is dancing. It's a very exuberant, hopeful documentary filled with personal stories and inspiring footage of the group taking on New York with some rad dance movies. I first saw this film at Berlinale last year, and it's outstanding, certainly worth your time. It's an intimate and affecting look at how communities can make a big difference.
"What is it about color guard? Well, tonight you're going to find out." In the summer of 2015, legendary musician David Byrne staged an event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to celebrate the creativity of Color Guard: synchronized dance routines involving flags, rifles, and sabers, colloquially known as "the sport of the arts." Contemporary Color is a performance documentary capturing the exhilarating experience of enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime show. Performers at the event included St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, Devonté Hynes, Zola Jesus, Ad-Rock, tUnE-yArDs, and Ira Glass, collaborating with 10 color guard teams from across the US and Canada. This looks like a very vibrant and energetic show captured exquisitely on camera.
The power of people. But who is the leader that can inspire people to actually get out and protest? Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower is a documentary about the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014, as well as the story of Joshua Wong, the young activist who lead the movement. I've been excited to see a documentary about this specific moment in Hong Kong's history, and this film covers that event and much more. This really shook up something deep inside of me. Joshua Wong is now my idol, I'm totally inspired and invigorated by him and his endless passion for democracy through peaceful protest - power in numbers. I admire this kid so much, and this doc is a fantastic introduction to who he is and what he helped achieve.
I didn't think watching amazing footage of coral dying would make me so emotional, but it did. I was wiping away tears through this fantastic documentary, Chasing Coral, the follow-up to Jeff Orlowski's Chasing Ice. Orlowski is a very passionate, extremely talented filmmaker who not only dives deep into his projects, but knows how to make an engaging and encouraging documentary. Chasing Coral documents Orlowski's mission to capture time-lapse footage of coral in the ocean being bleached due to rising water temperature, which is caused by the excessive amount of fossil fuels we're burning. Not only does he get the footage, he crafts a gripping narrative around chasing coral and ends with a enthusiastic call for action. Go see this doc.
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 120+ films showing at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, I've chosen 10 that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There are so many films playing at the fest, and so many I'll end up seeing (30+), that this is a quick list to get everyone acquainted with some of the work premiering in 2017 (and why I'm so excited for these). From docs about free speech and doping, to features about life after death. Nothing like watching movies in the mountains.
"The story of the negro in America, is the story of America." Magnolia has unveiled a full theatrical trailer for the documentary I Am Not Your Negro, about the life & legacy of James Baldwin. This doc is being heralded as one of the best of 2016, even though it's just hitting theaters coming up this February. The film focuses on the book "Remember This House", that Baldwin never finished. Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions a finished version of the book - a "radical narration" about race in America, through the lives and deaths of three of Baldwin's friends: Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. The doc uses his original words to tell the harrowing story of race in modern America, and it's one of the finest docs you'll see. Relevant, important, intelligent, and inspiring. I can't recommend this film enough - it's a must watch.
"That's what's good about losing your memory - there's so many surprises." HBO has unveiled a trailer for the documentary Bright Lights, telling the story of the success & fame of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds. This doc actually premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year with an appearance by Carrie Fisher, but in "light of the recent and unexpected deaths", it has taken on a whole new meaning and purpose - to solidify their legacy. The film is described as an "intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty in all its eccentricity", featuring extensive verite footage and vintage family films. From the looks of it, this will be an emotional yet inspiring look at the lives of two people who were some of the greatest entertainers in history.
"I think sometimes geniuses are by default lonely and isolated." HBO has debuted an official trailer for the documentary Becoming Warren Buffett, telling the life story of billionaire Warren Buffett, owner of Berkshire Hathaway, who's famous for being one of the wealthiest people alive. "With unprecedented access to Buffett's day-to-day personal life, the film tells the improbable story of how an ambitious, humble, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska—who still lives in Omaha—became one of the richest, most-respected men in the world." I'm curious about this, but as always I wonder if the filmmakers are too close to Buffett, telling his story in a glamorized way and never lifting up the rug to see what might be hiding underneath.
"They are a distinct part of everyone's life." Oscilloscope has unveiled a trailer for the documentary Kedi, a story about the many stray cats living in/around Istanbul, Turkey. If you've ever been there, you've probably encountered a few of these furry friends roaming the streets. There are hundreds of thousands of them in the city, however this film profiles (and follows) seven of them specifically. Described as "a sophisticated take on your typical cat video", this film should both "dazzle and educate" animal lovers of all ages. Kedi is the name of one of the cats they profile, and the rest of them are introduced in this trailer. This definitely does look charming, and it looks much better than your typical cat movie (see: Nine Lives). Worth watching.
Pickle is a peculiar, amusing, quirky, entertaining short unlike anything else you've seen before. Made by Amy Nicholson, a New York-based filmmaker of docs and other projects, the short features her parents, Tom & Debbie Nicholson, who are dedicated caretakers of various odd creatures that "suffer from unusual medical conditions". The short film explores the "human capacity to care for all creatures throughout their sometimes greatly protracted lives until their occasionally sudden and unfortunate deaths." Pickle was a fish that couldn't swim; they also cared for an obese chicken, a cat with a heart condition, a non-buoyant goose, and a paraplegic possum. This unusual but heartfelt short deserves a small piece of your time. Watch below.
"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.