WE ♥ DOCS
Never give up! This is one of those short film discoveries that makes you smile and feel so happy you want to grab the nearest person and tell them to watch it with you. The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere is an ESPN 30 for 30 short documentary made by Mickey Duzyj profiling a Japanese racehorse named Haru Urara. This horse is special because she kept losing, she lost over 100 races in a row, and yet was turned into a national superstar. The doc explains that Haru Urara became a symbol of hope, of "never giving up", for the Japanese people during their depressing economic crisis in the 90s and 00s. She also helped save the racetrack where she was from in a small town in the south of Japan. It's a wonderful doc with some fantastic animation and great interviews. I highly recommend watching, even if you have no interest in horse racing.
"Floyd says to us all: we could do better. That's part of what makes him a legend." This looks like a gem. FilmBuff will be releasing this award-winning documentary on a legendary animator in theaters + on VOD next month. Floyd Norman: An Animated Life tells an "intimate journey through the life and career" of 80-year-old animator Floyd Norman, the first African-American animator ever at Disney Studios (back in 1956). After working for almost all of his life, he was told by Disney to retire, but has refused to do so and keeps on working with the mantra that he'll "die at the drawing board." Floyd has worked on Disney films like Sleeping Beauty and The Jungle Book and even worked at Pixar on Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. This trailer promises such an uplifting, inspiring story about a person who totally loves the art of animation and can't give it up, no matter how old he gets. I really want to see this, and learn even more about him. Enjoy.
"Leonard was a self-made renaissance man." Gravitas Ventures has debuted a trailer for the documentary For the Love of Spock, directed by Leonard Nimoy's son Adam Nimoy. The film profiles the life and times of Leonard Nimoy, specifically his career as the legendary Vulcan Spock from the Star Trek series. This is obviously perfectly timed with Comic-Con this week, as they hope to reach fans of all ages, but it also looks like an emotional, all-encompassing look at the amazing man that Leonard Nimoy was. He passed away in early 2015, and made his mark on the science fiction world, and his legacy will live on forever. This looks like a wonderful documentary that is really much more uplifting and inspiring above all else. Enjoy.
Grasshopper Film has debuted a trailer for the documentary Kate Plays Christine, directed by Robert Greene, examining the life and infamous death of Christine Chubbuck. Chubbuck was a young news anchor in Florida,who shot herself in the head on live TV during a news broadcast in 1974. Her story was dramatized and turned into a feature film at Sundance this year called Christine, starring Rebecca Hall. In addition, this documentary also played at Sundance and it has been referred to as a meta-film as it blends some fiction and non-fiction elements and profiles actress Kate Lyn Sheil preparing to play the role of Christine Chubbuck in a film that was never finished. It received rave reviews and arrives in theaters soon.
"The biggest literary hoax of our time!" Amazon Studios and Magnolia Pictures have debuted the official trailer for a documentary called Author: The JT LeRoy Story, which first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. I heard many great things about this film from lots of my colleagues, as it's apparently one of those remarkable I-can't-believe-this-is-real stories told in a very innovative way. Author: The JT LeRoy Story is about author JT LeRoy, who is actually a completely fabricated persona made up by writer Laura Albert. Spoiler! But that's what the doc is really about - how she pulled this off and why, and what it all means. If you're not sold by the end of this trailer, well, then maybe documentaries aren't for you. But seriously, this looks fascinating and incredibly entertaining, a deep dive into a crazy true story. Enjoy.
"Is it worth it to sacrifice one's mind and body for sport?" The first teaser trailer has debuted online for a documentary called The Hurt Business, from director Vlad Yudin (of Generation Iron), taking a look at MMA and the superstars of mixed martial arts. It's narrated by Kevin Costner and profiles the lives of a couple of major competitors, including Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones. The descriptions says it discusses the theme of injuries "both mental and physical" within MMA, and it also looks at just how dedicated these athletes are to this popular sport. Other great MMA docs include The Smashing Machine, Rickson Gracie: Choke, and Like Water about fighter Anderson Silva. Even if you're not a fan of MMA, this is worth a look.
"They came from another time, they came from another world…" A new trailer has debuted online for a documentary called Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland, about the rise and fall of independent production company Empire Pictures. Similar to the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, this film examines the story of producer Charles Band and the crappy D-movies he made back in the 1980s. Empire is most well known for making cult favorite genre films like Re-Animator, Ghoulies, Robot Jox, Trancers, and From Beyond, to name a few (any of these your favorites?). It's always fascinating to take a closer look at how films like this were made, especially considering they figured out how finance and find people to work on them. This trailer is mostly footage from their films, but I still dig it.
"The universe… billions of years in the making." Four decades in the making, it's time to finally experience Terrence Malick's new documentary Voyage of Time later this year. The first trailer has debuted online for the epic IMAX documentary which spans the entirety of time as we know it - from the big bang and the beginning of the universe to the dinosaur age to the age of humans. The description claims this initial release will only be 40 minutes, featuring Brad Pitt narration, when it hits IMAX theaters this October. Hopefully there's a longer version that will be released down the line, but for now this is an exciting look at what's to come. This trailer features footage of galaxies being created and cells being formed and animals taking shape, and it looks so mesmerizing. I can't wait to see this! Bring on Malick's journey through time.
"Is it worth it to possibly lose a friend?" Red Bull Media has unveiled a trailer for a documentary film called Chasing Niagara, profiling the life of "extreme kayaker" Rafa Ortiz and his dream of paddling over the Niagara Falls. The doc looks at the way he takes big risks to live a life on the edge, literally, kayaking over waterfalls and in places where no one has ever kayaked before. Of course Red Bull is releasing this film, it's right up their alley. The footage is impressive as it seems they've captured some of the best shots they could of Rafa and his crew, including footage from cameras mounted to his helmet. I'm a big fan and supporter of adventure junkies and risk takers, and this looks like another exhilarating, inspiring doc about them. Enjoy.
"We had each other, and we brought that to the music." Imagine Entertainment + Apple Corp have unveiled the first official trailer for Ron Howard's documentary Eight Days a Week, profiling the touring years of the world famous band The Beatles. Directed by Ron Howard, the film will follow the band from their early days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. This is a rather short first trailer that gives us a quick tease of the footage that Howard and Co have rounded up. Everyone knows and loves The Beatles, and we've all seen lots of footage and so many films about them, hopefully this is something fresh with an inside look that hasn't been explored before. Check this out below.
"I believe my future is bigger than my past." Amazon Studios & Open Road have released a trailer for the documentary Gleason, profiling the life of former NFL player Steve Gleason, who has ALS. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a "rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles", eventually leaving the person completely unable to move. This is the same disease that Stephen Hawking has, however this doc shows how a normal, healthy person slowly loses his ability to move or function. And it's very sad, but very inspiring, because Gleason does his best to weather the storm and survive against all odds. Yes, this will make you cry, there's no doubt.
"Who decides what a meaningful life is?" The Orchard has put out a trailer for the exceptional documentary Life, Animated, which was one of my favorite docs from the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Life, Animated tells the story of Owen Suskind, a boy with autism who learns to express himself by watching classic Disney animated movies. I wrote in my glowing review that "this doc is full of so much life" and it will move you to tears because it's so inspiring. My review is also quoted in this trailer - yay! Disney is very supportive the doc and let them use footage from many of their films, as well as certain characters for an animated sequence specially made for the doc. Get a glimpse below and get your tickets to see it right away.
Now this looks like is an excellent documentary for movie lovers. This trailer apparently first debuted last year, but this is the first time we've come across it, and it's still worth featuring. Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex is a feature documentary currently playing at film festivals that profiles the work of creature designers who make the monsters for movies. The doc profiles artists like Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Greg Nicotero, Richard Taylor and many others, with interviews with filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro, John Landis and Joe Dante. It's a comprehensive inside look at the meticulous and impressive work of hand crafting actual practical creatures and other props to make audiences believe in anything. So awesome.
A Film About Husbandry and Wife. An official trailer has debuted for a documentary called At the Fork, another documentary examining the food we eat and specifically the animals raised en mass for food. Don't worry, though, this one isn't about to make you feel ashamed for eating a hamburger or some bacon, it's a "surprisingly non-judgemental" look at our food and where it all comes from. This is a very beautiful trailer with some fantastic cinematography that sets up the story in this film. The doc features the song "Mercy" performed by the Dave Matthews Band (but it's not in the trailer). I recommend taking a look at this trailer.