WE ♥ DOCS
"Time is going by so fast." Kino Lorber has debuted an official US trailer for a documentary titled Makala, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and played at the Toronto & London Film Festivals. I saw this in London and loved it, writing a rave review. It's still often on my mind and with this new trailer I want to bring some attention to it again. Made by French filmmaker Emmanuel Gras, Makala follows one man from Congo (aka Democratic Republic of the Congo) who makes charcoal on his own then carries it on a bike to a nearby city to sell. As I said in my review: "it is one of the most engaging looks at humanity you can find on screen all year." Makala is an eye-opening cinematic experience that I highly recommend to all.
"If you haven't got the bond and the trust, you haven't got anything." This one is for all the dog lovers out there! I discovered this little documentary from New Zealand because they started following me on Twitter, and the profile's description states: "A documentary film for those who prefer dogs to people." Yep, that's me! Old Dog is a feature documentary about a shepherd and sheep farmer in New Zealand who really loves dogs. He spends more time raising and taking care of his dogs than anything else, and has won awards for sheep herding because he trains his dogs with love and sensitivity, not anger and violence. This looks like a heartwarming, moving look at the bond between man and dog, as well as how dogs are really the best. And I love how much he emphasizes treating all dogs with respect and compassion, that's how it should always be.
"He's a regular guy, but he comes to the racetrack and he's a hero!" Magnolia Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for a documentary titled The Last Race, which first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The doc film profiles an iconic Long Island stock car racetrack and "the tribe of blue-collar drivers that call it home, struggling to hold onto an American racing tradition as the world around them is transformed by globalization and commercialization." This is more than just a simple documentary, merging slick imagery and immersive sound in a unique narrative form. This trailer features some intense footage, taking us right into the middle of the action both on & off the racetrack. A raw slice of Americana, captured beautifully by the filmmakers. Described by Sundance as an "evocative portraiture turns the raceway into a theater of catharsis while the track’s owners struggle to maintain an American tradition." Give this a watch.
"That guy made the best of every single minute." Paramount Network has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled I Am Paul Walker, about the late actor who died in a car crash in 2013. The feature-length documentary is the latest from filmmaker Adrian Buitenhuis, who also made the docs I Am Heath Ledger and I Am Sam Kinison previously. We're breaking our rule of not covering any TV, only because this is a film about an actor and it's still a real film though it's premiering on a TV network. The doc features appearances by Fast and Furious actor Tyrese Gibson and director Rob Cohen, director Wayne Kramer, family members Cody Walker, Caleb Walker, Ashlie Walker, Cheryl Walker, and Paul Walker III; Oakley Lehman, Dr. Michael Domeier, plus his manager Matt Luber. This looks like a very emotional remembrance.
"I always felt I can do anything, if people are laughing." Magnolia Pictures + CNN Films have debuted the official trailer for a documentary titled Love, Gilda, a profile of the iconic comedienne Gilda Radner, as told in her own voice. Similar to the documentary Listen to Me Marlon, the film is based around a series of long, unreleased audio diaries and personal journals written/recorded by Gilda Radner before she passed away in 1989. It's described as a "comprehensive remembrance of Radner's public legacy" and "underpinned by an engrossing insight into her private struggles." This looks like a heartfelt film that gets into her story, showing how tragically short her life was, yet how much of an impact she made and how she inspired many.
"John McEnroe always finds a way to win." Oscilloscope Labs has debuted the official, full-length trailer for a documentary titled John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, one of the best documentaries this year so far, hands down. This first premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, and also stopped by Cinéma du Réel and Art of the Real. The film is made up entirely of footage recorded by a French filmmaker named Gil De Kermadec, in the 1980s when iconic tennis player John McEnroe stopped by to play at the French Open. With narration by Mathieu Amalric. It's an incredible, exhilarating, fascinating combination of tennis and cinema. I wrote in my positive review: "This film is such a wonderful discovery and it's entirely entrancing, not only for cinema lovers, but for anyone who enjoys sports and the art of physical performance." I really love this doc and have been recommending it to as many friends as I can. Exploring cinema through tennis.
"I'm lucky I'm still here… We had to fight on!" Magnolia Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for a documentary titled Bad Reputation, a profile of rock star Joan Jett of The Runaways (and much more). This first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and also played at other festivals including Montclair, San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne, and a few others this year. Made by an extreme sports junkie and music video director who has moved into feature documentaries, the film is a bit more than just a look back at Joan Jett's life. The film "gives you a wild ride as Jett and her close friends tell you how it really was in the burgeoning ’70s punk scene, and their interviews are laced with amazing archival footage." Hell yes. This looks badass, no doubt, and I'm curious to see how much Jett dishes on everything and everyone in the punk scene back then. This is a must see rock doc for anyone who loves rock 'n roll and/or Joan Jett. Check it out.
"This is not just another law suit." IFC Films + Hulu have released the first official trailer for a documentary titled Crime + Punishment, which first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year. It also played a bunch of other festivals throughout this year including True/False, Hot Docs, Montclair, Seattle, Nantucket, and Traverse City. In 2010, New York City banned quotas on arrests and summonses. In 2015, a group of 12 minority NYPD officers filed a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD, alleging the illegal and continued use of quotas. Crime + Punishment is a film about the 12 brave NYPD officers who are standing up to their department. Documentaries are becoming increasingly important in these troubled times, shining a light on the people who are doing everything to make a difference in the world. This doc won a Special Jury Award at Sundance for Social Impact - and from the looks it definitely deserved it. This is a vitally important doc film.
"It was hot, sexy…" "Like an adult amusement park." Zeitgeist Films has debuted the official trailer for a documentary titled Studio 54, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film is a profile of the popular, infamous, iconic night club known as "Studio 54" in New York. "For 33 months, from 1978 to 1980, the nightclub Studio 54 was the place to be seen in Manhattan. A haven of hedonism, tolerance, glitz and glamor, Studio was very hard to gain entrance to and impossible to ignore, with news of who was there filling the gossip columns daily." From experienced doc director Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor, Citizen Jane: Battle For The City), along with unprecedented access to co-founder Ian Schrager, "who tells the whole unvarnished story for the first time", the film is described as "a vivid, glorious portrait of a disco-era phenomenon." This doc looks crazy fascinating, an untold real story finally being told.
"50 years in the making…" Neon and CNN Films have released the first teaser trailer for a new documentary titled simply Apollo 11, from doc director Todd Douglas Miller (Gahanna Bill, Dinosaur 13). This feature film is made up entirely of never-before-seen large-format film footage of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. Here's to hoping this will get a full-format IMAX release, because yes please. Neon announced the news coinciding with the 49th anniversary of the 1969 landing on the Moon (they landed on July 20th, 1969) by mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin. This is also most definitely a tie-in with Damien Chazelle's new film First Man, about Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 mission, though there's no mention in the press release (different studios, makes sense). I'm a big space nerd - can't wait to see more from this.
"Music was my medicine. It just blew up so quickly…" Abramorama has released the first official US trailer for a documentary titled Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a profile of the badass Sri Lankan singer / songwriter / rapper / musician / artist / activist known as M.I.A. Her real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, and this deeply personal film takes us into her life, her childhood, her upbringing, and her story as she becomes famous around the world, and encounters resistance when she starts speaking out against issues that are dear to her. This premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals this year, where I first saw it. I wrote in my glowing review: "this seems like a film that is another music documentary about a pop star and her rise to fame and fortune and glory. But it's anything but that. It's actually a much more personal, intimate story of a young woman who wants to bring attention to and raise awareness about very dire problems in the world, and injustices, and do so using the power of the microphone." This is definitely a worth watching doc.
"When I think of Lynyrd Skynyrd, I just think of an outrageously fun time." Showtime has debuted the first official trailer for Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow, an extensive documentary about the American rock band, from doc filmmaker Stephen Kijak (Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Stones in Exile, Jaco, We Are X). This first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival this year, and also played at the Cleveland Film Festival. Featuring rare interviews and never-before-seen archival footage, Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow takes viewers on a trip through the history, myth and legend of one of the most iconic American rock bands. The film examines their entire history and success, as well as their tragic ending when a plane crash in 1977 killed three band members and three other passengers, including founding member and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. Another fascinating, comprehensive rock doc about a classic band. Enjoy.