WE ♥ DOCS
"You can swim all day, you're still gonna drown." 1091 Pictures has unveiled a trailer for Silverback: The Trent Williams Story, a documentary about the NFL player Trent Williams. This one is arriving on VOD later this month, just before the end of the year. There's also two other films about football this December: National Champions and American Underdog. Trent "Silverback" Williams, NFL's best offensive lineman over the last decade, overcame life-threatening cancer on his head and is the highest-paid at his position in NFL history and an accomplished entrepreneur off the field. The 6'5", 320-pound native of Longview, Texas, is also a skilled hooper, capable of 360-degree dunks. This film is a profile of the athlete, executive produced by Williams and his agent. Featuring Lil Wayne, Adrian Peterson, Vernon Davis, Chris Ivory, James Cooper, Kyle Shanahan, Adam Schefter, Dianna Russini, and Seun Adigun. Take a look at the new sports doc below.
"Robert was pitching this 'little disco movie.'" HBO has debuted a full trailer for the film Mr. Saturday Night, another documentary that's part of the outstanding Music Box series of doc films this fall. It already premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival. This is the next one to launch on HBO Max following Listening to Kenny G and DMX: Don't Try to Understand. Mr. Saturday Night is directed by the filmmaker also behind this year's Gordon Parks doc A Choice Of Weapons. The intro from DOC NYC: "The style. The fashion. The moves. Saturday Night Fever left an indelible stamp on our cultural memory of the 1970s—and there was one man behind it all. Robert Stigwood, a producer impresario, best known for managing the Bee Gees [and Cream], took the swagger of a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn disco, and brought it to the big screen. Although the film's popularity sent his career on a meteoric rise, Stigwood's star-making prowess couldn't guarantee a lifetime of success." It's always so fascinating to hear stories about what really happened behind the scenes.
"If we find something, they need to understand how dangerous this could be…" Discovery has debuted the official trailer for the documentary film Great Balloon Bomb Invasion, which is now available to stream on discovery+ (as of today - December 2nd). You've probably heard about these balloon bombs, but there's finally a whole film about them! Between 1944 and 1945 during World War II, the Japanese launched more than 9,000 bomb-rigged balloons across the Pacific, resulting in six deaths in Oregon. The "Fu-Go" bombs, as they were known, reached as far east as Indiana and as far south as Texas, but only 300 have ever been found, leaving potentially thousands of bombs scattered across the country. In this film, for the first time ever, an investigation is launched into the hidden history, along with a high-tech hunt for the unexploded remnants. For more info on these WWII bombs, there is also a short doc Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat and this YouTube video. This looks like half is a history lesson, the other half is "MythBusters" style testing.
"We can help you… and we need your help." Metrograph has unveiled the official US trailer for Last and First Men, an experimental documentary made by the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. This initially premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival just before the pandemic took over, and has been waiting to be released ever since. It's the only feature film directed by iconic Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who made this before he died in 2018. Featuring narration by Tilda Swinton. This feature is a repackaged version of the video Jóhannsson made for his concerts, inspired by Dutch photographer Jan Kempenaers' 2010 art book "Spomenik" about these oddly shaped war monuments. It was shot on 16mm B&W film by the Norwegian cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (DP on the films Victoria, Rams, Shelley, Wendy). The Tilda narration is based on text from Olaf Stapledon's book "Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future". I flipped for this when I had the chance to watch it on the big screen at Berlinale, writing in my review: "My mind melded with the screen on this journey. I loved every last second of this experience."
This film was screened as part of the 2021 DOC NYC Film Festival. If you ask someone to name a famous Nepali person, they might be able to recall Tenzing Norgay. He was one of two mountain climbers (the other was New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary) to be the first ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. But ever since then, Nepalis have mostly remained in the shadow, as other climbers from around the world have marched their way into the Himalayas to make their mark and set new records. This all changes with 14 Peaks and the climber known as Nimsdai. 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible is an extraordinary, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring documentary experience about Nimsdai's remarkable achievement - climbing the 14 highest mountains in the world within 7 months. It's not about whether he could do this, it's all about the journey, as it always is, and how momentous this achievement is. Free Solo is a cinch compared to 14 Peaks.
"The fact that what appeals to me, also appeals to other people - that's the beautiful thing [about music]." HBO has unveiled an official trailer for the music documentary Listening to Kenny G, another one of the films featured in the Music Box selection from producer Bill Simmons. This first premiered at the 2021 Toronto Film Festival, and also played at the DOC NYC Film Festival this fall. Love him or love to hate him, Kenny G is one of the most well-known musicians on the planet. The film is light-hearted examination of the most popular instrumentalist of all time, Kenny G, and why he is polarizing to so many. I saw this at TIFF and LOVED it, one of the best docs I've seen all year. An astute and thoughtful examination of why people love and hate Kenny G, why his music sounds the way it does, and why he's actually way smarter than most people realize. It's not only about the life of Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, aka "Kenny G", but also about how the jazz world sees him and where his place in the music world really is. You have to watch this! It rocks! Enjoy.
"What kind of story do you want to tell, and how important is it to you?" Array has unveiled a trailer for the documentary film Love and Fury, which initially premiered last year at the prestigious Hot Docs Film Festival. It was also an official selection of the Seattle International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, Virginia Film Festival and DeadCenter Film Festival. Love and Fury chronicles a cadre of Native artists as they work to amplify indigenous creativity in a post-colonial world and navigate their careers without seeking permission. Made by Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, also of this year's "Reservation Dogs" series on FX. "This lovingly made film explores the complex artistry of multiple Native American artists' while offering texture, nuance and insight into Native identities and perspectives." Enjoy.
"There is now so much more that we know." Madman Films in Australia has debuted an official trailer for a seemingly different cut of Oliver Stone's new JFK documentary follow-up this year. Their version is officially titled JFK: Destiny Betrayed, which is described as a "four-part 'deep dive' into the infamous Kennedy assassination." The original version, titled JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass (watch that trailer) premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year and is still set to be released later (likely in 2022) in the US. Maybe it will be re-cut, too? Fresh evidence reveals the truth behind the lies and misinformation like no other JFK documentary has done before. The Cannes premiere cut is two hours, but this "four-part" version seems to include even more footage. "Viewers are also given a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the post-assassination actions and initial suspicions of Kennedy's brother, Robert, as well as his views on the official Warren Commission investigation. Additionally, assassination forensic and ballistic evidence is explored here in great detail." With narration by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland. Take a look below.
"Sunny days, furry friends, classic songs, and a whole lot of heart." HBO has unveiled their own full trailer for the acclaimed documentary Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, made by doc filmmaker Marilyn Agrelo (Mad Hot Ballroom). This intiially premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival this year, and already opened in theaters back in April (watch the first trailer). The doc film chronicles the improbable origins and expansion of the groundbreaking show that not only changed children's TV, but it also had real-world effects on equality, education, and representation. With over 20 interviews with original writers, cast, and crew, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, Street Gang is told from the inside with humor and emotion, weaving together personal narratives and eyewitness accounts. The film explores the original mission of the "gang" that created this cultural phenomenon, spanning 50-plus years and reaching more than 150 countries. Even though this film already opened earlier in the year, this is an extra trailer for the HBO Max streaming debut in December. And if you haven't seen it yet, now is your time to catch up with it.
"Everywhere you look, tiny stories are unfolding." So cute!! Netflix has unveiled the trailer for a new nature documentary titled Puff: Wonders of the Reef, formerly known as Microworlds: Reef. This 62-minute film takes us into the waters to meet an adorable little fish - a baby pufferfish travels through a wondrous, microscopic world full of fantastical creatures as finds a new home. "Narrated by internationally-renowned Australian actress Rose Byrne, this is the story of the tiny, often overlooked creatures that live in one of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, and the interconnectedness of life that links our world to theirs. Filmed in Australia on The Great Barrier Reef, the sophisticated super macro techniques specifically developed for the film will immerse viewers in the exquisite world on the reef’s tiny, weird, and wonderful inhabitants." With cinematography by Pete West of BioQuest Studios, the world leaders in the most advanced technologies in underwater filmmaking and photography. This looks extra fascinating!! I'll definitely be watching this one.
"You don't want to be labeled a crazy guy that's got a relationship with a shark!" Who wants to meet some sharks? And hang out with them? Tiger (Shark) King is an enjoyable and quite inspiring 7-minute short documentary film about a conservationist and diver named Jim Abernethy. The title is a play on Netflix's uber-popular "Tiger King" series, but it's about a shark-loving fanatic who lives in the Bahamas. Filmmaker Clayton Conn spent time filming Jim (underwater) and talking to him about his love of sharks and how he has been developing programs for years to educate & train people to treat sharks with respect & affection. I love his comparison to dogs, and how much sharks can act like underwater doggies. This wonderful little doc will play perfectly as an opener with the fantastic Playing with Sharks also out this year. Dive in below.
"My goal is to… be an inspiration to someone that I don't know." HBO has unveiled the official trailer for the music documentary film DMX: Don't Try to Understand, another one of the Music Box doc series offerings arriving this fall. This recently premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival, and is debuting on HBO starting this week. "Turn your pain into words." Don’t Try to Understand, an original documentary, follows a year in the life of the late rapper as he worked to rebuild his career and reconnect with family and fans. The original title of this was Don't Try to Understand: A Year in the Life of Earl 'DMX' Simmons, following Earl "DMX" Simmons after he gets out of federal prison in 2019. "With an insurmountable debt owed to the IRS, an ever-growing family to feed, and immense pressure to return to the heights of yesteryear; the stakes couldn't be higher." If this is as good as the other documentaries in the Music Box series, it's a must watch.