WE ♥ DOCS
"I feel like I'm just looking for guidance in how to be a blind artist." Stimulus Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for a compelling, very unique documentary titled Vision Portraits, which first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. The film is an in-depth exploration of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists including others working in highly visual mediums explaining their thoughts about blindness, and processes. It is made by filmmaker Rodney Evans, exploring his own feelings about his loss of vision. He also profiles three other creative people - photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton, writer Ryan Knighton. Reviews describe it as "an evocative meditation on sight, cinema, and the tools of filmmaking", a contemplative film that "consistently fascinates the mind and activates the senses." This looks very good, I'm always keen to watch documentaries that explore topics in an unconventional way.
"You are never free. There's always some kind of pressure." Check out the official trailer for the filmmaking documentary Forman vs. Forman, a profile of the acclaimed / beloved Czech filmmaker Miloš Forman - from the Czech New Wave to Hollywood. Miloš passed away in 2018 at the age of 86, after making 14 films over the course of his career. Forman was an important component of the Czechoslovak New Wave, but he also left his mark on Hollywood, too, winning two Academy Awards - for Best Director of Amadeus, and for Best Director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. "The movie is unique for its ingenious compilation of images drawing on existing footage and also on hitherto unknown shots discovered in the collections of friends and colleagues. On set and in interviews the filmmaker contemplates the notion of freedom and its limitations." The doc already premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and is playing as a centerpiece feature at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czechia starting this week. Looks like a must watch for every cinephile.
"Find your own true destiny and purpose in this life, while the book is still open…" Virgil Films has debuted the trailer for Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am?, a documentary about musician Clarence Clemons. Also known as "The Big Man", Clarence played saxophone and was a part of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for many years. This new Who Do I Think I Am? (I like the twist from "who do you" to "I") documentary highlights the life of the beloved E Street band member, while also showing another side not many saw when he was away from stage. "It's an intimate portrait of a man who searched for enlightenment at the unknowingly final years of his life." With the help of producer Joe Amodei, the film has become more than just a document of Clarence's spiritual journey - it's biography for his life and a love letter and farewell from those that knew him best. Clemons passed away in 2011 at the age of 69. Looks like a nice spiritual doc.
"Objects are there only if you really see them." Oscilloscope Labs has revealed a trailer for the documentary titled Jay Myself, a profile of New York-based photographer Jay Maisel and his iconic 36,000 square foot studio building in the Bowery known as "The Bank". The film is made by fellow photographer Stephen Wilkes, who creates an "intimate portrait of his mentor", following him when he decides to finally sell his home in 2015. "It was one of the most iconic buildings in New York history and only a handful of people had ever been inside it… Until now." He lived there for over 40 years, and filled it with his eccentric collection of beautiful random objects. "It is through this intimate lens that the viewer is taken on a remarkable journey through Jay's life as an artist, mentor and man; a man grappling with time, life, change, and the end of an era in New York City." This looks extremely fascinating, and I always love watching docs on photographers.
"This is a lucrative business." Vision Films has released an official trailer for the latest animal preservation documentary Lone Gone Wild, the first feature film made by filmmaker Bill Neal. Long Gone Wild focuses on the plight of captive orcas, picking up where the acclaimed documentary Blackfish left off while telling a uniquely new and different story. The film covers "The Blackfish Effect" (what it did and didn't accomplish – SeaWorld took a major hit to its bottom line, but the 20 orcas are still there), along with the case against captivity and The Whale Sanctuary Project and its model seaside sanctuary for retired orcas – providing a safe, permanent home in their natural habitat. Some of us think that after Blackfish, the fight is over, but it's far from over as there are still many dangers for whales and there are still many orcas locked up in captivity.
"My dad was the best at what he did. So then it's important for me, no matter what I do, to carry on that legacy…" Whoaaaa this is fantastic. That's My Jazz is a short documentary film (under 15 mins) by Ben Proudfoot, who runs a studio based in Nova Scotia called Breakwater Studios. He profiles a top pastry chef named Milton Abel II, who looks back on his relationship with his father, a top jazz musician named Milton Abel Sr. from Kansas City. I can't describe it better than Kottke already did: "The film is a tender and moving rumination on their relationship and the balance between achieving greatness in the world and being present in the lives of your loved ones." I adore the mix of jazz, footage, and storytelling in this. Bliss.
"I will always love you…!" Trafalgar Releasing has released an official trailer for the concert documentary called The Cure - Anniversary 1978-2018: Live in Hyde Park. This was originally filmed during their big "Anniversary 1978-2018" concert performance Live at London's Hyde Park in July of 2018. English rock band The Cure celebrated their 40 years together with a massive concert, and if you're a fan and missed it all, don't worry they're showing it on the big screen this summer (all over again) - coming up next month. In theaters worldwide! No matter where you live, you can (probably) catch this. The doc is made by filmmaker Tim Pope, who has been collaborating with The Cure for decades, and features plenty of sweeping crane shots and close-ups on the classic rock bland, even a few fish-eye on-stage shots to pull you straight into the experience. This is pretty much just a concert doc and nothing more, but it looks like a great show anyway.
"It's very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve perfection." 1091 Media has unveiled the official trailer for an indie documentary titled Chasing Perfect, a profile of the famous car designer Frank Stephenson. Not everyone knows his name, but you probably do know the cars he has designed: the Mini Cooper, Ferrari F430, Fiat 500, and a number of slick McLaren cars (that none of us can afford to own). In 2008, Autoblog called Stephenson "one of most influential automotive designers of our time". The doc is a retrospective of his work and life, giving us an inside look at his techniques, while also showing us the life he lives which influences him and his career. This looks like a fun doc. The trailer ends with a big twist, too! Check this out.
"Why us? Why Winnipeg? There's so many theories…" A full-length official trailer has debuted for an indie documentary titled Phantom of Winnipeg, an obscure, fascinating look at an odd phenomenon. The doc film tells the story of how Brian De Palma's cult favorite musical Phantom of the Paradise (first released in 1974) became a local sensation in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. "Phantom of the Paradise proved hugely popular among young Winnipeggers, whose enthusiasm for the movie reportedly kept it playing at the city's Garrick Cinema for 18 straight weeks… [Years later] in 2005, the city celebrated the movie with a festival, 'Phantompalooza', which featured appearances by cast members Gerrit Graham and the late William Finley." The film originally flopped at the box office 45 years ago, but has clearly found some fans over time.
"We have to all decide together that it's enough." Good Deed Ent. has debuted a trailer for the documentary This Changes Everything, from director Tom Donahue. This inspiring doc premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year, and played at the Hamptons, Chicago, Virginia, Stockholm, Napa Valley, and Miami Film Festival. This Changes Everything is an investigative look and intensive analysis of gender disparity in Hollywood, featuring accounts from well-known actors, executives and artists across the entire industry. Featuring appearances by and interviews with Geena Davis, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Taraji P. Henson, Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep, and many more. This looks like it plays nicely as a companion piece to Amy Adrion's doc Half the Picture, about the lack of female directors in Hollywood. Both films are not only about what's wrong, they're hopeful that with all this conversation will come change.
"From the very beginning it was not going to be confrontational." "A singular event in history." Cinema Libre Studio has unveiled the official trailer for the documentary Creating Woodstock, described as the most "comprehensive examination of how the festival came to be using original interviews with key figures, rare archival footage and unearthed photographs." This is a separate project from the PBS-made Woodstock doc film, also debuting this summer. This one focuses on how it all happened, how they put it together and pulled it off – barely. Nearly three decades in the making, Creating Woodstock has been compiled through interviews over a 30 year period, with the original team behind Woodstock 1969, and contains several little known stories shared on camera for the first time. If you've wanted to learn even more about this legendary concert event, and how one-of-a-kind it really was, this is the doc for you. Looks like a fun trip back in time.
"We HAVE to do something." RYOT has revealed a second trailer for the documentary known as 5B, made by filmmakers Paul Haggis & Dan Krauss. The title 5B is a reference to the very first AIDS ward at a San Francisco hospital that opened in 1983. During the terrifying early days of the AIDS outbreak, a war rages among the nurses, doctors, and staff charged with caring for the infected. Described in THR's review as "a stirring assembly of first-person oral history and extensive archival footage that honors the pioneering work carried out in that ward, which opened in 1983 at San Francisco General Hospital in direct response to a state of emergency still being widely ignored." The accalimed film just played at the Cannes Film Festival, and is opening in select theaters starting this week. Looks like a must-see doc that shows us how much of a difference compassion makes. "An uplifting film about human decency and generosity of spirit." See below.