WE ♥ DOCS
"Bang! There was this incredible cultural explosion going on." Film Movement has released an official US trailer for an acclaimed rock doc titled White Riot, which originally premiered at the London Film Festival last year. It also played at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and a few other fests. Their description of White Riot: "From The Clash and Joy Division to The Specials, a host of British bands joined forces in 1978 to counter the rise of the neo-fascist British National Front and increasing racial violence. Under the Rock Against Racism (RAR) initiative, they staged special concerts and took a decisive stand against marginalisation. Punk rock’s influence on this anti-fascist movement proved to be very effective. With a nod to the aesthetics of fanzine culture and featuring previously unreleased archival concert footage and interviews with activists, the film examines the context in which the movement arose while drawing striking parallels to our current situation." Of course, we're still experiencing racism today, and this film connects these events of the 70s to today and reminds us how we can fight back in creative and punk ways. Hell yes.
"As people, we're work in progress… Who we are extends beyond ourselves." HBO has debuted a new full-length official trailer for David Byrne's American Utopia, a stage show doc directed by Spike Lee. This just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to exceptional rave reviews, calling it one of the very best recorded-performance docs ever made, highlighting one of the best shows ever put on stage. David Byrne's American Utopia brings the critically acclaimed Broadway show to HBO in a one-of-a-kind film directed by Oscar and Emmy-winner Spike Lee. Recorded during its run at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre in New York City, David Byrne is joined by an ensemble of 11 musicians, singers, and dancers from around the globe, inviting audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount. One review from TIFF exclaims: "The choreography is mesmerizing, the music is extraordinary, and the feeling of joy creates a tone of hope." Sounds like what we all need right now. Check this out below.
"Zach was in over his head…" 1091 has released the official trailer for The Ringmaster, a funky new doc film film about onion rings. Yeah, seriously. This premiered at a few documentary festivals last year and is hitting VOD next month. An aging chef from Minnesota has his life turned upside down when a relentless filmmaker from Las Vegas tries to make the chef's onion rings world famous. Upon his grandfather's death, a recovering gambling addict uses his inheritance to make a documentary about well-known onion rings from his childhood and the beloved Minnesotan chef who makes them. The project changes drastically when the filmmaker becomes hellbent on improving the humble fry cook’s life, despite discovering his subject wants nothing to do with the film. Sounds crazy, right? This trailer is a bit of a mess, mostly because there's so much going on. A cautionary tale about doc filmmaking more than it is a story about onion rings? Maybe.
"Why would a man kill a woman that he loves?" ESPN has revealed an official trailer for the latest "30 for 30" documentary The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius, about the infamous Olympic runner. It will always be one of the most shocking stories in the history of sports; An international hero who had inspired millions with his determination and refusal to be denied the chance he felt he deserved—suddenly in the midst of a murder investigation. And the circus that ensued around the tragedy made just as many headlines as his initial rise to glory. That is the tale of Oscar Pistorius, a saga told definitively in director Daniel Gordon’s four-part "30 for 30" film The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius. Featuring interviews with more than a dozen of the figures closest to the story, the film covers the entire case, the heartrending trial, the media frenzy that surrounded it all, and ultimately the conviction that leaves him in jail to this day. A very chilling story told by a master doc filmmaker. It can be watched in four "parts", or as one full 5.5 hour film.
"You need to carry on chasing it, ’cause you're going to find it." Gravitas has released an official trailer for an indie homemade documentary titled After So Many Days, from filmmakers / musicians Jim Hanft & Samantha Yonack, telling their own story. After a decade of making music together, Jim and Sam (official website), a recently married singer/songwriter duo from Los Angeles, were not the conventionally successful band they hoped they'd be. Feeling stuck and anxious about their future, the duo then made a spontaneous decision to go "all in," making a pact to play one show every day for a year. With suitcases and a guitar, the troubadours ventured out for a 365-day tour throughout 14 different countries. After So Many Days, is an intimate front row seat to the highs and lows of what it's like for two people to pursue a dream – together. This looks excellent, a brutally honest and humble story about how hard it is to find, and to be, "successful."
"All I could do is keep my mouth shut." 1091 Pictures has unveiled an official trailer for a documentary titled The Phenomenon, a film about UFOs and the supposed government activity keeping them secret. Earlier this year, the Pentagon released previously-classified footage of a three incidents of unidentified flying objects without any explanation, stoking the conspiracy fires in a big way. This explosive documentary is the most revealing and credible examination of the long-standing global cover up involving unidentified aerial phenomenon. Including shocking new testimony from high-ranking government & military officials, NASA astronauts, and riveting never-before seen footage, the timely doc film also reveals the monumental events behind the NY Times' recent bombshell disclosure of The Pentagon's secret UFO Program, and provides eye-opening evidence that mankind is not alone in the universe. Is the truth still out there? What do you think?
"She said, 'things were bad…'" Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for an intense true-crime documentary film titled American Murder: The Family Next Door, an 82 min feature film debuting on Netflix this month. Shanann Watts and her two young daughters went missing in Frederick, Colorado. As details of their deaths made headlines worldwide, it became clear that Shanann’s husband, Chris Watts, wasn’t the man he appeared to be. Experience a gripping and immersive examination of the disintegration of a marriage. It is one of the first films "to give a voice to the victims." Filmmaker Jenny Popplewell spent days with Shanann's parents and brother in North Carolina and it was with their blessing that she was able to look through Shanann's personal laptop and phone. This never before seen footage truly gives a voice to Shanann and her daughters instead of their killer – a "refreshing new take" on true crime. This looks chilling and fascinating.
"Resurrected Dad!" Netflix has released the official trailer for Dick Johnson is Dead, the second doc film made by filmmaker Kirsten Johnson following her feature debut Cameraperson. This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, beloved as one of the best docs of the fest. It also won a Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling at Sundance. The documentary is about Kristen Johnson's own father, who is getting older and close to death, as she comes up with interesting ways for him to prepare for the end. "The darkly funny and wildly imaginative Dick Johnson is Dead is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life's profundity." An extraordinarily creative and beautiful way of dealing with death.
"We're not going to wait for a break, we have to make our break." Gravitas has released an official trailer for an inspiring documentary titled Fly Like a Girl, which first premiered at the Hot Springs International Women's Film Festival last year. After playing on the festival circuit for a year, the film is finally arriving on VOD this fall. A young girl aspires to change the face of aviation. Fly Like A Girl is more than just a film. It's a movement of young girls and women relentlessly pursuing their passion for aviation. A field currently dominated by men. Hearing first-hand stories from girls and women who dared to aim higher. From a lego-loving young girl who includes female pilots in her toy airplanes, to a courageous woman who helped lead shuttle missions to space, Fly Like A Girl shows us that women are in charge of their own destiny. It also features Vernice Armour, the first African-American female aviator from the Marine Corps. Fly on, ladies.
"There's not a day goes by that I don't think about it." DiggerFilms has debuted an official trailer for the documentary film Hail to the Deadites, another doc film about (horror) movie fans and their love for a particular franchise. From filmmaker Steve Villeneuve, Hail to the Deadites is a documentary about the fans of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films and explores the classic franchise's undying and ever-growing popularity. Beside meeting with fans around the world, the 80 minutes documentary feature interviews with Evil Dead franchise cast members such as Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Tom Sullivan, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Sarah Berry, Rick Domeier & Bill Moseley. Evil Dead first opened in 1981, followed by the sequel / remake Evil Dead II in 1987, finishing the trilogy with Army of Darkness in 1992. All three are official cult classics in their own way, and they still rule.
"Abel, I'm not a politician. I'm a survivor." Kino Lorber has unveiled the trailer for The Projectionist, a documentary from filmmaker Abel Ferrara. This originally premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, and also stopped by the Torino Film Festival in Italy. The film director converses with the proprietor of a Cinema complex in Queens about the 1970s era of film making and exhibition in New York City, when things were edgier and sleazier than they are in today's cleaned up scene. The Projectionist is a profile of theater operator Nicolas "Nick" Nicolaou, who moved from Cyprus to NYC, and began working as a teenager in small neighborhood movie theaters around Manhattan, defying gentrification, changing viewing habits and corporate dominance in the 1980s, only to emerge decades later as one of New York City's last independent theater owners. This looks more like an intriguing conversation than a real story about being a projectionist.
"Her blood is the ocean." Blue Fox has released an official trailer for a documentary film titled She Is the Ocean, the latest from doc filmmaker Inna Blokhina. This first premiered at the Ocean Film Festival back in 2018, and also played at the Vancouver Women In Film Festival last year, and will be available in "virtual cinemas" to watch this fall. A woman is like the ocean: a true force of nature. She Is the Ocean follows nine extraordinary women, scattered across all corners of the globe. But they are united by the same sea, and their love for these waters is matched only by their dedication to preserve and protect them. A journey of both natural beauty and human empathy, She Is the Ocean is the story of many powerful women with depths unknown. As straightforward as this doc seems, profiling each of these ladies, it's still an inspiring and empowering look at the rise of women all around the world. Plus - who doesn't love the ocean? Dive in.