WE ♥ DOCS
"Will I conquer New York?" Kino Lorber has unveiled the official trailer for a documentary film called On Broadway, from director Oren Jacoby. This is a doc celebrating the triumphant return of Broadway. Now that New York City is facing an uncertain path forward in its recovery from a devastating pandemic, this documentary from the producers of RBG shows how Broadway led the way in the city's last great rebirth and provides a model of how it can come back again. An all-star cast tells the inside story of Broadway theater, and how it came back from the brink thanks to innovative work, a new attention to inclusion, and an uneasy balance between art and commerce. Legends of the stage and screen, including Helen Mirren, Christine Baranski, August Wilson, James Corden, Alec Baldwin, John Lithgow, Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellen, take us behind the scenes of many of Broadway's most groundbreaking & beloved shows, from "A Chorus Line" to "Hamilton." I've always been a fan of Broadway, and hope they'll be back as strong as ever.
"Creativity at its core is taking chances." Greenwich Ent. has released the trailer for a music documentary titled Into The Mystery, about the South Carolina band called "Needtobreathe" or NEEDTOBREATHE. At the height of the pandemic and without telling a soul, the band decamped to a historic house-turned-recording studio in remote Tennessee to work on new music. Over three weeks, they resided under one roof and handcrafted an album reflective of the turbulent times. Another music doc capturing the act of creation, and intimately showing us what it's like for musicians to work together under one roof to create special music. The band adds: "Getting to see an idea stretch and grow into a finished song is really inspiring, but we’ve never really let our fans see behind the curtain. Now people will get to pull up a chair and become a part of the process as we create our eighth studio album in an old house in the hills of Tennessee." The doc will debut after their tour later in the fall. I like that it says they're "the biggest band you've never heard of."
"I'm doing my best to understand what's gone wrong and propose solutions. But this is going to be a long fight…" A lovely little #SaveTheOceans short from director Janssen Powers that's worth a watch. Calling From The Coral is about a geologist named Sam Purkis, who is aboard an Ocean X research vessel in the Red Sea, examining the immense and frightening death of coral reefs. He states in this that at least 50% of all the coral reefs worldwide have died in the last 40 years (ugh, humans) despite coral reefs existing for 400 million years on Earth before. The short is framed within the context of Sam calling his daughter Grace, and recording a video explaining why he's on the mission spending time away from her - to figure out how her generation can save the planet and restore this coral in the future. "Really proud of this one and so thankful for Sam, Grace, & everyone else who worked so hard to bring it to life." This pairs well with Chasing Coral.
"I am willing to give my last breath to save our democracy… What are you willing to give?" Greenwich Ent. has released an official trailer for a powerful activism documentary film called Not Going Quietly, following the life of Ady Barkan. This premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year, where it won the Audience Award and Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in Social Action. It also later played at the Oxford, Cleveland, Annapolis, and Tribeca Film Festivals. An intimate, inspiring look at activist and loving father Ady Barkan, diagnosed with ALS at age 32 and who, in spite of declining physical abilities, joins a motley crew of activists to ignite a once-in-a-generation movement for healthcare justice in America. Barkan is referred to as “The Most Powerful Activist in America,” because when he speaks, people listen. This does indeed look like a shot of "pure inspiration," a story about hope and fighting for what matters for everyone even in the midst of your own great struggles. I'm glad his story is being told in this way. Get a look below.
"He doesn't even care if anybody ever knows he's climbing." Roadside Attractions + Dogwoof have revealed an official trailer for another adventure sports doc called The Alpinist, about a daring free climber from Canada. Following The Dawn Wall and Free Solo is this story. "As the sport of climbing turns from a niche pursuit to mainstream media event, Marc-André Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. On remote alpine faces, the free-spirited 23-year-old makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history…. Intrigued by these quiet accomplishments, veteran filmmaker Peter Mortimer sets out to make a film about Marc-André. But the Canadian soloist is an elusive subject: nomadic and publicity shy, he doesn’t own a phone or car, and is reluctant to let the film crew in on his pure vision of climbing." Damn. Described as an intimate film "of a visionary climber who follows the path of his own passion." My kind of inspiration. I'm all about this! I love climbing and I love to hear these stories about the best climbers in the world. It's intense yet gripping.
"They're making a mockery of the league!" Netflix has revealed a trailer for a fascinating new documentary series called Untold, debuting weekly starting in August in a few more weeks. This series features five individual sports history doc films, each one about 80 mins, debuting across five weeks. From the creators of Wild Wild Country (which I lost my shit over), comes a five-part docuseries event that brings fresh eyes to epic tales from the wide world of sports. From tennis to boxing to basketball, these stories aren’t the ones you've heard before, even if you think you have. Premiering weekly, each film kicks off at a pivotal moment — the big fight, the Olympics, the playoffs — then delves deep into what happened beyond the headlines, as told by those who lived it, to reveal the grit, resilience, heartbreak, triumph, violence, comedy and pathos beneath the sweat. Damnnn this sounds good! I always enjoy when they dig into the real truth; the actual stories behind the media, behind the rumors, behind the statements, and get into what was really going on behind-the-scenes. I'm not usually into sports, but I'm so looking forward to watching all five of these docs.
"Sometimes I'll forget about the outside world, because it's the most intense feeling of belonging that I've ever had." Lace up your skates, it's time for some roller derby! Round and Round is an outstanding short documentary film made by filmmakers Talia Pasqua & Simeon Pratt. They embedded themselves with a flat roller derby team in Chicago called the "Windy City Rollers" and earned their trust, filming some of their most intimate moments on (and off) the track. And the result is this incredible 16-minute short with some of the most intense in-your-face cinematography in any short film this year. It's an engrossing doc film spending time with many of the girls who talk about why they get so much from this roller derby team. The film stars Ashley Perrin, Lauren Lahvic, Molly Fannin, Kaylan Szafranski, Isabel Vazquez, Jessica Candea, Nicole Negrete, Nikki Fischer-Warne, Ailise Delaney, plus James & Judy Ramsay. View the short film below.
"One Sonic Series, Six Singular Films!" Time to open up the Music Box. HBO has unveiled a teaser trailer for a new collection of six documentary films debuting this fall on HBO called Music Box. Developed and produced by Bill Simmons, co-creator of the very popular 30 for 30 doc series on ESPN, this new Music Box series takes us back through music history with six distinct doc films. The first one already debuted this past weekend - Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage about the 90s music festival that turned into a complete disaster (watch the trailer here). There's five more films featured in the Music Box line-up, about: Alanis Morissette and her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill; rapper DMX and his "inner demons in the final years of his life"; beloved musician Kenny G and his musical brilliance; the untold story of disco master Robert Stigwood; and a look at the life of hip-hop star Juice WRLD. I'm always down for hearing crazy stories from the past, and digging into the lives of musicians to examine why they are so talented and so appealing.
"Being free, to Dash, was everything." Utopia Media has debuted an official trailer for a documentary called Moments Like This Never Last, a profile of the New York artist Dash Snow. Directed by photographer Cheryl Dunn, this first premiered last year at DOC NYC and is getting a small theatrical release (in NY & LA) next month. Snow rejected a life of privilege to make his own way as an artist on the streets of downtown New York City in the late 1990s. Developing from a notorious graffiti tagger into an international art star, he documented his drug- and alcohol-fueled nights with the surrogate family he formed with friends and fellow artists Ryan McGinley and Dan Colen before his death by heroin overdose in 2009. Drawing from Snow's unforgettable body of work and involving archival footage, Cheryl Dunn's exceptional portrait captures his all-too-brief life of reckless excess and creativity. Also featuring artist Dan Colen, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, filmmaker Larry Clark, curator Neville Wakefield, among others. A wild look at an artist's unique NYC life.
"We're surrounded by fire." CBS and Paramount+ have unveiled the official trailer for a documentary film titled Bring Your Own Brigade, the latest work from Oscar-nominated doc filmmaker Lucy Walker. This first premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and will be available both in theaters and streaming later in August this summer. Walker's documentary captures the horror and heroism of the deadliest week of wildfires in California history and explores the causes and solutions of a global crisis that is quite literally burning our world to the ground. An investigation into our landscape's hidden fire stories and on-the-ground experiences of firefighters and residents struggling through deadly fires. Sundance adds that the film "cogently exposes our out-of-balance relationship with nature and explores what it will take to restore this delicate equilibrium." This is the kind of incisive, tough filmmaking I like to see! It seems like a brutally honest investigative look at how we must wake up and understand our interactions with this planet.
"We turned them into sparkling wines long before Dom Pérignon ever set foot in Champagne." Gravitas Ventures has released an official US trailer for a British documentary film called Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, the latest in the ever-growing subgenre of wine documentaries. "Described as a love letter to the joys and pleasures of Champagne, this sparkling documentary shares inside perspectives from the A-list Champagne houses and features some very familiar faces." It's also explores England's early "connections to bubbly, from Churchill's love of Pol Roger to the Bond franchise and the Queen's vineyard – this light-hearted documentary returns some much needed celebration to our lives and provides a modern twist on Anglo-French relations." Shot on location in France, England, New York and LA. Featuring appearances by Vitalie Taittinger, Bruno Paillard, Sir Nicholas Soames, and even Stephen Fry. It doesn't look like the most complex or artistic doc, but it does make me want to open a bottle and enjoy some of that bubbly goodness.
"When you've been treated so poorly by the people meant to protect you, you just give up." Hulu has finally unveiled the official trailer for an acclaimed documentary film called Homeroom, an exceptional profile of students going through the 2020 school year. This originally premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it won an award for doc editing. It's also executive produced by filmmaker Ryan Coogler, originally from Oakland. Do not discount the voices of young people. Oakland High School's class of 2020 confronts an unprecedented year, as anxiety over test scores and college applications gives way to the uncertainty of a rapidly developing pandemic and growing demands for systemic change. This film is described in glowing reviews as a "compassionate, powerful, and often very funny look at a generation that will never be the same." This really does look like "history in the making," capturing a year unlike any other.