WE ♥ DOCS
"99% of those who carried out the murders in the Holocaust were never prosecuted. Why not?" Guerilla Films in the UK has unveiled a trailer for a provocative new documentary film called Getting Away with Murder(s), the latest from English doc director David Wilkinson. If you think that title is referring to the Holocaust, you're right. That's exactly what it's asking about. Everyone knows about the Nuremberg Trials, and the London Agreement of August 1945. But why were so many of those involved with the Nazis never prosecuted? Discover the profound and distressing untold story of the Holocaust… Being released 75 years to the day of the International Military Tribunal sentencing. This looks like an uncomfortable film to watch because it's going to poke and prod at questions that none of us want to answer, including whether being complicit in something that everyone else is complicit in really makes them worthy of being prosecuted. But why can't we deal with these realities? "I've never met a survivor who has felt that justice has been done."
"Went straight from learning how to walk, to learning how to moonwalk." Discovery+ debuted an official trailer for an indie documentary film titled Crutch, years in the making telling the story of artist / dancer Bill Shannon. This premiered at the 2020 DOC NYC Film Festival last fall, and played at the Bentonville Film Festival this year. The film is a profile of Bill Shannon, aka "Crutch Master," who is a multi-disciplinary artist that defies definition and gravity. He lives his life, including dancing and skateboarding, on crutches and doesn't let that stop him. Crutch also dives into Bill's provocative street performances, during which he exposes the hidden world of assumptions disabled people encounter in public, on a daily basis. While the film questions his early exploitation of strangers' good Samaritan impulses, it also marvels at Bill's ability to create solutions and empower others in similar challenges. From a childhood "cripple" to an international provocateur, Crutch is the story of a one-of-a-kind artist's struggle to be understood. This looks super dope.
"Cinema has the most mass reach, compared to the other arts." Kino Lorber has revealed the first official trailer for a new cinema history documentary film called The Village Detective: a song cycle, which just premiered at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month. Arriving in a few art house theaters in a few weeks. This is the latest work from the filmmaker behind the outstanding doc Dawson City: Frozen Time, also based around a similar concept of finding old film reels and putting them together to tell a story. In Bill Morrison's new film The Village Detective, a Soviet film from 1969 is found in an Icelandic fisherman's net, and the filmography of its leading actor offers a portal into a history that has endured on celluloid. It turns out the film is just an incomplete print of a popular comedy starring beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. Morrison explores this idea and the context within cinema. It looks like another must watch for cinephiles.
The horrific events of September 11th, 2001 were possibly my earliest memory of seeing news on television. I was very young, but I recall standing in front of our old, square-shaped television, the crackling sounds of which woke me up at night. Even after 20 years of pain, overwhelming grief, and gradual healing, I think of the people whose lives were cut short and who will never be able to say goodbye. Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11, directed by David Belton and Bjorn Johnson, is a documentary that provides a unique insight into the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center towers in New York City, struck the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and killed people on board Flight 93 flying over Pennsylvania. The film is a riveting and emotional testimony of people who survived, lost loved ones, and witnessed the event that changed America.
"There are good cops and there are bad cops." Netflix has revealed the official trailer for a highly praised, award-winning documentary titled A Cop Movie, which is a title that sounds like it's an intense thriller about police in Mexico but it's something else entirely. This premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, where it won an award for editing, and it arrives on Netflix this fall. Director Alonso Ruizpalacios takes us deep into the Mexican police force with the story of Teresa and Montoya, together known as "the love patrol." Two professional actors undergo an immersive process to join the police force in Mexico City. In this thoroughly original and unpredictable film, Ruizpalacios plays with the boundaries of nonfiction and immerses the audience into the human experience of police work within a dysfunctional system. "I came to the conclusion that performing is an essential part of a police officer's life. From the moment they put on the uniform, they are playing a part, which extends throughout their workday, displaying a strength they don’t have or helping with something they are not prepared for." A clever questioning of the very concept of cops.
"We used to hate each other." Gravitas Ventures has unveiled an official trailer for a road trip documentary comedy called Joy Ride, not to be confused with the Paul Walker action thriller also titled Joy Ride from 2001. This film is actually a "concert documentary" TV special, not a full feature, coming in at just around 70 minutes. Frenemies and veteran comedians Dana Gould and Bobcat Goldthwait, having learned very little from their near-fatal car accident, get back on the road and journey throughout the American South. The documentary captures the duo as they carefully navigate highways and their decades-old contentious friendship; reflecting upon their careers and relationship with comedy. Buckle up. A comedy tour unlike any other full of laughs and danger. This looks like a good time, with plenty of wacky fun comedy to chuckle at.
"How important are these animals to us?" Very important! Don't let them disappear forever! IndieCan Ent. and HitPlay Productions have revealed an early promo trailer for a documentary film called Last of the Right Whales, made by award-winning filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza. I keep confusing the title as "The Last Rights" but it's actually about the endangered species of whale known as the North Atlantic right whales - which are dying faster than they can reproduce. With less than 400 remaining, these great whales rarely die of natural causes. Instead they are run over by ships or suffer lethal injuries from fishing gear. If we don’t stop killing them, in 20 years they could be extinct. The doc is the story of a disparate group of people – a wildlife photographer, a marine biologist, a whale rescuer, and a crab fisher – all united in their cause to save the North Atlantic right whale. By joining forces these formidable allies are determined to stop the world’s first great whale extinction. It's set to open first later this year, and will air on CBC in Canada sometime in 2022. It seems like another vitally important whale film after Blackfish. Get a first look below.
"You can't operate at that level forever." 1091 Pics has released a trailer for a documentary film called The River Runner, another thrilling adventure doc profiling an expert kayaker named Scott Lindgren. This premiered at the Mountainfilm Festival recently, and is arriving on VOD in October to watch. The film follows expedition kayaker Scott Lindgren's 23 year quest to become the first person to paddle the four great rivers that flow from Tibet's sacred Mt. Kailash. This story of resilience follows his journey - through his struggles, Lindgren learns the only way to achieve his goals is to open his heart after years of trauma and health problems. The director explains: "I hope my audience feels the weight of Scott's personal journey and the lengths he went to become the person he is now. It's never too late to change, and it's never too late to follow your dreams. I believe this film is a testament to that." This sounds like a doc that is much more than just a story about adventure sports, it's about overcoming challenges both mentally and physically. Dive in.
"Believe." NatGeo Docs has revealed an official trailer for a documentary film titled The Rescue, the latest film from Free Solo and Meru directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin. This just premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival to some rave reviews, calling this "heartstopping", "rousing" and "truly astonishing." You all know the story about the boys trapped inside a cave in Thailand in 2018, and the daring rescue to save them, as it was headline news for weeks straight. The doc film shines a light on the high-risk world of cave diving, the astounding courage and compassion of the rescuers, as well as the shared humanity of the international community that united to save the boys. The filmmakers keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they use a wealth of never-before-seen material and exclusive interviews to piece together the high-stakes mission, highlight the efforts of the Royal Thai Navy SEALs and U.S. Special Forces, and detail the expert cave divers’ audacious venture to save the boys. I'm very interested in watching this doc - take a look.
"We've replaced the tyranny of a boss with the tyranny of an algorithm." Gravitas has released another official US trailer for the documentary The Gig Is Up, the latest from award-winning Canadian filmmaker Shannon Walsh. We featured a teaser trailer earlier this year before it premiered at both Hot Docs and the CPH:DOX Film Festivals this year. The film is all about the gig economy and the pitfalls and problems with it. App developers lured a massive labor force by promising flexible hours with no offices or bosses-but with gig workers from Uber, Amazon, Lyft and more in front of the camera, the human cost of disruption runs deep. "A very human tech doc, The Gig Is Up uncovers the real costs of the platform economy through the lives of workers from around the world for companies including Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo." The film tells the stories of the workers giving up everything to make a living. This looks like a smart investigation into how the gig economy is actually pretty bad, hopefully opening up our eyes up to what's really going on.
"We are dealing with the fate of mankind." National Geographic + Story Syndicate have unveiled an official trailer for a documentary called Becoming Cousteau, the latest film from two-time Oscar nominee and two-time Emmy Winning director Liz Garbus (The Farm, Angola USA, What Happened, Miss Simone?). This will be premiering at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival this weekend before it opens in theaters in October. Explorer, inventor, filmmaker, legend, Becoming Cousteau, examines the life and legacy of one of the 20th century's most renowned environmentalists. Its focus will be on the inventor-explorer-filmmaker revolution, Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, giving mankind the resources to explore the ocean with the Aqua Lung, calling attention to ocean pollution, and his longtime collaboration. The film also chronicles his personal life, the creation of The Cousteau Society and the crucial work they do, and his evolution into one of the most important environmental voices of the 20th century, whose words & images are more vital today than ever. I cannot wait to watch!! I've always wanted to learn the full story of Jacques Cousteau and his life.
"We did this for our country!" 1091 Pictures has revealed an official trailer for a fascinating escape into the outdoors documentary titled Godspeed, Los Polacos!, which is the perfect title to hopefully grab people's attention. Five university students risk it all to fight for democracy in the Eastern Bloc after claiming the first descent of the world's deepest canyon. This originally premiered at the Banff Mountain Film Festival last year, and it debuts on VOD this September. A group of university students from Poland on the edge of adulthood find themselves on a kayaking expedition in the Americas with an old military truck, homemade equipment, and little to no whitewater skills. The story follows their epic two-year journey that culminates in the record-breaking first descent of the world's deepest canyon in Peru, and finds the kayakers in Soviet cross-hairs after they leverage their new found fame to fight for democracy in the Eastern Bloc. I'm all in for this! I love these kind of crazy cool stories from the past about some motivated people going on adventures.