WE ♥ DOCS
"In some ways, we're exactly where we were." HBO has released an official trailer for a documentary titled Autism: The Sequel, which is (as the title indicates) a sequel to the Emmy-award winning documentary Autism: The Musical from 2007. This new film picks up again with these same people, now adults, and takes another look at their lives and their struggles. The original doc film introduces five autistic children as they work together to create and perform a live musical production. From the same director, Autism: The Sequel weaves together present-day interviews with footage of the subjects and their families shot 12 years ago. The challenges with adulthood are entirely different, of course. The main subjects include Elaine Hall, Adam, Henry, Lexi, Neal, and Wyatt. The doc is premiering on HBO at the end of this month. Have a look.
"There is only man and mountain." Signature Ent. in the UK has unveiled an official trailer for a mountain climbing documentary titled White Mountain. This is also a shortened version of the film's original title: Dhaulagiri: Ascent to the White Mountain. Dhaulagiri is the name of a mountain in the Himalayas (elevation of 26,795ft / 8,167 m; seventh highest in the world) that is one of the hardest mountains to climb on the planet. The film follows an Argentinian team that goes back six years after a failed ascent to try and a friend a friend that went missing and discover what happened. Described as a doc "that alternates between the grandeur of adventure and the intimacy of retrospection. It is the story of a path that winds upward, twists downward and leads inward. It addresses a universal subject: The search for the meaning of life." Which is always the main path to understanding mountain climbers. Why do they do it? To feel truly alive.
"And the more we hung out, the more we just started building on ideas of things that we could do to make money that weren't illegal." And with that, they built an empire. Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a documentary called LA Originals, a film marking the feature directorial debut of renowned photographer / entrepreneur Estevan Oriol. The doc film is an exploration of the culture and landmarks of the chicano and street art movement that cemented Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol's status as behind-the-scenes hip hop legends. Quite a story. Featuring appearances by Estevan, Mister Cartoon, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, Blink 182, Michelle Rodriguez, Wilmer Valderrama, Danny Trejo, & George Lopez. This looks like a fascinating and eye-opening story of a cultural movement, and two talented people from Los Angeles.
"It's a scary, daunting prospect… You just worry for your child." 1091 Media has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth, which will be available to watch on VOD in June this year. Director Jeanie Finlay charts a transgender man's path to parenthood after he decides to carry his child himself. The pregnancy prompts an unexpected and profound reckoning with conventions of masculinity, self-definition and biology. The title is a reference to seahorses, obviously enough, because the male of the species carries the eggs deposited by the female in his pouch until they're ready to be released. This film seems like a bit of a shock at first, but when you get a look at the footage, it seems to be built upon a great deal of compassion and understanding. Which is something we do need more of in the world anyway.
"Keep your head up, keep your heart open." Humans crave connection. We need to talk, and hear from each other, converse, and interact. How do you do that if you're a filmmaker with no friends, stuck at home? Let's ask Benjamin Berman: "I made a new film! The first film made completely in quarantine??? Possibly. Get yourself a little human connection and check out The Follow-Up." Berman made a doc film that premiered last year called The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, and this is kind of / sort of his follow-up. As much as this might seem to be a film about connection during quarantine, beneath the surface it seems to be about how we're so desperate to connect we will pay excessive amounts of money to have washed up celebs record videos to make us feel better. Which really does make this a good follow-up to his doc. Check this out below.
"They know that this is addicting, they know it's problematic, and they didn't care." Dark Star Pictures has unveiled an official trailer for Screened Out, a new documentary by filmmaker Jon Hyatt, coming to all of your screens of all sizes this May. The film is one of many addressing tech addiction in the modern age. Join ﬁlmmaker Jon Hyatt and his family on a journey through the life changing eﬀects of screen addiction, how the tech industry hooked global consumers, and its greater impact on our lives. From smartphones, portable tablets and social media, the tech industry has designed these fun immersive technologies, but are they good for us? We all know the answer is "no", but we're afraid to deal with that reality, and afraid to figure out how to limit screen time. This film seems to focus mainly on kids and how appealing it is to younger generations.
"See the world through their eyes." Dogwoof has debuted a short teaser trailer for yet another new doggie documentary, this one titled simply Stray. The film looks a bit like a spiritual sequel or double feature with Kedi, this time about stray dogs on the streets of Istanbul (while Kedi is about the iconic cats of Istanbul). In Stray, a trio of canine outcasts roam the streets of Istanbul. Through their eyes and ears, we are shown an intimate portrait of the life of a city and its people. This was set to premiere at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. A "memorable journey that won't be easy to shake, the film allows its soulful canine protagonist to command the screen, and, in the process, become visible in a region where so many [other] individuals are forced to remain unseen." I love every and any dog doc and this one, of course, looks absolutely wonderful.
"Two powerful stories that show just how far family can take you." Disneynature has debuted one trailer for two of their upcoming nature documentaries: Elephant and Dolphin Reef. With the current situation, Disney has decided to release both directly to Disney+ for streaming next week. Usually they release a new Disneynature movie in theaters (and IMAX) once a year in April, but now they're releasing two right away. By now, everyone knows what to expect with these nature docs. Elephant, narrated by Meghan Markle, follows an African elephant named Shani and her son Joao as their heard make an epic journey across the Kalashnikov Desert. Dolphin Reef, narrated by Natalie Portman, follows Echo, a bottlenose dolphin who can't quite decide if it's time to grow up and take on new responsibilities – or give in to his silly side and just have fun. Dolphin society is tricky, and the coral reef that Echo and his family call home depends on all of its inhabitants to keep it healthy. (Including humans, right?) Both will be available to view on Disney+ soon.
"It's time to take control! The future's yours - if you want it." Verve Pictures has released an official UK trailer for an anthology project titled The Uncertain Kingdom, a title riff on the United Kingdom (aka UK). The project is a ground-breaking anthology of twenty short films by twenty filmmakers, which together offer an alternative snapshot of the UK in the year 2020. The aim is to offer "a unique portrait of our nation today" by telling different stories, featuring different people. There are animated shorts, live action shorts, documentary shorts, and more. For a full list of the different shorts and a glimpse at each one - head to the official website. "From comedies and dramas, through to documentaries and experimental filmmaking, and covering subjects including climate change, migration, disability, homelessness and sexuality, this ground-breaking anthology film gives exhibitors the chance to bring a multitude of new and established filmmaking voices to audiences to document and depict the UK at this pivotal – and uncertain – moment." Take a look.
"We should ask ourselves: is that useful in the modern world?" 1091 Media has unveiled the official trailer for a documentary titled Bias, that is of course about bias, and the toxic effects of "unconscious bias" (on society and the world and humanity). This first premiered at a festival a few years ago, and is finally getting a release on VOD next month. Bias challenges us to confront our hidden biases and understand what we risk when we follow our gut. Through exposing her own biases, award-winning documentary filmmaker Robin Hauser (Code: Debugging the Gender Gap) highlights the nature of implicit bias, the grip it holds on our social and professional lives, and what it will take to induce change. This sounds like a fascinating doc that couldn't be more important for today's world. Alas, I doubt it will be seen by as many people as it should be.
"I do think that comedy has the power to do more than just make people laugh." Gravitas has debuted an official trailer for an indie documentary titled It Started As a Joke, a look at the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival in Brooklyn, the alternative comedy scene in New York, and Eugene's personal life. This first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last year, and is arriving on VOD in April for those curious to watch. It Started As a Joke was originally conceived as a concert film (showcasing moments from his fest) before it became something else, more of a profile of Mirman and his entire life. He was born in Moscow, Russia; then his parents moved to America when he was only four. And most tragically, his wife Katie recently passed away from cancer. The film has interviews with Michael Ian Black, Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Ira Glass, John Hodgman, Kumail Nanjiani, Reggie Watts, & Michael Showalter. Check it out.
"Did you know that Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix, but they didn't?" What?! No way! Pop Motion Pictures has debuted an official trailer for an indie documentary called The Last Blockbuster, which is indeed a film about the very last Blockbuster video rental store to ever exist. Many of you might know the Twitter account, @loneblockbuster, which was started as a joke but is also based on the real-life reference - the very last Blockbuster video rental store still in operation, located in Bend, OR. The Last Blockbuster is a feature length documentary film about the rise and fall of Blockbuster video and how one small town store managed to outlast a corporate giant. Kevin Smith is featured prominently, along with Sandi Harding, manager of the last Blockbuster store. I'm most curious to hear what this former CEO has to say about it all.