WE ♥ DOCS
"It's better to try and fail." GKids has debuted the second official US trailer for the long-awaited Miyazaki documentary titled Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, which they will be releasing in US theaters later this year. The doc was originally made for TV and released in Japan in 2016, but has been awaiting a global release ever since then. Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki spends intimate time with Miyazaki-san himself, examining his time since retirement in 2013. It follows his very first attempts to use computers for animation to make the film Boro the Caterpillar for the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. The big question it asks: "Can an old master who thinks he's past his prime shine once again?" This film fits right in with that other wonderful Ghibli doc, Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. This trailer is pretty much the same as the first one, with the added date info at the end - it's getting a limited theatrical showing for two nights only.
"Part legend, part icon, all hero." The first trailer it out for a cinema history documentary titled RoboDoc: The Creation of Robocop. As the title clearly states, the doc film is about Paul Verhoeven"s seminal sci-fi classic RoboCop from 1987, and how it was made, and the influence it had, and the sequels that followed, and everything else. This project was funded on Kickstarter a few years back, and they're still working on finishing it up, getting it ready for release. "RoboCop has since become one of the most iconic and successful movies of the 1980s, a movie that was well ahead of its time and has left a lasting impression on fans across the globe. RoboCop is a film many fans watched as children when they were too young to understand the social commentary of this R-Rated movie, yet they were instantly hooked on the future of law enforcement." Indeed. This is a very long trailer (over 5 minutes!) but it covers plenty of the film's history and much more.
"Roger knew what fear could do." Magnolia Pictures has debuted an official trailer for a new documentary titled Divide & Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, which premiered at the New York & Toronto Film Festivals this fall. The doc film is a career-spanning look at the person behind the rise of propaganda station Fox News, a vile man named Roger Ailes. Bloom charts the rise and fall of Ailes interviewing both allies and enemies, creating a compelling film that "is vital to understanding the power broker who will be studied for generations to come." The film traces how Ailes repeatedly used his power to sexually coerce women. If he was denied, he didn't hesitate to block their professional advancement, send a private investigator, or smear her in the press. As much as I don't want to hear about him, this seems like the correct way to tell his story.
"Where did he get all that money?" You don't want to know the answer. An official trailer has debuted for a documentary from China titled People's Republic of Desire, all about the live-streaming phenomenon that has taken over the country. This doc film won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the SXSW Film Festival this year, anda lso the Grand Jury Award for International Documentary at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Made by documentary filmmaker Hao Wu, the film follows three young characters – a singer, a comedian, and a migrant worker – as they search for fame, fortune and real human connection in live streaming. There's an immense amount of fame and fortune in the live-streaming world, and this film looks at both the good and the bad. It seems to be a scary cautionary tale of how self-absorbed society has become, and how superficial everyone (and everything) is in this hyper-connected, internet era.
"Extinction happens in front of our eyes." Save the animals! They are important, too. An official trailer has debuted for the documentary The Last Animals, the feature directorial debut of renown photojournalist Kate Brooks. The Last Animals follows the conservationists, scientists and activists battling poachers and criminal networks to save elephants and rhinos from the edge of extinction. It's a film about how important it is to fight back, to organize systems of defense and to mobilize people in order to save the animals that are threatened by ever-greedy humans who want them dead for their own gain. This is similar to the other doc The Ivory Game about elephant poaching, and just as powerful. These films are so important and show how incredibly passionate people are fighting to save what truly matters, even putting their own lives on the line.
"You sure there are aliens out there?" "Yes." Grasshopper Films has released an official trailer for a peculiar little documentary titled Distant Constellation, the feature debut of filmmaker/camerawoman Shevaun Mizrahi. This film has been playing at numerous film festivals all of last year and this year. It's described as a "Tarkovskian dream-like landscape", focusing on "the inhabitants of a Turkish retirement home where pranksters, artists and old casanovas seduce us to confront the true nature of time." Well that sounds quite mesmerizing, and this trailer gives us a good look at a bit of that. I enjoy how quirky and playful this seems, yet it's also very wise and profound in its examination of humanity and our life experiences on this planet.
"Outside of my books, what am I? A woman not unlike many others." The Match Factory has released an international promo trailer for the Italian documentary titled Ferrante Fever, which already opened in Italy last year but is still looking for a US distributor. The doc film is about the mysterious writer who goes under the name "Elena Ferrante", known as one of the most successful Italian authors of our time. Her novels – from Troubling Love to The Story of the Lost Child – have captivated millions of fervent fans. But the true identity behind this pseudonym has become one of the most "incendiary literary mysteries of recent decades." Who is she, really? Durzi's documentary explores the depths of Ferrante's oeuvre, and attempts, in his words "to stimulate reflections on the particular reasons for Ferrante's success, without being seduced by the provocation of making a 'gossipy' documentary about her unknown identity." Interesting - see below.
"This is football version 2.0." Grasshopper Film has released the first official trailer for a documentary titled Infinite Football, which first premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year to many rave reviews. A lot of my friends said this was one of the best films of the festival. This Romanian doc by filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu is kind of, sort of, about the game of football - also known as soccer in America - though it's not really. The film is about a former Romanian soccer star, now a major politician, who dreams of revising and updating the game to prevent injuries. Described as a "hilarious, typically incisive" doc where "all roads lead to football, but all roads lead away from it too, to land ownership issues, to orange farms in Florida, to political utopia and the traces left by life, to version 2.0, 3.1, 4.7, to infinity." This is definitely a must watch.
"How could it have disappeared?" Holy moley this film is amazing!! I'm stunned. Sandi Tan's documentary Shirkers is one of the best documentaries of the year. Hands down, no question. All of the ingenuity. The honesty. The cats. The ghost story. The footage. The creativity. Just phenomenal. I seriously got the chills and was tearing up by the end. It's such a beautiful, breathtaking, refreshing film. It's so uniquely creative in the way it's structured, and is also complex in handling all the aspects of past and present. But Sandi has it all in her mind and she spent years putting it together and it's pretty much perfect. It's a total film nerd film in so many ways (they aspired to be the "Coen Sisters", to premiere at Cannes, and they despised cheesy Hollywood movies). It's invigorating, infuriating, fascinating, and inspiring. I loved every last second of it.
"We do not have scarcity, we have selfishness." Freestyle Digital Media has released an official trailer for a documentary titled simply We the People, made by French filmmaker Emmanuel Itier, examining and questioning global politics and economics. This hasn't played at many festivals, but it's getting a full VOD release next month, for anyone interested in watching. The film is described as a "worldwide exploration" of politics and economics, with the aim of inspiring us to reach towards a better world. "At the end if we create caring economies and politics maybe we can build a sustainable planet full of Peace, Justice and Love for everybody." This is more of a discussion doc with a lot of talking heads, including notable intellectuals like Robert Reich, Deepak Chopra, Sharon Stone, Michael Beckwith, and more. We must keep striving for peace.
"Come on a giant screen journey to the heart of the Caribbean…" Giant Screen Films has unveiled a trailer for a documentary titled simply Cuba, a film about the island country in the Caribbean. This seems to be a glorified travel documentary, with a focus on the cultural aspects and places that make it such a fascinating place. Filmed exclusively for the giant screen format, Cuba tells the story of "a land preserved in time, yet poised on the cusp of dramatic change." Transporting audiences "across breathtaking landscapes, under the ocean surface to iridescent reefs, and into streets throbbing with music and dance in the heart of Havana." And it's showing in IMAX and 3D for those who really want to get fully immersed in the experience of what it's like to be there. This a visually stunning and captivating way to get people to go visit this island nation.
"The internet is now a tool of central power, but blockchain says 'no way!'" SingularDTV + Futurism have released the official trailer for a documentary titled Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain, formerly known as Decentralized. This is the latest doc made by actor-turned-filmmaker Alex Winter, who also made the excellent other tech docs Downloaded and Deep Web previously. This time he tackles the hot new tech trend of the day - blockchain. Trust Machine is the first blockchain-funded, blockchain-distributed, and blockchain-focused documentary, exploring the evolution of cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), blockchain and decentralization, including the technology's role in addressing important real-world issues. Featuring narration by Rosario Dawson. I am a big fan of Winter's docs, and I'm looking forward to watching this.