WE ♥ DOCS
"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.
"The way he looks at people. It's like… he understands. He looks into your soul, and understands." Dogs, man, they're the best. I love dogs. I mean – I LOVE dogs. My favorite animal. Always the cuddliest. Always the cutest. Always your best friend. Always. We Don't Deserve Dogs is a new documentary film made by cinematographer / director Matthew Salleh; produced by Rose Tucker. It was set to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival this year, though it deserves to go well beyond just that festival. This film joins the pantheon of all-time great dog documentaries, including the likes of Los Reyes and the Netflix series Dogs. It is a huge breath of doggie heaven fresh air. I loved every last second of it, and can't wait to rewatch it whenever I need a boost. It's an extraordinary feel-good look at how amazing dogs are and how humans connect with them.
"We dance in the streets… because we don't have anywhere else to go now." This looks so dope! A festival promo trailer is available for a musical documentary titled Dark City Beneath the Beat, made by a local musician / singer known as "TT The Artist". The music doc re-imagines the narrative of Baltimore, a city rising above social and economic turmoil to develop a vibrant and close-knit community for the arts through its homegrown sound, Baltimore club music. Hell yeah, bring on the tunes. This was set to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, but since that has been cancelled, the best we can do is bring attention to many of the programmed films anyway. The doc spotlights local club artists, DJs, dancers, producers, and Baltimore's budding creative community as they are realizing their life dreams. Damn this looks like a good time! Great music, killer dancing, inspiring stories. Don't sleep on this! Looks like it's a worthy doc to discover this year.
"What we're going to do right here is go back. Way back – back into time." Apple TV+ has debuted the first full-length trailer for Beastie Boys Story, described as a "live documentary" feature film about the classic rock / rap / punk band. Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz share the story of their band and 40 years of friendship in a live documentary directed by friend, collaborator, and their former grandfather, the one-and-only Spike Jonze. This is an extension of the Beastie Boys Book from 2018, a memoir that paid tribute to Adam Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012. "Live portions of the documentary were taken from Horovitz and Diamond's recent show at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn; it was all part of a live tour directed by [Spike] Jonze that consisted of Q&A segments, readings, and guest moderators." This looks incredible! I love that it's a mix of doc and live discussion and nostalgia and everything else. Looking forward to seeing this soon.
"We needed a civil rights law of our own." Netflix has debuted the official trailer for an acclaimed, award-winning documentary titled Crip Camp, now titled in full Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, from filmmakers James Lebrecht & Nicole Newnham. This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year on opening night, and it ended up winning the prestigious Audience Award by the end of the fest. The film is a "spirited look at grassroots activism" about a one-of-a-kind camp for disabled teenagers that is started just outside of Woodstock. There they are inspired to join the fight for disability civil rights in the 70s. This looks like a rousing, inspiring trip back in time to learn about how disabled people successfully revolutionized America by joining together and fighting for what matters. I hope everyone takes the time to watch this doc.
"This is user friendly… They're going to get respectful treatment." There is nothing more important than healthcare. We need it more than ever nowadays. With so many people struggling financially and medically, a doctor who listens and understands, and provides care judgement-free can make all the difference. The Clinic is a short documentary made by filmmaker Elivia Shaw, profiling one generous healthcare provider who gives free support to those who need it most. Amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, a needle exchange and free clinic operates in the shadows of Fresno, California. Dr. Marc Lasher provides care out of a "dingy old school bus", but that doesn't matter. As you'll see with this short, his compassion and openness and care can actually change lives. This doc's power is in its rawness, by showing us real compassion at its most pure.
"This painting is a lie." When it comes to art, what's real and what isn't? Can you tell if an artist is genuine? There Are No Fakes is a feature documentary all about art forgery. The film uncovers never-before-heard details about the largest case of art forgery in history, surrounding the work by indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. A painting, apparently the work of an iconic native artist, leads the rockstar who buys it into the tragic, brutal world of an art forgery ring in Canada's far north. As a direct result of this documentary's expose, the Thunder Bay police have opened a criminal investigation into the matter. (Still an active case.) The film arrives on VOD this week, for those interested. From the trailer it's hard to figure out exactly what's going on, but that's what makes it intriguing - what is the great mystery behind this art drama. Check it out.
"I believe Diana is a Mexicana in her soul and heart." Greenwich Ent. has debuted the first official trailer for a documentary about a charming, spunky, food-loving, one-of-a-kind woman named Diana Kennedy. The film is titled Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy and it explores Diana's vibrant, unconventional life, blending vérité with archival footage, photographs and interviews. The author of nine acclaimed cookbooks and a two-time James Beard Award winner, Diana is called the "Julia Child of Mexico", but the feisty cook prefers the moniker "The Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine". Featuring extensive interviews with Kennedy, and with famed chefs José Andrés, Rick Bayless, Gabriela Camara, and Alice Waters, the film provides an intimate look at the leading expert on Mexican cuisine. Viewers accompany her in intimate settings at home - cooking, gardening, and traveling to accept awards & speak to audiences. This doc looks entirely enjoyable.
We're all addicted to technology - the internet, social media, messaging, news. Everything that comes with it. Documentary filmmaker Jeff Orlowski is the latest to make a film about this dilemma. His new film is literally called The Social Dilemma, and it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. For the last 10 years, Orlowski has been making extraordinary films about climate change's effects on Earth. His first feature documentary, Chasing Ice, landed him an Oscar nomination. He then followed that up with Chasing Coral, one of my favorite films of 2017. His new film isn't about the climate this time - instead, it's about how and why climate deniers still exist. What is fueling their delusion and is technology helping spread the misinformation that encourages more denialism? Of course, the answer is yes. I'm glad I had a chance to meet up with Jeff while at Sundance and talk about his latest doc film and the reasons he made it.
"I've taken my step, now take your step." Avalanche Ent. has released an official trailer for a documentary titled I Am Not Alone, which originally premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. It also played at Doc NYC and AFI Fest in the fall. The doc film is about the Armenian revolution of 2018. The movement begins hopelessly, with activist Nikol Pashinyan and just a handful of supporters — including a stray dog — setting out on a 14-day march from one side of the country to the capital of Yerevan. Step by step, the marchers begin to capture the hearts and minds of the Armenian public. Within a few weeks, the country erupts in a spectacular revolution, as millions of citizens take to the streets, across their neighborhoods, and stage some of the most creative, powerful, and surprising acts of civil disobedience in modern history. This incredible political drama presents an emotional & inspiring roadmap for how a true democratic movement can achieve profound change against all odds. Finally some real optimism and hope for a better tomorrow.
"So why do I find myself still watching these films over and over and over again?" 1091 Media has released an official trailer for a doc about cinema titled Romantic Comedy, an exploration and evaluation of the romantic comedy genre. This premiered at numerous prestigious documentary festivals last year and debuts on VOD in a few weeks. Romantic Comedy goes "beneath the surface of our favorite films, seeking to better understand the way we view love, relationships, and romance. Romantic comedies are hugely successful and deeply loved by many but often have avoided critical analysis. Helped by a diverse chorus of writers, actors, and filmmakers, and with original songs by her band Summer Camp, director Elizabeth Sankey embarks on a journey of investigation and self-discovery." Who doesn't love romcoms?! Right! Described in reviews as "entertaining and insightful", this seems like a fun film about film and why we all love these stories so much.
"It's in the landscape… landscape of his soul." Music Box Films has released the official trailer for Werner Herzog's latest documentary film, called Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin. This originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and went on to play at the Telluride Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, and Vancouver Film Festival. When travel writer Bruce Chatwin was dying of AIDS, his friend Werner Herzog made a final visit. As a parting gift, Chatwin gave him his rucksack. Now thirty years later, Herzog sets out on his own journey, inspired by Chatwin's passion for the nomadic life. His deeply personal portrait of Chatwin, featuring archival discoveries, clips, and a mound of "brontosaurus skin," encompasses their shared interest in aboriginal / tribal cultures, ancient rituals, and the mysteries stitching together life on earth. I'm usually always interested in watching Herzog's documentaries, no matter what they are about.