WE ♥ DOCS
"We live in a society now where everybody abides by the rules, and people don't even know what the rule is or where it came from, they just abide by it." 1091 Pictures has revealed an official trailer for the sports documentary film titled Gap Year, made by filmmakers T.J. Regan & Josh Kahn. This medium-length doc film runs 50 minutes and focuses on the world of basketball. It's specifically described as a "coming-of-age business of basketball film [that] explores the triumphs and tribulations of Darius as he enters uncharted territory for an NBA prospect, navigating a corporate day job while training for the NBA Draft at the age of 18." The doc profiles Darius Bazley, a modern-day high school basketball phenom, who decided to take an internship instead of go to college to play basketball for them. This is a solid trailer explaining the stakes of his decision and what it means for the basketball world, how disruptive it really is. I can dig it, sounds good.
"Do you want to say that your father was a monster? And what does that say about you…?" HBO has unveiled an official trailer for a harrowing investigative documentary titled Baby God, made by filmmaker Hannah Olson. You may have heard of this story thanks to all the shocking headlines about the discovery. For more than 30 years, Dr. Quincy Fortier covertly used his own sperm — without his patients' knowledge or consent — to inseminate his fertility patients and impregnate them with his own DNA. Now his secret is out and his children seek the truth about his motives and try to make sense of their own identities. Not only does the film examine this man and why he might've done this, but it also spends time with all of the people who have his DNA in them. It's fascinating to see them grapple with the morals of his decision and how they must make sense of themselves after learning the truth. It's a haunting story and an intriguing examination.
"He will transcend this game…" HBO has unveiled the first teaser trailer for an epic biopic documentary titled Tiger, a monumental and definitive look at the life and times of golf legend Tiger Woods. The doc will be released as a two-part "series" premiering together in January 2021 - a look at the life, success and scandals of golfer Tiger Woods. Co-directed by doc filmmakers Matthew Hamachek & Matthew Heineman (of Cartel Land, City of Ghosts, and The Boy from Medellín). "Few global icons are more visible and less understood than Tiger Woods," EVP of HBO Sports Peter Nelson states. "His prodigy came with painstaking sacrifice; his perfected athleticism immobilized him in agony before the age of 40; his self-made fame enabled a self-destructive world of secrecy; and his redemptive reemergence posed as many questions as it answered — not only about one of the greatest sportsmen ever to live, but also the greater American society that engulfed him… Directors Matthew Heineman and Matthew Hamachek provide viewers a definitively nuanced portrait of Eldrick 'Tiger' Woods." This is a only first look teaser, but I'm already hooked. Let's go.
"Ike was very serious about his music, and rehearsed and practiced every day." Kino Lorber has debuted an official trailer for a music documentary titled The Changin' Times of Ike White, profiling the life and times and songs of Ike White. This premiered at the Camden Film Festival and IDFA last year, and it also played at DOC NYC last fall. Ike White was a musical prodigy serving life in prison since age 19. His luck changed when he had the opportunity to record in prison the album called Changin' Times (the first ever commercial album recorded inside an American prison by an inmate - in 1976) with WAR producer Jerry Goldstein. Decades later, filmmaker Daniel Vernon tracks down White out of prison, living in obscurity, and the story takes dramatic twists. "You'll want to buy a ticket and see it before your friends discover it first and tell you about it." I am very curious to know where he went, what he's up to now, and what really happened.
"This is a film to take a bath in – it's stripped to its essential elements, without any interference." Neon has released a new official US trailer for the festival hit Gunda, an experimental documentary film made by filmmaker Viktor Kosakovskiy. This premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and has stopped by numerous other fests including most recently the Montclair and New York Film Festivals. Gunda is an adorable B&W dialogue-less feature that focuses mainly on a momma pig named Gunda. Shot at ground-level to put you in the same place as the animals, the film looks at the daily life of a pig and its farm animal companions: two cows and a one-legged chicken. That's all there is to it - nothing but raw footage of these lovable animals running around all day. Executive produced by Joaquin Phoenix. And fellow filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson also loves it, providing quotes about how special it is. Meet the farm friends below.
"Cooper figured it out! And he got away with it… I wanna be a Cooper." HBO has debuted an official trailer for a compelling true crime documentary titled The Mystery of D.B. Cooper, from Emmy-nominated doc filmmaker John Dower (Live Forever, My Scientology Movie). It examines the well-known case, which is largely regarded as the greatest unsolved heist in American history. In November of 1971, a man hijacked a Boeing 727 from Portland, got a $200,000 ransom, then jumped out into the wilderness with a parachute. His whereabouts or his identity have never been discovered. Drawing from a combination of recreated and archival footage, as well as exclusive interviews with those most connected to the infamous case and its likeliest culprits, this edge-of-your-seat documentary also explores how the heist inspired copycat hijackings and elevated Cooper to "legend" status. The Mystery of D.B. Cooper paints a "dynamic portrait of a fabled fugitive" whose unparalleled story became folklore. They got my attention! I'm definitely curious to find out.
"The taste of defeat is bitter. The only thing we want to taste is victory." Altitude Films in the UK debuted an official trailer for a sports documentary titled The End of the Storm, the latest from acclaimed doc filmmaker James Erskine (of One Night in Turin, From the Ashes, Le Mans: 3D, Sachin - A Billion Dreams, and also this year's Billie). Featuring unprecedented access to Liverpool Football Club (aka LFC), The End of the Storm is the gripping feature length inside story of the 2019/20 Premier League winning season. In a year when all sports came to a standstill due to the pandemic, fans of Liverpool Football Club finally saw their team lift the trophy that had eluded them for 30 long years. The film's original soundtrack includes a new recording of the classic "You'll Never Walk Alone", sung by Lana Del Rey. Impressive they made an entire doc film so quickly about this year's Premier season, but that's how much people love soccer/football.
"We saw the world the way we wanted it to be, we did not see the owrld the way it was." Sony Classics has unveiled an official trailer for an acclaimed documentary titled The Human Factor, which played at lots of fests last year including the Hamptons, Chicago, AFI Docs, Denver, and Telluride Film Festivals. From the Oscar-nominated director of The Gatekeepers comes the untold, behind-the-scenes story of America's 30-year effort to secure peace in the Middle East, told from the perspective of the US negotiators. Reviews describe it as a "masterful summation of the Arab-Israeli conflict" that can help us understand better what is going on. Another review states: "As significant as it is drop dead fascinating, offering not only intimate personal stories, but also potent insights into what went wrong so many times in that most incendiary part of the world." This documentary looks remarkably compelling and eye-opening - an important story to tell.
"Yeah I just did that, so what?" Greenwich Entertainment has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Assassins, which originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film is an account of two women convicted of assassinating Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. The film follows the women's trials in an attempt to understand whether they are trained killers or simply pawns. The spectacularly brazen murder happened in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage shows them covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing VX—the most lethal nerve gas—into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour. But if the murder was extreme, the story that came next was even more bizarre: The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. Was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? That's what this film ponders from every angle. And damn does it look riveting.
"It's really about global healing - not just benefiting you scientifically, physically…" Freestyle Digital has debuted a trailer for an indie documentary titled The Power of Movement, which is launching on VOD this month for those curious to learn more. This sounds totally kooky and absurd as a healing technique, and it is, but it also isn't. The underlying concerns – that we lack physical activity and movement to sustain healthy bodies – is accurate and legit, but we all know dance isn't going to cure cancer. The film, profiling Dr. Niraj Mehta, is described as a "fun doc that spotlights a Bollywood choreographer who also happens to be an oncologist, who uses his dance therapy to treat patients." I'm glad it is such a lighthearted and fun film, because taking this too seriously would just make everyone's eyes roll. But dance is wonderful! And we all need to dance more anymore. Maybe there really is some power in movement? Only one way to find out…
"I have taken controversial positions to try to make the world a better place." Abramorama has debuted the official trailer for an inspiring documentary titled Soros, which originally premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last year. For those interested, it will be available in "Watch Now @ Home" virtual cinemas just in time for Thanksgiving later this month. Soros tells the story of this wealthy man as he fights against the rising tide of authoritarianism around the world. Billionaire activist George Soros is one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time. This film examines his entire life story - his upbringing in Hungary during WWII, his accumulation of wealth, and his desire to fight to change the world for the better. And of course, how he was vilified just because he wanted to make a difference in the world. This is a really invigorating trailer, there is an energy and a powerful vibe that I did not expect. It's seriously worth a look.
"I think it's incredibly important to gain visibility, to make it so that we can be seen." Altered Innocence has released an official US trailer for a documentary titled Queer Japan, exploring the LGBTQ+ culture in contemporary Japan. The film is a vibrant profile of various people in Japan living brazenly unconventional lives in the sunlight, shadows, and everywhere in between. Japan is still a very conservative society, but of course there are people pushing back and letting loose and being free. "Get to know a vibrant and inspiring group of human beings in a country with a unique history of queer expression." Featuring: Vivienne Sato, Gengoroh Tagame, Atsushi Matsuda, Nogi Sumiko, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Akira the Hustler, Tomato Hatakeno. This premiered at the Rainbow Reel Tokyo & Outfest Film Festivals last year, and will be available to watch virtually in December. Looks like a vibrant, proud, and jubilantly enjoyable film. That final shot is amusing.