WE ♥ DOCS
"Being free, to Dash, was everything." Utopia Media has debuted an official trailer for a documentary called Moments Like This Never Last, a profile of the New York artist Dash Snow. Directed by photographer Cheryl Dunn, this first premiered last year at DOC NYC and is getting a small theatrical release (in NY & LA) next month. Snow rejected a life of privilege to make his own way as an artist on the streets of downtown New York City in the late 1990s. Developing from a notorious graffiti tagger into an international art star, he documented his drug- and alcohol-fueled nights with the surrogate family he formed with friends and fellow artists Ryan McGinley and Dan Colen before his death by heroin overdose in 2009. Drawing from Snow's unforgettable body of work and involving archival footage, Cheryl Dunn's exceptional portrait captures his all-too-brief life of reckless excess and creativity. Also featuring artist Dan Colen, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, filmmaker Larry Clark, curator Neville Wakefield, among others. A wild look at an artist's unique NYC life.
"We're surrounded by fire." CBS and Paramount+ have unveiled the official trailer for a documentary film titled Bring Your Own Brigade, the latest work from Oscar-nominated doc filmmaker Lucy Walker. This first premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and will be available both in theaters and streaming later in August this summer. Walker's documentary captures the horror and heroism of the deadliest week of wildfires in California history and explores the causes and solutions of a global crisis that is quite literally burning our world to the ground. An investigation into our landscape's hidden fire stories and on-the-ground experiences of firefighters and residents struggling through deadly fires. Sundance adds that the film "cogently exposes our out-of-balance relationship with nature and explores what it will take to restore this delicate equilibrium." This is the kind of incisive, tough filmmaking I like to see! It seems like a brutally honest investigative look at how we must wake up and understand our interactions with this planet.
"We turned them into sparkling wines long before Dom Pérignon ever set foot in Champagne." Gravitas Ventures has released an official US trailer for a British documentary film called Sparkling: The Story of Champagne, the latest in the ever-growing subgenre of wine documentaries. "Described as a love letter to the joys and pleasures of Champagne, this sparkling documentary shares inside perspectives from the A-list Champagne houses and features some very familiar faces." It's also explores England's early "connections to bubbly, from Churchill's love of Pol Roger to the Bond franchise and the Queen's vineyard – this light-hearted documentary returns some much needed celebration to our lives and provides a modern twist on Anglo-French relations." Shot on location in France, England, New York and LA. Featuring appearances by Vitalie Taittinger, Bruno Paillard, Sir Nicholas Soames, and even Stephen Fry. It doesn't look like the most complex or artistic doc, but it does make me want to open a bottle and enjoy some of that bubbly goodness.
"When you've been treated so poorly by the people meant to protect you, you just give up." Hulu has finally unveiled the official trailer for an acclaimed documentary film called Homeroom, an exceptional profile of students going through the 2020 school year. This originally premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it won an award for doc editing. It's also executive produced by filmmaker Ryan Coogler, originally from Oakland. Do not discount the voices of young people. Oakland High School's class of 2020 confronts an unprecedented year, as anxiety over test scores and college applications gives way to the uncertainty of a rapidly developing pandemic and growing demands for systemic change. This film is described in glowing reviews as a "compassionate, powerful, and often very funny look at a generation that will never be the same." This really does look like "history in the making," capturing a year unlike any other.
"It's a universal dance across all the nations." Madman Films has released the first trailer for an Australian documentary called Araatika: Rise Up!, also going under the title (outside of Oz) The Fight Together. This is premiering at the Melbourne Film Festival coming up in the next few months, but no release is set yet. For Indigenous Australian rugby league players, a pre-game "unity dance" is an important step towards celebrating their cultures and combating entrenched racism. A group of NRL greats got together to invent a new pre-game ceremony, initially a response to the Maori Haka, but also to celebrate Aboriginal cultures, and counter racism in rugby league. They now want to use that dance to change the hearts and minds of all Australians. "Featuring several NRL greats, prominent First Nations figures like Stan Grant and Adam Goodes, and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Araatika: Rise Up! is the story of one man's determination and a spirited call-to-arms to stand behind Indigenous Australia." This sounds fantastic! And for those who don't know much about Australian sports, this'll make a great double feature with The Australian Dream. Enjoy.
"You had the sun, the sea, nature, and music." Dogwoof has unveiled the UK trailer for another fascinating music history documentary called Under the Volcano, which probably isn't what you're expecting from that title. This premiered at this year's SXSW Film Festival, and arrives on Blu-ray in the UK this month - and lands in the US on VOD starting August. On a remote Caribbean island, in the shadow of a volcano, the world's biggest recording artists made music and myth that defined an era. The film is about a studio called AIR Studios Montserrat, built on a tiny island called Montserrat located in the Caribbean near Barbuda. "Built by Beatles' producer Sir George Martin, AIR Studios Montserrat was the birthplace of mega-hits such as Money for Nothing and Every Breath You Take… The studio formed the backdrop to monumental events including the break-up of The Police, reunion of The Rolling Stones, and reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon." It looks like such a beautiful place to make music! Check this out.
"I will go out finishing what my hero started… Life's funny like that." Disney has launched the trailer for a documentary film called Stuntman, from director Kurt Mattila. This originally premiered at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award, but was never been released until this year. And it might be worth the wait - Stuntman will be streaming on Disney+ this month. The film follows professional stuntman Eddie Braun as he prepares for and attempts the most dangerous stunt in cinematic history – a recreation of Evel Knievel's Snake River rocket jump. With new music from rock icon Slash (featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) and a score by Jeremy Zuckerman, this Stuntman film "straddles the line between documentary and non-fiction action film, offering a rare look into the entertainment industry's most dangerous and anonymous profession through the eyes of one of its renowned veterans as he risks his life for some of the biggest action stars in the world." Exec produced by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia. It looks like a good story about a serious stunt-a-holic, with a focus on his rocket jump homage to his hero.
"We got off the bus and – 'something's not right.'" HBO is releasing this documentary in July this summer - check out the official trailer for Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage, made by doc filmmaker Garret Price (director of the Love, Antosha doc previously). How did an iconic celebration of harmony descend into mayhem? Woodstock 99, the first film in Bill Simmons' Music Box HBO series, examines how the festival collapsed under the weight of its own misguided ambition. This sounds much like the Fyre Festival some 20 years before the Fyre Festival. The film tells the harrowing and calamitous story of Woodstock '99, a three-day music festival promoted to echo the unity and counterculture idealism of the original 1969 concert, but instead devolved into riots, looting, and sexual assaults. Of course it did, because they were probably trying to make money not really put on a good show. This looks like one helluva doc about what went wrong & why.
"When you cook, you give your love." Sony Pictures Classics has revealed the first official trailer for a new documentary titled Julia, a biopic doc film about the acclaimed, beloved cookbook author & TV superstar Julia Child. Made by the doc filmmakers behind the recent acclaimed documentaries RBG and My Name Is Pauli Murray previously. It's being promoted as an event profiling an iconic woman. "Julia will use never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, 'cutting edge' food cinematography. The project will trace Child's path, from her struggles to create and publish 1961's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking,' which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, to her become an unlikely television sensation from her show 'The French Chef.'" This reminds me of the excellent film Julie & Julia, and makes me want to try every dish she has ever made as well. It does look like a ravishing and delicious film! Enjoy.
"You're safe now. No one's going to hurt you." MTV has released an official trailer for a documentary film titled Sabaya, which originally premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it won a Directing Award. It also played at CPH DOX and the Nantuck & True/False Film Fests. The film follows a group into Syria's Al-Hol, a dangerous ISIS camp, risking their lives to save a women being held as abducted sex slaves. "Led by Mahmud and Ziyad, these men and women volunteers tirelessly coordinate searches, infiltrate the camp, and plan rescue operations to bring back Yazidi victims. The ones they manage to free are traumatized and ashamed, fearing rejection by their community and families. The process of reinstating some sense of normalcy in their lives is only now beginning. Sabaya is a visceral, often petrifying journey that will keep you on the edge of your seat." An incredibly eye-opening film about heroes in the Middle East.
"Have you told Kasper any of these stories?" Neon has unveiled an official trailer for an acclaimed, award-winning documentary film titled Flee, which originally premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. This animated documentary is a groundbreaking, heartrending work unlike anything you've ever seen. And that's not an exaggeration. Flee tells the extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time. Along with a secret which he has kept hidden for the last 20 years. This won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, deservedly so, and has been receiving rave reviews ever since the festival. Described as a "remarkable refugee story told with heart and audacity." You definitely don't want to miss this film - one of the very best documentary discoveries of 2021.
"An urgent warning." IFC Films has debuted the official US trailer for an acclaimed, provocative, and eye-opening documentary film titled The Meaning of Hitler, the latest doc from award-winning filmmakers Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker. This premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival last year, and is opening in theaters this August. And it's an important doc that is as relevant as ever today - we need to hear all of this. What can history tell us about the present? Shot in nine countries, the film explores what Hitler means in the current waves of white supremacy, antisemitism, and weaponization of history. "As fears of fascism and authoritarianism now abound, the film explores the myths and misconceptions of our understanding of the past, and the difficult process of coming to terms with it at a time in our history when it seems more urgent than ever." I watched this last year and highly recommend it. As frightening and urgent as promised, and as fascinating as ever, delving into the truth about Nazi Germany and the worrisome return of fascism today.