WE ♥ DOCS
"I fear our democracy was nothing but a short-lived dream…" Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for the highly acclaimed documentary The Edge of Democracy, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to some rave reviews. This searing, fascinating, epic film examines the politics of Brazil, and the recent upheaval and collapse of democracy combined with political chaos in the country over the last decade. Made by talented filmmaker Petra Costa, she traces the history of modern Brazilian politics and shows both sides of the story, taking us deep inside the Brazilian government with remarkable access and jaw-dropping footage. I caught this film at Sundance and it's extraordinary, one of the best films of that fest and one of the best documentaries of the year. My Sundance review is quoted in this trailer, and I have been telling everyone I meet about this film - the footage she has here is astounding. Another must see doc film.
"It was against the world, it really was." Sundance Selects / IFC Films has debuted an official trailer for the indie documentary titled The Quiet One, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Montclair Film Festival this year. From director Oliver Murray, The Quiet One is a look back at the "extraordinary life and times of The Rolling Stones'" bassist Bill Wyman. Against the odds Bill escaped a bleak future in post-war, working class London to find himself at the very center of a musical and cultural revolution. As a Rolling Stone he embarked on record-breaking world tours, dealt with feuding band mates and befriended some of the world's most iconic musicians, actors, sportsmen and artists. Then he walked away from it all to commit to a new family and to set about documenting and preserving the memory of the "rock and roll revolution". This doc looks like a fascinating, enthralling trip back in time to the early days of rock music. Dive right in.
"How about you come on the road with us?" Netflix has unveiled the first official trailer for the latest music documentary made by Martin Scorsese (also of Shine a Light, A Letter to Elia, George Harrison: Living in the Material World) titled in full Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. The doc film captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Bob Dylan performed during the fall of that year - his very unique "Rolling Thunder Revue" concert tour. "An essential piece of mythic storytelling, Scorsese's chronicle features Joan Baez, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Sam Shepard, Allen Ginsberg and, giving his first on-camera interview in a decade, Bob Dylan. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese vibrates with the promise of America, a then-200-year-old experiment in a state of flux… Beyond mere reclamation of some of the most extraordinary music of Dylan’s career — it's a roadmap into the wild country of artistic self-reinvention." Scorsese seems to know how to tell a good story.
"That beats starting to sound funkier." There's an excellent new music doc available online for everyone to watch. Still Ill: 25 Years of the Beastie Boys Ill Communication is a short 14-minute doc produced by Amazon Music, celebrating the release of the Beastie Boys' iconic 1994 album Ill Communication - complete with a fresh Amazon playlist. Featuring a bunch of old footage & photos. "Still Ill weaves together archival footage and interviews with the surviving Beastie Boys Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. Also included are interviews with Beastie collaborators Mario Caldato Jr. and Mark Nishita, illustrating the winding road that led to the classic album." Through footage and the words of his friends, the documentary captures Adam Yauch's journey into activism, which would blossom with the Tibetan Freedom Concerts later in the decade, as well as his famous denunciation of misogyny in hip-hop on the single "Sure Shot". This is a great short doc worth a watch even if you're not the biggest Beastie Boys fan.
"The fraud and corruption I discovered was nationwide." Amazon Studios has debuted the first trailer for documentary One Child Nation, the latest from Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang of the films Hooligan Sparrow and I Am Another You previously. This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and also played at True/False, CPH:DOX, Full Frame, Sarasota, Tribeca, and the Hot Docs Film Festival this summer. The film uncovers the untold history of China's One-Child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment. Nanfu Wang's sweeping film is "a stunning, nuanced indictment of the mindset that prioritizes national agenda over human life, and serves as a first-of-its-kind oral history of this collective tragedy - bearing witness to the truth as China has already begun to erase the horrors of its 'population war' from public record and memory." Looks like a powerful, personal story to tell.
"If you've got a hell of a story on your hands… go after it!" Magnolia Pictures has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Mike Wallace Is Here, the latest from filmmaker Avi Belkin (Winding). This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and stopped by True/False, Sarasota, Montclair, and a few other festivals this spring. The doc is an "unflinching look" at the legendary reporter Mike Wallace, who was one of original correspondents for CBS' "60 Minutes", which first debuted in 1968, only retiring some 38 years later. "Unearthing decades of never-before-seen footage from the '60 Minutes' vault, the film explores what drove and plagued Wallace, whose storied career was entwined with the evolution of journalism itself." That sounds great, especially in our current climate of news hysteria. It looks like they went through so much archival footage to put this together, packing a punch with his toughness. An extra fascinating doc to watch.
"There's some really bad guys here." National Geographic has unveiled an official trailer for the acclaimed, award-winning documentary Sea of Shadows, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It won the Audience Award in the World Doc Competition category there, received some rave reviews, and also played at the CPH:DOX festival. Sea of Shadows is another marine animal crisis doc similar to the other outstanding films The Cove or Blackfish before it. This time the focus is on an endangered species of whale called the vaquita porpoise, which is being threatened by fisherman in the Sea of Cortez, aka the Gulf of California. Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia are harvesting the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the "cocaine of the sea", killing other life in the area. Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multi-million-dollar business. This is one of those super important docs that can actually make a real difference in the world. It looks outstanding!! Don't skip this.
"Horror chose me… It's unique that my biggest success has been in the horror genre." Cult Screenings has debuted two teaser trailers for their latest project - Icon: The Robert Englund Story. As that title very clearly indicates, this is a documentary about horror icon Robert Englund, the American actor who played the role of Freddy Kreuger in the beloved horror franchise A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's made by the same team behind the RoboDoc, and Pennywise doc, and it's launching on Indiegogo next month to finish up with funding so it can be released soon (likely in 2020 but maybe even later this year if they pull it off). "This documentary will explore who the man behind the mask truly is, charting his early days in TV and film to his current stratospheric status in the horror universe." I'm glad to see this doc covering his entire career, and all of his different roles, not just Freddy (as iconic as that character is). Keep an eye out for this project.
"The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale." Dogwoof has released an official trailer for an indie documentary titled The Kleptocrats, which is already available on VOD for anyone interested in watching. The film profiles and examines "one of the world's biggest financial crimes", in which $3.5 billion was stolen from a Malaysian government fund. Where did it go? The "money from the audacious scam flows into New York and Hollywood, where the thieves court A-list celebrities and even finance" Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (talk about irony). "But investigative journalists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter trace the money trail and unravel the scheme, the US Department of Justice gets involved, [and] the Prime Minister and his inner circle are implicated, assets are frozen, money is seized and the Malaysian people fight back." Sounds like one hell of a gripping thriller, and yet it's all real.
"Neil was quiet and poised…" Gravitas Ventures has unveiled an official trailer for a new documentary titled Armstrong, arriving in theaters this July a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the July 1969 landing on the Moon. Add this to the list of films about the Apollo 11 landing, along with Damien Chazelle's First Man feature last year, and Todd Douglas Miller's Apollo 11 documentary this year - both of which are must see films already. This documentary features Harrison Ford narrating. Armstrong examines the life of an extraordinary figure in American history, "recounting Armstrong's near-death experiences both as a Navy fighter pilot in Korea (flying from the decks of the USS Essex aircraft carrier) and as a test pilot back on the home front… The documentary also captures the intense drama of the Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 missions as well as dizzying challenges that followed in the turbulent wake of global fame." Looks like a riveting watch.
"We have to do something." RYOT has debuted an official trailer for an indie documentary titled 5B, made by filmmakers Paul Haggis & Dan Krauss. This premiered last year at Doc Stories and just stopped by the Cannes Film Festival as a Special Screening. 5B is a reference to the first AIDS ward at a San Francisco hospital that opened in 1983. During the terrifying early days of the AIDS outbreak, a war rages among the nurses, doctors, and staff charged with caring for the infected. The doc features newly-unearthed archival footage. Described in THR's review as "a stirring assembly of first-person oral history and extensive archival footage that honors the pioneering work carried out in that ward, which opened in 1983 at San Francisco General Hospital in direct response to a state of emergency still being widely ignored." This looks powerful.
"Poets - they're just elusive creatures… Who are married to their muse." Roadside Attractions has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and stopped by a number of other fests including Thessaloniki, Sun Valley, and CPH:DOX. Made by veteran documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield, this film takes an in-depth look at the relationship between the late folk musician Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen. The two first met in the 1960s and spent time on Hydra in Greece. While they weren't always together, their friendship remained strong throughout their entire lives. Featuring never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield, and conversations with many people who knew them. This seems like a lovely look at the power of love, and how an artist is influenced by his muse, someone incomparable in every way.