Thursday, February 24, 2022

ENG 281/282 Documentaries (Ongoing Archive)

13th (USA: Ava DuVernay, 2016) ["An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality."]

Always in Season (USA: Jacqueline Olive, 2019) ["When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins while the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present."]

Bisbee '17 (USA: Robert Greene, 2018) ["It’s 2017 in Bisbee, Arizona, an old copper-mining town just miles from the Mexican border. The town’s close-knit community prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest hour: the infamous Bisbee Deportation of 1917, during which 1,200 striking miners were violently taken from their homes, banished to the middle of the desert, and left to die. Townspeople confront this violent, misunderstood past by staging dramatic recreations of the escalating strike. These dramatized scenes are based on subjective versions of the story and “directed,” in a sense, by residents with conflicting views of the event. Deeply personal segments torn from family history build toward a massive restaging of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary."]

Blood On the Mountain (USA: Mari-Lynn C. Evans and Jordan Freeman, 2016) ["Documentary focusing on the environmental and economic injustice and corporate control in West Virginia and its rippling effect on all American workers. This film tells the story of a hard-working people who have historically had limited choices and have never benefited fairly from the rich natural resources of their land. The failure to diversify the economy has insured control by outside, unrestricted corporations with the support of politicians kept in their positions by these very same companies."]

Cameraperson (USA: Kirsten Johnson, 2016) ["As a visually radical memoir, CAMERAPERSON draws on the remarkable footage that filmmaker Kirsten Johnson has shot and reframes it in ways that illuminate moments and situations that have personally affected her. What emerges is an elegant meditation on the relationship between truth and the camera frame, as Johnson transforms scenes that have been presented on Festival screens as one kind of truth into another kind of story—one about personal journey, craft, and direct human connection."]

Cries From Syria (USA/Czech Republic: Evgeny Afineevsky, 2018) ["An attempt to re-contextualize the European migrant crisis and ongoing hostilities in Syria, through eyewitness and participant testimony. Children and parents recount the revolution, civil war, air strikes, atrocities and ongoing humanitarian aid crises, in a portrait of recent history and the consequences of violence."]

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (USA: Nicole Newnham and James Lebrecht, 2020) ["Down the road from Woodstock in the early 1970s, a revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers, transforming their young lives and igniting a landmark movement."]

De Palma (USA: Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, 2015) ["An intimate conversation between filmmakers, chronicling De Palma’s 55-year career, his life, and his filmmaking process, with revealing anecdotes and, of course, a wealth of film clips."]

Dick Johnson is Dead (USA: Kirsten Johnson, 2020) ["With this inventive portrait, director Kirsten Johnson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all."]

Do Not Resist (USA: Craig Atkinson, 2016) ["Do Not Resist is an exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Opening on startling on-the-scene footage in Ferguson, Missouri, the film then broadens its scope to present scenes from across the country."]

Don't Blink: Robert Frank (Canada/France/USA: Laura Israel, 2015) ["The life and work of Robert Frank—as a photographer and a filmmaker—are so intertwined that they’re one in the same, and the vast amount of territory he’s covered, from The Americans in 1958 up to the present, is intimately registered in his now-formidable body of artistic gestures. From the early ’90s on, Frank has been making his films and videos with the brilliant editor Laura Israel, who has helped him to keep things homemade and preserve the illuminating spark of first contact between camera and people/places. Don’t Blink is Israel’s like-minded portrait of her friend and collaborator, a lively rummage sale of images and sounds and recollected passages and unfathomable losses and friendships that leaves us a fast and fleeting imprint of the life of the Swiss-born man who reinvented himself the American way, and is still standing on ground of his own making at the age of 90."]

Gimme Danger (USA: Jim Jarmusch, 2016) ["No other band in rock’n’roll history has rivaled The Stooges’ combination of heavy primal throb, spiked psychedelia, blues-a-billy grind, complete with succinct angst-ridden lyrics, and a snarling, preening leopard of a frontman who somehow embodies Nijinsky, Bruce Lee, Harpo Marx, and Arthur Rimbaud all rolled into one. There is no precedent for The Stooges, while those inspired by them are now legion. The film will present the context of their emergence musically, culturally, politically, historically, and relate their adventures and misadventures while charting their inspirations and the reasons behind their initial commercial challenges, as well as their long-lasting legacy."]

Hail Satan? (USA: Penny Lane, 2019) ["A look at the intersection of religion and activism, tracing the rise of The Satanic Temple: only six years old and already one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple is calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. But are they for real?"]

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (USA: Xavier Burgin, 2019) ["Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, this is the untold history of black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre."]

I Am Not Your Negro (France/USA: Raoul Peck, 2016) [MB: A great film on many levels: 1) an incredible completion of an artwork lost due to the death of an artist by another artist in a different medium 2) a masterpiece documentary/essay film 3) a revival of an important American voice for a new generation through his words then and a connection to their importance to our our present time/issues 4) a powerful examination of race in America. It was a perfect intellectual/poetic storm: James Baldwin’s communication style – he speaks directly to his audience and doesn’t do it in an aggressive accusatory manner, more of a probing poetic questioning of where do we actually stand (and while it may not be aggressive/accusatory, it is insistent that we declare our stance); Raoul Peck’s reproduction/reconstruction of that style in the essay film/documentary on Baldwin’s last project and the way in which he uses the film to realize/finish Baldwin’s book; the historical process of both Baldwin/Peck (I really appreciate the intertwining of their personal perspectives with larger historical processes) and the way in which one cannot ignore or walk away untouched (even if not moved or convinced) from the realities they are (re)presenting. It is as much the method as the content (although don’t get me wrong, the content/history is vitally important).]

Lo Sound Desert (USA: Joerg Steineck, 2015) ["Lo Sound Desert is a documentary about the Californian Desert music scene, which gave birth to bands like Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age. What basically started by revolving punk rock kids - hidden from narrow-minded authorities of suburban desert communities in the early 80s, became a vibe over the years. The film provides a unique insight into the history of the Coachella Valley music scene: From never-ending jams in the middle of the desert to headlining huge European stages - Desert Rock, often misinterpreted as musical genre continued its underground spread and became international treasure. Lo Sound Desert is narrated by Josh Homme, Brant Bjork, Mario Lalli and many others from bands like Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, Fatso Jetson, Dalis Llama, Hornss, Fu Manchu etc."]

My Octopus Teacher (South Africa: Philippa Ehrlich and James Reed, 2021) [MB: Introduced to a unique worldview and shown aspects of life that I was completely unaware of (and I grew up on an ocean and snorkled/skin dived). The redemption of an individual completely burnt out, through the exploration of a unique piece of nature, and in a daily engagement/interaction with an octopus who proves to be one of the most innovative & creative beings I have witnessed. I was left breathless and eager to know more about our wondrous planet/existence! Movie Description: "After years of swimming every day in the freezing ocean at the tip of Africa, Craig Foster meets an unlikely teacher: a young octopus who displays remarkable curiosity. Visiting her den and tracking her movements for months on end he eventually wins the animal’s trust and they develop a never-before-seen bond between human and wild animal."]

Seaspiracy (USA: Ali Tabrizi, 2021) ["Passionate about ocean life, a filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species — and uncovers an alarming global conspiracy."]

The Social Dilemma (USA: Jeff Orlowski, 2020) ["This documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations." MB: Easily the best documentary on this problem. Check out The Consilience Project and Your Undivided Attention for more from the people involved.]

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (Israel/Canada/Germany: Ada Ushpiz, 2015) ["A documentary about the life and work of Hannah Arendt, the prolific and unclassifiable thinker, political theorist, moral philosopher and polemicist, and her encounter with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking NAZI."]

 Voir (USA: David Prior, et al, 2021: all 6 episodes - 102 mins total) ["Film lovers examine the cinematic moments that thrilled, perplexed, challenged and forever changed them in this collection of visual essays."]

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (USA: Morgan Neville, 2018) ["Fred Rogers used puppets and play to explore complex social issues: race, disability, equality and tragedy, helping form the American concept of childhood. He spoke directly to children and they responded enthusiastically. Yet today, his impact is unclear. Have we lived up to Fred’s ideal of good neighbors?"]

The Work (USA: Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldus, 2018) ["Set entirely inside Folsom Prison, The Work follows three men during four days of intensive group therapy with convicts, revealing an intimate and powerful portrait of authentic human transformation that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation."]

Zappa (USA: Alex Winter, 2020) ["With the help of more than 10,000 dedicated Zappa fans, this is the long-awaited definitive documentary project of Alex Winter documenting the life and career of enigmatic groundbreaking rock star Frank Zappa. Alex also utilizes in this picture thousands of hours of painstakingly digitized videos, photos, audio, writing, and everything in between from Zappa’s private archives. These chronicles have never been brought to a public audience before, until now."]

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