Tag Archives: Documentaries

Cannes 2017: Making Connections in Agnès Varda & JR’s ‘Faces, Places’

Faces, Places Review

Sometimes there’s a film that is so delightful, so cheerful, full of so much optimism and happiness and joy, that it completely changes your mood. You can be upset, or tired, or whatever, and by the end of this film you’re so happy. Nothing will take that happiness away. Everything you just saw was perfect and wonderful. That’s how I felt with this film at the Cannes Film Festival, called Visages, Villages, which translates to Faces, Places in English. The film is a documentary made by 88-year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda and the 34-year-old French photographer known as “JR“. They not only directed it, but it’s about their unlikely friendship and collaboration on a road trip around France taking photos of people they meet along the way. ›››

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First Trailer for Matt Heineman’s Syria Documentary ‘City of Ghosts’

City of Ghosts Trailer

“Our words are stronger than their weapons.” Amazon Studios has revealed the first official trailer for the documentary City of Ghosts, the follow-up to Cartel Land made by filmmaker Matthew Heineman. This doc takes a closer look at the Syrian war as told from the inside, following a group of anonymous journalists working to report on what’s really happening. Heineman is known for getting incredible footage and diving deep into the subject of his docs, and that’s definitely the case here. It’s describe as a “powerful cinematic experience that is sure to shake audiences to their core.” This premiered at Sundance this year, where I saw it, and it’s good but nowhere near as good as Cartel Land. This would also make a good double feature with the doc Last Men in Aleppo, as both films are important looks at the war in Syria. Watch the footage below. ›››

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First Groovy Trailer for Grateful Dead Documentary ‘Long Strange Trip’

Long Strange Trip Trailer

“We’re the same as you, you’re the same as us.” Get ready to rock ‘n roll! Amazon Studios has debuted a full-length trailer for the documentary Long Strange Trip, an extensive look into the history and music of the iconic rock band known as the Grateful Dead. “Artfully assembling candid interviews with the band, road crew, family members and notable Deadheads,” director Amir Bar-Lev “reveals the untold history of the Dead and the freewheeling psychedelic subculture that sprouted up around it.” Featuring interviews and footage of Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir; and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. There’s lots of footage from their concerts, plus never-before-seen interviews and photos for Dead Heads (and newbies) to enjoy. This premiered at Sundance and also played at SXSW and seems like another definitive music doc for everyone to appreciate, even if you’re not the biggest fan. Dive right in. ›››

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Official Trailer for Documentary on Acting Icon ‘Becoming Cary Grant’

Becoming Cary Grant Trailer

“Cary invented himself, and of course it worked superbly on screen.” Showtime has unveiled a trailer for a documentary about acting icon Cary Grant, titled simply Becoming Cary Grant. This doc follows in the footsteps of other fantastic recent documentaries about actors, like Listen to Me Marlon, which also uses audio recordings. Becoming Cary Grant seems to be more about who Cary was in real life, as a real person, not so much his performances or career as an actor. There’s an interesting passage in this trailer about using LSD and how it helped (maybe?) him with his own demons. Grant earned two Oscar nominations, but never won before he died in 1986. This looks like a must watch doc for any fans of Grant and his work. See below. ›››

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First Trailer for New Hayao Miyazaki Documentary ‘Never-Ending Man’

Never-Ending Man Trailer

“I’m a weak, used-up old man.” Another Miyazaki documentary? Why not! More the better, I say. Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is another new documentary about the life and work of master animator & filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. A few years ago, we were treated to the wonderful documentary Kingdom of Dreams and Madness profiling Studio Ghibli and its founders. This new documentary focuses specifically on Miyazaki and also focuses on his return to animation and first experiments with CGI filmmaking. This one is also in Japanese with voice-over and subtitles in English, and will air on TV in Japan this summer, though we don’t know when it’ll show up elsewhere. Director Kaku Arakawa was asked what he had learned from Miyazaki and he said: “he made me realise that if your passions are aroused, you could do anything.” ›››

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First Trailer for Cuban Migrant Documentary ‘Elián’ from CNN Films

Elián Documentary Trailer

“What happened to me wasn’t a movie. It was a true story.” CNN Films along with Gravitas Ventures have revealed the official trailer for a documentary titled Elián, examining the story of Cuban immigrant Elián González. You may remember the story of Elián because it was huge news back in 1999/2000. Elián was 5-years-old when his mother attempted to take a small boat from Cuba to Florida. González’s mother and ten others died in the crossing, but Elián was saved by a fisherman. The film tells his complete story for the first time, featuring interviews with González and his family, and narration by Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza. This is obviously a very timely doc now considering the immigration concerns in America, but it’s also an important doc about humanity and everyone’s eternal struggle to live a better life. Take a look below. ›››

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First Trailer for Superb Activism Doc ‘Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower’

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower Trailer

“The future of Hong Kong should be decided by Hong Kongers” Netflix has revealed an official trailer for a documentary titled Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, telling the story of Joshua Wong, the main activist who organized and lead the famous “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong back in 2014. This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and won an Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section. I saw this there and totally loved it (read my glowing review). It’s more about Joshua and who he is, and the way he was able to rally an entire city behind him, not so much about the Umbrella Movement itself. Though it does tell the story, and it does have some amazing footage, it’s more inspiring to learn about who Joshua (and his friends) are and why they’re so into politics and activism. ›››

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Teaser Trailer for Doc ‘Whose Streets?’ About the Ferguson Uprising

Whose Streets? Trailer

“We have nothing to lose but our turf!” Magnolia Pictures (“from the company that brought you I Am Not Your Negro“) has debuted a teaser trailer for a new racism documentary titled Whose Streets?, examining the Ferguson uprising from the inside. The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this January to mostly rave reviews. Using footage from actual citizens in St. Louis, Missouri, and Ferguson, the film takes an “unflinching look” at the uprising, the protests, and the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. This seems very powerful, and very important for the times. And it also seems like it can be the kind of doc that will still be referenced 50 years from now. I also really love seeing docs that are made with footage from real people, who lived through this historic experience. Looking forward to seeing this myself. ›››

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Full-Length Trailer for Steve James’ ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’ Doc

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Doc Trailer

“If that prosecution goes through, that bank is going to go out of business.” PBS has released another new official trailer for the latest documentary from Hoop Dreams director Steve James, titled Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. This doc premiered at film festivals last fall and has been playing around the world at festivals ever since. Abacus tells the story of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. They had to spend five years defending themselves and their bank’s legacy when they became the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. We’ve been following this doc since last year, and it will open in NYC starting this May, with a nationwide roll-out over the summer. This does look like an “exemplary piece of filmmaking”, as is expected from Steve James. ›››

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Official Trailer for Hulu Doc ‘Batman & Bill’ About a Batman Creator

Batman & Bill Trailer

“The most mysterious man in Gotham City wasn’t in a mask and cape.” Hulu has released an official trailer for a documentary titled Batman & Bill, which will premiere exclusively on Hulu starting early May. The documentary “unmasks” one of the greatest secrets in the comic industry – that Batman wasn’t created by Bob Kane alone, it was primarily Bill Finger who created the iconic superhero. This seems like a fascinating doc with plenty to offer for comic book fans, including inside stories and excellent art from the early days of Batman. It’s cool to see a doc like this that actually looks worth watching on Hulu. They’ve been collecting some of their own original docs recently, including a James Bond one called Becoming Bond. Take a look. ›››

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