Selfies have become so ubiquitous that if your Instagram feed can’t claim at least one, it’s safe to assume you’re the hideous victim of a Korean rubber face mask gone horribly wrong, or you’re so vain that turning a lens on yourself for an arms-length shot is totally out of the question. In art, that lens has been swapped out for an electron microscope, aimed squarely at the self, but penetrating far beyond the puckering duck face.
There are almost too many cool movies to pick from at this anthropology-themed film festival at the American Museum of Natural History, but a few stood out from the crowd. One of them is El Cacao a documentary that traces the origins of “Swiss” chocolate to a farm in Panama and introduces viewers to the village and the people who make their living from cacao. The film presents a challenge to widely-held ideas about fair trade and globalization. For the full schedule of films click here.
Read more about the festival here.
Yeah it’s pretty twisted, but stories about polygamy are always gripping. And the documentary Prophet’s Prey, about the corrupt leadership of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no exception. The documentary centers on Warren Jeffs, a guy who fashioned himself a prophet and led a polygamist sect on two compounds, one located in a remote part of Arizona and another in Utah.
Sit back and enjoy some mind-rattling films screening this weekend and beyond. A new documentary brings us deep into the complex, overlapping layers of South Sudan’s contemporary social and political developments under the influence of Neo-colonialists, and get a sneak preview of an Austrian thriller rife with horror movie. And of course there’s more. Read on.
Last month, at a 20th anniversary screening of Kids, Hamilton Harris premiered a teaser for his forthcoming documentary about the skate kids who were featured in Larry Clark’s seminal film. When we spoke to Harris about The Kids, he still hadn’t released the teaser to the public, but now it’s online, via a newly launched Kickstarter.
After watching two new films this weekend, you’ll never leave the door to your summer rental unlocked again, no matter how idyllic its environs. We’ve already told you about tonight’s theatrical premiere of Doomsdays, wherein a couple of ne’er-do-wells (Justin Rice of Bishop Allen and Leo Fitzpatrick of Kids) crash unoccupied Catskills cabins and help themselves to all the booze. As fantastical as that story may seem, a real-life version of it played out in Maine, where the so-called North Pond Hermit prayed on neighbors’ homes for 27 years. East Village filmmaker Lena Friedrich’s short documentary about him, The Hermit, will screen Saturday as part of the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Oh boy! There’s a lot of film stuffs happening this week. Here’s our list of what’s worth seeing.
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This week’s talks and readings: some heavy stuff, ending in laughs.
Wednesday, July 30
The Gatekeepers Screening
When The Gatekeepers was first released in 2012, NY Times film critic A.O. Scott recognized the Israeli documentary’s import. “It is hard,” he wrote, “to imagine a movie about the Middle East that could be more timely, more painfully urgent, more challenging to conventional wisdom on all sides of the conflict.” Several years later, as the war in Gaza stretches into its third week with no signs of abating, that urgency has if anything only become more pronounced. Keep Reading »
Living Los Sures, a collaborative work-in-progress documentary project by UnionDocs, is a multifaceted portrait of Williamsburg’s South Side that has been four years in the making. The ambitious project—selections of which are now on display at Fordham University’s Idliko Butler gallery—was inspired by Los Sures, Diego Echeverria’s 1984 feature documentary about the then-blighted Hispanic neighborhood. “Remarkably,” wrote Eleanor Mannikka of the film, “some hope and ambition and drive are still present in spite of the crime and grime that settles over the neighborhood like dust.”
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If you’ve stopped by the Domino sugar refinery in the past couple weeks, Kara Walker’s magnificent installation may have given you food for thought regarding the building’s sordid past. And if that hasn’t totally killed your sweet tooth, Union Docs is here to help—with “a program of mostly unseen work that examines the effect the refinery had on the surrounding neighborhood as well as addressing broader themes of sweetness and power.” There will be a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers, moderated by Filip Noterdaeme, contributor to the Huffington Post and founder of The Homeless Museum of Art.
Sam Green’s documentary The Weather Underground (seen in the above clip) earned him an Oscar nomination in 2004, but recently he’s been focusing on “live documentaries.” The screenings of these works (for example The Measure of All Things) are accompanied by in-person narration and live music, taking inspiration from old travelogues, the Benshi tradition and TED talks. Now, Green will be giving a lecture at Union Docs about the history of combining film and performance (one timeless, the other ephemeral), and the work of current day practitioners.
Punk rock sensation G.G. Allin was renowned for his outlandish live performance antics—which involved defecating on stage, self-mutilation, nudity, and attacking audience members. He typically ended sets smeared in various bodily fluids. Despite poor reviews, Allin attracted a cult following over his career, as he strived to inject a little danger into rock. He eventually died from a drug overdose while this 1993 biopic was in post-production. Hated was the first film from director Todd Phillips (Old School, Starsky & Hutch, The Hangover), and he will be present for a Q&A after the one-night-only screening.