Documentary

 

Altman

CANADA – 2014 – 95 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY RON MANN

Ron Mann's new documentary ALTMAN is an in-depth look at the life and times of filmmaker Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, and many more.) While refusing to bow down to Hollywood's conventions, or its executives, Altman's unique style of filmmaking won him friends and enemies, earned him world-wide praise and occasionally scathing criticism, and proved that it IS possible to make truly independent films.

 

BOMBAY BEACH

USA – 2014 – 80 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY ALMA HAR'EL

The desolate and surreal Salton Sea in California stands as a formidable metaphor for the broken American dream. The largest lake in all of California, was created when the Colorado River flooded the windswept desert, carrying the river’s entire volume into the Salton Sink over a period of approximately two years. A dam was built and water filled the basin — the Salton Sea was born.

At the height of American optimism in the 1950s the Salton Sea fueled a recreation boom, and the inland desert sea became an inviting vacation destination, catering to waterskiers, boaters, and fishermen. Billed as "Palm Springs-by-the-Sea,” and “the new Riviera,” the lake enjoyed immense popularity, especially among the rich and famous, as movie stars and recording artists flocked to the area. From Dean Martin to Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and the Beach Boys, the lake became a speedboat playground. Restaurants, shops, and nightclubs sprang up along the sea, and on the eastern shore a new little resort town came to life under the name BOMBAY BEACH.

Today, after a series of floods, the lack of water outflow, and the high salinity that has killed off the fish, Bombay Beach is little more than a shanty ghost town in the poorest county of California. The broken-down signs from the ‘50s and the sunken, ghostly Marina are still there to remind the community of the dream that once was the Salton Sea — and is now a pool of dead fish in the middle of the desert.

 

BURDEN

USA – 2016 - 86 MINUTES - DOCUMENTARY

A FILM BY TIM MARRINAN, RICHARD DEWEY

A probing portrait of Chris Burden, an artist who pushed the limits of creative expression and risked his life in the name of art.

For more than 45 years, Chris Burden’s work has consistently challenged ideas about the limits and nature of modern art. His pioneering and often dangerous performance works of the 1970s earned Burden a place in the art history books while still in his early 20s. He had himself shot (Shoot, 1971), locked up (Five Day Locker Piece, 1971), electrocuted, (Doorway to Heaven, 1973), cut (Through the Night Softly, 1973), crucified (Trans-fixed, 1974), and advertised on television (4 TV Ads, 1973–77). But as the 70s progressed Burden became disillusioned with the expectations and misconceptions based on his early works and as the pressure grew, the line between his life and his art blurred.

Burden quit performance in the late 70s and had to artistically reinvent himself, going on to create a multitude of assemblages, installations, kinetic and static sculptures and scientific models. His work has influenced a generation of artists and been exhibited around the world, but the provocative nature of his art coupled with his sense of privacy mean that most people know the myth rather than the man. Now, having followed Burden creating new works in his studio and with access to his personal archive of images, video and audio recordings, CHRIS BURDEN: A LIFE IN ART will be the first feature documentary to fully explore the life and work of this seminal artist.

 

THE CASE AGAINST 8

USA – 2014 – 112 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY BEN COTNER AND RYAN WHITE

Battles are won because we fight them. 

A behind-the-scenes look inside the historic case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. The high-profile trial first makes headlines with the unlikely pairing of Ted Olson and David Boies, political foes who last faced off as opposing attorneys in Bush v. Gore. The film also follows the plaintiffs, two gay couples who find their families at the center of the same-sex marriage controversy. Five years in the making, this is the story of how they took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP

USA – 2014 – 88 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY RODMAN FLENDER

After a much-publicized departure from hosting NBC’s Tonight Show — and the severing of a 22-year relationship with the network — O’Brien hit the road with a 32-city music-and-comedy show to exercise his performing chops and exorcise a few demons. The “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television” tour was O’Brien’s answer to a contractual stipulation that banned his appearance on television, radio and the Internet for six months following his last show.  

Filmmaker Rodman Flender’s resulting documentary, CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP, is an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career. It offers a window into the private writers room and rehearsal halls as O’Brien’s “half-assed show” (his words) is almost instantly assembled and mounted to an adoring fan base.  

At times angry, mostly hilarious, O’Brien works out his feelings about the very-public separation with comedy and rockabilly music, engaging in bits with on-stage guests such as Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Jim Carrey, duetting with Jack White and sweating out manic Elvis Presley covers with his band and back-up singers. 

We see a comic who does not stop — performing, singing, pushing his staff and himself. Did Conan O’Brien hit the road to give something back to his loyal fans, or did he travel across the continent, stopping at cities large (New York, Las Vegas) and remote (Enoch, Alberta) to fill a void within himself?

 

DON'T BLINK: ROBERT FRANK

USA/ CANADA – 2015 – 82 MIN - FEATURE
A FILM BY LAURA ISRAEL

Even Robert Frank’s friends will tell you that he is difficult.

One of the most influential figures in the worlds of photography and independent filmmaking, Frank has never been easily approachable.  For over six decades he has held steadfast to a singular vision and earned widespread acclaim without forsaking his outsider status. At age 91, he continues producing photography books, making intimate videos and enjoying the company of his tight circle of friends.

A Swiss expatriate who moves between NYC and Nova Scotia, Frank’s photos, films and texts are imbued with a profoundly poetic, deeply introspective sensibility. He is a cult figure whose ties to the Beat Generation and Rolling Stones earned him both respect and a certain infamy.

Most celebrated for his seminal photo book The Americans and the landmark independent film Pull My Daisy, Frank has spent his career ignoring aesthetic and cultural boundaries. Frank’s multi-layered life and work are largely inseparable, and he has never been ready to let someone tell his story until Don’t Blink directed by Laura Israel, his longtime film and video editor.

Their years of collaboration have resulted in a rare working relationship built on intuition and mutual trust.   Don't Blink follows Frank from his early family life in Switzerland to his reluctance to embrace celebrity status in New York to his eventual quest for solitude in a remote corner of Nova Scotia, Canada.

A series of personal tragedies pushed Frank to painfully explore complex feelings about family and friends, memory and loss, acceptance of change, and loneliness. Don't Blink offers audiences revelatory insight into the intricacies of his photos, films and personal history while artfully revealing Robert Frank’s complex life story.

 

FIRE AT SEA

ITALY/ FRANCE – 2015 – 108 MIN - IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

A FILM BY GIANFRANCO ROSI
FEATURING: SAMUELE PUCILLO, MATTIAS CUCINA, SAMUELE CARUANA, PIETRO BARTOLO

ACADEMY AWARD® NOMINEE- BEST DOCUMENTARY 2017!
WINNER! GOLDEN BEAR - BERLIN

Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival 2016, Gianfranco Rosi’s incisive, poignant and deeply moving portrait of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa - and the humanitarian crisis occurring in the seas around it - is both a masterly work of documentary filmmaking and a timely call for urgent action.

Situated 150 miles south of Sicily, Lampedusa has hit headlines as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees hoping to make a new life in Europe. After spending months living on the island and engaging with its inhabitants, Rosi accumulated an incredible array of footage, portraying the history, culture and daily lives of the islanders. Focusing on 12-year-old Samuele, as he explores the land and attempts to gain mastery of the sea, the film slowly builds a breathtakingly naturalistic portrait of the Lampedusan people and the events that surround them.

The result is a lyrical, poetic and searingly powerful documentary that casts neither judgement nor aspersions, but simply shows the world to the viewer - to utterly devastating effect.

Gianfranco Rosi’s observations of everyday life bring us closer to this place that is as real as it is symbolic, and to the emotional world of some of its inhabitants who are exposed to a permanent state of emergency. At the same time his film, which is commentary-free, describes how, even in the smallest of places, two worlds barely touch.

 

Here come the Videofreex

USA – 2015 – 79 MIN – COLOUR - DOCUMENTARY - COLOUR & B&W - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY JON NEALON & JENNY RASKIN

HERE COME THE VIDEOFREEX starts in 1969. America is undergoing cultural and political revolutions, but you’d never know it by watching TV. Young CBS executive Don West creates a secret project to tell the stories of the counterculture ignored by TV news. He hires a group of young people who have embraced a brand new medium – video. They name themselves the Videofreex and on CBS’s dime, they travel the country in an RV taping footage the networks could never get, including interviews with legendary activist Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther Fred Hampton just months before his murder. The pilot they produce proves to be decades ahead of its time. But when CBS executives see it, they fire the group and say they can keep the “worthless” equipment. The Videofreex decide to stick together, smuggling their videotapes out of CBS offices late one night in a guitar case.

 

MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT

USA – 2011 – 106 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY MATTHEW AKERS

Seductive, fearless, and outrageous, Marina Abramović has been redefining what art is for nearly forty years. Using her own body as a vehicle, pushing herself beyond her physical and mental limits — and at times risking her life in the process — she creates performances that challenge, shock, and move us. Through her and with her, boundaries are crossed, consciousness expanded, and art as we know it is reborn. She is, quite simply, one of the most compelling artists of our time.

She is also a glamorous art-world icon, a lightning rod for controversy, and a myth of her own making. She is most certainly unlike anyone you have ever met before.

The feature-length documentary film MARINA ABRAMOVIC: THE ARTIST IS PRESENT takes us inside Marina’s world, following her as she prepares for what may be the most important moment of her life: a major retrospective of her work, taking place at the museum of modern art in new york. To be given a retrospective at one of the world's premiere museums is, for any living artist, the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more: it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: "but why is this art?"

 

MY AMITYVILLE HORROR

USA – 2014 – 88 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY ERIC WALTER

For the first time in 35 years, child eyewitness Daniel Lutz recounts his version of the infamous Amityville haunting that terrified his family in 1975. His parents story of their 28 days in the allegedly possessed house on Ocean Avenue went on to inspire a best-selling novel and subsequent film series that have both captivated and frustrated the public since their release. MY AMITYVILLE HORROR is a gripping documentary that details the struggle behind growing up as part of a world famous haunting and shows that while Daniel’s facts may be others' fiction, the psychological scars he carries are all too real.

 

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT

USA - 2015 - 97 MINUTES - 5.1

A FILM BY LISA IMMORDINO VREELAND

Lisa Immordino Vreeland follows up her acclaimed debut "Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel" with PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT.

A colourful character who was not only ahead of her time but helped to define it, Peggy Guggenheim was an heiress to her family fortune who became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century,she collected not only art, but artists. 

Her colourful personal history included such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp as well as countless others. While fighting through personal tragedy, she maintained her vision to build one of the most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her Venetian palazzo. 

Featuring: Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Arshile Gorky, Vasil Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Willem de Kooning, Fernand Leger, Rene Magritte, Man Ray, Jean Miro, Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, Robert Motherwell, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Kurt Schwitters, Gino Severini, Clyfford Still and Yves Tanguy

 

THE OVERNIGHTERS

USA – 2013 – 100 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY JESSE MOSS

has arrived on my doorstep.” – Pastor Jay Reinke

Desperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor risks everything to help them.

In the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota, tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up with dreams of honest work and a big paycheck under the lure of the oil boom. However, busloads of newcomers chasing a broken American Dream step into the stark reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep. The town lacks the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, even for those who do find gainful employment.

Over at Concordia Lutheran Church, Pastor Jay Reinke is driven to deliver the migrants some dignity. Night after night, he converts his church into a makeshift dorm and counseling center, opening the church’s doors to allow the “Overnighters” (as he calls them) to stay for a night, a week or longer. They sleep on the floor, in the pews and in their cars in the church parking lot. Many who take shelter with Reinke are living on society’s fringes and with checkered pasts, and their presence starts affecting the dynamics of the small community. The congregants begin slinging criticism and the City Council threatens to shut the controversial Overnighters program down, forcing the pastor to make a decision which leads to profound consequences that he never imagined.

A modern-day Grapes of Wrath, award-winning documentary THE OVERNIGHTERS engages and dramatizes a set of universal societal and economic themes: the promise and limits of re-invention, redemption and compassion, as well as the tension between the moral imperative to “love thy neighbor” and the resistance that one small community feels when confronted by a surging river of desperate, job-seeking strangers.

 

TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL

USA – 2013 – 62 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY MERETE MUELLER & CHRISTOPHER SMITH

 

After a decade of travel, Christopher Smith approaches his 30th birthday and decides it’s time to plant some roots. He impulsively buys a 5-acre plot of land in hopes of fulfilling a lifelong dream of building a home in the mountains of Colorado. With the support of his girlfriend, Merete, he sets out to build a Tiny House from scratch despite having no construction experience.

From 1970 to 2010, the average size of a new house in America has almost doubled. Yet in recent years, many are redefining their American Dream to focus on flexibility, financial freedom, and quality of life over quantity of space. These self-proclaimed “Tiny Housers” live in homes smaller than the average parking space, often built on wheels to bypass building codes and zoning laws. TINY takes us inside six of these homes stripped to their essentials, exploring the owners’ stories and the design innovations that make them work.

When Christopher decides to build his own Tiny House, he dives into the tension between settling down and staying adrift, between preserving a parcel of land that he loves and developing it. Merete begins to ask her own questions about settling down, and both walk away with unexpected lessons about the meaning of home, the importance of place, and the personal impact of sticking with a project that became bigger than they’d ever imagined.

TINY is a coming-of-age story for a generation that is more connected, yet less tied- down than ever, and for a society redefining its priorities in the face of a changing financial and environmental climate. More than anything, TINY invites its viewers to dream big and imagine living small.

 

TROUBLEMAKERS: THE STORY OF LAND ART

USA – 2015 – 72 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH

A FILM BY JAMES CRUMP
AFEATURING GERMANO CELANT, WALTER DE MARIA, MICHAEL HEIZER, DENNIS OPPENHEIM, ROBERT SMITHSON, NANCY HOLT, VITO ACCONCI, VIRGINIA DWAN, CHARLES ROSS, PAULA COOPER, WILLOUGHBY SHARP, PAMELA SHARP, LAWRENCE WEINER, CARL ANDRE, GIANFRANCO GORGONI, HARALD SZEEMANN

Troublemakers unearths the history of land art in the tumultuous late 1960s and early 1970s. The film features a cadre of renegade New York artists that sought to transcend the limitations of paint- ing and sculpture by producing earthworks on a monumental scale in the desolate desert spaces of the American southwest. Today these works remain impressive not only for the sheer audacity of their makers but also for their out-sized ambitions to break free from traditional norms. The film casts these artists in a heroic light, which is exactly how they saw themselves. Iconoclasts who changed the landscape of art forever, these revolutionary, antagonistic creatives risked their careers on radical artistic change and experimentation, and took on the establishment to produce art on their own terms. The film includes rare footage and interviews which unveil the enigmatic lives and careers of storied artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field) and Michael Heizer (Double Negative); a headstrong troika that established the genre. As the film makes clear, in making works that can never be possessed as an object in a gallery, these trouble- makers stand in marked contrast to the hyper-speculative contemporary art world of today.