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Two Films of Johan Grimonprez

Johan Grimonprez is a Belgian multimedia artist, filmmaker, and curator. He is most known for two 'not-quite documentary' films which use experimental forms to explore the relationship between media, politics, history, identity, and manipulation in the second half of the twentieth century: 1997's dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y , which traces the history of skyjacking throughout the 20th century using montages, and Double Take, which explores the Cold War through the lens of real and imagined versions of Alfred Hitchcock and Folger's instant coffee commercials. Both are available online. [more inside]
posted by MCMikeNamara on Feb 22, 2015 - 3 comments

The Measure of a Person is What They Do With What They Have

Beginning in 1920, Robert J. Flaherty spent a year in the Canadian Arctic (Port Harrison in Northern Quebec) documenting the daily struggles of an Inuk man named Nanook. The resulting feature-length film, an American silent documentary with elements of docudrama, was the first of its kind, in a style that would eventually become known as "salvage ethnography." Nanook of the North: A Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic (1922) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 17, 2015 - 10 comments

"You'll never write about me again."

I know you may not care, but I do. I care about how to tell a personal story like the one I’m about to write, without falling into a million traps laid out in front of you. I’m thinking of the issues of trust and betrayal that come across between a writer and his or her subject. The transfiguration that inevitably takes place in writing. And my friendship with Philip Roth: in which trust was the fundamental condition, despite ambiguity playing a subtler, if ever-present, role.
posted by nevercalm on Feb 7, 2015 - 7 comments

"Come on big dude!"

Florida Man [vimeo] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Feb 6, 2015 - 13 comments

“German Concentration Camps Factual Survey”

In 1945, as Allied troops liberated concentration camps across what had been German-occupied Europe, the British Ministry of Information commissioned a documentary that would provide incontrovertible evidence of the Nazis’ crimes. Producer Sidney Bernstein's cameramen accompanied US, UK and Soviet troops into Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and other camps. Six reels of film, known as the German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, were assembled and edited in part by Alfred Hitchcock (supervising director) and Billy Wilder.

The final product "was meant to be a historical document and a teaching tool; among the stated goals of the filmmakers was that it be shown to Germans to prove to them that the horrors of the camps were real." But the project was deemed too politically sensitive and abandoned before it was completed. The finished reels, storyboards and scripts sat in British archives for years. In 1985, PBS Frontline took some of the footage and created a documentary special: "Memory of the Camps." On January 27, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, HBO aired "Night Will Fall,” (trailer) directed by André Singer, which tells the story of the making of Factual Survey "...through the eyes of people who either filmed it, or through the eyes of the soldiers who first went in, to see what happened in the camps - or through the eyes of surviving victims who were in the camps." Film footage at links is disturbing and possibly NSFW [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 5, 2015 - 28 comments

Who Owns the Copyright to Vivian Maier's Photographs?

John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s Finding Vivian Maier is nominated for an Academy Award, Best Feature Documentary. Most people have read about the nanny who worked in complete obscurity, yet may be one of the greatest street photographers of the 20th Century. The filmmakers tell the story of her art and also track down people who knew this eccentric and perhaps troubled artist. Meanwhile, and problematically for Maloof and other owners of Maier’s work, it’s one thing to own the negatives and quite another to own copyright that allows for printing and publishing those negatives. Maloof thought he had that covered, but in 2013 that came into question. Finally and most recently (2015), perhaps sensing an opportunity for much-needed revenue, the State of Illinois has belatedly opened a file on the Maier Estate and notified owners and galleries to be prepared for legal inquiry. The documentary is streaming on the major distributors (Netflix, Amazon, GooglePlay).
posted by Short Attention Sp on Jan 24, 2015 - 22 comments

He strives to impress his guest with a collection of blue gifts.

THE EROTIC AND SULTRY DANCE OF THE ADULT BOWERBIRD. (slyt)
posted by theodolite on Jan 24, 2015 - 30 comments

A quick trip downtown and 30 years ago...

"All in all he "shot over 1,900 hours of tape over a period of seven years, capturing himself and his friends in the glossy façade of Manhattan's downtown life... He sought to tape all of New York's citizens, including its outcasts, striving to candidly capture their lives. He taped anything and everything that interested him—outrageous performances in bars and clubs, swinging house parties, chaotic gallery openings, park and street festivals, late-night ruminations of his friends, absurd conversations with taxi drivers, prosaic sunset walks with his dog on the then-still-existing west side piers." Sullivan died of a heart attack in 1989, just as he was preparing to produce his own cable television show." -- Nelson Sullivan's New York City.
posted by The Whelk on Jan 24, 2015 - 12 comments

The Wolfpack

‘The Wolfpack’ Tells of One New York Apartment With Seven Children Locked Inside (NYT). Crystal Moselle's documentary "The Wolfpack," premieres this Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival. A video interview with Crystal Moselle. [more inside]
posted by cwest on Jan 24, 2015 - 13 comments

New York: A Documentary Film

The much esteemed eight-part history of New York City "New York: A Documentary Film" is available. (approximate length 17 hrs. 30 min.) [more inside]
posted by cwest on Jan 16, 2015 - 16 comments

Ballard's stance is that it takes humans to connect humans, not machines

The Hello Machine is a corporate documentary from AT&T that documents the construction of the 1ESS automatic telephone switching system.
posted by boo_radley on Jan 15, 2015 - 22 comments

The World at War

The acclaimed 26-episode WWII documentary "The World at War", produced by Thames Television and aired in 1973-1974, is available in full (clocking in at over 22 and a half hours). [more inside]
posted by cwest on Jan 6, 2015 - 27 comments

Michael Caine on Acting in Film

Michael Caine on Acting in Film is 58 minutes from a 1987 BBC documentary in which Michael Caine teaches some actors about how to adjust their performance for the movie camera instead of the stage. Worth watching if you're interested in acting or movies, or if you just like seeing someone who's very good at his job explaining how he does it. [more inside]
posted by FishBike on Jan 4, 2015 - 25 comments

"Do you want the truth, or what I said?"

Anna Broinowski's acclaimed documentary Forbidden Lies, about literary hoaxer Norma Khouri, is available on YouTube. (TW: family violence) [more inside]
posted by Quilford on Jan 3, 2015 - 10 comments

"Radio as Music"

Glenn Gould's North is an essay about the radio documentaries composed by Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould. The most famous are the three "contrapuntal" documentaries which comprise The Solitude Trilogy [available on Spotify and can be purchased on iTunes]. What is contrapuntal radio? The Glenn Gould Foundation explained in series of short podcasts, and a glimpse of Gould's scripts and diagrams may aid understanding, as well as quotes by Gould and others about The Solitude Trilogy. Many have responded to The Solitude Trilogy, from the perspectives of a hermit, mennonite, and a collage artist, whose collage series can be seen here. As the title suggests, The Solitude Trilogy deals with isolation, quietude, loneliness, seclusion and solitude in modern life, but Gould also made documentaries on a variety of musical subjects, such as Richard Strauss and sixties pop singer Petula Clark. Most of his documentaries, including The Solitude Trilogy, are available for listening on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Links below. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 31, 2014 - 9 comments

"It was just a combination of tragedy and fun I guess you might say"

Southern filmmakers and the Southern Foodways Alliance have partnered to create Counter Histories, a series of shorts documenting the struggle to desegregate Southern restaurants.
posted by Maaik on Dec 29, 2014 - 3 comments

'Happy People' before Herzog

Werner Herzog's 'Happy People' is less a film made by Werner Herzog than a film sculpted by Werner Herzog, as he selected and subsequently narrated ninety-four minutes of material taken from Dmitry Vasyukov's four-hour documentary of the same name. Vasyukov's four episodes, by season: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. (SLYTs)
posted by mr. digits on Dec 27, 2014 - 11 comments

Good evening boys and girls and welcome to Largo.

LARGO is a 2008 documentary about the iconoclastic Los Angeles club, which opened in its original incarnation on Fairfax Ave. in 1989. [more inside]
posted by mykescipark on Dec 23, 2014 - 14 comments

Young Frankenstein at 40: not so young, but still Brooks' finest film

Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, Young Frankenstein. "I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief," said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. "I said, 'When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.' Every once in a while, I'd turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, 'I got a hit.'"

Young Frankenstein was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.
An interview with Mel Brooks on the 40th anniversary of Young Frankenstein, with an overview of the events that lead to what Mel Brooks calls 'by far the best movie I ever made.' [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 20, 2014 - 78 comments

The Year Before

A fascinating BBC Radio Seven Four xtra audio documentary about life and events in the UK in the run up to World War One. Written and narrated by Michael Portillo, but don't let this put you off. Starts with "The long summer." If you are not in the UK, you may need to spoof your IP address to listen to them.
posted by marienbad on Dec 17, 2014 - 4 comments

What does man seek? Whatever it is, it may have died in the Salton Sea.

KQED has been posting its Truly CA documentary videos on YouTube, including Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea, a touching look at the rise and fall of the accidental ocean that is less than 100 years old in its current form, narrated by John Waters and featuring interviews from residents who have seen its better times. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 16, 2014 - 13 comments

Ulf is content.

Meet Ulf. He lives north of the Arctic Circle and makes boat. He swims daily (brief male buttock shot), does household chores, and relaxes. Ulf is content. [10 minutes, Vimeo]
posted by Wordshore on Dec 16, 2014 - 26 comments

"I made it so she wanted to sleep with me, which was totally a lie..."

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College, that's where I caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I'll have a rum and coke-cola.
She said fine, and in thirty seconds time she said,
I want to live like common people I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people I want to sleep with common people like you.
Well what else could I do – I said I'll see what I can do. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 13, 2014 - 53 comments

Grim Never Sleeps

The Grim Sleeper is the name given to a serial killer by the reporter who exposed his existence in 2008. He stalked South Central Los Angeles for 25 years. A new documentary questions the complacency of the police who knew there was a serial killer but didn't warn the community. [more inside]
posted by dances_with_sneetches on Dec 12, 2014 - 7 comments

This is Rita, your new landlord

One Year Lease is an 11 minute film that was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival documenting almost entirely through voice mail messages, One Year Lease documents the travails of Brian, Thomas, and Casper as they endure a year-long sentence with Rita, the cat-loving landlady. "
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 11, 2014 - 9 comments

"I don't understand the attitude of not playing your hit, or whatever"

Bose has made a three video series in which musicians talk about making one of their signature songs:
posted by Going To Maine on Dec 9, 2014 - 16 comments

Wes Anderson at 79°S

Welcome to Union Glacier, Antarctica. "There is no great achievement or record broken, nor any real challenge to overcome. Instead [this documentary] concerns minor details; the everyday tasks of the staff that were made more special by the environment surrounding them. And in fact, I think that's what attracted me to make this film — the delightful trivialities of an average life, working in Antarctica." [Vimeo; 53 minutes; you can dip in and out of it]
posted by matthewr on Dec 7, 2014 - 28 comments

Give me a data plate and I'll build you an airplane.

The Supermarine Spitfire is probably the most iconic of all fighter planes. Watch the re-creation of a crashed Spit left on a French beach after the battle of Dunkirk in 1940 in Guy Martin Builds a Spitfire. [1 hr 12 min YouTube]
posted by pjern on Dec 7, 2014 - 24 comments

"Sunday"

On April 9th, 1961, eighteen year old Dan Drasin exited his apartment on MacDougal street and headed to Washington Square Park. He and hundreds of others went to speak out against a recent ban on the performance of music there on Sundays. The NYC Police showed up as well, and the peaceful protest (which the press inexplicably called “The Beatnik Riot”) was captured by Drasin’s camera. He later turned it into the seventeen minute documentary “Sunday”, which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. Drasin was recently interviewed and asked to share his thoughts on the protest some fifty years later.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Dec 1, 2014 - 9 comments

The problem is you've never actually known what the question is

The school in Auckland with a radical 'no rules' policy (12:00; 2014) [via] has a little in common with the school in Framingham with a radical 'no curriculum' policy (9:13; 2009) [previously], which has a little in common with the self-directed IT school in Paris for ages 18 to 30 (2:13; 2014), which takes some inspiration from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (excerpt, 12:24; 1981).
posted by Monsieur Caution on Nov 29, 2014 - 19 comments

Below the Row

Underneath Savile Row, the home of British bespoke tailoring, work goes on that is seldom seen by those that walk along the street. James, apprentice coatmaker and Paul, his master, encapsulate a life dedicated to craft and precision. (SLVimeo)
posted by bswinburn on Nov 24, 2014 - 9 comments

Greil Marcus and Don DeLillo discuss Bob Dylan and Bucky Wunderlick

The following conversation took place in 2005 in front of an audience at the Telluride film festival in Colorado, after a screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.
posted by Lorin on Nov 19, 2014 - 6 comments

Foodie presents the story of Allen and Alinea

Allen & Alinea: One Man’s Odyssey Through an Iconic Cookbook
posted by boo_radley on Nov 12, 2014 - 9 comments

"This is it, baby. Hold me."

A decade after Halo 2 (and a day before the MCC), enjoy this loose timeline of essential Halo fandom: Halo.Bungie.Org / Halo at Macworld '99 / Red vs. Blue / The Halo Trilogy in 5 minutes / The Cortana Letters / HBO's cutscene library and dialog databank / Main Menus / Kitty Cat / Warthog Jump (and BOLL's Warthog Launch game) / How Not To Be Seen / Fan Art / Panoramas / The Music of Marty O'Donnell (prev.) / Video Games Live: Halo / Analysis by Stephen Loftus / Who was Brian Morden? / I Love Bees and the ARG radio drama / Halo 2 Trailer / Halo 2 E3 '04 Demo / Full Halo 2 making-of documentary / Voice acting / Conversations from the Universe / The Beastiarum / Surround Sound Test! / Geography of New Mombasa / This Spartan Life / The Solid Gold Elite Dancers / Creepy Guy at Work / Gameplay May Change / Master Chief Sucks at Halo / Another Day at the Beach / '06 Bungie Studios Tour / Halo 3 Trailer / Starry Night / Believe / HALOID / No Scope Was Involved / 100 Ways to Die / "Bungie Favorites" gallery / Mister Chief / OONSK / OneOneSe7en / 2553 Civilian 'Hog Review / Griffball / ForgeHub / 405th Cosplay / Neill Blomkamp's Landfall / Weta's Real-life Warthog / Halo Legends anime anthology / List of Halo novels / Halopedia / Halo 3 Terminal Archive / DDR Dance / Animatronic Elite project / HBO's "Guilt-O-Lantern" contest / Keep It Clean / We Are ODST / Sadie's Story / Halocraft / "A Fistful of Arrows" fan comic / RvB Animated (and CGI) / Project Contingency / Halo Zero / Halo 2600 (prev.) / Reach Datapad Transcripts / The last Halo 2 player on Xbox LIVE / Bungie's Final Halo Stats Infographic / Key & Peele: Obama on Halo 4 / Top 10 Halo Easter Eggs / Behind the scenes of Halo 2 Anniversary
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 10, 2014 - 36 comments

I Don't Know Jack

Friends, family, and co-workers reminisce before the camera in the biographic documentary I Don't Know Jack [~1h30m], about the life and career and character of Jack Nance, best known for playing Henry Spencer in Eraserhead and Pete Martell in Twin Peaks.
posted by hippybear on Nov 7, 2014 - 4 comments

Success is the thing that kills bands. We haven't had any success.

So there's this UK punk band. First wavers, '77. Cohorts of Gang of Four (whose pictures were inadvertently printed on the back of their first album). Rivals of The Clash, to whom their first single was an answer record. Their energy is so gregarious, their working-class politics so pointed but relatable, they make a mark for themselves despite the limitation of barely being able to play. They get to the part where they're supposed to break up or fade away. Instead, they learn to play, to play very well, even. They become an ever-shifting collective, picking up new members, people from The Rolling Stones, or people who'd played with The Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, The Cure. They made roaring post-punk records, shimmering power pop, pint-raising Irish/British folk, and booze-saturated country records. They found a fascination with folk music, American country music in particular. Actually, they may have accidentally invented alt-country. Lester Bangs says they're "The most revolutionary group in the history of rock n' roll." Hyperbole? Nah. Hyperbole was when he called them "better than the Beatles." 37 years in, they're still making records that odds are, you either love dearly, or have never heard of at all. They're The Mekons, friend, and Joe Angio's new documentary looks at them in all of their shambling, lovable, raucous glory. [more inside]
posted by DirtyOldTown on Oct 30, 2014 - 39 comments

I was so taken by the chief

How he can move gigantic marble blocks, but his own movements are light? An excerpt from Il Capo by Yuri Ancarani, which follows a foreman at a marble quarry.
posted by klangklangston on Oct 24, 2014 - 24 comments

Rick Was Here, a short film on the NYU dorm room where Def Jam started

30 years ago, Rick Rubin was a college student, living in NYU's Weinstein Residence Hall, room #712. It was there that Def Jam Records was formed, shifting the focus of hip-hop from the MCs to promote the DJs, too. Rubin and his label quickly outgrew the dorm, and he hasn't been back since. Recently he returned, and the adventure was captured and put into context by Rolling Stone Film's mini-documentary, Rick Was Here. New footage rolls alongside old, with some animations to bring a few audio-only stories to life. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 20, 2014 - 13 comments

"...to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out."

Endnotes: David Foster Wallace, BBC Documentary. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Oct 19, 2014 - 5 comments

Duncan Campbell's Secret Society - BBC Documentary Series - 1987

This is Duncan Campbell's BBC documentary series Secret Society which shows the never broadcast episode on secret groups, committees and societies that operate silently within British government. The first episode about secret cabinet committees features author Peter Hennessy, Clive Ponting and MP Clement Freud amongst others. It also contains the infamous Zircon spy satellite epsode. [Warning - Vimeo - alternative links for four of these are at Archive.org.] [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Oct 12, 2014 - 8 comments

So we're back to nothing! What should we do to make something of it?

Paul Klee: The Silence of the Angel (2005; 51:14) is a documentary about the painter whose lectures/notebooks, The Thinking Eye and The Nature of Nature, have been called "the most complete presentation of the principles of design ever made by a modern artist ... it constitutes the Principia Aesthetica of a new era of art, in which Klee occupies a position comparable to Newton's in the realm of physics."
posted by Monsieur Caution on Oct 10, 2014 - 6 comments

When we do this, we feel alive. And when we feel alive, we are happy.*

While Prohibition may have withered the American drinker’s palate and understanding & sent the most talented drink-slingers into exile, cocktails are back, and better than ever! And who are the people that have brought the all-but-dead art of America’s contribution to world drinks culture (and the profession & craft of the Bartender) back to stunning, exuberant life? Hey Bartender! [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Oct 6, 2014 - 3 comments

Cowspiracy is a documentary now being screened

Cowspiracy is a crowdfunded documentary now being screened that examines the environmental impact of animal agriculture and seeks to examine why prominent environmental groups have apparently not made it a focus of their efforts. David Robinson Simon, the author of Meatonomics who appears in the film, interviews filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. [more inside]
posted by Drinky Die on Oct 4, 2014 - 32 comments

Spacedrum and Hang, evolution of the steelpan drum

This solo performance of "New Moon" on a Spacedrum by Yuki Koshimoto is mesmerizing, but without much context. Who is she, and what is her instrument? This blog post has a bit more on Yuki, and here is some information on Metalsounds' Spacedrum and other similar metal instruments. If you want more background on the instrument, here's a documentary on the PANArt Hang, something of the predecessor to the Spacedrum, both of which have evolved from the steelpan or steel drum. Going back further, here's Toshi and Pete Seeger, documenting the making of a steel drum, in 1956.
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 28, 2014 - 9 comments

Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost)

Born to Nashville music royalty. Grew up next to George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Had a #2 record on the country charts at age eight. Had a minor alt-rock hit for the same major label as Korn and Incubus in his 30's. His mentor was Shel Silverstein. One of his bands, The Young Criminals Starvation League has featured members of My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Clem Snide, and myriad others. His other band Is She Weird? Is She White? plays Pixies and Breeders covers on weekends in Nashville. Unless he's opening for Guided by Voices or playing someone's living room. Or delivering lost luggage to pay the bills.

It's a hell of a life singer-songwriter Bobby Bare, Jr. has had. It's only makes sense that someone went and made a movie about him: Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost). Sample the trailer. [more inside]
posted by DirtyOldTown on Sep 24, 2014 - 17 comments

The 50 Year Argument

The New York Review of Books recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding (previously), growing out of an alliance between Harpers editor Robert Silvers and writer Elizabeth Hardwick to find a place for what she called "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." Known as the New York Review or the NYRB, it is also known to fans as the best magazine in the world. Next Monday, HBO will air The 50-Year Argument, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the history of the magazine and what makes it special. [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Sep 24, 2014 - 19 comments

"That Saturday was really a normal Saturday, like any other Saturday,"

In This Horror Film, Blood Is All Too Real [New York Times] ‘Terror at the Mall’ on HBO documents an Attack in Kenya.
One year ago, gunmen from the Shabab militant group in Somalia laid siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Armed with AK-47s and grenades, they stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back. The British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage gleaned from more than 100 security cameras inside the mall, video from television crews and modest cellphones, as well as still photographs. Then he and his team tracked down more than 200 people and interviewed 82 of them on camera, many survivors or their rescuers.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 17, 2014 - 2 comments

If you can dream it, you can do it. But you have to be able to dream it.

81 year-old Charlie goes to Burning Man. (NSFW)
posted by loquacious on Sep 13, 2014 - 15 comments

Windows on the World That Was

In June 2001, Estonian immigrant Konstantin Petrov got a job as an electrician for Windows on the World, the famous restaurant in the World Trade Center. The New Yorker has an article about the recent discovery of a trove of photographs he took during lulls in his shifts, an incredible record of the complex before the events of thirteen years ago. [more inside]
posted by theartandsound on Sep 10, 2014 - 16 comments

Stop and Seize: An Investigation into Asset Forfeiture

Stop and Seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes. A multimedia investigation by the Washington Post.
posted by milquetoast on Sep 7, 2014 - 67 comments

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