Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia. Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded, the lost, the torched, the almost lost, the repurposed, the reborn, and the unbounded. [more inside]
Frank Zappa - Peefeeyatko Documentary covers Frank Zappa's later Synclavier computer compositions. Features Boulez, Xenakis, and a guy who knows Bigfoot personally. Previously
In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
The wonderful, and fairly rare, 13-part documentary series from 1980 - Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film - is narrated by James Mason for Thames Television. Episode One - The Pioneers - [52 mins] [the rest are linked inside] shows:-
"the evolution of film from penny arcade curiosity to art form, from what was considered the first plot driven film, The Great Train Robbery, through to The Birth of a Nation, films showing the power of the medium. Early Technicolor footage, along with other color technologies, are also featured. Interviews include Lillian Gish, Jackie Coogan and King Vidor.*"[more inside]
In the wake of their grunge-y breakout hit "Creep" and the success of sophomore record The Bends, Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead were under pressure to deliver once more. So they shut themselves away inside the echoing halls of a secluded 16th century manor and got to work. What emerged from that crumbling Elizabethan castle fifteen years ago today was a shockingly ambitious masterpiece of progressive rock, a visionary concept album that explored the "fridge buzz" of modernity -- alienation, social disconnection, existential dread, the impersonal hum of technology -- through a mosaic of challenging, innovative, eerily beautiful music unlike anything else at the time. Tentatively called Ones and Zeroes, then Your Home May Be at Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Payments, the band finally settled on OK Computer, an appropriately enigmatic title for this acclaimed harbinger of millennial angst. For more, you can watch the retrospective OK Computer: A Classic Album Under Review for a track-by-track rundown, or the unsettling documentary Meeting People is Easy for a look at how the album's whirlwind tour nearly gave Yorke a nervous breakdown. Or look inside for more details and cool interpretations of all the tracks -- including an upcoming MeFi Music Challenge! [more inside]
Groupies (1970): "foul-mouthed, clever, patient, anxious, ugly, beautiful, self-aware girls" (and boys)
"For the real function of "Groupies" is to display fantastic personality — in its foul-mouthed, clever, patient, anxious, ugly, beautiful, self-aware girls. Everybody is always on camera; everybody has a story (anything from last night's conquest to total life history) that she tells almost compulsively — and from this eager collaboration between medium and messenger grows a vitality that is its own sufficient reward." Groupies, the 1970 documentary of female (and a few male) groupies and the bands they follow, is up on DailyMotion. [more inside]
Jeff Broz and his teenage friends filmed this seven and a half minute Sand-O-Vision "documentary" on the set of Return Of The Jedi, in 1982.
Drive 8.7 km (5.4 miles) west of the municipality of Roses in Catalonia, Spain, and you'll get to the gates of the renowned avant-garde restaurant, El Bulli. Run by Ferran Adrià since 1987, the restaurant closed in 2012 due to Adrià and his partner Juli Soler losing a half million Euros a year on the restaurant and Adrià's cooking workshop in Barcelona. Slate's Noreen Malone wrote an article on the history of the "I Ate at El Bulli" piece, giving an overview of tropes that you could expect in an IAaEB piece, and you can browse images tagged "elbulli" on Flickr for snapshots of personal experiences. But for an extended look into what went into making the ever-changing 35-course taster's menu, El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (Trailer on YT and Vimeo) is a 109 minute documentary on the preparation and implementation of the 2008/9 season, an "extreme fly-on-the-wall vérité, with only the barest context provided." If you're looking for recipes, Molecular Recipes has a few listed under the El Bulli tag. [more inside]
Former major leaguer and current minor league manager Wally Backman says some very colorful things. The full censored episodes are online (starting with Episode 1: Where's Wally Backman?) Mostly NSFW. [more inside]
"I've been lucky enough to film with elephants, gorillas, bears and none of them have ever sat on my head."
Magic Meerkat Moments: In this clip from BBC's Planet Earth Live, we get to see meerkats, which have become so acclimated to film crews that they now view them as part of the landscape and use them for shade and as vantage points. [via]
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
Shock of the New is a 1980 documentary television series by Robert Hughes produced by the BBC in association with Time-Life Films and RM Productions. ... It addressed the development of modern art since the Impressionists and was accompanied by a book of the same name; its combination of insight, wit and accessibility are still widely praised. - Wikipedia [more inside]
The Take is a 2004 film [~90m] by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis about the reclaimed factory movement (worker-managed co-operatives) in Argentina. It's presented here in 9 parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. Also in a convenient playlist for easy viewing. [more inside]
Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, Challenges. HBO’s multi-part research documentary The Weight of the Nation examines obesity in America in four parts, marshaling leading doctors, epidemiologists, economists, researchers, and community leaders to understand and explain the individual costs and public solutions to a multi-faceted social and individual problem. The documentary both explores large picture statistics, while giving voice “to those that often too seek to be invisible: members of the nearly 70 percent of Americans currently diagnosed as overweight or obese. (AV Club Review)” [more inside]
The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends is a short documentary by Jay Cheel whose subject is summed up by its title. You can see other short films by Cheel at his website. The main protagonist of the doc, Gerry Eng, a.k.a. Reed Farrington, has been the subject of many Cheel films, such as Cooking with Gerry, Cooking with Gerry #2, Poutine, A Very Gerry X-Mas and Reed's House.
"From photography’s earliest days, enterprising practitioners realized they could take their services directly to the people. This lead to the horse-drawn wagons called “Daguerreotype Salons” and then to portable, darkroom tents that allowed wet-plate photographers to make pictures outside. As technology advanced, the tents morphed into a single apparatus that combined both camera and darkroom, which allowed photographers to work anywhere. Afghanistan is one of the last places where street vendor photographers still use such a hand-made, wooden camera called kamra-e-faoree or “instant camera.” Observing this practice lead photographer Lukas Birk & anthropologist Sean Foley to undertake the Afghan Box Camera Project." - Photo Technique Magazine introduction to an interview with Lukas Birk [more inside]
The British Council Film Collection "is an archive of over 120 short documentary films made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. Preserved by the BFI National Film Archive and digitised by means of a generous donation by Google, the films are now yours to view, to download and to play with for the first time." A couple of essays and case studies also already up, with more to come.
Sexy Baby is a documentary by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus (AV Club interview) about "sexiness in the cyber age" that follows the stories of an ex-porn star, a 22-year-old teacher saving up for labiaplasty and a 12 year-old girl. Trailer (probably NSFW)
In 1973 and 1975, two one-hour television documentaries aired in the US: In Search of Ancient Astronauts (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection (Parts 1 and 2) in 1975. All were narrated by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling. In 1976 a series was developed. Since Serling had passed away in 1975, popular actor Leonard Nimoy was chosen as host. In Search of... ran for six seasons, from 1976 - 1982, and was devoted to discussing unusual mysteries and phenomena. All 144 episodes can be seen on YouTube. Playlists: Seasons 1 and 2. Seasons 3 and 4. Seasons 5 and 6.
Imaginary Landscapes (1989): a visually hypnotic and impressionistic portrait of musician Brian Eno, directed by Duncan Ward and Gabriella Cardazzo. (40 mins.)
Who Killed Nancy is a documentary examining the lives and deaths of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. It features interviews with many of the people on the Punk scenes in both London and New York, including people who were in Sid and Nancy's Chelsea Hotel room on the night Nancy died.
2012 Vimeo Awards Nominations — There are 13 categories including four new ones. The Experimental category is lots of fun. [previously]
Before Joy Adamson went to Africa, before Margaret Mead sailed to Samoa, before Dian Fossey was even born, a Kansas teenager named Osa Leighty married Martin Johnson. Whether dancing to jazz in Congorilla or meeting headhunters in Borneo, her life with Martin ultimately led to hours of pioneering documentary footage, books, movies and more. Her autobiography inspired a Kate Spade purse, a perfume and her marriage an entire line of clothing while her joie de vivre put her on the cover of a book on trailblazing women of history. Osa Johnson went on to become a character in a play, in a poem while her married life gave birth to a museum (or two). When Osa met Martin, she married adventure.
I Woke Up Gay (SLYT): In the small town of Ystrad Mynach, South Wales, seven years ago, a 19-stone rugby-playing ladies man and bank clerk Chris Birch snapped his neck while larking around doing somersaults and backflips with his friends. As the tabloids excitedly revealed a while ago, he suffered a massive stroke and woke up as a completely different person -- a person who happened to be gay. [more inside]
Those Americans who are familiar with the name Claude Lanzmann most likely know him as the director of “Shoah,” his monumental 1985 documentary about the extermination of the European Jews in the Nazi gas chambers. As it turns out, though, the story of Lanzmann’s eventful life would have been well worth telling even if he had never come to direct “Shoah.” In addition to film director, Lanzmann’s roles have included those of journalist, editor, public intellectual, member of the French Resistance, long-term lover of Simone de Beauvoir and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, world traveler, political activist, ghostwriter for Jacques Cousteau — I could go on, but it’s a good deal more entertaining to hear Lanzmann himself go on, and thanks to the publication in English of his memoir, “The Patagonian Hare,” we now have the opportunity to do so. (previously)
In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick (previously) makes the day of the nine-year-old proprietor of Caine's Arcade.
Wired called them, digital graffiti and John Carmack spoke of them at QuakeCon 2011 but they remain little known. A recently released full-length documentary (download) gives a portrait of the creative digital subculture from 80s to the present day. [more inside]
Dirty Pictures [1h30m] is a documentary (trailer [1m30s]) about Alexander Shulgin, his life, his family, the drugs he has developed, the people he has affected, the boundaries of experience he has explored, the effects he has had on society, and the understanding of the mind and the psychedelic experience which have resulted from his experiments and chemical creations.
Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
This is an animated documentary about Mohammad Mostafaei who is an Iranian lawyer in exile in Norway. Mostafaei specialized in advocating for defendants who faced the death penalty and the animation focuses on one of these cases, that of Behnoud Shojaee. The animation features Paul Bettany reading Mostafaei's words, is a part of Amnesty International's campaign against the death penalty.
The Winter Of The Beard [1h47m] is a documentary which chronicles the lives of nine men across six months. Each was provided a video camera and weekly interview questions to document his own experience. The resulting 600 hours of intimate footage revealed a group of men traversing the same rite of passage from disparate vantage points. Throughout the process, the men told stories from their pasts, shared likes and dislikes, and confessed personal fears and aspirations. They laughed and cried, hid and came alive behind their beards. The tireless taping captured bad days and good ones, and it is in this framework that the individual stories stand out and the beards fade into the background. From a son dealing with his father's descent into Alzheimer's, to financial and marital struggles, to the birth of a child, THE WINTER OF THE BEARD [trailer, 2m58s] reveals the trials and tribulations of what it means to drastically alter one's appearance and otherwise go on living life. [more inside]
HBO Documentary: Child of Rage: (1989) "Story of Beth, a six-year-old child who had faced the loss of a mother, physical abuse, and sexual abuse all before the age of 19 months. Both Beth and her younger brother Jonathan were put up for adoption. They were adopted by a minister and his wife. This unsuspecting couple quickly learned that something was extremely wrong with Beth. This terrifying and disturbing documentary traces Beth as she goes through therapy in Colorado. The video explains that Beth suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. [Via]."
Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride is a 75 minute film documenting Hunter S. Thompson's life and death, focussing mainly on his relationships with Hollywood celebrities and other public figures. In 8 parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker documentary by Bruce Weber 120 min
There will never be another you A remembrance of Chet Baker by Bruce Weber
See also chetbakertribute.com [more inside]
There will never be another you A remembrance of Chet Baker by Bruce Weber
See also chetbakertribute.com [more inside]
Quest for the Perfect Bourbon: Voices of Buffalo Trace Distillery is a documentary from the Buffalo Trace Oral History Project, part of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Between February 27th and March 30th, PBS will be running the PBS Online Film Festival. The first four short films, in the Real Stories category, are now online. [more inside]
"You know what I think?" she says. "That people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive."
In Search of Haruki Murakami, Japan’s Great Postmodernist Novelist, a 50 minute documentary exploring Murakami's Japan and culture. via.
"There's No Tomorrow" is a half-hour animated documentary that deals with resource depletion, energy, and growth. [more inside]
"First Kill is a war documentary that explores the dark side of man and the psychology of soldiers at war. Vietnam veterans are interviewed about their experiences and what war does to the human mind and soul." [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]
City of the Wildcats 1 2: A documentary about the urban kitties of Rome narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Tonight Frontline aired the documentary film "The Interrupters", the video is available on Frontline's website. On WTTW, Chicago's major PBS affiliate, a special "Chicago Tonight" followed the presentation. It featured a panel discussion with Violence Interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams, an interview with the filmakers and an interview with former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman. [more inside]
Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
First Person was a TV series that ran during 2000 and 2001 featuring interviews conducted by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris using his (patent pending) Interrotron. Episodes included an exploration of the mind of an expert on cattle slaughter techniques, the story of a parrot who may have witnessed a murder, a professional high school student, a serial killer groupie, and other strange and eccentric people. (Previously: The smartest man in the world.)
Inshallah Kashmir: Living Terror is Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar's brand new documentary, which is banned in India, that provides the perspectives of people that rarely receive positive mainstream media attention. [more inside]
Inside Nature's Giants is a ridiculously educational British science documentary series featuring dissections of very big animals, including a giant squid, a sperm whale, a giraffe, and many, many more. [more inside]
German filmmaker David Sieveking had just finished film school and was a huge fan of David Lynch. How could he pass up the opportunity to see Lynch when he came to speak about creativity and how to unlock it? How could he possibly fathom that the lecture would lead him on a five year voyage into the world of Transcendental Meditation, viewing the movement from within and without, with an accepting and then a critical eye, and ultimately would lead him on a journey to the source of the Ganges and yield a feature-length documentary, Sieveking's first movie? For a limited time, David Wants To Fly can be viewed at the Link TV website in its entirety. [~95min]
Victorian Farm | Edwardian Farm -- 18 hours of BBC experimental archeology/historical documentaries, online. Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman spend two years living the life of rural country farmers.