Life Itself. The documentary based on Roger Ebert’s memoir, by Hoop Dreams’ director Steve James, premiered at Sundance in January and is now rolling out in theaters and on demand.
On May 13th, the film world was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, who had won an Oscar just last year for the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man". In the month that has passed since then, more details have emerged of the months and days that led up to his suicide. The Hollywood Reporter profiles the life and death of Bendjelloul and takes a look at how sudden success can bring about even more sudden depression.
Blood Brother (2013) focuses on an American man who, after initially visiting as a tourist, moved to India to volunteer at the Arias Home of HOPE, a home for HIV-positive children in Acharapakkam, near Chennai. He eventually became an Indian citizen by marriage. [more inside]
"The rise in popularity of television is credited with inciting the move to the widescreen systems that flourished throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s. This is only partially true. In the early 1950s, studios did begin to compose their movies so that the top and bottom of the picture could be chopped off and a wider screen would show the center of the old 1.37:1 frame. The aspect ratio used by the various studios varied from about 1.5:1 up to the common 1.85:1. But the real reason for the birth of a multitude of widescreen and large format systems was the 1952 opening of a movie made in a process that had its roots in a World War II aerial gunnery trainer. This Is Cinerama (modern YouTube trailer; Wikipedia) shook the industry to the core. The public and reviewers loved it. Its giant screen filled with three oversized 35mm images and an incredible new sound system called Stereophonic were a marvel to behold, and the studios immediately rushed to find something that could do what Cinerama did (Google books preview of the August 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics)." [more inside]
Mia & Roman (1968) is a 23 minute-long behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Roman Polanski's film Rosemary's Baby.
Will The Real Mr Sellers Please Stand Up - a rare ~50min film narrated by Spike Milligan and made during the filming of 'The Magic Christian'*via Cinephilia and Beyond. [NSFW - some nudity] [more inside]
Stan Brakhage on birth and death
*. [graphic childbirth and autopsy footage] (* previously - dead links) [more inside]
Chris Marker, director of La Jetée and Sans Soleil, among many others, and co-writer of 12 Monkeys, has died at age 91. English obit. French obit. Article on Chris Marker in the Guardian from 2002. Another appreciation from 2002. La Jetée on YouTube. Previously. Previouslier.
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]
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)
Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender. (previously)
The most vivid figure in Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields's End of the Century was the least articulate and most archetypal of the Ramones: Johnny, the right-wing prole whose hard-ass sense of style the others nutballed and softened and accelerated and above all imitated. ... Exciting and absolutely right though their '70s sets always were, the film establishes that they kept the faith live till the end, lifted by Joey's goofy dedication and powered by the chords Johnny thrashed out like they were why he was alive. As unyielding in his aesthetic principles as he was in everything else, this reactionary was an avant-gardist in spite of himself. - Robert Christgau
In 2003 and again in 2009, Director Andy Glynne, with Mosaic Films and BBC4 created Animated Minds, a series of animated documentaries to express the subjective experiences of various kinds of mental health disorders. [more inside]
in 1976, surrealist icon Salvador Dali starred and directed in the fake documentary/travelogue Impressions de la haute Mongolie - Impressions of Upper Mongolia - about his quest to find a rare hallucinogenic mushroom. It was intended as a tribute to the late Raymond Roussel. It is available on Youtube in 5 parts. 1 - 2 -3 - 4 - 5 (70 min)
[Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo] as a documentary film was one which was draped with fascination for both filmmakers as well as an audience, rather than championing anti-whatever sentiments from either side of the world. Not having seen many movies, either features, shorts or documentaries made during the Cultural Revolution era or about that era in question (propaganda included), I think this Antonioni film has more than made its mark as a definitive documentary that anyone curious about the life of the time, would find it a gem to sit through.
Amin's hunger for publicity was so great, in fact, that in 1974 he became the first dictator in history to agree to be the subject of an independent documentary film. The resulting movie, Barbet Schroeder's General Idi Amin Dada... is a devastating look at despotism in action and a riveting, and strangely entertaining, portrait of Amin. [more inside]
You could spend $600 or more for the dvd set, or you could just watch the first half (3 hrs) of the documentary mini-series here for free. Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood. Where It All Began :: Art's Promised Land :: The Unchained Camera
Melvin Van Peebles made a documentary called Classified X in 1998, about the portrayal of black people throughout the history of American cinema. You can see it on YT in six parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Apologies for the low video quality.
Regarding Luis Buñuel (Criterion, 1:37, subtitled) "All my life I've been harassed by questions: Why is something this way and not another? How do you account for that? This rage to understand, to fill in the blanks, only makes life more banal. If we could only find the courage to leave our destiny to chance, to accept the fundamental mystery of our lives, then we might be closer to the sort of happiness that comes with innocence." -- Luis Bunuel, "In Curiosity" Bunuel wanted to rebel against the dogmatic structures of the Church that said, There is no salvation or grace outside the Church. He wanted a kind of Protestant surrealism in which grace was directly attainable like in Nazarin or Viridiana -- Carlos Fuentes "He is a deeply Christian man who hates God as only a Christian can and, of course, he's very Spanish. I see him as the most supremely religious director in the history of the movies." -- Orson Welles "I'd like to be able to rise from the dead every ten years, walk to a newsstand, and buy a few newspapers. I wouldn't ask for anything more. With my papers under my arm, pale, brushing against the walls, I'd return to the cemetery and read about the world's disasters before going back to sleep satisfied, in the calming refuge of the grave." -- Luis Bunuel
Some kind soul recently uploaded, in five parts, a 1991 BBC Omnibus television documentary about Peter Greenaway, who never ceases to inspire me in his dedication to push film into new, richly interesting places, to liberate it from its addiction to stale 19th-century psychological narrative and to open it up to accept and incorporate all manner of artistic information it's usually denied. Cleverly titled Anatomy of a Filmmaker — Greenaway is an enthusiast of the nude human figure, which he sees as the single constant of art — it covers the filmmaker's career from his earliest shorts up through Prospero's Books. There are bits about the time he spent honing his skills cutting together British propaganda, his experience with painting and his longtime collaboration with Sacha Vierny. It also presents subsections on Greenaway's own inspirational creators, including John Cage and the increasingly-intriguing-to-me R.B. Kitaj.
DSLR News Shooter is a new photo site featuring the use of the latest HD-dSLRs like the Canon Eos5DmkII, 7D and Nikon D300s for news, documentary and factual shooting. By Guardian news photographer Dan Chung, it's a place for professionals, educators, students and industry figures to discuss the practice and the art of cinematic photography in documenting the real world. For example, the time-lapse and slow-motion film of the recent 60th anniversary parade of the PRC. Other places to look for information and discussion of DSLR video are the Planet5D blog, and filmmakers such as Vincent Laforet and Phillip Bloom. (previous 1, 2)
Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films (official site w/Flash) Filmmaker Arthur Dong covers the good (YT), the bad and the players (link to Flash video clips) in his latest award-winning documentary. Related MeFi post.
POSSESSED is a short documentary film that 'enters the complicated worlds of four hoarders; people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions'.
80 years of Found Footage Filmmaking...
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, 1927.
Rose Hobart, 1936.
Night and Fog 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1956.
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, 1927.
Rose Hobart, 1936.
Night and Fog 2 3 4 5 6 7, 1956.
Eroica. Film director Andrzej Munk’s tragic death at age thirty-nine might have formed the plot for one of his own darkly sardonic works: a Polish Jew and an active resistance worker during the war, he was returning home from shooting his film Passenger at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1961 when an oncoming truck struck his car. He left behind only four feature films, but his influence was prodigious. As one of the key figures of the postwar “Polish School” of filmmaking, along with Wajda and Kawalerowicz, he helped to shape a vision that broke with the official social realist optimism of Eastern-bloc dogma and cast a skeptical eye on official notions of heroism, nationalism, and life in the Stalinist-occupied state. Mentor to Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, his influence can be felt even in the films of a later generation of Polish filmmakers — directors like Zanussi and Kieslowski. More inside.
Toshio Matsumoto's (J) first film (E), Ginrin (or "Silver Ring"), once believed lost has been found! Ginrin was an English Language, "relatively avant garde" PR film that had perhaps the first use of Musique Concrete in a Japanese film -- in this case, the first score by Toru Takemitsu. The film was discovered to be lost (as a result of the firm it was made for going under) in the 1980s when it was desired for a retrospective on the 1950's Japanese Avant-Garde at the Pompidou Center. [More Inside]
"Whadyawant, motherf*ck?" These are the first words Charles Bukowski speaks in John Dullaghan's documentary about the poet and novelist, famous for his writing and infamous for his drinking and brawling and screwing. The audience member might respond, "To hear your story, Hank, that's what I want." The movie opens with friends (Sean Penn, Harry Dean Stanton, Bono) and colleagues and lovers and fans recounting the myth; theirs are stories of blades pulled on the maitre d' of the swanky Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, of dangling dicks revealed in public, of a drunk who'd just as soon crack his bottle over your head than share its contents. (more inside)