Friday, November 20, 2009

Theatrical Releases

Every Friday we update you all with the week's theatrical documentary releases. Now, this is not a perfect process as our beloved genre prefers the rolling/limited release schedule instead of a big nationwide or international-wide release. So apologies if a film isn't out in your area, or if you are a filmmaker and we missed the boat on announcing your documentary's big day (if that is the case, please let us know and we'll correct the mistake).

Now, with that introduction out of the way, here's this weekend's releases with their current rating on the amazing website

Defamation - (100% rating) What is anti-Semitism today, two generations after the Holocaust? In his continuing exploration of modern Israeli life, director Yoav Shamir travels the world in search of the most modern manifestations of the “oldest hatred", and comes up with some startling answers. The film questions our perceptions and terminology when an event proclaimed by some as anti-Semitic is described by others as legitimate criticism of Israel’s government policies. The film walks along the boundary between anti-Zionism, rejecting the notion of a Jewish State, and anti-Semitism, rejecting Jews. Is the former being used to excuse the latter? And is there a difference between today’s anti-Semitism and plain old racism that is affecting all minorities? (

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oscar 'Short List' Unveiled

The Academy Awards recently announced their list of 15 films in the Documentary Feature category. This list will be presented to the entire Academy which will then vote and narrow the selections down to the handful receiving an official 'nomination' to the awards show in March.

The list:
“The Beaches of Agnes,” Agnès Varda, director (Cine-Tamaris)
“Burma VJ,” Anders Østergaard, director (Magic Hour Films)
“The Cove,” Louie Psihoyos, director (Oceanic Preservation Society)
“Every Little Step,” James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, directors (Endgame Entertainment)
“Facing Ali,” Pete McCormack, director (Network Films Inc.)
“Food, Inc.,” Robert Kenner, director (Robert Kenner Films)
“Garbage Dreams,” Mai Iskander, director (Iskander Films, Inc.)
“Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders,” Mark N. Hopkins, director (Red Floor Pictures LLC)
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, directors (Kovno Communications)
“Mugabe and the White African,” Andrew Thompson and Lucy Bailey, directors (Arturi Films Limited)
“Sergio,” Greg Barker, director (Passion Pictures and Silverbridge Productions)
“Soundtrack for a Revolution,” Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, directors (Freedom Song Productions)
“Under Our Skin,” Andy Abrahams Wilson, director (Open Eye Pictures)
“Valentino The Last Emperor,” Matt Tyrnauer, director (Acolyte Films)
“Which Way Home,” Rebecca Cammisa, director (Mr. Mudd)

As stated in the past, the documentary film category is notorious for snubbing some excellent films in the process of selecting a winner and this year is no different. Four films come to mind in this year's controversy with Tyson, It Might Get Loud, Anvil: the Story of Anvil and (the biggest shocker) Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story all failing to make the list. Though few consider any of these films worthy of actually winning, it's surprising the committee would leave off some of the genre's biggest names. And with last year's winner Man on Wire generating so much positive buzz outside the normal documentary circles, one wonders if this year will be a major setback.

What are your thoughts? Post them below!