Friday, January 8, 2010

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

Garbage Dreams- (100% rating) Filmed over four years, Garbage Dreams follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, a ghetto located on the outskirts of Cairo. It is a world folded onto itself, an impenetrable labyrinth of narrow roadways camouflaged by trash; it is home to 60,000 Zaballeen (or Zabbaleen), Egypt’s “garbage people.” For generations, the residents of Cairo have depended on the Zaballeen to collect their trash, paying them only a minimal amount for their garbage collection services. The Zaballeen survive by recycling the city’s waste. These entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle 80% of all the garbage they collect, creating what is arguably the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. When the city they keep clean suddenly decides to replace the Zaballeen with multinational garbage disposal companies, the Zaballeen community finds itself at a crossroads. Face to face with the globalization of their trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community. (

Mine- (no rating provided) Hailed as “absorbing,” “a must see,” “Oscar material” and “the best movie at SXSW,” Mine is a documentary about the essential bond between humans and animals, set against the backdrop of one of the worst natural disasters in modern U.S. history: Hurricane Katrina. This gripping, character-driven story follows New Orleans residents as they attempt the daunting task of trying to reunite with their pets who have been adopted by families all over the country, and chronicles the custody battles that arise when two families love the same pet. Who determines the fate of the animals—and the people—involved? A compelling meditation on race, class and the power of compassion, Mine examines how we treat animals as an extension of how we view and treat each other. (

Sweetgrass- (93% rating) captures modern cowboys’ overland journey, wrangling thousands of sheep, as they move across Montana, amid sweepingly dramatic vistas and endless skies. Twenty-first century cowboys call their mothers on cell phones and complain about rainy weather, ornery sheep and exhausted horses. A strikingly beautiful film, Sweetgrass is at once funny, awe-inspiring and endearing. At first the passive, fuzzy sheep seem utterly adorable; over time we come to understand the exasperated cowboy who screams profanities at this sea of stubborn, bleating beasts over which he struggles to reign. (

Waiting for Armageddon- (no rating provided) Waiting for Armageddon explores the culture of 50 million American Evangelicals who believe that Bible prophecy dictates the future of mankind and that Israel and the Jewish people play pivotal roles in ensuring Christ’s return. The film raises questions regarding how this theology shapes U.S.- Middle East relations and how it may even encourage an international holy war. Using intimate portraits and archival footage to explore how literal belief in Biblical prophecy – including the Rapture and Armageddon – exerts a dangerous influence on U.S. relations in the Middle East, Waiting for Armageddon tells its story through the eyes of three evangelical families who are certain that upon Christ's Second Coming they will be “raptured” or lifted into the skies to join Christ while the rest of humanity suffers for seven years during “The Tribulation.” Leaders of Armageddon theology pressure the White House, we learn, and their numbers are growing. In the end, Waiting for Armageddon considers whether this large American voting block may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of all-out war. (

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trailer: Talhotblond

I first saw the name and poster for Talhotblond and thought, "must be some new psychological thriller." Then I read the synopsis ("Online lies lead to murder in real life, as a teenage vixen lures men into her online web, with deadly results") and pretty much felt assured that this was Hollywood produced fiction.

But it turns out, Talhotblond is a documentary by Barbara Schroeder about a real life criminal case that sounds too bizarre to be real. The trailer for this documentary is everything you could hope for in a teaser and it appears Schroeder is following the same successful mold Errol Morris used for his critically acclaimed Thin Blue Line.

The film is already out on DVD so head to to catch the trailer and find out where you can watch this great looking film.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Radiohead helps score Tibet documentary

It seems Radiohead front man Thom Yorke doesn't feel his band's numerous musical exploits and forays into uncharted territories is enough for him. While his band prepares to enter the studio to create another brilliant album, Yorke opted to create three original pieces for an upcoming documentary titled When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun.

Directed by Dirk Simon, the film explores Tibet's struggles (political and otherwise) with China, and the factors that have placed the Tibetan Freedom movement on the theoretical back burner in recent years. Though it's bias will clearly favor Tibet, it seems like an interesting documentary with interviews ranging from Tibetan exiles, Chinese artists, the Dalai Lama and South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu (I'm sure there will be a celebrity or two in there as well).

But perhaps the biggest buzz around this film is knowing Yorke will unite with Damien Rice and composer Philip Glass as each contributes their own pieces to the story. In other words, you have three gifted artists all contributing to what should be a breathtaking soundtrack.

Impressed? Astounded? Excited? You should be.