Friday, March 12, 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

Severe Clear – (67% rating) based on the memoir by First Lieutenant Mike Scotti as well as video footage shot by him and other members of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines on the outset of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Through their cameras we see the raw sounds of war, capturing the harrowing three hundred mile charge to Baghdad through hostile enemy territory. The footage used to create Severe Clear was never shot for the purpose of making a movie. In this digital age of embedded reporters, the film truly strips the barriers between audience and soldier, personalizing the fear, moral conundrum and adrenaline rush of life on the battlefield. Severe Clear offers an unflinching look at the uncertainty, disorder and chaos of war from the remarkable perspective of one Marine.(

Tales from the Script – (58% rating) Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), John Carpenter (Halloween), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), and dozens of other Hollywood screenwriters share penetrating insights and hilarious anecdotes in Peter Hanson's Tales from the Script, the most comprehensive documentary ever made about screenwriting. By analyzing their triumphs and recalling their failures, the participants explain how successful writers develop the skills necessary for toughing out careers in one of the world's most competitive industries. They also reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest screenplays ever written, describing their adventures with luminaries including Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Kubrick, Joel Silver, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg.(

The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights – (no rating provided) a visual and emotional feature length film documenting The White Stripes making their way through Canada and culminating with their 10th anniversary show in Nova Scotia. The film documents the band playing shows all over Canada; from local bowling alleys, to city buses, and onward to the historic Savoy Theatre for the 10th Anniversary show- a show that turned out to be the longest show the band had ever done on stage together. The film captures intimate moments of Jack and Meg both on and off stage as they travel through some of the most remote parts of the northern Yukon Territory. Along the way, they have some nice casual conversations about their ten years together, fire cannons, play some of their biggest songs together on stage, and even play a "one note show." (

Ghost Town - (no rating provided) a tremendously rewarding film that illuminates the alienation and marginalization of the denizens of one of China's countless remote villages. Divided into three parts, this epic documentary brings a compassionate intimacy to its varied cast of characters, bringing audiences face to face with people who were unceremoniously left behind by China's new economy. Zhao displays tremendous compassion and respect for the squatters and other inhabitants of the village, and he patiently teases out the special places and attachments to which they cling. Cleverly structured and beautifully shot, the film is a gratifying, if ultimately heartbreaking, testimonial to the talent and commitment of China's vanguard independent documentary movement.(

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Full Frame Film Festival line-up

The Full Frame Film Festival is one of the premier "documentary only" festivals in the world and the event is nearly upon us. Between April 8 and 11 over 50 documentaries (!) will be screened in Durham, North Carolina and this website couldn't be more excited to see as many of these films as possible.

If you are curious to see what will be shown, head on over to the Full Frame website to see the list of 51 films and a brief description about each. Pretty much every film on this line up looks amazing, but if you want a list of top ten documentaries we're most excited about, here you go:

12th & Delaware (Directors: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing)
Casino Jack and the United States of Money (Director: Alex Gibney)
Restrepo (Directors: Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington)
And Everything is Going Fine (Director: Steven Soderbergh)
Kings of Pastry (Directors: Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker)
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert)
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Paper (Directors: Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith)
No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (Director: Steve James)
Racing Dreams (Director: Marshall Curry)
Videocracy (Director: Erik Gandini)

Tickets and passes are still available for those who want to attend! So head on over to their website now! Trust us, with a line up featuring several U.S. and world premieres and a great showcase for the successful Sundance films, this is certainly a festival worth attending.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Host your own White Stripes documentary!

It's not often that I get pleasantly shocked on two separate times by the same press release, but film distributor/promoter/etc website B-Side Entertainment is proving yet again why it is the most creative and innovative company out there.

The big announcement started with the upcoming release of a new documentary on the White Stripes and their tour through Canada three years ago (titled The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights). Not only will this feature footage of packed out arenas, but it will also show the duo playing more intimate shows for anyone lucky enough to be sitting around when they two walk up. Directed by Emmet Malloy, Under Great White Northern Lights looks like an innovate addition to the concert tour genre of documentaries.

But the news doesn't end there. No, B-Side Entertainment is asking any interested film lover to host their own screening of the film! All you have to do is register your event and before you know it, you'll be running your own theater... well sort of.

This isn't the first time B-Side has offered a "host your own screening" deal, but this is easily the largest and most popular film they've included in the program. But, if you aren't willing to invite the neighbors over for a feature flick, don't fret, the DVDs go on sale March 16th- in case you don't like to share your popcorn.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Recap!

To our great surprise, we actually chose the winner for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards last night. Louie Psihoyos' The Cove brought home the honors and it's hard to argue against it's victory as the film did pretty much everything right. We've talked at length about this fascinating documentary (and you can always check out our review if you really want to learn more), so we won't go into further detail here.

Besides, why talk about a movie when you can hear some juicy gossip! If you watched the award show last night, you noticed a very awkward scene during the speech by documentary short winner Music by Prudence. It turns out the director and producer despise each other and their turbulent past finally caught up with them on stage at the Oscars.

Needless to say, you need to head over to to hear both sides of the story and to see a clip of the "Kanye West"-like moment from Sunday night. Enjoy!