Friday, March 19, 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

Hubble 3D– (78% rating) Through the power of IMAX® 3D, “Hubble 3D,” narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, takes moviegoers on an unprecedented voyage through distant galaxies to explore the grandeur and mystery of our celestial surroundings. Experience never-before-seen 3D flights through the farthest reaches of the universe, and accompany spacewalking astronauts on some of the most difficult and important endeavors in NASA’s history.(

Kimjongilia – (60% rating) For sixty years, North Koreans have been governed by a totalitarian regime that controls all information entering and leaving the country. For Kim Jong Il’s 46th birthday, a hybrid red begonia named kimjongilia was created, symbolizing wisdom, love, justice, and peace. The film draws its name from the rarefied flower and reveals the extraordinary stories told by survivors of North Korea’s vast prison camps, of devastating famine, and of every kind of repression. Their experiences are interspersed with archival footage of North Korean propaganda films and original scenes that illuminate the contours of daily life for a people whose every action is monitored and whose every thought could bring official retribution. Along with the survivors’ stories, Kimjongilia examines the mass illusion possible under totalitarianism and the human rights abuses required to maintain that illusion.(

Neil Young Trunk Show– (93% rating) Jonathan Demme gives us some Neil Young musical and spiritual soul. Young on a stage full of personal icons: alone in the center of a circle of his beloved acoustic guitars; in the midst of stellar musicians Ben Keith, Ralph Molina, Rick Rosas, Pegi Young and Anthony “Sweet Pea” Crawford, plus an onstage painter portrayed by Eric Johnson. There are delicately offered acoustic numbers like “Sad Movies” and “Mexico”; mesmerizing electric travelogues into the artist’s psyche (“No Hidden Path”); searing, chaotic anthems including “Like a Hurricane” and “Cinnamon Girl”; and rarely performed pieces like “Kansas” and “Ambulance Blues” that provide glimpses of Young’s less public persona. In addition to his distinctively blistering and plaintive guitar, Neil draws deep melancholy from an old piano and pats it on the side after like a beloved old dog. He sings his heart out again and again. It is a collection for the ages.(

See What I'm Saying– (No rating provided) follows the journeys of four deaf entertainers through a single year as their stories intertwine and cumulate in some of the largest events of their lives. Bob, a drummer in the world’s only deaf rock band Beethoven’s Nightmare, produces the largest show in the band’s 30 year history; CJ, a comic known around the deaf world but unknown to hearing people fights to cross over to mainstream audiences by producing the first international sign language theatre festival in Los Angeles; Robert, a brilliant actor who teaches at Juilliard struggles to survive when he becomes homeless; and TL, a hard of hearing singer is caught between two worlds when she produces her first CD “Not Deaf Enough.”(

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Conan O'Brien to make documentary!

If you miss those moments where former late night talk show host Conan O'Brien bashed NBC for it's inability to understand good humor, be prepared to laugh again. The red-headed, lanky comedian will likely have a documentary crew follow him during “The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour."

According to, "this is to be a documentary feature, probably to be distributed to cinemas, which implies we'll get a whole behind-the-scenes look at the tour, hopefully with lots of Coco's signature Elvis impersonations, and maybe some background into its cause."

The tour goes through July so it probably won't be released until late Fall at the the extreme earliest. But if you miss the guy that much, you should just follow his twitter posts.

Head over to to learn more details (though to be honest, there really isn't much else to say).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trailer: The Human Experience

Do you ever watch the news and just get a little depressed about the state of our world? It's easy to get dragged down by all the world crises around us, and worse, you can feel the call to pull yourself away from the rest of society in order to protect what's left of you to protect.

Thankfully (like spring on the horizon) a new documentary titled The Human Experience comes to remind us that there is in fact hope. And judging by the trailer for Charles Kinnane's film, there are plenty of reasons to not shut yourself off from the world- that joy can be found in even the most desperate of places.

The Human Experience follows two brothers as they travel the world: living with the homeless on the streets of New York City, the orphans and disabled children of Peru and the abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana. What they discover changes them forever as the brothers are awakened to the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.

The Human Experience is already showing in select areas, but should hit theaters in early April. So what are you waiting for? Check out a film that may actually brighten your day!

Note: the trailer is quite unintentionally cheesy (perhaps even cliched), but I still can't wait to see this.

Monday, March 15, 2010

South by Southwest Doc Lineup

Admittedly, this article is a bit late seeing as how the South by Southwest (or SXSW for the cool, blogger types) film festival started Friday night. But, never late then never. And let's face it, if you didn't know the films by now, you probably weren't planning to attend the coolest festival west of the Mississippi anyway (note: still not sure what the coolest festival east of the Mississippi is, but that's an issue for another day).

SXSW is known for it's music, but the Austin based festival actually sports a decent array of independent films as well. So if you're looking to stump/impress your film snob friends who only prefer the obscure, take a look at these documentaries (almost all are World Premieres!):

American Grindhouse - (Director: Elijah Drenner) The feature-length documentary American Grindhouse explores the hidden history of the American Exploitation Film. The movie digs deep into this often overlooked category of U.S. cinema and unearths the shameless and occasionally shocking origins of this popular entertainment. Exploitation Cinema has left an indelible mark on American culture, and this informative and amusing documentary proves that its principles--and popularity--endure to this day.

Greenlit - (Director: Miranda Bailey) Greenlit chronicles the efforts of the indie film The River Why starring Zach Gilford as the filmmakers attempt to "go green." Film producer Miranda Bailey decides to follow the process and learn more about why that is necessary, how much it costs and what going "green" means as an environmental consultant, is brought on to the film. Both entertaining and humorous, the film is filled with compelling and important facts about film making and sustainability and shows that Kermit was right- it ain't easy bein' green.

Haynesville: A Nation's Relentless Hunt for Energy - (Director: Gregory Kallenberg) Haynesville follows the discovery of the United States' largest natural gas find, the ensuing boom's effect on three peoples' lives and the potential impact of the vast amount of energy on the nation's energy future.

Hood To Coast - (Director: Christoph Baaden) Hood to Coast follows four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the world's largest relay race. Winning isn't everything in a documentary that takes a celebratory look at personal motivation and attempting the extraordinary.

Lemmy - (Director: Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski) This documentary delves into the personal and public lives of heavy metal icon and Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister. Nearly three years in the making, and featuring appearances by such friends/peers as Metallica, Dave Grohl, Billy Bob Thornton and pro wrestler Triple H, the film follows Kilmister from his Hollywood bedroom to the hockey arenas of Scandinavia and Russia.

No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson - (Director: Steve James) Steve James returns to his hometown of Hampton, Virginia to examine the 1993 bowling alley brawl that landed Allen Iverson, the nation’s top high-school basketball player, in jail and divided the community along racial lines.

One Night in Vegas - (Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood) On the evening of September 7, 1996, Mike Tyson attempted to regain the WBA title in Vegas. Sitting ringside was his friend Tupac Shakur. This ESPN Films documentary tells not only the story of that infamous night but of their remarkable friendship.

The People vs. George Lucas - (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe) A no-holds-barred cultural examination of the conflicted dynamic between George Lucas and his fans over the past three decades.

Richard Garriott - Man on a Mission - (Director: Mike Woolf) Last year Richard Garriott became the first son of an astronaut to go to space, but this is no millionaire’s joy ride, he pioneered private space travel to make his dream come true: from his training in Russia to his launch in Kazahkstan to the dramatic, never before seen footage inside the capsule during fiery re-entry, this is a historic moment in human space travel.

The Ride - (Director: Meredith Danluck) A journey into the heart of America through the rough and tumble, rock and roll world of bull riding Cowboys.

SATURDAY NIGHT - (Director: James Franco) With unprecedented access to the behind the scenes process of the writers, actors and producers, Franco and his crew document what it takes to create one full episode of Saturday Night Live.

The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights - (Director: Emmett Malloy) 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 legendary Savoy Theater for the 10th Anniversary show.

Beijing Taxi - (Director: Miao Wang) Through a humanistic lens, Beijing Taxi vividly portrays China undergoing a profound transformational arch in an era of Olympic transitions. The intimate lives of three cabbies connect a morphing cityscape and a lyrical journey through fragments of a society riding the bumpy roads to modernization.

Camp Victory, Afghanistan - (Director: Carol Dysinger) Using almost 300 hours of footage shot over the course of three years, Camp Victory, Afghanistan tells the story of the Afghan officers charged with building a new Afghan National Army and the U.S. National Guardsmen sent to mentor them.

The Canal Street Madam - (Director: Cameron Yates) An FBI raid on Jeanette Maier’s infamous family-run brothel in New Orleans destroyed her livelihood. Stigmatized by felony, fearing recrimination from powerful clients and determined to protect her children, Jeanette sets out to re-invent herself.

Dirty Pictures - (Director: Etienne Sauret) Dirty Pictures is an intimate portrait of the life and work of Dr. Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, one of the world’s most renowned chemists who is considered by many to be the "Godfather of Psychedelics."

For Once In My Life - (Directors: Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann) The film takes an inspiring journey with a unique band of musicians with the common goal of making and performing music. Their story tells of the fine balancing act of taking on new challenges while living day-to-day with disabilities. This documentary shows what people can do when given a chance.

Marwencol - (Director: Jeff Malmberg) After a vicious attack leaves him brain damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in “Marwencol,” a 1/6th-scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.

Pelada - (Directors: Luke Boughen, Rebekah Fergusson, Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White) Away from the bright lights and manicured fields, there's another side of soccer. From prisoners in Bolivia to moonshine brewers in Kenya, from freestylers in China to women who play in hijab in Iran, Pelada is the story of the people who play.

War Don Don - (Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen) Prosecutors say Issa Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace. In Sierra Leone, the war is over, but a sensational trial begins.