Friday, April 9, 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

It Came From Kuchar – (80% rating) Long before YouTube, there were the outrageous, no-budget movies of underground, filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar. George and Mike grew up in the Bronx in the 1950’s. At the age of twelve, they became obsessed with Hollywood melodramas and began making their own homespun melodramas with their aunt’s 8mm camera. In the early 1960’s, alongside Andy Warhol, the Kuchar brothers shaped the New York underground film scene. Known as the “8mm Mozarts”, their films were noticeably different than other underground films of the time. They were wildly funny, but also human and vulnerable. It Came From Kuchar interweaves the brothers’ lives, their admirers, a history of underground film and a “greatest hits” of Kuchar clips into a mesmerizing stream of consciousness tale.(

When You’re Strange – (57 % rating) When You’re Strange uncovers historic and previously unseen footage of the illustrious rock quartet and provides new insight into the revolutionary impact of its music and legacy. Directed by award-winning writer/director Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp, the film is a riveting account of the band’s history. The film reveals an intimate perspective on the creative chemistry between drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and singer Jim Morrison — four brilliant artists who made The Doors one of America’s most iconic and influential rock bands. Using footage shot between the band’s 1965 formation and Morrison’s 1971 death, When You’re Strange follows the band from the corridors of UCLA’s film school, where Manzarek and Morrison met, to the stages of sold-out arenas.(

Fresh - (no rating provided) is more than a film, it is a reflection of a rising movement of people and communities across America who are re-inventing our food system. Fresh celebrates the food architects who offer a practical vision of a new food paradigm and consumer access to it. Encouraging individuals to take matters into their own hands, Fresh is a guide that empowers people to take an array of actions as energetic as planting urban gardens and creating warm composts from food waste, and as simple as buying locally-grown products and preserving or freezing seasonal produce to eat later in the year. (

Thursday, April 8, 2010

NYC's new documentary festival

Your cries of pain and suffering have been heard New York City! Your pleas have been answered! Finally, a new documentary film festival is coming to the Big Apple! Huzzah!

All kidding aside, I’m actually quite excited for this new festival. Opening November 3rd and running till November 7th, the appropriately titled Doc NYC is already gearing up to make a big splash in the festival world. It probably won’t rival the U.S.’ big three (True/False, Full Frame and SilverDocs), but this could be exactly what filmmakers and fans want- a major documentary film festival at the end of the year.

The whole event will be hosted at the IFC Center in Manhattan and features the team behind the weekly Stranger than Fiction series hosted at the same venue. Interestingly enough, the inaugural year won’t feature an open submission process, so I’m curious to see what ends up screening at the festival.

If you’re curious, head on over to Doc NYC’s website for more information including information about the advisory board and when festival passes go on sale (hint: August).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trailer: Phyllis and Harold

I'm just going to quote the official website for an explanation of the upcoming documentary Phyllis and Harold:

"Phyllis and Harold is an astoundingly frank journey through a disastrous 59-year marriage. Drawing on a lifetime of her family's home movies and interviews made over 12 years, filmmaker Cindy Kleine mixes reportage, cinema verité and animation to uncover family secrets and tell a story that could not be shown publicly as long as her father was still alive. Phyllis and Harold delves into the mystery of time passing, the nature of living a life, and the challenges of losing those we love. But it is also a loving, funny exposé on the sins of suburbia. Imagine Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage seen through the prism of I Love Lucy."

The film has been making the rounds at smaller festivals but might gain a nice little theatrical run if big name directors like Ken Burns continue to praise it. Head on over the website to watch the trailer and learn more about the film.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Freakonomics the movie!

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s (seriously, they couldn’t agree on the spelling of their first name? It’s beyond confusing to make sure you have the right spelling with the right person. Geez!) book Freakonomics has been out for nearly five years now and more or less continues to cause worldwide debate and intrigue with their ideas. I would dare say it’s the most influential book of the new millennium if it wasn’t for, you know, the Harry Potter and Twilight

But what does their book have to do with documentaries? Well it seems some wise producer decided to take the book’s idea, hire a bunch of highly regarded directors and make a documentary about Levitt and Dubner's opinions. Freakonomics (the movie!) will premier at the Tribecca Film Festival at the end of this month followed by a theatrical release later in the year.

For those of you curious enough, the film hired Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; Taxi to the Dark Side), Morgan Spurlock(Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady(Jesus Camp) to direct portions of the film with Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) piecing together the entire documentary.Raise your hand if you’re excited!

Editor’s note: no longer able to write due to overwhelming excitement (i.e. both hands currently raised).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trailer: Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Alex Gibney is back to doing what he does best: covering major political and financial scandals (yes, I know he won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, but I enjoyed Enron so much more, deal with it). I'm sure most of you already know about his upcoming film Casino Jack and the United States of Money, but in case you need more proof to see this film there's now a trailer posted over at

The trailer looks spectacular and I personally couldn't be more excited for its May 7th release date.

If you're not aware, Casino Jack covers former Washington super lobbyist Jack Abramoff from the beginning of his career to his ultimate imprisonment. It might sound boring, but Gibney is known for turning thousands of pages of documents into the most fascinating and enthralling stories imaginable. Don't miss this one!