11 items from 2014
2014 is now in full swing, the Sundance Film Festival has closed its doors, and film festivals like South by Southwest and Tribeca are generating more buzz for the year’s noteworthy indie narratives and documentaries. In recent years, documentaries such as Restrepo, Gasland, and Searching For Sugarman went on to become heavyweights. This year’s contenders include topics taken from popular memoirs and biographies, along with subject matter pertaining to youths and youth culture. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of Sundance and non-Sundance documentaries to keep an eye out for this year, equipped with official synopsis and trailer when available. 2014 is shaping out to a versatile year in the documentary world, ranging from heavy-handed family dramas such as Tracy Droz Tragos’ and Andrew Droz Palermo’s Rich Hill, to baseball biographies such as Chapman and Maclain Way’s The Battered Bastards of Baseball and Jeff Radice’s No No A Dockumentary, »
- Christopher Clemente
I can't help bingeing on series like Downtown Abbey and House of Cards, yet hate the pernicious influence of their politics
In Manufacturing Consent, their now classic work on the role of the media in legitimising income inequality, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky argue that the news media play a central role in propagating an ideology that renders invisible the true class relations of capitalism.
While I agree wholeheartedly with this, I have to add – having recently binged on both Downton Abbey and House of Cards – that drama shows are probably just as powerful (and more insidious) in manufacturing our consent to a society in which the world's 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50% of humanity.
In the Us we are being fed a bizarre media mix of a kindly (if somewhat intellectually challenged) elite – in the form of the wealthy early-20th century Crawley family who run »
- Gail Dines
Academics and artists sign open letter saying university's actions against student protesters are 'at odds with freedom of speech'
In an open letter, signed by 40 people and published by the Guardian, they criticised the University of Birmingham's actions as being "at odds with freedom of speech". They demanded the immediate reinstatement of the students, who were among 13 arrested during the demonstration at the university last month.
"We believe that the suspensions seen at the University of Birmingham are further evidence of the contempt for freedom of expression, both political and academic, in the contemporary university," they wrote.
The signatories, also include former secretary of state for international development and Birmingham MP Clare Short, who said: "These suspensions are at »
- Kevin Rawlinson
Here is an intriguing proposition: a filmed encounter between scatterbrained film director Michel Gondry and the distinguished linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky. With its subtitle "an animated conversation", you know that Gondry won't be restricting himself to the traditional head-shot interview format, and that proves to be the case: much of Chomsky's musing is illustrated with squiggly, hand-drawn graphics that do a nice job at elucidating some of the more rarified concepts that are aired. Moreover, Gondry occasionally interjects with amusing voiceovers: apologising for his poor English, his difficulties with the animation, and the like.
The conversation itself sticks largely to Chomsky's work in linguistics and philosophy – we don't get Chomsky-the-fashionable-political-activist, but rather we dip a toe in his real achievements in academia. The title, it turns out, refers »
- Andrew Pulver
★★★★☆French director Michel Gondry allows himself to become the receptive canvas for the theories and concepts of famed academic and philosopher Noam Chomsky in his animated documentary, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (2013). Illustrating the complexities of linguistics, this charmingly presented and incredibly modest discussion unites the playfully surreal animation of Gondry with Chomsky's profoundly theoretical approach to language. Through a series of interviews recreated via hand-drawn illustrations, Gondry has created a vibrant (and, importantly, palatable) flipbook of Chomsky's own intellectual cogitations.
- CineVue UK
Australia’s Rialto Distribution made a trio of acquisitions on the eve of the European market.
“Strange” which premiered last month in Sundance, stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as a gay couple, who finally get married, but are then forced to live apart. The picture was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for North America, Germany and Scandinavia.
“After the critical acclaim it received at Sundance, ahead of our theatrical release here in Australia and New Zealand, we are thrilled to be bringing local audiences another high-quality film,” said Rialto’s CEO Kelly Rogers.
The film is represented in multiple territories by Fortissimo.
“Venus in Fur,” based on the stage production, is repped by Lionsgate. “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? »
- Patrick Frater
London — Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s untitled documentary about the New York Review of Books has been added to the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Special line-up, where it will be shown as a work in progress, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and key contributors.
Scorsese, Tedeschi and producer Margaret Bodde will attend, along with the Nyrev’s editor, Robert Silvers, and publisher, Rea Hederman, and other special guests.
Making use of rare footage and photographs to provide historical context, the film includes writers like James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky and Norman Mailer, along with new footage of Joan Didion, Michael Chabon, Mary Beard and Timothy Garton Ash.
“For over 50 years, The New York Review of Books has been one of the most interesting and sophisticated magazines on culture and politics, with content by outstanding writers and thinkers,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.
“In their wonderful documentary, »
- Leo Barraclough
London — The Berlin Film Festival has completed the lineup for the Panorama Dokumente section, which is devoted to documentaries. Sixteen films have been selected, including 10 world premieres.
Africa is also the setting for Swedish filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson’s “Concerning Violence,” which examines the process of decolonization in Africa. Olsson presented “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975,” about the African-American civil rights movement, in the Panorama section in 2011.
The history of photography is shown from an African-American perspective by Thomas Allen Harris in “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People.”
Panorama has a tradition of music films, »
- Leo Barraclough
Selection opens with a documentary about what motivates Somali pirates and includes the European premiere of 20,000 Days on Earth, starring Nick Cave, and 10 world premieres.Scroll down for full list
The Berlin International Film Festival (Feb 6-16) has unveiled the 16 films that will make up the documentary section of its Panorama strand.
This year’s Panorama Dokumente comprises 16 films, including ten world premieres, and will open on Feb 7 with the world premiere of Dutch co-production The Last Hijack by Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting. The film depicts what motivates piracy in Somalia.
The topic of Africa, which is also reflected in the Ethiopian fictional feature Difret, is also central to Swedish filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson in Concerning Violence. This commentary on Africa’s decolonisation, cites Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” - and Us singer Lauryn Hill lends these texts her voice.
Olsson previously presented The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 about the Afro-American civil rights »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Rosser)
Richard McKerrow is at the centre of a storm. His television company, Love Productions, is responsible for Channel 4's documentary series Benefits Street, its biggest rating programme for more than a year (4.3 million viewers overnight, with a consolidated figure of nearly 7 million) and – only a few days in – already likely to be the most controversial of 2014.
A lightning rod for attitudes toward state welfare, the first programme polarised opinion between critics who said it demonised the poor and unemployed, and those who said it highlighted a social security system in urgent need of reform. Residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham, which features in the programme and which the broadcaster claims has one of the highest proportions of people on benefits in Britain, bore the brunt, subject »
- John Plunkett
Thank goodness Chris Hemsworth ultimately got the lead role in "Thor" and "Thor: The Dark World." A "lost" audition tape has been unearthed by the people over at "Conan," showing Jason Schwartzman's attempt to get the role and he's just not the right guy for the part.
First of all, Schwartzman is not nearly the size needed for an Asgardian god, and he's not particularly intimidating. Then there's his hair, bad line readings, and all the trouble he has catching the hammer. Catching Thor's hammer is half the job, so if that's not something you're up for, it's time to move on.
11 items from 2014
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