17 items from 2014
Documentarian Amir Bar-Lev doesn’t shy away from controversial subject matter, and while he clearly has a point of view, he always tries to provide us with a sense of the Big Picture. I’ve admired his work in films like My Kid Could Paint That and The Tillman Story. Now he tackles the thorny saga of beloved Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, his pedophile colleague Jerry Sandusky, and the effect their downfall has had on their community. The material is pure dynamite, but Bar-Lev approaches it in an even-handed manner, having gained the cooperation of Paterno’s family and Sandusky’s adopted son. He also spotlights a handful of individuals who make the story personal and...
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- Leonard Maltin
A long time in the making, Reach Me, from filmmaker/actor John Herzfeld brings ‘positive thinking’ and ‘self-help’ to the big screen. It stars a bevy of Herzfeld’s actor friends and friends of friends, including Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Connolly.
Happy Valley, named after the area where Pennsylvania State University is located, dives into the child sexual-abuse scandal that rocked Penn State, while Monk looks at an unlikely ascetic who gave up life in the fast lane.
Kino Lorber also is launching Iranian Western Vampire pic A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which it is releasing with Vice Films. The title, which was born out of a previous short film, debuted at Sundance in January. »
- Brian Brooks
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke With "Happy Valley," director Amir Bar-Lev ("The Tillman Story," "My Kid Could Paint That") examines the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and Americans’ tendency to worship their heroes to the point where they turn a blind eye to atrocities they committed, as long as those idols provide their fans with whatever escapist pleasures they crave. Would Sandusky, the former assistant coach for the Penn State football team, who was given 60 years in prison for sexually molesting at least ten boys, one of them his own adopted son, be allowed to continue his heinous acts for almost another decade after being caught by the administration if he was the university’s jolly janitor instead? Would Joe Paterno, the legendary head coach, still beloved by many Penn State football fans, hesitate to go directly to the police »
- Oktay Ege Kozak
Earlier this year, we heard rumblings that Martin Scorsese might be working on a film about legendary punk rock band The Ramones, but there's yet to be any official confirmation that will happen. However, another iconic rock band will have Scorsese's attention as THR reports he is executive producing a documentary about the psychedelic rock group The Grateful Dead. The documentary will arrive just in time for the 50th anniversary of the band once led by the late Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, and it will cover the entire career of the beloved band. Sounds like the ultimate must-see for the Deadheads out there. The documentary still doesn't have a title, but it does have one hell of a director in Amir Bar-Lev, the man behind the acclaimed 2010 documentary The Tillman Story. The filmmaker has been trying to get this doc off the ground for about 10 years now, and it's finally coming together, »
- Ethan Anderton
The untitled film will feature never-before-seen footage, vintage interviews and "candid moments unearthed from the Grateful Dead's vast vaults".
"The Grateful Dead were more than just a band," said Scorsese. "They were their own planet, populated by millions of devoted fans.
"I'm very happy that this picture is being made, and proud to be involved."
The Grateful Dead will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2015. »
The Grateful Dead formed in 1965, which means we are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the storied jam band. To celebrate the occasion, Martin Scorsese will executive produce a Grateful Dead documentary directed by Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story). Scorsese explained the appeal of the project and the unique stature of the band: “The Grateful Dead were more than just a band. They were their own planet, populated by millions of devoted fans. I’m very happy that this picture is being made and proud to be involved." Hit the jump for the press release with all the details. Grateful Dead Announce Official Documentary In Celebration Of 50th Anniversary Executive Producer Martin Scorsese And Director Amir Bar-Lev To Offer A Never Before Seen Look At One Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Most Fascinating And Enduring Bands Los Angeles – The Grateful Dead are proud to announce their first official career-spanning documentary »
- Brendan Bettinger
The Grateful Dead are proud to announce their first official career-spanning documentary to coincide with the band's 50th anniversary celebration. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev ("Happy Valley," "The Tillman Story") will direct the as yet untitled documentary. Alex Blavatnik is financing through his Aoma Sunshine Films. Eric Eisner ("Hamlet 2"), Nicholas Koskoff, and Justin Kreutzmann will serve as producers.  Executive Producers are Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, and Rick Yorn. Longtime The Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux will serve as the film's music supervisor.
This monumental documentary will meld a cornucopia of never before seen performance footage, vintage interviews, and other candid moments unearthed from The Grateful Dead's vast vaults along with newly captured conversations with surviving members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir, as well as many other characters and pranksters from the Dead universe.
Said surviving members Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, »
The Dead are rising. A new documentary from executive producer Martin Scorsese about landmark psychedelic rock group the Grateful Dead is headed our way. Set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the legendary jam band led by Bob Weir and the late Jerry Garcia, the career-spanning retrospective will be directed by Amir Bar-Lev (2010's The Tillman Story). Bar-Lev has been trying to get the film off the ground for the better part of a decade. The yet-to-be-titled documentary will pull from a half-century's worth of footage collected by longtime band archivist David
- Seth Abramovitch
Scorsese has been involved in music documentaries dating back to serving as an assistant director and editor on Michael Wadleigh’s “Woodstock” in 1970. He directed 1978’s “The Last Waltz” and 2011’s “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”
The band first performed on May 5, 1965 at Magoo’s Pizza in Menlo Park, Calif., as The Warlocks. »
- Dave McNary
The Penn State football team is off to a 4-2 start this season, and more than 100,000 fans will file into Beaver Stadium next week when their beloved Nittany Lions take on their rivals from Ohio State. James Franklin is Penn State's first-year head coach—but he still operates in the shadow of the late, legendary Joe Paterno, who raised Penn State to national prominence during his 62 years with the university's football program. Paterno infamously was forced out in 2011 after a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was accused of sexually abusing children. Questions remain whether Paterno could or should have done »
- Jeff Labrecque
Exclusive: Music Box Films has acquired U.S. rights to Happy Valley, the A&E IndieFilms-funded documentary about the aftermath of the conviction of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for molesting young boys — some of which was perpetrated in the locker room where Sandusky brought the kids after hours under the guise of his charity.
The film was directed by Amir Bar-Lev, who helmed the superb The Tillman Story, about the military cover-up of the friendly-fire killing of football star-turned-Army Ranger. Happy Valley is produced by Passion Pictures’ John Battsek, Asylum Entertainment’s Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels, along with Ken Dornstein, and was executive produced by A&E IndieFilms’ Molly Thompson, Bob DeBitetto and David McKillop. The film premiered in Sundance and has played several festivals. It will be released in November in day-and-date fashion.
For those who’ve followed from afar the shocking firing of legendary »
- Mike Fleming Jr
Emmy award-winner Lauren Sanchez, who is a frontrunner to join The View as a co-host, has formed Pursuit Productions with Dan Friedkin. Pursuit will focus on telling compelling real life stories from around the globe. The company already has its first documentary feature in the works, Found, and closed a deal with Mark Monroe (Sound City, The Tillman Story, The Cove) to write. Found follows the search for those pilots whose planes were lost in The Battle of Peleliu during World War II. Also joining the search for the missing pilots in the doc is former United States Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, whose memoir Lone Survivor […] »
Sundance 2014 is officially in the books, and while there wasn’t any kind of big $10 million distribution deal, films like Boyhood, Whiplash, and Frank had receptions warmer than the bizarre Utah weather over the past 10 days, guaranteeing we’ll be talking about them through the rest of the year.
But that’s the narrative side of things. When it comes to documentaries, Sundance is traditionally one of the most fruitful film festivals in the world. Here are ten of the most interesting and best received non-fiction titles to keep an eye on in 2014:
Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory
The subtitle says it all for this year’s U.S. Documentary Audience Award winner. In Alive Inside, a social worker brings iPods to elderly men and women suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and the sounds of their youth actually “awaken” them. As one might expect, »
- John Gilpatrick
The passion for college football in certain parts of our country almost resembles a cult in its intensity. And perhaps no team had a more devoted following than Joe Paterno’s Penn State program, which proudly won “the right way” on and off the field ever since he became head coach in 1966. His reputation was nonpareil in the sports world — until former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted in Nov. 2011 for molesting young boys on the Penn State campus. Paterno, then 85 years old, was fired, along with three other top University administrators, rocking the Penn State community, a.k.a. »
- Jeff Labrecque
In his documentaries “My Kid Could Paint That” and “The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev zeroed in on the difference between the public perception of a scandal and the private truth of the matter — a theme that serves him no less effectively in “Happy Valley,” a gripping inquiry into the revelations of sexual abuse that shocked the U.S. and devastated Penn State’s storied football program. Rather than focusing primarily on Jerry Sandusky’s crimes, the film broadens in scope and complexity to examine the assumptions of an entire community, as well as the football-first culture that allowed evil to flourish in its midst. Distinguished by its measured, analytical approach and revelatory testimony from Sandusky’s adopted and abused son, Matt, this nuanced but quietly excoriating work merits widespread exposure, and could be especially well timed to coincide with the still-ongoing court proceedings against three former university administrators.
The acts »
- Justin Chang
State College, Pa. (AP) — The son of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky participated in a documentary about his father’s sexual-abuse case and hopes to become an advocate for child victims.
Matt Sandusky told the Centre Daily Times that he took part in “Happy Valley” because he has become strong enough to tell his story and wants to speak out to help other survivors. The 100-minute film, debuting this week at the Sundance Film Festival, explores whether it was an open secret that Sandusky was molesting boys.
“For me and all survivors it is important to have control over the timing and setting of (the) disclosure,” Matt Sandusky told the newspaper.
Sandusky had been listed as a defense witness at his father’s 2012 trial, but he instead disclosed through lawyers that he had also been abused and didn’t take the stand. Jerry Sandusky, convicted on 45 counts involving 10 boys, »
- Associated Press
Exclusive: A week before Sundance, Tom Ortenberg’s Open Road Films is strengthening its film acquisition team by hiring Peter Lawson and giving him the newly created title of executive vice president of Productions and Acquisitions. Lawson is a top-flight acquisitions exec who served stints most recently at The Weinstein Company and before that Miramax. He left to get a taste of production experience in big-sized studio films by joining Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road as production president. After two years, I’m hearing that he has shaken up his career Gps and is taking the exit from Thunder Road onto Open Road. Before he left TWC, Lawson worked on such films as the John Hillcoat-directed Lawless, The Iron Lady, The Company Men, Blue Valentine, The Intouchables and the docus Undefeated, Bully and The Tillman Story. At Miramax, his acquisition deals included The Diving Bell And The Butterfly. Before that at First Look Pictures, »
- MIKE FLEMING JR
17 items from 2014
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