16 items from 2017
David France’s Oscar-nominated “How to Survive a Plague” was a mesmerizing look at AIDS activism in the eighties and nineties, reconstructed with bountiful archival footage; France’s followup, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” is a kind of thematic sequel, this time focusing on trans activism during the same time period. Both movies grapple with the reverberations of these dramatic efforts in the present moment, but “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is particularly suspenseful for the way it recollects the past through the prism of a murder mystery, brilliantly fusing an archival history with the elements of a detective story.
Whereas “Plague” explored the efforts of Act Up and other institutions to combat the AIDS epidemic, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” focuses on Greenwich Village “street queen” Johnson, a Stonewall riots hero who died under mysterious circumstances in 1992 when she was »
- Eric Kohn
Even in persecuted communities, there are hierarchies of marginalization, and “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” argues that, with regards to the Lgbt movement of the past few decades, the most ostracized and demonized faction continues to be transgender people. Driven by both empathy and a passion for justice, “How to Survive a Plague” director David France’s stellar documentary charts an investigation into the still-unsolved death of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson, along the way illuminating the persistent discrimination that exists today, and the bonds of community designed to counter it. Deriving additional emotional power from its formal beauty, it should be one of the signature breakouts from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
- Nick Schager
21 April 2017 4:45 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
In his stirring, Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, David France chronicled with incisive detail the mid-1990s breakthrough in HIV treatments that radically altered the trajectory of AIDS. He steps back again into the Lgbt past with comparable investigative zeal in The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, digging into questions that remain unsolved 25 years after the pioneering transgender activist and Stonewall riots frontliner was found floating in the Hudson River. While the sense of closure that the film seeks to provide perhaps inevitably remains elusive, it covers another vital chapter in queer history, »
- David Rooney
It was a big week for Jon Ossoff, the fresh-faced 30-year-old who shook up Georgia’s congressional race by landing 48.1 percent of the vote, catapulting him into a June runoff with Republican Karen Handel in a state that hasn’t had a Democrat in Congress for four decades. The excitement and speculation about Ossoff’s momentum sending a message to the Trump administration about waning interest in its platform has ignored one key detail: He’s a documentary filmmaker. In recent years, Ossoff has served as an executive producer on television documentaries that wrestle with a range of pressing issues, from Isis to ebola outbreaks.
That places him in a longstanding tradition of documentarians with an activist bent. And while Ossoff may be the only non-fiction director jockeying for elected office this year, plenty of other documentary filmmakers will present new work designed to help a troubled world in 2017 — and »
- Eric Kohn
New York is a mecca for queer culture of all stripes. Set in the heart of downtown Manhattan, just a short walk from the cruising piers of Christopher street and the cocktail lounges of Chelsea, the Tribeca Film Festival is a natural home for Lgbtq creators and projects. From lesser known indie films to highly anticipated studio television shows, experimental Vr and new online work from queer up and comers pushing the conversation into new territory, the festival’s 16th edition offers plenty for the queer-minded.
Read More: Why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is the Most Anticipated Screening of the Tribeca Film Festival
Here is a guide to the five best Lgbtq projects playing the festival this year.
Now, here is a biopic we can get behind (or underneath, whatever your preference).
The cult icon Tom of Finland is renowned for his homoerotic drawings of beefcakes in »
- Jude Dry
You could call it the “Netflix effect.” With the rise of the global VOD giant and its increasingly voracious appetite for nonfiction films, the documentary industry is anticipating a busy spring season at the Tribeca Film Festival and Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival and marketplace.
But it’s not just Netflix, say industry insiders. The number of active buyers for documentary films suggests there’s an enthusiasm for independent nonfiction cinema that goes beyond the VOD giant.
On the eve of Tribeca, three high-profile documentaries have already found buyers: National Geographic acquired the coal-mining expose “From the Ashes,” and Gravitas Ventures bought theatrical and streaming rights to two films already partnering with CNN Films: “Elian,” the story of Cuban child émigré Elian Gonzalez, and Impact Partners’ “The Reagan Show,” a freshly relevant archival-driven doc about the staging of the former President.
Read More: Netflix’s Big New »
- Anthony Kaufman
Women directed nearly 40 percent of the films screening in Competition at this year’s edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, and there are plenty of women-centric projects in the fest’s lineup. Whether you’re most interested in features or documentaries, stories about friendship or feminist awakenings, we’ve got you covered. We’ve assembled some of the most promising-sounding films in the program, but this is by no means an exhaustive list of projects by and about women at the fest— just some of the highlights.
Besides the features listed below, other noteworthy titles include Jessica Devaney’s short “Love the Sinner,” a doc about her growing up Evangelical and how the Pulse shooting affected her, and Zohar Kfir’s “Testimony,” a Vr doc centered on sexual assault survivors. You can also check out “Out of this World: Female Filmmakers in Genre,” a special screening of three genre shorts helmed by women, and interview events with Barbra Streisand as well as Lena Dunham and frequent collaborator Jenni Konner.
Tribeca runs from April 19–30. Plot synopses below are courtesy of Tribeca.
“The Divine Order” — Written and Directed by Petra Volpe
What it’s about: Political leaders in Switzerland cited “Divine Order” as the reason why women still did not have the right to vote as late as 1970. Director Petra Volpe explores this surprising history through the story of Nora, a quiet housewife from a quaint village searching for the fierce suffragette leader inside her. With Marie Leuenberger, Max Simonischek, Rachel Braunschweig, Sibylle Brunner, Marta Zoffoli, Bettina Sucky.
Why we’re interested: Women have had the right to vote in the U.S. for less than 100 years, and sadly there are women around the world that still can’t cast ballots. It’s easy to slough off women’s fight for the vote as a thing of the past, but “Divine Order” stresses that this chapter in history remains largely unwritten. “This got swept under the rug and was not talked about much in history lessons,” Volpe explained in an as-yet-unpublished interview with Women and Hollywood. “That is so typical for women’s history — it’s untold. I made this movie because I wanted to honor all the women who fought for so long and so hard.”
What it’s about: All current art is fake. Nothing is original. These are some of the statements exposed in artist Julian Rosefeldt’s film. Starring Cate Blanchett, we witness a series of vignettes which draw upon artist manifestos that question the true nature of art. A chameleonic Blanchett gives a tour-de-force performance as she transforms in each segment like never before
Why we’re interested: Frankly, this description of “Manifesto” makes the film sound more than a little pretentious. But we simply can’t and won’t turn down the opportunity to see Cate Blanchett take on 13 characters. When you watch a film starring the inimitable actress, you’re guaranteed a standout performance. So with “Manifesto,” we can expect 13 standout performances. The unconventional project — which originated as a multi-screen film installation — sees the two-time Oscar winner playing characters as varied as a factory worker, puppeteer, and scientist.
“For Ahkeem” (Documentary)
What it’s about: “For Ahkeem” is the moving portrait of 17-year-old Daje Shelton, a Black girl in North St. Louis, as she navigates the many challenges of growing up in inner city America with one goal: to graduate high school.
Why we’re interested: Most films depict larger-than-life characters with experiences that are pure fantasy for the viewer. So it’s a welcome change to see a down-to-earth movie featuring a relatable protagonist with a relatable goal. Daje wants what we all want: a good life. Featuring subtle commentary on the U.S. education system, “For Ahkeem” shows how unnecessarily difficult it is for young people like Daje to earn a high school diploma, something that should be a fundamental right for everyone.
What it’s about: When Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics, and ultimately her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family, and that of humanity
Why we’re interested: “Beauty and the Beast” has officially grossed more than a billion dollars at the box office, and “The Circle” marks “Harry Potter” alumna Emma Watson’s follow-up to the Disney smash sensation. It appears as though Watson is playing another heroine, and this time around, she’s taking on a god of the tech industry. “The Circle” promises to tackle timely questions and concerns about privacy laws and online identity, and will be a nice change of pace from Watson’s delightful turn as Belle.
What it’s about: Catherine (Julia Garner) and Iris (Juno Temple) are childhood friends home from college for a hot New England summer. As they attempt to enjoy parties and skinny-dipping and the usual vacation hijinks, a shared trauma in their past becomes increasingly difficult to suppress. As the wedge between the friends grows, they each pursue forbidden affairs to cope. With Alessandro Nivola, Maggie Siff, Philip Ettinger, Mamoudou Athie.
Why we’re interested: “This is a film about grief. Sorry! There are some laughs, too, and it’s sexy, I promise. But essentially, this is a movie about the effect of grief on the friendship of two young women,” writer-director Garcia told us in a soon-to-be-published interview. We love narratives about female friendship, and Garcia explained that the plot of “One Percent More Humid” is “an amalgam of true stories about young people and fatal car accidents.” Stories about grief are typically centered around middle-aged parents who have lost children, so it will be interesting to see two young women grappling with the aftermath of a tragedy.
What it’s about: In a support group for adults living with autism, David — a smooth talker struggling to hide his disability — meets a woman with similar learning challenges, and they quickly forge an intimate bond. Starring a cast of nonprofessional actors on the autism spectrum, “Keep the Change” details an underrepresented community with authenticity, optimism, and humor. With Brandon Polansky, Samantha Elisofon, Nicky Gottlieb, Will Deaver, Jessica Walter, Tibor Feldman.
Why we’re interested: Hollywood usually ignores people with disabilities, and when they are depicted, they’re often reduced to single-note characters. That’s why we’re happy that “Keep the Change” — like Alexandra Shiva’s “How to Dance in Ohio” — depicts the inner lives of those on the autism spectrum with actors who are actually on the spectrum. Instead of presenting David as if he is the subject of a public service announcement, Israel shows him as just another person looking for love.
“I Am Evidence”
What it’s about: Every year in cities around the United States, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits are left untested in police storage facilities. Produced by Mariska Hargitay, “I Am Evidence” exposes this shocking reality, bringing attention to the way in which police have historically processed sexual assault cases. Through an exploration of survivors’ accounts, the film sheds light on these disturbing statistics, and shows what can be achieved when evidence — and the individuals it represents — are treated with the respect we all deserve. An HBO Documentary Film release.
Why we’re interested: Adlesic and Gandbhir told Women and Hollywood they were drawn to tell this story because of “the outrage [they] felt” when they learned “it’s estimated that there are 400,000 untested rape kits in the Unites States.” Hopefully that outrage is contagious. If you aren’t horrified and disgusted by how the justice system treats rape survivors, “I Am Evidence” will likely make you reconsider your stance. The filmmakers hope that audiences leaving the theater “have a better understanding of the survivor experience” and “ask their legislators to pass laws that require the testing of all rape kits in a timely manner and to follow up on the findings of those tested kits.”
What it’s about: “Copwatch” is the true story of We Copwatch, an organization that films police activity as a non-violent form of protest and deterrent to police brutality. In her feature film debut, director Camilla Hall crafts an intriguing and timely profile of citizen-journalist-activists — including Ramsey Orta, who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal arrest — who seek to disrupt the ever-present challenge of police violence.
Why we’re interested: If the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad taught us anything, it’s that much of the public is still shockingly ignorant about movements like We Copwatch and Black Lives Matter. “Copwatch” strives to show that being anti-police brutality is not the same as being anti-police. Like her subjects, Hall uses her camera to spotlight racially-charged violence and hold those responsible accountable. At a time when amateur videos expose the unfounded violence racial prejudice can provoke — from traffic stops to United Airlines — this doc is more relevant than ever.
“Wasted! The Story of Food Waste”
What it’s about: Each year, $218 billion — or 1.3 billion tons — of food is thrown out. With nearly a billion people worldwide facing starvation, food conservation is a more urgent issue than ever before. Executive produced by Anthony Bourdain, Chai and Kye’s fast-paced and forward-thinking food doc takes viewers on a tour of inventive new ideas for recycling waste and maximizing sustainability from innovative chefs like Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, and Danny Bowien, who turn scraps into feasts before our eyes.
Why we’re interested: “One of the perks of working with Anthony Bourdain and on shows like ‘The Mind of a Chef’ is that you come in contact with a lot of chefs. Being in their worlds, their restaurants, and their kitchens, we see close-up what makes these people tick and also what boils their blood,” Chai and Kye told us in an upcoming interview. “Time and again, food waste was something that chefs railed against. It’s bad business. It shows laziness, a lack of creativity, and worst of all, disrespects the time, money, labor, and craft needed to grow the ingredients.” Most people would be appalled if they realized the sheer amount of food that gets thrown out daily, yet this subject is rarely broached in the mainstream media. “Wasted!” will explore why this is a problem we all need to be thinking about, talking about, and working to solve.
What it’s about: Dipti, Amrita, Ritu, and Seema are all young, modern women in India looking to get married — some desperately, some reluctantly. “A Suitable Girl” follows them over the course of four years as they juggle family, career, and friends, intimately capturing their thoughts on arranged marriage, giving them a voice, and offering a unique perspective into the nuances of this institution.
Why we’re interested: There is a western assumption that arranged marriages are inherently backwards and inferior to matches based on Disney-esque “true love.” But most people who accept this notion haven’t considered, or consulted, those who are actually in arranged marriages. “A Suitable Girl” moves past perception by directly engaging with the brides-to-be. Mundhra and Khurana listen to the young women without judgment or pre-existing expectations. And they discover that arranged marriages are based on many factors: timing, money, class, familial obligations, the couple, etc. Just like all unions.
What it’s about: Known for her unmatched beauty, Hedy Lamarr’s fans never knew she also possessed a beautiful mind. Immigrating to Hollywood in the late 1930s, Lamarr acted by day and sketched inventions by night, even devising a “secret communication system” for the Allies to beat the Nazis. “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” reveals how Lamarr gave her patent away to the Navy, receiving no credit for her engineering innovations, even as she was immortalized as a legend of the silver screen.
Why we’re interested: Society loves to force women into boxes, and “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” shows just how unfair and ill-advised this tendency is. While Lamarr has been immortalized for her appearance, the actress’s brilliant inventions haven’t received their fair due. “Who wouldn’t want to make a story about Hedy?! She was a wild child. Some claimed she was a spy. She was a movie star and later a drug addict and a recluse. Her life was crazy enough before we discovered she came up with a technology we use in our digital devices every day,” Dean told us in an upcoming interview. “I spent years profiling inventors and innovators for Bloomberg Television and Businessweek but I never heard a life story that came close to Hedy’s story. I suppose it also particularly resonated for me because, as a short, quiet woman who always wanted to be a director, I know a little about what its like to want to do something that no one expects you to do.”
“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” (Documentary)
“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”
What it’s about: Featuring never-before-seen footage and rediscovered interviews, Academy Award nominee David France (“How to Survive a Plague”) follows a new investigation into the mysterious death of self-described “street queen” Marsha P. Johnson, one of the courageous black transgender activists who spearheaded the modern gay civil rights movement.
Why we’re interested: Accurate representations of trans characters and real-life trans people are severely lacking. Narratives like “3 Generations” and “The Danish Girl” caused controversy by casting cis actors to portray trans characters. Others like “Stonewall” minimize or outright ignore the role trans activists played in the fight for Lgbtq rights. “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is essential because it tells a trans person’s story through her own perspective — a strategy the rest of Hollywood should emulate.
What it’s about: Featuring interviews and rare footage of U2, Blondie, Duran Duran, Joan Jett, The Cure, Billy Idol, and Depeche Mode, “Dare to Be Different” is a nostalgic look at Wlir 92.7, the radio station that introduced these bands to a U.S. audience. Director Ellen Goldfarb tells the story of the rise and fall of this institution, and the birth of the punk and new wave communities.
Why we’re interested: There are about a hundred existing documentaries about The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. No disrespect — they are legends for a reason — but we’re excited that Goldfarb is documenting the rise of music that’s not strictly from the ’60s and ’70s. Female artists like Blondie and Joan Jett have been especially overlooked in music history, so we’re psyched to find out more about these influential voices and how they have resonated with fans.
What it’s about: Photojournalist Kate Brooks turns her lens from war zones to a new kind of genocide in this sweeping and sobering film. As the single-digit population of the Northern White Rhino ticks closer to extinction, Brooks exposes the epidemic of highly effective poachers and trafficking syndicates, and the heroic efforts of conservationists, park rangers, and scientists to protect these majestic creatures
Why we’re interested: “In 2010, I went to Kenya on a long planned vacation after embedding with a medevac unit at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. It was in the Maasai Mara that I was able to heal from some of the inhumanity I had witnessed,” Brooks recalled to Women and Hollywood in a soon-to-be-published interview. “Upon seeing a herd of wild elephants for the first time, I was reminded in an instant that in spite of all the human destruction on the planet, there was still some natural order. That experience ultimately led me to want to help them.” Brooks’ mission to help endangered elephants and rhinos evolved into an epic journey. “Production spanned four continents and the film is in five languages,” she explained. Since animals can’t speak for themselves, docs like “The Last Animals” are crucial in educating the public about how our behavior affects different species — and why it matters. Plus, Brooks is a photojournalist, so we’re betting the wildlife footage from “The Last Animals” is visually stunning.
Tribeca 2017 Preview: Arranged Marriages, Endangered Animals, the Justice System, & More was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Women and Hollywood
Now in its sixteenth year, New York City’s own Tribeca Film Festival kicks off every spring with a wide variety of programming on offer, from an ever-expanding Vr installation to an enviable television lineup, but the bread and butter of the annual festival is still in its film slate. This year’s festival offers up plenty of returning favorites with new projects, alongside fresh faces itching to break out. From insightful documentaries to fanciful features, with a heavy dose of Gotham-centric films (hey, it is Tribeca after all), there’s plenty to dive into here, so we’ve culled the schedule for a few surefire hits.
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 20 – 30. Check out some of our must-see picks below.
Read More: Why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is the Most Anticipated Screening of the Tribeca Film Festival
“A Gray State”
It might be the craziest story »
- Indiewire Staff
Television legend Norman Lear and the Independent Television Service (Itvs) have both been selected as recipients for this year’s Peabody Awards, Variety has learned.
The Peabody Awards, based at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, are reserved for individuals and institutions whose work and commitment to broadcast media define and transform the field.
Lear is well-known as a television producer and writer who helped bring racial and gender diversity to the medium, in addition to featuring characters with controversial and brash opinions. Among the hits that he worked on are “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” and “The Jeffersons.” Each show in its own way tackled sensitive issues like racial discrimination, sexism, homosexuality, abortion, and even rape.
Itvs, conceived by independent filmmakers who saw scarce diversity in public media, was formed by Congress in 1988. The service has helped fund more than 1,400 films and has received »
- Joe Otterson
New documentaries on Whitney Houston, targeted Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi, notorious Republican operative Roger Stone and a deceased alt-right filmmaker will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 19th through 30th.
Whitney: Can I Be Me marks the latest effort from controversial and acclaimed documentarian Nick Broomfield, whose previous music films include Kurt and Courtney and Biggie and Tupac. The film will explore Houston's remarkable rise and fall and features largely never-before-seen footage. While a spokesperson for Houston's family told Rolling Stone they are not involved in Broomfield's documentary, »
Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: This past Friday saw the release of Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro,” a documentary that speaks to our present moment through the writings and actions of the late James Baldwin. What other documentaries — recent or not — might help people better understand and / or respond to the state of the world today?
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
“The state of the world today” is too big a matter for any one documentary, because there’s no one state of things, there’s an overwhelming diversity of experiences — and the history of movies is as much the history of the ones that it doesn’t show. »
- David Ehrlich
National Geographic is seriously upping their game with this one.
Not many people can say they’ve had one of their projects produced in three different mediums, but writer and filmmaker David France is set to accomplish such a feat. He is the director of the essential 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, which he adapted into an equally essential book, published at the end of 2016.
Now, How to Survive a Plague is about to get the dramatic treatment. National Geographic is developing it as a scripted mini-series with France set to executive produce. The channel stated that the story is the “perfect fit” for them. Nat Geo is new to the scripted game, announcing in April of 2016 that they were developing an anthology series about the world’s best and brightest minds (appropriately titled Genius). The first season will focus on Albert Einstein and you know Nat Geo isn’t messing around because guess who they »
- Siân Melton
National Geographic is developing How To Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS as a scripted miniseries, with Scott Rudin as executive producer. The project was announced today during Nat Geo’s presentation at TCA. Based on David France’s praised nonfiction book about the 1980s AIDS crisis, the miniseries will chart the founding of Act Up and Tag (Treatment Action Group), and the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the… »
National Geographic has renewed “Mars” for a second season, the cable channel said on Friday. It has also acquired the miniseries “How to Survive a Plague.” “‘Mars’ is emblematic of our new breed of premium programming — programming from superb creative talent, like Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia, that is unabashedly smart and highly entertaining,” Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks said today at the Television Critics Association press event. “With ‘Mars,’ we were able to truly harness the global power of the brand and amplify it across National Geographic’s media platforms and we are thrilled to be bringing. »
- Tony Maglio
National Geographic Channel is developing “How to Survive a Plague” as a scripted miniseries with producer Scott Rudin. The cabler has also given a second season pickup to its hybrid docudrama “Mars,” from Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia.
Nat Geo unveiled the “Plague” deal and “Mars” renewal on Friday during its portion of the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
“Plague” is based on David France’s acclaimed nonfiction recount of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the rise of the underground drug market and the activist movement that drove research and innovations in treatment options for people with HIV.
“This medical thriller about the community that fought AIDS through its own form of grassroots advocacy and scientific research is the perfect fit for National Geographic,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks.
France also directed the 2o12 documentary of the same name. He will exec produce the miniseries with Scott Rudin. Nat »
- Cynthia Littleton
National Geographic Channel is heading back to Mars — one small step on a bigger path towards a robust roster of scripted entertainment.
The cable network, meeting with press during Friday's session for of the TV critics press tour, also announced the development plans of another docu-drama. Nat Geo has optioned the rights to David France’s 2016 book How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS. The factual account of the group of HIV and AIDS patients who pushed for workable treatment at the height of the U.S. epidemic is being eyed as »
- Michael O'Connell
16 items from 2017
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