When documentary filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk originally decided to follow art dealer Jan Six XI in his search for undiscovered Rembrandt paintings, she had no idea that during the next four years, Mr. Six would potentially discover two.
Nor could she anticipate that one of the most dramatic art buying tussles in recent history would take place before her camera’s lens, when the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris vied for ownership of a pair of full-length Rembrandt portraits.
The competition resulted in a rare and record-breaking $179 million) purchase from French banker Eric de Rothschild.
Such is the luck of the documentarian who lands on a timeless subject whose work still elicits strong responses from collectors, dealers, and museum professionals worldwide.
Hoogendijk’s 2014 documentary, “The New Rijksmuseum,” followed the decade-long renovation and expansion of the Dutch national museum.
Inspired by its collection of Rembrandt paintings—the largest in the world—she turned her focus to the artist himself.
Given the sheer amount of money, megabytes, and human resources invested in Hollywood fantasy and sci-fi flicks nowadays — the new “Star Wars” being the latest in a long line of blockbusters dating back to, well, the first “Star Wars” — it’s hard to imagine there was once a time when such films consisted of a bunch of guys building and shooting stuff in their workshops, trying to conjure up movie magic.
In “Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters,” the new documentary from French behind-the-scenes specialists Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncet (“Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex”), we get to meet one of these guys up close, learning how Tippett’s artsy obsession with stop-motion animation evolved into an Oscar-winning practice and several billion-dollar tentpoles for five decades and counting.
With credits on a handful of the “Star Wars” movies, the first two “RoboCop” films, “Jurassic Park,” “The Twilight Saga” and “Starship Troopers,” Tippett’s long and prosperous career includes some of the biggest Hollywood franchises of all time.
Dance, of all things, has turned out to be a terrific subject for 3-D filmmaking.
In 2011, Wim Wenders took on the work of dancer-choreographer Pina Bausch in the memorable “Pina” and now, from a very different filmmaker, comes “Cunningham,” a visual wonder that involves from start to finish.
The subject, as the title points out, is Merce Cunningham, the revolutionary American choreographer whose decades of work changed the very nature of dance before he died a decade ago at age 90.
Though two-thirds of Alla Kovgan’s film is made up of 3-D excerpts from 14 of the 180 dances he created, “Cunningham” aims to be not only stunning, which it is, but also to serve as a kind of crash course in the man and his work.
More than that, by using all manner of visual pizzazz to creatively include archival material, including photographs, home movies and excerpts from letters and books, “Cunningham” makes good on its stated goal of doing justice to the man’s spirit of inventiveness.
Billie Eilish’s big 2019 is culminating in a deal with Apple TV+ for a documentary that comes with a $25 million price tag, according to multiple sources.
The documentary, which has already been filmed, was directed by R. J. Cutler (“The September Issue,” “The World According to Dick Cheney”) and produced in collaboration with Eilish’s label, Interscope Records, for a budget that one source pegs as between $1 million and $2 million.
The film is expected to follow the 17-year-old singer-songwriter in the wake of the release of her album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” released in March 2019. Cutler was allowed access to Eilish’s private moments with her family and to the behind-the-scenes of her public appearances.
The documentary will be available through Apple TV+ instead of Apple Music, which has previously released documentary projects such as Taylor Swift’s “The 1989 World Tour (Live)” and Ed Sheeran’s “Songwriter.”
The move signals a blurring of the lines between Apple’s $10 per-month music streaming service and its $5 per-month film and TV offering.
Apple TV+ has not announced a release date for the documentary.
One of Cuba’s only heavy metal bands, Zeus grapples with shifting cultural tides in the teaser for the upcoming documentary, “Los Ultimos Frikis.”
Zeus formed in Havana during the 1980s when rock music was considered a capitalist threat and was effectively illegal inside Cuba.
It was common for “frikis” — or “freaks” — to be thrown in jail, and Zeus frontman Diony Arce spent six years in prison during the height of the band’s career.
In recent years, however, Cuba’s government has embraced Zeus. The Ministry of Culture’s Agency of Rock now pays the band’s salaries and recently granted them permission to tour Cuba for the first time in their career.
Directed by Nicholas Brennan, who spent ten years with the band, “Los Ultimos Frikis” is centered around that tour.
But what should be a triumphant run for the long-ignored band instead forces them to confront their place in contemporary Cuban culture — as the outside world begins to filter in, and a younger generation embraces different styles of music.
“Los Ultimos Frikis” will make its world premiere on November 10 at DOC NYC.
You know you’ve made it as a filmmaker when they’re making films about you.
After a big year bolstered by the release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino has now become the subject of yet another film. Tara Wood tackles Tarantino’s filmography, legacy, and influence in the wide-ranging “QT8: The First Eight,” which appropriately enough digs into the first eight films made by the American auteur.
The film’s zippy first trailer hints at some of the secrets and revelations to come, along with plenty of nods to the future of Tarantino’s filmmaking which he has long hinted would end after ten films, a concept that appears to be gently rebuffed by even his closest pals.
While “Hollywood” is not examined in the film, “QT8” has plenty of material to plow through, from Tarantino’s early days in the industry (at least one interview subject recalls thinking he was just a big film geek), to the successful screenplays he was never able to direct, to the current period, which finds Tarantino hailed as perhaps the best filmmaker of his generation.
“QT8: The First Eight” arrives On Demand on December 3.