Ten must-see documentaries screening at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018

Ten must-see documentaries screening at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018

Source:  NOW

Graves Without a Name – Part personal film, part eulogy to the victims of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal rule in Cambodia, Rithy Panh’s latest is sure to be one of the more emotional films playing at the Toronto International Film Festival. The director used stop-motion animation in his Oscar-nominated 2013 doc, “The Missing Picture,” to powerful effect, so we know to expect the unexpected with each of his new films.

Monrovia, Indiana – Influential filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has spent the past decade making films set in big cities like New York and London. His latest heads to the American midwest to profile a small town in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory. One of several big-name documentarians with a film exploring conservatism in America at this year’s festival, Wiseman, unsurprisingly, isn’t concentrating on the 1%.

Maria By Callas – There aren’t a huge number of music or arts docs playing at the festival compared with previous years, but director Tom Volf’s look at the life of iconic soprano Maria Callas fascinates with a wealth of poignant archival material and apt musical choices. NOW film editor Glenn Sumi calls it “a must-see for opera lovers.”

Dead Souls – Not for the faint of heart – on multiple levels – Chinese auteur Wang Bing’s eight-hour doc recounts the horrors of hard-labor camps where Mao Zedong’s government sent “rightists” to be re-educated in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Recalling Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah,” “Dead Souls” is largely comprised of testimonials of elderly survivors, whose memories are full of heartbreaking detail. The running time means it likely won’t be screened theatrically too often, but if you’re patient, this film is not to be missed.

Quincy – This doc about legendary music producer Quincy Jones is going to debut on Netflix shortly after the festival, but if you’re a fan, you’ll want to see it with the man himself in attendance. Co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks. Jones loves telling stories, and if the film is anything like his recent interviews with Vulture and and GQ, the doc and Q&A is bound to be fun.

See the rest of the list at NOW.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to 16. 

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The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival named best documentary film festival in the world

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival named best documentary film festival in the world

Source:  Film Daily

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has been named the best documentary film festival in the world by Film Daily.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival might still be new, but it’s quickly rising to become one of the most well-respected and thought-provoking festivals in the world.

Curating features from the world’s biggest and most prestigious global showcases, the Melbourne Doc Fest provides a leading platform for the most inventive creative nonfiction films of today. In fact, Film Daily made it their top pick due to the festival’s consistently extensive program.

For 2018, this includes unique pop culture cuts such as: “Takao Goutsu’s Living the Game,” following various eSports personalities as they battle it out on Ultra Street Fighter IV over the course of a year; timely geopolitics pieces like Thor Neureiter’s “Disaster Capitalism,” unveiling the seedy underbelly of the global aid and investment industry; and dazzling portraits of mesmerizing cultural troubadours like Sophie Fiennes’s “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami,” David Austin’s George Michael “Freedom,” and Kieron Walsh’s “Anjelica Huston on James Joyce: A Shout in the Street.”

The festival attracts top tier talent while maintaining its unique independent spirit, making it a must-attend event for cinephiles everywhere.

See #2 through # 10 at Film Daily. 

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Human Rights Watch Festival opener “On Her Shoulders” focuses on a brave Iraqi activist

Human Rights Watch Festival opener “On Her Shoulders” focuses on a brave Iraqi activist

Source:  Film Journal

Nadia Murad Basee Taha was a 21-year-old student in Kocho, in the Sinjar province of Iraq, on August 3, 2014 when ISIS terrorists attacked the Yazidi town. They killed hundreds of people in a matter of hours. Eighteen members of Nadia’s family were slaughtered, including her mother and six brothers.

For three months, Nadia was raped by soldiers and sold into sexual slavery.

In Alexandria Bombach’s excellent documentary, “On Her Shoulders, she is seen testifying at the United Nations, visiting refugee camps, and speaking to a small Yazidi community in Nebraska.

The young woman, who everyone addresses by her first name, also speaks directly to the camera—in one particularly moving segment about the questions she wishes she would be asked by journalists.

“On Her Shoulders” was the opening-night film at Human Rights Watch Film Festival, now underway at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York City.

Read the story at Film Journal. 

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“We Could Be Heroes” awarded top jury prize at Hot Docs

“We Could Be Heroes” awarded top jury prize at Hot Docs

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival last week awarded the top jury prize for best international feature documentary to “We Could be Heroes,” a Moroccan film from director Hind Bensari about Paralympian Azzedine Nouiri.

The feature, which had its world premiere at Hot Docs, focuses on the two-time Paralympic gold medalist in the seated shot put who found himself abandoned by his national sports federation and battling for respect and equal rights as he prepared for the 2016 Rio Games.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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“Howard” spotlights Oscar-Winning Disney lyricist Howard Ashman. Premieres April 22 at Tribeca Film Festival

“Howard” spotlights Oscar-Winning Disney lyricist Howard Ashman. Premieres April 22 at Tribeca Film Festival

Source:  Deadline

If you love a song from a classic Disney animated feature, it’s likely that Howard Ashman was the mind behind the words.

Don Hahn’s new documentary, “Howard” takes a look at the life of the Academy Award-winning lyricist and the legacy he left behind.

Ashman grew up with love for musical theater, and, after living the life of a starving artist in New York, he adapted Roger Corman’s film, “The Little Shop of Horrors,” into a musical with Menken which served as a turning point in his career.

The success led to some speed bumps but he eventually ended up in  Los Angeles where he re-teamed with Menken to write songs that would later become benchmarks in Disney’s renaissance of animation.

He received many Oscar nominations for his work and won for songs in “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” 

However, while he was writing songs for “Beauty and the Beast,” he was struggling with AIDS. Howard died at age 39 before he was able to see his final Disney films release, but his legacy continues to inspire new generations.

“Howard” will make its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.

Read the story at Deadline. 

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Berlinale 2018: “The Waldheim Waltz” revisits the former Austrian president’s cover-up of his Nazi past

Berlinale 2018: “The Waldheim Waltz” revisits the former Austrian president’s cover-up of his Nazi past

Source:  Variety

With Austria currently the only western European nation since World War II governed by the far right, it’s time (heck, it’s long past time) that someone of Ruth Beckermann’s intelligence made a film investigating the country’s odious collective whitewashing of its Nazi-era past.

In her incisive documentary, “The Waldheim Waltz,” screening at the Berlin Film Festival, the director treats former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim as a poster boy of the phenomenon.

Using only footage from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which she shot herself while protesting Waldheim’s successful bid for the Austrian presidency, Beckermann methodically reveals the timeline of revelations detailing her subject’s Nazi affiliations, and how notwithstanding the evidence, a majority of the electorate in 1986 still voted him into office.

Read the story at Variety.

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