Over its five-day run it featured screenings of 34 films, including four world premieres, a short virtual reality documentary about the enduring influence of Buckminster Fuller, and plenty of post-screening panels and conversations.
Perhaps the most important question asked at this year’s Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico was made by a young teacher in the Impulso Morelia pix-in-post program doc, “Ayotzinapa, the Turtle’s Pace.”
“Since when is it more dangerous to be a rural teacher than a drug-trafficker?”
The question has been asked constantly in Guerrero, Mexico since Sept. 26, 2014. On that night, five buses of students from a local teaching college, on their way to Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, were redirected to Iguala, a nearby city.
Once they arrived, local authorities laid siege to the buses and opened fire on the unarmed students. When the sun rose the next day three were dead and 43 were missing.
The night’s events have had countless official explanations by local and federal governments alike. Investigations have been conducted and findings presented, but the documentary is the first time that the story is being told from the point of view of those who experienced it, and the friends and family of those who were taken.
The Detroit Free Press-produced documentary about the Detroit riots of 1967 has been selected for this year’s Doc NYC. The November festival held in New York City is one of the biggest documentary festivals in the U.S., and also one of the country’s most prestigious.
Five new documentaries screening at the New York Film Festival wrestle with the biggest problems facing the world today.
El Mar la Mar – The U.S/Mexico border is one of the most politicized landscapes in the world, and in “El Mar la Mar,” the filmmakers let the environment speak for itself. Despite production predating then-President-elect Trump’s “build the wall” chants, the film premieres right on time, painting a poetic avant-garde portrait of an ongoing calamity.
Sea Sorrow – Shot all over Europe, actress-turned-first-time-director Vanessa Redgrave creates a cri de cœur for immigrants in a quintessential “celebrity using platform for good” movie. Employing fellow British actors Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes, British Labour leaders, and harrowing interviews with refugees from Guinea, Afghanistan, Syria, and more, Redgrave illustrates the immediate importance of open borders.
The Rape of Recy Taylor – This film provides a disturbing retelling of the criminally-neglected 1944 case of 24-year-old African American sharecropper Recy Taylor, who was raped on her walk back from church by a gang of six white men on a warm September night in rural Abbeville, Alabama. Her subsequent quest to seek justice in the face of a racist judicial establishment and an absentee police force was a bold demonstration of real-life courage in the face of apathy.
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? – The title is rhetorical. We know who fired the gun. In 1946, S.E Branch, the white great-grandfather of filmmaker Travis Wilkerson, shot and killed Bill Spann, a black man, in a Dothan, Alabama, grocery store. The murder occurred two years after Recy Taylor’s assault and a mere 30-minute drive away. In this hybrid multidimensional documentary, Wilkerson posthumously charges his relative of cold-blooded murder, blending elements of true crime and horror into a confrontational Southern Gothic investigative tale.
The Venerable W. – UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated that Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar fleeing to Bangladesh is “the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.” And in Barbet Schroeder’s completion of his Trilogy of Evil series—alongside “General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait” (1974) and “The Terror’s Advocate” (2007)—we’re offered a portrait of Ashin Wirathu, the Buddhist monk who serves as the instigator of this terror and mass exodus.
Standing on the stage at the Oriental Theatre at the Milwaukee Film Festival Friday night with the rest of his family, Dameion Perkins remembered something his brother, Dontre Hamilton, once said to him.
“He said one day that he would put us in a position to have his name shine in the lights,” Perkins said.
That prediction came true, but not in a way that anyone in the family would have wished for. Eric Ljung’s searing documentary, “The Blood is at the Doorstep,” looks at the Hamilton family’s quest for justice after Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer in 2014.