Early in the documentary “Rewind,” we learn that director Sasha Joseph Neulinger’s father, Henry Nevison, has an extensive collection of other people’s home movies – shelves stacked with film canisters that show strangers mugging for the camera, acting silly and doing their best to look very happy.
And then the film turns to Neulinger’s own home movies, and shows us the lies and the horror that can lie beneath those forced smiles and that awkward jollity.
The secrets that emerge, not so much in those home movies as in the recollections of the people in them, are the dark history of a family wracked, and wrecked, by generations of sexual abuse.
Make no mistake, “Rewind” is hard to watch. It might also be essential.
Nestled along the shores of Lake Okeechobee, among sugar cane fields and gator-filled canals, the rural farming town of Pahokee, Florida could have been the backdrop of a very different story than the one told in “Pahokee.”
Pegged for years as “the worst town in Florida,” hardships galore lurk beneath these periwinkle skies and Everglades sunsets, where a water tower looms overhead, reminding its residents exactly where they are.
But in Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s feature documentary, another narrative emerges: one of hopefulness and pride among the 6,000 strong who call Pahokee home, carried in the clear eyes and full hearts of four high school seniors as they chart their paths toward graduation and beyond.
With a patient and unobtrusive eye, filmmakers Lucas and Bresnan paint impressionistic portraits of a quartet of charismatic teenagers over the course of a pivotal school year.
As everyone finishes binge watching “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” Netflix is preparing to release its next true crime docuseries, “The Innocence Files.”
The nine episode series looks at the attorneys and clients brought together as part of the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization committed to criminal justice reform and changing wrongful convictions.
Episodes will be directed by Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Roger Ross Williams, Jed Rothstein, Andy Grieve, and Sarah Dowland.
The trailer for the series positions it as one where the verdicts have already been decided — and the inherent knowledge that said verdict is wrong.
Nine different cases are laid out, involving predominately men of color, who are serving long-term sentences for crimes they didn’t commit.
Are these convictions frame-up jobs to secure a conviction? That’s up for the viewer to decide but, as the attorneys and men involved share their stories, there look to be a lot of tears.
“The Innocence Files” premieres April 15 on Netflix.
New Netflix docuseries “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” is a thorough and heartbreaking examination of the systemic forces that allow child abuse to flourish undetected in the United States.
At the center of the series is Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy who died in May 2013 after being severely abused and tortured by his mother and her boyfriend, both of whom were arrested and convicted for his death.
Through interviews with members of Gabriel’s family, courtroom testimony, and insight from experts on psychology and family relationships, director Brian Knappenberger attempts to answer some key questions: What, exactly, happened to Gabriel, and why didn’t anyone step in to save him?
Watch “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” now on Netflix.
Director Rotimi Rainwater’s “Lost in America” could have easily been another forlorn look at a pervasive tragedy: childhood homelessness.
The documentary is often relentless in its intention to show you just how urgent this issue is. But ultimately, the documentary offers something many similar films don’t — hope.
It’s not easy to accomplish. From its opening scenes, we meet one young person after the next sleeping on the ground, struggling to keep the few belongings they have safe from thieves, and just barely holding on to their wills to live.
But they’re not just the faceless people pushed to the margins of society so many of us are used to noticing and swiftly walking past on the sidewalk. Rainwater introduces us to who they are and helps them tell their stories.
There are two aspects of Andrew Goldberg’s documentary about the virulent rise of anti-Semitism around the world that are immediately disturbing.
The first is that this is the second film he’s made about the subject, after 2007’s “Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence.” The second is that his latest effort, “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations,” barely scratches the surface of its subject matter.
The fast-paced, anecdotal documentary, narrated by actress Julianna Margulies, begins in powerfully dramatic fashion, with audio from 911 calls about the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in which eleven Jewish worshippers were murdered by a far-right fanatic.
We’re then introduced to Russ Walker, a candidate for the North Carolina State House, who seems like a reasonably sensible, moderate politician until he unveils his true feelings about minorities, including Jews.
He proudly holds up two of his campaign signs, one reading, “What is wrong with being racist?” and the other, “God is a racist.” His explanation for the latter would be funny if it weren’t so appalling.
‘Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations” is currently playing in New York City and rolls out to other cities beginning on February 28.