They say cada cabeza es un mundo, and in the documentary universe, every film grants us access to a world we don't normally see: from Holocaust survivors, to Aleppo's White Helmets; viral Internet celebrities, to escaped victims of Boko Haram; LGBT folks, to people with disabilities; tribal leaders, to solitary caretakers; poets, dancers, and musicians, to outsider artists and nomads. Documentaries have a way of mining even ordinary lives for their not-so-ordinary revelations--and blind spots.
Check out the vast subject matter, complete lineup and schedule at Full Frame's website:
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Rising from rural obscurity in 2015, the 40-year-old poet trapped in an unhappy marriage earns new fans, and sets all of China talking--about talent and disability, sexuality and empowerment. Will freedom and independence (sexual, personal, financial) lead Yu to a new kind of despair? Or can she learn to walk through the waves without falling?
I liked this film more than I was expecting to. Although I don't speak Chinese, I fell in love with Yu Xiuhua, her honesty, and the way she uses poetry to exist. There are too few films about 40-year-old women, their struggles, their love lives, and their art. Especially given that the Internet--the medium of Yu Xiuhua's fame--is a young person's game.
This film is a nifty vignette, leaving some dangling question marks about what our government is up to, but maybe, like the residents of Sugar Land, we don't have to worry about it so much. I loved the coincidental documentary aspects of the film, capturing residents' homey interior decor, and the way they talked--whether it was to the camera, to each other, or to undercover federal agents.
The disco ball may have a few cracked mirrors, but just like Doris, it still takes its nightly spins around the rink, seemingly unstoppable.
I feel like the film lacks something in terms of cinematography and narrative arc: there are too many talking heads, telling us what a great dancer Marcelo is, testimonials that would seem to fit better on an artist's web resume. We travel from city to city with the globetrotting artist, ho hum, predictably earning rave reviews in each. For awhile, I wondered if this guy was going to have any problems; and then the ruptured relationship with his father was introduced. However, this just remained a source of unresolved tension; it does speak to a powerful source of stress in LGBT lives, i.e. the rejection by family members. All in all, Marcelo is a complex character, whom I felt I was only just beginning to get to know by the end of the film.
The best scenes by far were the closing ones, shot in Central Park, taking us outside the theater for a moment and into nature, where Gomes' sheer physicality and emotional sensitivity finally came together into a memorable image. It made me wish the whole movie had been framed differently, to show more, rather than to tell quite so much.
The narrative arc thus created--exploding "safety" and nostalgia--may be simplistic, but delivers the intended primal shock.
There are several short films about Richard McMahan already on YouTube, so this subject begs for a feature-length treatment--this is a delightful point of entry, following Richard along his daily rounds, and to a serious exhibition of his work at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston.
Like a Tajik Michelangelo--or post-Soviet Luke Skywalker--Raïmberdi combines traditional wisdom of Kyrgyz elders with his university science training to create a small renaissance: a hydroelectric generator, built literally out of junk. His ingenuity makes life more comfortable for his family, but what he really wants is to work as a botanist again. Tales from the forgotten fringes of empire, with bleakly beautiful views of the mountainous Shaymak region of Tajikistan.
Gorgeous visuals; I wanted to watch this film again so my eyes didn't have to search for subtitles.
A brief film that covers a lot of ground, connecting us effectively to distant times and places through intimate testimony and self-examination.
Witty, fascinating, and purely visual, like an industrial sci fi movie made before cgi.