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2017’s Best Documentaries By and About Women

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A workers’ rights activist, a movie star-turned-inventor, and a retiring prima ballerina are just a few of the characters at the center of our favorite documentaries by and about women this year. These films — and the women they chronicle — inspired and educated us. They also offered something that’s often ignored in history books: a female perspective. In short, they should be essential viewing.

Chavela” — Directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi

Chavela” directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi said it best: Chavela Vargas was a “badass butch.” There was a lot that could have prevented the singer from finding success. She began performing as a homeless runaway. She was also a lesbian and refused to closet herself in a time when homosexuality was considered an illness at best, a crime at worst. Vargas lived her entire life the way she wanted, no matter what — and thank god for that.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Dolores review – powerful portrait of Mexican-American activist

The feminist and workers’ rights crusader Dolores Huerta, who invented the slogan ‘Yes We Can’, is the star of Peter Bratt’s inspiring documentary

This documentary nails its case for legendary status to be instantly conferred on the Mexican-American labour activist and feminist Dolores Huerta – the woman who invented the slogan “Yes We Can”, or, as she coined it, Sí Se Puede. For years, Huerta has been overshadowed by Cesar Chavez, the man with whom she had a testy working relationship as they fought David-and-Goliath battles against big business for the rights of exploited labourers in California.

Using powerful archive material, the film chronicles Huerta’s life and triumphs. Now 87, she is surprisingly gently spoken for someone described as a “hard as nails” negotiator. Film-maker Peter Bratt also sensitively interviews some of her 11 children, who talk with pride and pain about the sacrifices they made as kids while their mother
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

‘Chasing Coral’ Director Is Confident There Will Be a Climate Change Solution: ‘We Have No Choice Other Than to Solve It’

‘Chasing Coral’ Director Is Confident There Will Be a Climate Change Solution: ‘We Have No Choice Other Than to Solve It’
For a time, “Chasing Coral” director Jeff Orlowski was worried he wouldn’t actually be able to capture the climax of his film.

Thanks to technical malfunctions and other mishaps, which are documented in the film, he and his team weren’t able to capture the coral bleaching they set out to record. After a showing of the movie at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series, he told IndieWire Special Projects Editor Steve Greene that he expected to finish it an entire year before he actually completed it.

Read More:‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ Filmmakers on Modifying Their Film After Donald Trump’s Climate Policy Changes

“We weren’t capturing the bleaching and the cameras didn’t work,” he said in a post-film Q&A. “We knew that, unfortunately for the planet, more opportunities were coming up, that the bleaching was only scheduled to continue, and that’s what
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Kedi’ Filmmakers Explain How Cats Can ‘Unite People in Joy’

‘Kedi’ Filmmakers Explain How Cats Can ‘Unite People in Joy’
Ceyda Torun knew exactly what she wanted to be the subject of her first feature film: the street cats of Istanbul, her hometown. The result? “Kedi,” a documentary about a handful of the hundreds of thousands of cats that wander the streets of the Turkish city freely.

Read More:How ‘Finding Oscar’ Turned the Camera on the Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

“I grew up literally with these cats in the backyards of our apartment building,” Torun told IndieWire Editor at Large Anne Thompson in a Q&A following a showing of the film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “In my childhood 30 years ago, we didn’t have technology, we didn’t have more than TV stations, so literally these cats were my world. When we left the country and started living elsewhere from the time that I was 11, the one thing that was missing were the cats.
See full article at Indiewire »

Steve James Says ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’ Was a Purposefully Intimate Look at the 2008 Financial Crisis

In the 2008 financial crisis, there was only one bank that was ever indicted on charges related to mortgage fraud — not one of the big Wall Street banks, but instead a small, family-owned, neighborhood institution serving the immigrant community of New York City’s Chinatown: Abacus Federal Savings Bank.

The film “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” follows the Sung family as they defend their business from prosecution.

At a Q&A following a screening of the film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series, producer Mark Mitten, who had known the Sung family for years, said their story flew under the radar.

Read More:‘City of Ghosts’ Director Matthew Heineman Explains How to Fight Isis Without Bombs

“Even they didn’t recognize that they were the only bank that was indicted for mortgage fraud. So I started to dig into it to say, ‘There’s got to be another bank.
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Dolores’ Subject, Activist Dolores Huerta, Wants Women to Take Credit for Their Work

‘Dolores’ Subject, Activist Dolores Huerta, Wants Women to Take Credit for Their Work
Dolores Huerta watched the documentary about her life, Peter Bratt’s “Dolores,” multiple times before she could really process her emotions about the project.

“I think I had to see the movie about four times before I could finally settle it down and process it because so much of it was bringing back so many memories of things that had happened in the past,” the 87-year-old activist said at a Q&A following a screening of the film at the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “It was very emotional, of course, to see all of those scenes of everything we had gone through in the movement.”

Read More:How ‘Finding Oscar’ Turned the Camera on the Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Dolores” tells the story of how Huerta became a union hero as she helped co-found the National Farmworkers Association and later started her own foundation dedicated to community organizing.
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Brimstone & Glory,’ ‘City of Ghosts,’ ‘Strong Island’ Lead Cinema Eye Honors Nominations

‘Brimstone & Glory,’ ‘City of Ghosts,’ ‘Strong Island’ Lead Cinema Eye Honors Nominations
Viktor Jakovleski’s “Brimstone & Glory,” Matthew Heineman’s “City of Ghosts,” and Yance Ford’s “Strong Island” led the 11th annual Cinema Eye Honors nominations with four apiece, it was revealed on Friday.

Heineman and Ford’s films joined Jonathan Olshefski’s “Quest,” Frederick Weisman’s “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,” Agnes Varda and Jr’s “Faces Places,” and Feras Fayyad’s “Last Men in Aleppo” in the top field of outstanding achievement in nonfiction feature filmmaking.

Heineman, Wiseman, Ford, Varda, and Jr were joined by “Casting JonBenet” and “The Challenge” helmers Kitty Green and Yuri Ancarani, respectively, in the best director field.

Wiseman became the first filmmaker in Cinema Eye history to be nominated three times in the category. Heineman, meanwhile, received four individual nominations, the most of any person this year.

Winners will be revealed at the 11th annual Cinema Eye Honors on Jan. 11, 2018. Full list of nominations below.

Outstanding Achievement
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Judd Apatow, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Gina Rodriguez Lead Aclu So Cal Honors

Judd Apatow, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Gina Rodriguez Lead Aclu So Cal Honors
The Aclu of Southern California this year is honoring Judd Apatow, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Reginald Hudlin, Dolores Huerta and Gina Rodriguez on Dec. 3 to pay tribute to individuals who are making a difference in the struggle to fulfill the historic promise of “liberty and justice for all" and helping to preserve civil liberties and civil rights. This year marks the 225th anniversary of The Bill of Rights. The event will take place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The…
See full article at Deadline »

Critics Choice Documentary Winners

by Nathaniel R

"Jane," now in theaters, took the top prize at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards

Perhaps if I'm too stay in the Bfca (home to the "Critic's Choice Awards") I should run for actual office within them. Why? Well, change from within. I literally never understand their decisions like awards ceremonies where there are no rules as to how large a category is or isn't. They have this same problem in their main movie awards to a small degree but their documentary competition is even more unruly/nonsensical. These awards, held last night in Brooklyn, had (pause for shuddering) 16 nominees for Best Documentary Feature but 10 nominees for Best Director and only 6 nominees for Debut Documentary and so on and so on. No rhyme or reason! 

But herewith, this year's winners (links go to reviews if we've covered them). All of the feature film winners are on Oscar's long
See full article at FilmExperience »

Reunited! Prince Harry and Michelle Obama Surprise Chicago High School Students

  • PEOPLE.com
Reunited! Prince Harry and Michelle Obama Surprise Chicago High School Students
Prince Harry was in Chicago on Tuesday to take part in the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation, which is headed by former President Barack Obama. But local high school students were surprised by the royal’s unexpected visit with a special guest — Michelle Obama!

The pair stopped by to spend time with about 20 students at Hyde Park Academy, a high school across from the future site of the Obama Presidential Center on the city’s South Side.

“The warm and wide-ranging conversation, lasting over an hour, covered how the Obama Presidential Center will showcase the South Side of Chicago for a global audience,
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Cinema Eye Names Subjects from ‘Faces Places’ and ‘Jane’ Among 2017’s ‘Unforgettables’

Cinema Eye Names Subjects from ‘Faces Places’ and ‘Jane’ Among 2017’s ‘Unforgettables’
The nonfiction organization Cinema Eye and its nominations committee of top international documentary film programmers, curators, and filmmakers has picked their annual list of “Unforgettables” who helped to define documentary cinema in 2017. They selected 30 individuals from 15 different films to be in the running for this year’s Cinema Eye awards. Like the Doc NYC shortlist, many of the films on this curated list are in the running for the year’s top awards, including the Oscar. “Jane,” “Faces Places,” “City of Ghosts,” and “Strong Island” continue to lead the documentary awards pack.

The full slate of Cinema Eye nominations for nonfiction feature, short, and broadcast films/series will be be announced on Friday, November 3 in San Francisco at Sffilm’s Doc Stories event. Awards will be presented in New York City at the Museum of the Moving Image on Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Read More:doc NYC Announces Its Awards Short List, Including ‘Icarus,
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Cinema Eye Names Subjects from ‘Faces Places’ and ‘Jane’ Among 2017’s ‘Unforgettables’

Cinema Eye Names Subjects from ‘Faces Places’ and ‘Jane’ Among 2017’s ‘Unforgettables’
The nonfiction organization Cinema Eye and its nominations committee of top international documentary film programmers, curators, and filmmakers has picked their annual list of “Unforgettables” who helped to define documentary cinema in 2017. They selected 30 individuals from 15 different films to be in the running for this year’s Cinema Eye awards. Like the Doc NYC shortlist, many of the films on this curated list are in the running for the year’s top awards, including the Oscar. “Jane,” “Faces Places,” “City of Ghosts,” and “Strong Island” continue to lead the documentary awards pack.

The full slate of Cinema Eye nominations for nonfiction feature, short, and broadcast films/series will be be announced on Friday, November 3 in San Francisco at Sffilm’s Doc Stories event. Awards will be presented in New York City at the Museum of the Moving Image on Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Read More:doc NYC Announces Its Awards Short List, Including ‘Icarus,
See full article at Indiewire »

Istanbul Stray Cats Film ‘Kedi’ Leads Critics’ Choice Documentary Nominations

Istanbul Stray Cats Film ‘Kedi’ Leads Critics’ Choice Documentary Nominations
The Broadcast Film Critics Assn. (Bfca) and Broadcast Television Journalists Assn. (Btja) jointly announced the nominees for the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards Monday.

Leading the nominations with four was “Kedi,” a Turkish chronicle of the stray cats of Istanbul directed by Ceyda Torun.

“The inaugural event last year was such a fantastic night, we cannot wait to celebrate the leading lights in the doc world at our second annual event,” said Bfca president Joey Berlin. “This is a golden age for documentary filmmaking and nonfiction television and we’re proud to help audiences find the best of the best.”

California Typewriter,” “Chasing Coral,” “City of Ghosts,” “Cries From Syria,” and “Dawson City: Frozen Time” all picked up multiple nominations.

Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost” Trilogy, “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”) will receive the Critics’ Choice Impact Award.

One rule change of note this year: There is no longer a distinction between theatrical
See full article at Variety - Film News »

A Conversation with Peter Bratt and Dolores C. Huerta (Dolores) Part Two

(The following is part 2 of a two-part interview with filmmaker Peter Bratt and the subject of his documentary Dolores, Dolores C. Huerta,(President and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. Part one of the interview can be found here. The film is in theaters now.) HtN: You can see that, […]
See full article at Hammer to Nail »

Dolores – Review

Coachella, CA: 1969. United Farm Workers Coachella March, Spring 1969. Ufw leader, Dolores Huerta, organizing marchers on 2nd day of March Coachella. © 1976 George Ballis/Take Stock / The Image Works

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the National Farm Workers Union, the person who coined the phrase “Yes, We Can” (“Si Se Puede”), a labor organizer instrumental in leading the 1960s grape boycott, and a social activist for Chicano, Native American and Latinos rights, should be a name everyone knows, as familiar as that of Caesar Chavez, the other co-founder of the National Farm Workers Union. Never heard of Dolores Huerta? Many people haven’t, and that’s the problem the new documentary Dolores sets out to remedy.

History seems to have a way of writing out both women and people of color, both of which describe Dolores Huerta. This well-made documentary goes a way towards righting that wrong in the case of Huerta. The
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

A Conversation with Peter Bratt and Dolores C. Huerta (Dolores) Part One

I spoke by phone with filmmaker Peter Bratt and the subject of his latest film, 87-year-old Dolores C. Huerta (President and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America), on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, a few weeks before the movie’s national opening. The eponymous documentary, Dolores (which I […]
See full article at Hammer to Nail »

Activist Dolores Huerta And Dolores Director Peter Bratt Talk New Documentary

  • CineMovie
Dolores Huerta along with Cesar Chavez fought to unionize farm workers, and she did it as a mother of 11. A new documentary, Dolores, directed by Peter Bratt and produced by Carlos Santana, retells history from her point of view as a woman struggling against the biased norms that women should stay home with the children. CineMovie spoke to the iconic figure and Dolores director Peter Bratt about the documentary and how it relates today in the age of Trump.

Read More ...
See full article at CineMovie »

‘Dolores’ and ‘Viceroy’s House’ Lead Indie Box Office While ‘Tulip Fever’ Disappoints

  • The Wrap
‘Dolores’ and ‘Viceroy’s House’ Lead Indie Box Office While ‘Tulip Fever’ Disappoints
Though there were no new wide releases this Labor Day weekend, the limited release slate was still full, with a list that included IFC Films’ “Viceroy’s House,” The Weinstein Company’s “Tulip Fever” and the PBS documentary “Dolores.” Directed by Peter Bratt and produced by rock guitarist Carlos Santana, “Dolores” tells the story of activist Dolores Huerta and had the highest per screen average from its single screen release with $14,125. Also Read: Box Office Woes: This Could Be the Worst Labor Day Weekend in 30 Years “Viceroy’s House,” a British-Indian historical drama about the transition of India from British colonial rule to independence,
See full article at The Wrap »

‘Do It Like An Hombre’ Trounced ‘Tulip Fever’ at the Box Office, in Half the Theaters

  • Indiewire
‘Do It Like An Hombre’ Trounced ‘Tulip Fever’ at the Box Office, in Half the Theaters
Labor Day weekend is the calm before the specialized storm. “Wind River” (Weinstein) went wide quickly, and managed the #3 spot it an weak period for most theaters. The company also released its long-blooming “Tulip Fever,” which flopped as expected with just over $1 million. Meanwhile, Lionsgate/Pantelion’s “Do It Like An Hombre,” a low-budget Mexican comedy, did twice as well in half the theaters.

Read More:‘Tulip Fever’ Review: This Bizarre, Long-Delayed Historical Romance Was Not Worth the Wait

IFC’s two-city initial release of historical drama “Viceroy’s House” showed some interest, despite pay- per-view access. “Dolores,” an upcoming PBS documentary, had a strong initial New York exclusive gross to stand out in an otherwise slow market.

Opening

Tulip Fever (Weinstein) – Metacritic: 38

$1,215,000 in 765 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,588

Justin Chadwick’s long-languishing period romantic drama finally hit theaters with a thud. Despite a clear playing field and a lot of (often peculiar) publicity,
See full article at Indiewire »
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