Tag Archives: Documentary

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2016

After taking a year off in 2015, the team behind Sundance London returned this year to give UK audiences a snapshot of what’s cooking on the American indie scene, with the lavish Picturehouse Central acting as the festival’s new hub for UK or European premieres of some of the buzziest titles to have emerged from Sundance in January. Here’s an unranked top five of our highlights of what we did manage to catch, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

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A brilliant film about pregnancy plays at IndieLisboa

When it comes to browsing a festival programme, it’s usually wise to take any blurb comparisons to other filmmakers or famous films with a pinch of salt – just how many times have you seen anything with dark, violent comedy get explicitly compared to the Coen brothers?

The catalogue for this year’s IndieLisboa International Film Festival, based in the Portuguese capital, offered a particularly curious comparison point, describing Petra Costa and Lea Glob’s Olmo and the Seagull as, ‘the most powerful film about maternity since Rosemary’s Baby.’ Considering that the film is a fiction/non-fiction hybrid and not an out-and-out genre piece, the reference to Roman Polanski’s classic chiller certainly creates some intrigue. While it never veers into the realm of the fantastical, the link does feel appropriate, particularly in how Glob and Costa create a fragmented, hallucinatory portrait of the toll of pregnancy which comes with an element of the claustrophobic – a documentary by way of psychological thriller…

Full feature for Little White Lies

Live from New York! (Bao Nguyen, 2015)

Anyone looking for a really meaty documentary on a still on-the-air television show may be put off when hearing of extensive involvement of the head honchos behind said property. Even more worrying is also finding out that the 40-year portrait of the series only runs 78 minutes (despite what IMDb may tell you), which doesn’t exactly sound like the most ideal length considering that the documentary is about Saturday Night Live, a television show riddled with myriad controversies, success stories and career implosions over those 40 years. If you have a hunch that Live from New York! might play like little more than a hagiographic, superficial skip through self-serving sound-bites, then… well, you’re absolutely right…

Full review for Vague Visages

The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders/Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014)

With The Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders has helmed yet another strong documentary about a fellow artist (see Pina), though this time he’s on co-directing duties with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the son of his documentary’s subject. The film profiles Sebastião Salgado, an acclaimed Brazilian photojournalist whose life has mostly been spent chronicling the misfortunes of victims of man’s cruelty and selfishness; massacred Tutsi in Rwanda and famine victims in the Sahel region of central Africa are just two of the striking subjects of his camera’s lens…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Natan (Paul Duane/David Cairns, 2013)

When a person is murdered and the body burned, all that is left is a name and a sum total of everything said about them; distort the shape of their life’s outline and the truth will become lost. Cairns and Duane’s documentary implies that early film innovator Bernard Natan died a second death through becoming largely forgotten and misremembered through exaggerated misinformation, spread both during his life and much later. An inventively told film, Natan seeks to rehabilitate the image of an arguable giant of French cinema, who once had ownership of the still prominent Pathé Studios, and advanced colour and sound filmmaking…

Full review for The Skinny