We’re running quite a bit late on our planned Chosen One for last week, and anyone who read last week’s Box Office Preview probably wondered what happened to it.
Rather than focusing on one movie, we’ve decided to take a different approach by instead shining the spotlight on the fourth annual DocuWeeks, one of the coolest documentary festivals showcasing seventeen feature length docs and nine short films that will screen for one week only in both New York and L.A., making them eligible for Oscars and other awards. Last year, we saw Being Elmo at DocuWeeks and that was one of our top movies of the year, as well as a cool doc called Dying for Letterman plus a couple of others.
This year’s DocuWeeks 2012 kicked off in New York City on August 3 and it starts in Los Angeles this coming weekend on August 10.
We’ve only seen a couple of the docs playing at this year’s festival already, but one that really interested us right out of the gate was Danielle Gardner’s Out of the Clear Blue Sky: The Untold Story of Cantor Fitzgerald. While there have been a lot of 9/11 documentaries, this one takes a different approach because it focuses on the financial company Cantor Fitzgerald whose offices used to be in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, a bad place to be on 9/11 as they lost 658 out of the 960 employees during the terrorist attacks. I personally only knew about the company since they bought the Hollywood Stock Exchange shortly before 9/11, but the film focuses on trying to rebuild the company and the efforts by Cantor CEO Howard Lutnick, who came under scrutiny both by the media and by the families of the deceased. It’s even more moving when you realize the filmmaker’s own connection to one of the people who died in the towers.
Narrated by Don Cheadle, Patrick Shen’s La Source follows a Princeton University janitor named Josue Lajeunesse who comes from a small village in Haiti called La Source that have had problems getting clean water for many decades, so Josue uses his new resources since coming to the States to try to solve the problem by building a large water tank. This is a really beautiful movie that I could totally see getting into the conversation around Oscar time.
Speaking of which, Once in a Lullaby looks at the PS22 Chorus from Staten Island who were asked to perform at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, while the other musical movie Defiant Requiem involves a memorial concert for the 150 inmates of the concentration camp Terezin who rose up to face their Nazi captors by singing their woes.
A couple of the other movies that have interested us include Kelly J. Richardson’s Without a Net, about a group of young Brazilians from the drug-ridden favelas of Rio de Janeiro who train to join a nearby circus in hopes that it can take them out of the cycle of crime and death that have plagued their lives.
Love Free or Die looks at New Hampshire’s Gene Robinson, the first openly gay person to be elected bishop, who is trying to change the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality from the inside.
Of Two Minds, directed by Doug Blush (who has edited docs like Freakonomics, Wordplay, Outrage and the recent The Invisible War) and his wife/partner Lisa Klein, looks at the people with bipolar disorder, but I’m more interested in Nelson Cheng’s The Magic Life, which looks at three people trying to make it as magicians.
Narrated by Martin Sheen, director Jennifer Jessum’s HOLY MAN The USA vs. Douglas White, which starts in New York this Friday, tells the story of Douglas White, an 89-year-old Sioux medicine man from South Dakota who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit with the filmmakers providing proof that gets White’s case brought to federal court.
What’s great is that you have a lot of opportunities to see these and the other movies since they often will play one or two times every day over the course of each week, and you can view the full schedule both for New York and Los Angeles on the Official Site and If you love docs, you have to try to make a couple of these.