“Green is the color of hope. Green is the color of Islam.” The Green Wave opens to animation of a young boy running down the street with the narrator talking about how his nation has been searching for its lost voice for over one hundred and fifty years. He talks about how for a few short weeks his generation felt like they were closer to that goal than they’d ever been before, but he is afraid that as it had been before, it was nothing more than an illusion. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘documentary’
Usually a film will take you through a set moment in time to tell a story, a few months or so of the protagonist’s life in order to get the most of the story out. This is not the case in Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation. Through photographs he introduces the viewer to his grandparents when they were young and just married and takes you through his mother’s young life all the way to when he was born.
Kimjongilia, a new film playing in the 2009 Sundance World Documentary Competition by NC Heiken, is not designed merely to inform audiences about the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, but to enrage and inspire the world community to do what it takes to overthrow his regime and overcome the suffering he inflicts upon the North Korean citizenry.
The documentary takes its name from the symbolic flower of Kim Jong Il, created to celebrate his birthday and alleged to represent wisdom, peace, justice and love. The film opens with a montage of propagandist images and music from communist North Korea, smiling workers protected by the original “Great Leader” Kim Il Sung. The film ends on a similar montage, but with new music suggesting liberation and new images drawn from the many interviewees, who tell their own personal tales of struggle and oppression. (more…)
Author Colin Beavan was tired of writing about the problems that face our world and merely talking about environmental change. He decided the time had come to try out change on himself, and convinced his wife and 2-year old daughter to go along. The idea was to see whether they could be happy without being consumers and without contributing to the many pressures that modern lifestyles place upon the earth. He dubbed himself, “No Impact Man” and created a blog and a couple friends decided to document the process. When it was all over, he thought, he could write a book. Simple enough, it seems, but nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems. (more…)
I came to Sundance eagerly anticipating this one after reading an article about the most bizarre world record holding athlete. Martin Strel is an overweight Slovenian alcoholic who is the greatest endurance swimmer in the world. Big River Man documents this intriguing concoction through Strel’s greatest feat yet: swimming the entire length of the Amazon river.
Director John Maringouin and his crew followed Strel throughout the entire journey beginning in Slovenia where Strel trained. It is there that we are able to get the foundation for the entire film. Eastern European hilarity ensues as the audience gets a look into the life of this unique man. We see him eat at his favorite horse burger joint, then partake in classic Slovenian multitasking by driving drunk while listening to beginner English tapes and practicing breathing using a device to expand his lungs. The tone is set. (more…)
The vast world of film and television has always held a special fascination with the legal system. From classics such as 12 Angry Men, to modern courtroom thrillers such as 2007’s Fracture, audiences and filmmakers alike flock to the inherent drama built into these legal proceedings. However, these celluloid visions often present us with scripted versions of such events; and the reality is distorted by the lens of Hollywood. This is not the case with Errol Morris’ documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988).
In this film we are introduced to a case in which a police officer was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in Dallas Texas. We soon learn that once the officers looked at the case, they had very little evidence to go on and virtually no leads. Eventually they track down and end up convicting a man named Randle Adams for the crime despite his claim to innocence. He is subsequently put on death row.
As we burrow deeper into the case we learn that the situation is far more complicated, and that every person involved in the case has their own motives to which they are striving for. These threads of the case are woven so together so subtly by Morris that the bigger picture soon comes into focus.
I don’t want to write about this film. Take a so-called feel good movie and turn it upside down and you get Tarnation. I will relive this movie for the purposes of this review, but I won’t be watching it again.
First time filmmaker Jonathan Caouette’s personal life story is pure hell. While watching a surprisingly well-edited montage of home movies, answering machine recordings, photographs, and video diaries, his life unfolds as a series of ongoing tragedies.
No father around, a schizophrenic mother, abuse while in foster care, hospitalization from taking tainted drugs, self-mutilation… and that’s just up to his teenage years. He started filming himself at the age of 11 and from there he began recording candid moments and the environment of his childhood and beyond. As he grew up, he found some comfort in underground films that mirrored his feelings and a new acceptance while hanging out at a gay night club.
Yet another sleepless night. Is it just the usual insomnia? It could be, but different kinds of thoughts fill my mind. I am tired. I could sleep at any time, but when I lay down countless thoughts race through my mind and keep me up. Each thought is a sheep, but not a peaceful sheep that helps me relax, they are annoying, loud sheep that keep me up. My mind continuously drifts to the upcoming trip that is in only three days. It is not the excitement for the trip that keeps me up. Though I am certainly excited for it, it is the anxiety that is keeping me up. I am going to Sundance for a second time, but this time it is to make a film, not to just watch them. I want to pursue film after I get out of school. It is funny that I word it “pursue” as if I am trying to catch it, yet it is running away from me.
To make film a career I need to try to “get into the business” once I’m done with my education. The most important thing that allows you to do this is making connections; networking. Now this program that I am in, Real Ideas Studio in which I make a documentary, is a great place to learn a lot about the actual art, but an added bonus is that I will meet people who provide networking opportunities. Those opportunities are what scares me so much. When will another opportunity like this come along in my life? (more…)
I will never be the same person again. Sundance marked a transition in my life, and there is no turning back. I cannot escape the vortex which I have fallen into. That vortex, being, of course, film. I have always liked movies (I rarely ever saw one I did not like) but never realized that they would be my life’s ambition. And that is how Sundance changed my life: it opened my eyes.
I did not try to go star gazing. I did not try to make it into any fashionable parties. I threw away all the bull that goes along with Sundance and got to its essence. I completely immersed myself into each film I saw. So much so that I do not know if I could remember all the films I saw. Some stuck in my mind: a gay zombie movie [Otto, or up with Dead People], a great baseball flick [Sugar], and a documentary outlining the country’s economic collapse [IOUSA] (”hate to say I told you so” comes to mind), but the entire experience changed me. I thought, “wow, not only is this the greatest thing that has come into my life, but I can do it too.” And so it began, my rocky but enthused trip into trying to make films. How will it all turn out? We will see.
The next turning point may be this year. I am enrolled in a documentary filmmaking program that works through Slamdance (the smaller, but not small festival in the same place). The things I learn, the experiences I gain, and the networking that will be established will hopefully be the crux of the next and biggest chapter of my life. I am taking the first step towards recovery: I am addicted to movies. And I am making the final step: I am never coming down off this high.
[Editor: Matt Went was part of the Sundance Winter Term trip in 2008; he is returning to the festival this year as part of a documentary filmmaking program run by Real Ideas Studio.]
From 3,661 feature-length films that were submitted this year, the Sundance staff has selected just 118 to fill the slots in its documentary and feature competitions, as well as in its Spectrum, Frontier, Midnight and Premiere categories. The competition was even more intense when it comes to short films - a mere 96 were selected from 5632 submissions from around the world.
According to Geoffrey Gilmore, longtime director of the festival, and John Cooper, director of programming, the films this year emphasize creative storytelling and emotional resonance. (more…)