This Friday, visionary Georgia documentary General Orders No. 9. begins a limited theatrical run at GSU's Cinefest. The film, which World Premiered at the 2009 Atlanta Film Festival, caught heat the following January at the Slamdance Film Festival where it won the cinematography award. The film, a meditative tone poem the combines Southern nostalgia, folklure, history, and anecdotes with striking landscapes and picturesque imagery, defies simple description—the best I've seen is Hammer to Nail's Michael Tully who wrote that film made Terrance Mallick's Tree of Life "look like a spright shot of Hollywood." Here's the trailer:
Inspired by this unconventional documentary look at the South, here are nine other southern docs. (With apologies to Ken Burns, whose epic Civil War documentary remains a milestone of the form, we're going to exclude the film from this list just because we feel like it.)
1. Anything by Ross McElwee: Sherman's March, Bright Leaves, Time Indefinite:
Arguably the best chronicler of the American South, McElwee's first person documentary films fuse his personal insights with a quest for historical, anecdotal and personal truth. From the Museum of Modern Art: "McElwee makes the grandest themes of human comedy his artistic province: love and death, chance and fate, memory and denial, the marvelous and the appalling."
Watch in this clip below from Sherman's March as McElwee begins with convential archival documentary footage about the march, and then juxtaposes it with the most mundane, albeit wryly comic, episode about being left by his girlfriend and a layover in a desolate New York City loft.
My plans to attend somehow fell through. I always thought I’d catch the next one.
If you missed out firsthand, FunkJazz founder Jason Orr’s accomplishments were nothing short of awesome. Through word of mouth and minimal advertising (mainly fliers), long before social media, he gathered celebrated soul and hip hop artists, masseurs, poets, chefs and visual artists, under one roof on a shoestring budget without even the mention of a headlining act.
Making the transition from non-fiction to narrative can be a bumpy ride for a director.
Just ask Michael Moore (Canadian Bacon) and Joe Berlinger (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2).
Others, like Werner Herzog, flow back and forth between fiction and docs effortlessly.
Seth Gordon, who cut his teeth with the competitive video game documentary King of Kong, may be on his way to becoming the next Judd Apatow thanks to his deft direction of the new hit comedy Horrible Bosses, remains obsessed with the Kong doc.
#1 News that he's following up Bosses with a "mock-u-mentary" remake of King of Kong:
Here’s Gordon trying to justify the pitch, in an interview with The Playlist: “There’s a few different avenues [the film can take]. I’ve done some work on "Modern Family" and "The Office" and have worked in this doc style, and so that inspired me to say, instead of doing a traditional narrative feature script, what if we did the remake in the doc style? What doors what that open? What opportunities? What additional story could we tell? And that’s essentially the approach we took.”
4th & Goal (Sat., April 30). Nina Gilden Seavey, founder of The Documentary Center, follows six top high school prospects from college pledge all the way through to the NFL Draft. Producer George Rush and special guests will be on hand.
Superheroes (Sat., May 14). Michael Barnett considers the unsung real-world do-gooders who fight for justice through community service and social activism, including Atlanta homeless advocates Crimson Fist and Metadata. Indiewire referred to the film as a highlight of the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival.
Puppet (Sat., June 11). David Soll chronicles puppeteer Dan Hurlin's painstaking attempt to present a theatrical show about the life and work of Depression-era photographer Mike Disfarmer.
DecaturDocs Series subscriptions include all three shows for $36; “Double-Shot” tickets (good for two shows) are $25 and single screening tickets are $15. Decatur High School, 310 N. McDonough St., Decatur. For series information, call 678-658-0787 or visit www.DecaturDocs.com.
Over the course of the past few weeks, An Pham, an undergrad at Georgia State, has been emailing me with updates about upcoming screenings of the film Tuesday Morning in September, a single person's home movie documentary account of 9/11.
My name is An Pham and I'm a Junior at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA, USA. This video footage was made known to me less than 6 months ago. I found Tuesday Morning in September to be such a powerful piece of film that I have decided to fully commit to the project.
This is an introduction on my feelings as to what Tuesday Morning in September means to me:
With over two hours of continual footage on the day of 9/11/01, Tuesday Morning in September can be heralded as one of the most inclusive accounts of the day.
Captured from New Jersey, across the Hudson, this vantage point has never been exposed to the public. Going on 9 years since September 11th, 2001, this footage has never been leaked or released to any news agency or any production company since it was shot that day. It has been stowed away for nearly an entire decade.
The affect that this video footage can give, from start to finish, is rather difficult to explain. Without a link or influence by the media or government, it is pure and true to the day of 9/11/01.
Last August, Harry Shearer premiered his documentary film The Big Uneasy with a big "one-night-only" show on screens across the country.
From the guy who brought us the Pimps 'n' Ho's ACORN Swindle, and the Great Planned Parenthood Sting comes Project NPR—an effort to discredit National Public Radio as a reputable news source.
James O'Keefe, an amateur right wing ideologue with a penchant for gotcha muckraking video journalism (think Michael Moore/Robert Greenwald meets Ashton Kutcher/Allen Funt/Sacha Baron Cohen) struck again with a hidden camera video expose featuring NPR executives saying some pretty controversial things.
The Following is courtesy of a Tweet from prolific Tweeter Roger Ebert:
"A 30-minute film by Errol Morris, with music by Philip Glass, sponsored by IBM to mark its Centennial. http://bit.ly/ewgCTY"
A quick search uncovered the fact that Morris' film is one of three commissioned by IBM to celebrate 100 years of success for International Business Machines.
The other two filmmakers are fellow documentarian David Guggenheim, as well as commercial and music video pioneer Joe Pytka.
It is an interesting moral dilemma when documentary fIlmmakers like David Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman, An Inconvenient Truth) and Errol Morris (Thin Blue Line, Fog of War) are
co-opted hired by a company to create short documentary films.
Will it affect their approach to future documentary projects? No one ever claimed doc filmmakers were journalists.
It just feels icky.
(In Morris' defense, he's been working in the commercial arena for decades, and his films continue to be remarkable.)
Here's the official IBM press release:
ARMONK, N.Y — 10 Mar 2011: IBM is marking its 100th year as a company of innovators and inventions through a series of documentary films that chronicle the ways in which the company has changed the world through scientific and technology achievements and the “IBMers” who have been behind those breakthroughs.
The three films take the viewer on a series of journeys through IBM’s past, present and future. The first film “100 x 100,” features one hundred people who describe an IBM achievement that took place the year they were born. Joe Pytka, one of the most influential and prolific commercial directors, shot the 100 x 100 film. The second film, They Were There, shot by Oscar-winning documentary director Errol Morris with music by famed composer Philip Glass, examines the leaders and inventors behind some of IBM’s most noteworthy contributions such as the invention of the UPC code, helping put a man on the moon and the launch of the first mainframe computer. The third film, Wild Ducks now being filmed by Oscar-winning Davis Guggenheim, director of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman,” seeks to capture the spirit of invention and risk that defines the character of IBM.
Watch the first two films after the jump:
When the Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to the Tara Cinemas for its fourth consecutive year this Sunday, it won’t feature any red carpet limo arrivals or other fanfare often associated with many film festivals where “wild” and “scenic” could easily describe those who took part in the films. Even though it's the largest environmentally focused festival in North America, over-the-top grandeur would arguably go against the rootsy environmentalism at the heart of the fest's films.
DecaturDocs marks the latest venture of Gabe Wardell and Paula Martinez, for four years the executive director and managing director, respectively, of the Atlanta Film Festival. (Full disclosure: Wardell now regularly contributes to our Screen Grab blog.) In June, the festival’s board of directors relieved Wardell and program director Dan Krovich of their duties, stating financial motivations and a desire to make the festival more populist. Martinez resigned her position a month later.
With the new series, Martinez says, “We want to be the first venue in the region to screen the next Exit through the Gift Shop, Restrepo or Waiting for ‘Superman’, films fresh off of premieres at festivals like South by Southwest, Sundance, Hot Docs, DOCNYC, and others.” The series offers the Southeastern premiere of Kati With an I, following its world premiere at DOC NYC in November and its IFP Gotham Award nomination for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.”
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