Our documentaries this year are an eclectic mix that will both chill and thrill and charm and dazzle.
Our Partnership with the Keswick Peace and Human Rights Group brings us filming from within Burma (They Call it Myanmar) and Palestine (5 Broken Cameras) both with a post screening discussion. The Act of Killing (the Sight and Sound Film of the Year) recalls a dark time in Indonesia's history, albeit with a cinematic twist.
The Documentary strand is nicely completed by A Story of Children and Film making a lie of the old adage that you should never work with children and animals.
The Act of Killing boasts Werner Herzog as an Executive Producer and reflects on Indonesia's troubled past, when death squads took part in an anti-communist purge. The film brings together some of the leaders of those death squads to speak about their actions and recreate events in the style of Hollywood movies.
A bizarre concept? Maybe, but "the scenes of casual reminiscing by these men, are quite emotionally draining to watch and hear play out." (Markus Robinson IMDB) He goes on to say
"We (as audience members) maintain hope that the subjects (the former death squad leaders) will undergo a change of heart and see the errors in their ways; even though this 'hope' is a candle which becomes dimmer as the documentary nears its finale."
Thanks to Dogwoof
Billed as "A Portrait of the people of Burma", They Call it Myanmar speaks to ordinary Burmese citizens about life in their country under a regime so oppressive that only few faces are made visible to the camera, for fear of reprisal. Indeed, some of the production crew remain as ‘Anonymous’.
One face that is shown is that of Aung Sang Suu Kyi who is eloquent in expressing her frustrations and hopes for her country. "They Call It Myanmar" presents a sad and sobering glimpse at a stoic and long-suffering land. The Director Robert H Lieberman manages to capture the country's beauty, along with the proud perseverance of its people. (Washington Post)
Followed by a discussion with guests from the Burma Campaign.
Thanks to PhotoSynthesis Productions
A brightly original and, for once, entirely positive take on the planet Earth, Vivan las Antipodas! is a standout documentary with the curious premise that, given the ocean mass, only a few inhabited places are exactly opposite each other on this planet, like Argentina and Shanghai, or Hawaii and Botswana. This exquisitely shot and produced travelogue compares not just places but the people, flora and fauna that are "upside down" from one another. Hypnotic travelling shots and twisted perspectives add another feather in the cap of prize-winning Russian cameraman and director Victor Kossakovsky.
Thanks to Filmhouse Releasing
It's a story about hubris and it begins in 2010 with a violent death at the SeaWorld aquatic park in Orlando, Florida. Dawn Brancheau, one of the park's most experienced trainers, was dragged into the water, mauled and killed by Tilikum, a 5000-kilogram orca whale she had been working with for years.
A lawsuit, brought by the United States' Occupational Safety and Health Administration, followed and private video footage recorded by the hidden cameras that SeaWorld had installed in its grounds and pools was made public. It is this footage that gives Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary such a charge.
There's no denying Blackfish is a powerful documentary. Focusing on the mistreatment of orcas by SeaWorld and other such marine mammal parks for human entertainment, the captivity of these animals is something that needs to continually be addressed as it has been for several years.
Thanks to Dogwoof
A Charity Screening on behalf of the Calvert Trust
Not the typical Sports Documentary, The Crash Reels charts the journey of Olympic Snow Board medal contender Kevin Pearce, as he recovers physically and emotionally from a crash in practice that left him in a coma for 6 days.
Lucy Walker’s film looks at the pressure on athletes to push the envelope in attempting ever more spectacular moves and the rivalry between competitors who are literally on the edge.
Thanks to Soda Pictures
Documentary, shown in Partnership with the Keswick Peace and Human Rights Group
Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award in 2012, 5 Broken Cameras was filmed over 5 years and the title refers to the five cameras that were smashed during that time.
Emad Burnat is a Palestinian who bought his first camera to film his son growing up. Gradually, as the Israeli Army's security measures impact more strongly on his village the camera and the films he makes take on a more significant purpose.
5 Broken Cameras is a polemical work and in no sense analytical. It presents with overwhelming power a case of injustice on a massive scale, and gives us a direct experience of what it's like to be on the receiving end of oppression and dispossession.... But it isn't vindictive and has a sense of history and destiny. Much may be concealed, but what we are shown and experience is the resilient spirit of one village recorded by a single observer.
Discussion after the film with Mohammed Mukulmar
Thanks to Verve
Peter Bradshaw describes this film perfectly:
"Mark Cousins's personal cine-essay about children on film is entirely distinctive, sometimes eccentric, always brilliant: a mosaic of clips, images and moments chosen with flair and grace, both from familiar sources and from the neglected riches of cinema around the world. Without condescension or cynicism, Cousins offers us his own humanist idealism, as refreshing as a glass of iced water."
We hope to have Producer, Adam Dawtrey, on hand to explain more about all the film snippets that you will see and doubtless will want to see even more of.
Thanks to Dogwoof