Behind the Camera: Docs by Black Directors

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by Cap'n Ludd

While a few Black documentary film directors like Ava DuVernay (“13th“) and Spike Lee (“When The Levees Broke“) have achieved celebrity status, many more are flying under the mainstream radar. Given a lack of representation, people have called out #OscarsSoWhite every year since 2015. Acknowledging that audiences want to see diversity both on screen and behind the camera, 2018 became a boom for Black filmmakers and film festivals like Sundance and our local True/False are more intentionally playing and recognizing work by Black directors. In celebration of Black History Month, check out these documentaries by black directors: Continue reading “Behind the Camera: Docs by Black Directors”

“I Shop, Therefore I Am”: Docs About Consumerism

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019 by Cap'n Ludd

the store film still

For many the holidays this month usher in “the most wonderful time of the year.” However, faced with a swelling deluge of advertising and an omnipresent encouragement to buy, the cynics among us will disagree. The National Retail Federation projects that consumers in America could spend upwards of $730 billion this holiday season.* Check out these documentaries that scrutinize our society’s retail obsession. Continue reading ““I Shop, Therefore I Am”: Docs About Consumerism”

60th Anniversary of DBRL: Docs About Libraries

Posted on Monday, October 28, 2019 by Cap'n Ludd

ex libris film still

It wasn’t that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured here, collected here, and in all libraries …The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality …

— Susan Orlean, “The Library Book

We’ve got libraries on the mind for the 60th anniversary of DBRL, so this month we’re highlighting documentaries that explore the vital, and at times unexpected, roles that libraries fill. Check out the following documentaries from Kanopy: Continue reading “60th Anniversary of DBRL: Docs About Libraries”

Who Have You Become?: Docs Using Reenactments

Posted on Friday, September 27, 2019 by Cap'n Ludd

who is dayani film stillReenactment isn’t only for the Renaissance Fair. It’s a powerful method of storytelling, particularly when it can elicit authentic reflection by the participants. In the audience, we can learn not only about long-forgotten, suppressed or distorted events but also interpret a character’s ability to confront that past. Check out these documentaries that use reenactment to bring muted narratives to life.

Who is Dayani Cristal dvd coverWho is Dayani Cristal?” (2013)

This documentary seeks to humanize the immigrants who cross the U.S. southern border by retracing the fatal journey of a migrant worker whose body was found in the Sonoran Desert. We see migrants hike through vast landscapes and hitch rides on train tops, all the while the Pima County coroner’s office encounters an unprecedented case load. Continue reading “Who Have You Become?: Docs Using Reenactments”

Beyond the Bars: Docs About Special Prison Programs

Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 by Dewey Decimal Diver

woman in pink western shirt and a cowboy hat standing behind a barbed wire-topped fence

Some prisons have developed special programs that prisoners can participate in as part of their prison sentence. The aims of these programs may vary, but their impact on prisoners and outside communities can be profound. Check out these documentaries about special prison programs:

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo dvd coverSweethearts of the Prison Rodeo” (2010)

Go behind the Oklahoma State Penitentiary walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. Part Wild West show and part coliseum-esque spectacle, it’s one of the last of its kind — a relic of the American penal system. Within this strange arena the prisoners become the heroes while the public and guards applaud. Continue reading “Beyond the Bars: Docs About Special Prison Programs”

Country Life: Docs Featuring Rural Missouri

Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 by Dewey Decimal Diver

If you primarily have lived in Missouri cities, you might not be that familiar with your rural neighbors. While not all people in rural areas are the same, the documentaries below might help introduce you to a few of the folks you might encounter in the country. Check out these documentaries that take a look at residents in rural Missouri:

Stray Dog” (2014)

The film follows Ron “Stray Dog” Hall as he caravans on his Harley with fellow vets to pay tribute to their fallen brothers at the Vietnam Memorial. Meanwhile, back home in southern Missouri where he owns and operates an RV Park populated by a community on the margins, he forges a new life of domesticity with his Mexican wife Alicia. Continue reading “Country Life: Docs Featuring Rural Missouri”

Tricks Of The Trade: Docs about Artist Tricksters

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Scene from “Art and Craft”

Some artists use their work as a springboard for playing tricks on their audience. These artists might have varying motivations, but their shenanigans can offer insight into the nature of art and the human condition itself. Check out these docs about artist trickers:

Art and Craft” (2014)

It follows the story of Mark Landis, one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods. Posing as a philanthropic donor, Landis has given away hundreds of works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States. Continue reading “Tricks Of The Trade: Docs about Artist Tricksters”

Shot in the Dark: Docs That Were Filmed at Night

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Filming at night has always been problematic for directors since cameras capture scenes best in the daytime with ample light. In spite of this some directors have excelled at filming night settings, using various techniques and equipment to overcome the limitations of darkness. Check out these docs that were primarily filmed at night:

Tchoupitoulas DVD coverTchoupitoulas” (2013)

In this lyrical portrait, three adolescent brothers take us on a lively journey through one immersive night in New Orleans, encountering a vibrant kaleidoscope of dancers, musicians, hustlers, and revelers. The filmmakers fully immerse us into the New Orleans night, introducing us to the people who make the city their home. Continue reading “Shot in the Dark: Docs That Were Filmed at Night”