Festival coverage sponsored by IndiePix.
Yesterday, we introduced the eight documentary features in competition in Austin this year. Now, here's a look at all the non-music documentary titles screening at SXSW (we're saving the best for last - tomorrow). As before, descriptions are furnished by the festival, notes are from yours truly.
Directed by Rachel Goslins
A charismatic black woman at the University of Alabama runs for Homecoming Queen, going up against a century of ingrained racial segregation, internal black politics, and a secret association of all-white fraternities. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Goslins worked as a story producer on "Dog the Bounty Hunter".
FLYING ON ONE ENGINE
Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein
The documentary story of an Indian-American surgeon who, despite being critically ill himself and living in a one-room Brooklyn apartment, travels back to India every year to perform marathon surgery "camps" where he repairs the cleft lips of 700 children in a week. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Weinstein also can make a stop at the screening of Scorsese's SHINE A LIGHT - he was a camera assistant on that feature.
IN A DREAM
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar
The chaotic story of Julia Zagar and her husband Isaiah Zagar, a renowned mosaic artist, who for the past 30 years has covered more than 40,000 square feet of Philadelphia top to bottom with tile, mirror, paint, and concrete. (World Premiere)
Of further note: As one might expect from the shared surnames, the director is the son of the subjects. Zagar's most recent short film, which also featured his father, was CONEY ISLAND, 1945.
ONE MINUTE TO NINE
Directed by Tommy Davis
A haunting and touching documentary look at one family, thrown into the disturbing reality that follows a history of domestic abuse, as one member prepares to serve a jail sentence. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: ONE MINUTE TO NINE debuted last August in Locarno. Davis was at SXSW in 2004 with MOJADOS: THROUGH THE NIGHT.
THE OSTRICH TESTIMONIES
Directed by Jonathan VanBallenberghe
The dramatic story of the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch near Tucson, Arizona, where in 2002, two hot-air balloons triggered a stampede of 1,600 ostriches. (World Premiere)
Of further note: This is VanBallenberghe's feature debut.
Directed by Nanette Burstein
A documentary on seniors at a high school in a small Indiana town, and their various cliques. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at Sundance and was the subject of a fierce bidding war. Acquired by Paramount Vantage. Rumored to be heading to theaters this spring. Here's my thoughts on the film from Sundance.
AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR
Directed by Steve James & Peter Gilbert
An investigation of the wrongful death of Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas on December 7, 1989, after prosecutors ignored evidence inculpating a man, who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted. (World Premiere)
Of further note: One of the most highly awaited films of 2008 - the latest from the team that gave us HOOP DREAMS and STEVIE.
Directed by Aaron Rose & Joshua Leonard
A feature documentary film celebrating the independent and D.I.Y. spirit that unified a loose-knit group of American artists who emerged from the underground youth subcultures of skateboarding, graffiti, punk rock and hip-hop. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Had a work-in-progress screening in September at LA's inaugural SwerveFest. Rose has also mounted a traveling museum exhibition on the Beautiful Losers movement. Leonard was a co-star of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.
Directed by David Modigliani
Just a short time before George W. Bush announced his intentions to run for the Presidency, the New Haven-born hopeful bought a ranch in tiny Crawford, Texas. This is what happened next. (World Premiere)
Of further note: This is Modigliani's feature debut.
DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH
Directed by Erik Nelson
A documentary portrait of acclaimed author Harlan Ellison, as he looks back on his fabled and influential career as one of the world’s top genre writers for television and print. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Nelson is a longtime producer for Werner Herzog and has served as Executive Producer on THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON and LEONARD COHEN: I'M YOUR MAN.
LIVING WITH THE TUDORS
Directed by Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope
After four years of participation as costumed historical re-enactors, Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope were given unprecedented access with their cameras to the UK’s oldest and largest historical re-enactment at Kentwell Hall in rural Suffolk. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: Screened last July at BritDoc at Oxford.
THE ORDER OF MYTHS
Directed by Margaret Brown
A probing and artful portrait of the divided Mardi Gras communities that still exist today in Alabama. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at Sundance to much acclaim. My thoughts are here.
Directed by Juan Carlos Pineiro
An intimate look at people whose lives have become transformed by the virtual worlds in online games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. (World Premiere)
Of further note: The film has already received a great deal of attention, particularly online (surprised?).
SHOT IN BOMBAY
Directed by Liz Mermin
Yes, Bollywood makes gangster films. This fast paced documentary, populated by a charismatic and often surreal cast of characters, goes beyond the tinselly glamour of "Bollywood" to explore some of the industry's darker sides. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: This is Mermin's return to India following her last feature, OFFICE TIGERS, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006. The film is already on screens in London.
SUPER HIGH ME
Directed by Michael Blieden
Comedian Doug Benson, a famous marijuana advocate, decides to test the limits of his body during two, 30-day stretches. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Benson was named Stoner of the Year by High Times Magazine.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?
Directed by Morgan Spurlock
Acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Spurlock heads to the Middle East for two reasons: to understand cultures overseas and to find Osama Bin Laden. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Due this spring from the Weinstein Co. Premiered at Sundance. My thoughts are here.
WILD BLUE YONDER
Directed by Celia Maysles
Celia Maysles had no idea her father and his brother Albert were pioneers of verite documentary filmmaking. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding her background, Celia sets out on a quest to rediscover her father by using his own artistic process. (North American Premiere)
Of further note: Controversial upon its launch at IDFA in November, response has seen a split of sympathies between filmmaker and her more famous filmmaking uncle. indieWIRE's Brian Brooks covered the story.
LONE STAR STATES
Directed by David Redmon & Ashley Sabin
Cecy and Camilo recently migrated to Reynosa, Mexico with a dream to buy land and build a home. A year later they return to their rural hometown to reunite with their daughter. What seems like a satisfying reunion turns into a confusing dilemma that transforms the course of their marriage. (World Premiere)
Of further note: The new film from the folks who gave us KAMP KATRINA, which screened at SXSW last year, and MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA, which premiered at Sundance in 2005.
THE KING OF TEXAS
Directed by René Pinnell
Although Eagle Pinnell was quickly becoming a regional film legend, his acute alcoholism and legendary ego alienated many of his friends and collaborators. Eagle remained a forgotten and mostly unsung talent throughout his life, which ended in 2002. Friends, family, and fellow filmmakers recall Eagle’s life, the excitement of working alongside him, and the burden of his addictions. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Pinnell's best known film, THE WHOLE SHOOTIN MATCH, was a special screening at SXSW last year.
Directed by Cassandra Herrman & Kelly Whalen
At the end of one of the biggest drug stings in Texas history, dozens of residents of the small farming town of Tulia had been rounded up and thrown behind bars. Of 46 people indicted for cocaine dealing, 39 were African American. In the years to follow, troubling evidence about Coleman's investigation and his past began to surface. (World Premiere)
Of further note: ITVS is one of the funders of this film.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE
Directed by Jay Delaney
Through the experiences of two amateur bigfoot researchers in southern Ohio, we see how the power of a dream can bring two men together and provide a source of hope and meaning. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Delaney's short film THE DAY THE WORLD SAVED SHANE SAWYER screened at the 2006 Sarasota Film Festival.
BI THE WAY
Directed by Brittany Blockman
This documentary looks at recent statistics, real-life stories, and more to paint a picture of the growing acceptance of bisexuality in America. (World Premiere)
Of further note: One of the film's subject's is the 11 year old son of TARNATION director Jonathan Caouette.
THE BLACK LIST
Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
In a film that works as series of living portraits, twenty prominent African Americans of various professions, disciplines and backgrounds offer their own stories and insights on the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in this country and manage to re-define "blacklist" for a new century in the process. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at Sundance and was quickly picked up by HBO's documentary unit. Written by film critic Elvis Mitchell.
BODY OF WAR
Directed by Ellen Spiro & Phil Donahue
"Support our troops" has long been a rallying cry for war proponents. But that phrase will never sound the same after you meet Tomas Young, an eloquent former soldier and current war protester. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. It also won the Best Documentary prize from the National Board of Review.
Directed by Barak Heymann
Alfonso is the lead dancer in a flamenco troupe, which rehearses in a Tel Aviv suburb After the death of his wife, he begins to obsessively court Sima, a dancer with the troupe, to the displeasure of his children, who are unwilling to accept the fact that their father might be interested in another woman. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Heymann was at IDFA in 2006 with BRIDGE OVER THE WADI.
DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER
Directed by Kurt Kuenne
After Dr. Andrew Bagby was brutally murdered, the prime suspect (his former girlfriend) announced that she was pregnant with Andrew's baby. Andrew's childhood friend began this film as a way for the baby to learn about his father, until things started to take an even more unpredictable turn. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at this year's Slamdance. Here's the GreenCine Daily post on the film.
DO YOU SLEEP IN THE NUDE?
Directed by Marshall Fine
Forty years after he blazed across the scene, Rex Reed is still going strong – a brand-name movie critic whose name and face remain easily recognizable, even if his influence has waned. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered last fall at the Hamptons.
DON'T GET ME WRONG
Directed by Adina Pintilie
Within a stark Romanian psychiatric hospital, patients move stones, help each other perform daily tasks and discuss the existence of God and how to stop the rain. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Grand Jury winner at DOK Leipzig last October.
GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Directed by Alex Gibney
With access to never-before-seen archives, this is a fascinating documentary look at the legendary and undeniable Hunter S. Thompson. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Gibney (duh) is nominated for an Oscar for TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE.
Directed by Kat Mansoor
Previously renowned for his work in the comics Judge Dredd and 2000AD, Johnny now lives in an increasing state of immobility and frustration. He escapes the confines of his front room by drawing, and through the expression of his brilliant, and sometimes troubled, imagination we learn about the disease that he is forced to co-exist with. (World Premiere)
Of further note: HERE'S JOHNNY received some of its funding via BritDoc's funding forum.
HORI SMOKU SAILOR JERRY
Directed by Erich Weiss
A feature-length documentary exploring the roots of American tattooing through the life of its most iconoclastic figure Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. (World Premiere)
Of further note: Sailor Jerry's got his own website here.
Directed by Peter Galison & Robb Moss
The film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By filming people from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, reporters, information seekers, and individuals whose lives have been marked by their encounters with the classification bureaucracy, the film probes secrecy's relationship to fear, executive power and national security. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at this year's Sundance.
TRIAGE: DR. JAMES ORBINSKI'S HUNANITARIAN DILEMMA
Directed by Patrick Reed
The former head of Doctors Without Borders returns to Africa, to confront its harsh realities. (Regional Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at this year's Sundance. Here's a piece on the film from USA Today.
THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION
Directed by John Zaritsky
At a prison in the high desert foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, hard-core criminals are given 90 days to tame wild mustang horses. Most of the inmates who volunteer for the program have never trained a horse before, or even ridden one. (U.S. Premiere)
Of further note: Premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.