Matthew Heineman's latest film scores top spot for third straight week
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman is celebrating three weeks at number one. His latest documentary, City of Ghosts, claimed the top spot over the weekend among nonfiction films in theatrical release, according to audience tracker comScore.
The film, about citizen journalists in Raqqa, Syria who risk their lives to report on the reality of life in their ISIS-dominated city, has collected $75,866 in its first three weeks, per comScore. City of Ghosts played on 18 screens across the country. It expands to Dallas and Austin, Texas, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and other cities this Friday (July 28).
The Syrian people are getting killed daily by rockets, air strikes, barrel bombs, all kinds of ways.
In a videotaped interview with Nonfictionfilm.com, Heineman said City of Ghosts is meant in part as a tribute to a profession that is under assault from the Trump administration.
"In this world of fake news, where truth seems to be malleable, this film is an homage to journalism, it's an homage to citizen journalism, it's an homage to a group of people who have risked everything to fight for the truth, to seek the truth," he told us. "I think that's an important idea in the world right now."
Jeffrey Schwarz on his Allan Carr doc: 'He caught lightning in a bottle' with 'Grease,' crushed by Oscar embarrassment
In conversation with Nonfictionfilm.com, Schwarz reflects on Carr's achievements and excesses: 'He made a name for himself for living large and for making entertainment as glamorous and gaudy as he was'
Allan Carr only lived to 62, but he packed plenty into his six decades plus. He produced the movie version of Grease, the most successful Hollywood musical of the 20th century, played a key role promoting Saturday Night Fever, managed the careers of Mama Cass, Tony Curtis and Ann-Margret, and earned a Tony for producing La Cage Aux Folles.
Unfortunately for him, his failures were equally legendary, like his Village People musical Can't Stop the Music and that abysmal Oscar telecast of 1989 -- the one Rob Lowe is still trying to forget.
Carr's epic career is remembered in The Fabulous Allan Carr, the new documentary from Jeffrey Schwarz. The director spoke with Nonfictionfilm.com editor Matthew Carey in a conversation that touched on making Grease, casting Grease 2, miscasting Nancy Walker in a mega-flop and being gay in 1970s Hollywood.
New film documents the Broadway and YouTube star's Strait Outta Oz project
Todrick Hall is a multi-hyphenate if there ever was one: singer-rapper-YouTube sensation-Broadway star-dancer-choreographer-playwright and judge on RuPaul's Drag Race. Now he can add subject of a documentary to his long list of credits.
Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall, directed by Katherine Fairfax Wright, captures the creation of the performer's most ambitious project to date -- the visual album, album and stage show Strait Outta Oz. The documentary screened Thursday at Outfest at the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., after holding its world premiere at SXSW in March.
He has so many fascinating things to say. He just exudes creativity every step of the way.
Hall boasts more than 280,000 followers on Twitter. But the extent of his fan following is more apparent on YouTube, where 2.5 million people subscribe to his channel. His videos posted there reportedly have attracted more than 400 million views. At SXSW, Wright addressed some of the reasons for Hall's broad appeal.
"I think it's multi-faceted," Wright told Nonfictionfilm.com. "Certainly just his creativity and the lyricism and the sort of spunk of his music I think is really a big reason behind it but also I think his honesty, his direct connection he has with his fans I think they find really appealing, like they have a friend in him, an ally."
Late, larger-than-life producer of Grease the subject of Jeffrey Schwarz' latest film: 'He had big successes. He had big failures... He made such a huge impact on popular culture.'
Allan Carr was born in suburban Chicago to a family in the furniture business. If things had turned out differently, he might have become the P.T. Barnum of sofas and dinettes.
Instead, he took his genius for promotion and eye for talent to Hollywood, bringing Grease to the world and becoming one of the industry's most recognizable figures. He turned the role of film producer -- one that traditionally brought little public acclaim -- into a klieg light star turn.
He made a name for himself for living large and for making entertainment that was as glamorous and gaudy as he was.
Carr's story of triumph and humiliation (remember the 1989 Academy Awards?) is told in the documentary The Fabulous Allan Carr, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine, Tab Hunter Confidential). The film just played at Outfest in Los Angeles, after holding its world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival.
"Even if you don't know the name of Allan Carr you know his work because he made such a huge impact on popular culture," Schwarz noted in an interview with Nonfictionfilm.com at his home in Los Angeles. "He was very well known in Hollywood in the 70s and 80s for his flamboyance, for his bigger-than-life persona, for his disco that he had in the basement of his Beverly Hills home. He was a star maker who became a star himself. And he made a name for himself for living large and for making entertainment that was as glamorous and gaudy as he was."
'City of Ghosts' director Matthew Heineman documents Syria's citizen journalists who dare to defy ISIS
Heineman and one of City of Ghosts' protagonists talk about the fate of Raqqa and whether Syria is being 'slaughtered silently'
ISIS has consciously built a mythology around itself -- an exercise in branding -- as part of its efforts to impose a radical vision on Islam on the Muslim world. Nowhere has that self-mythologizing initiative been more evident than in Raqqa, the Syrian town ISIS uses as a base of operations.
ISIS would like the rest of the world to believe its rule over Raqqa has ushered in an era of prosperity, good governance and strict adherence to a grim version of Islam. Only the latter part of that sentence is true, but the reality of life under ISIS in Raqqa would remain concealed were it not for the courageous efforts of citizens journalists who have risked their lives to disseminate video and information to the outside world about the true conditions in the city.
Those journalists are the heroes of Matthew Heineman's latest documentary, City of Ghosts, which opens in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC on Friday, expanding to more cities in the coming weeks. It's currently in theaters in New York.
Heineman and other of the main subjects of his film, Aziz al-Hamza, spoke with Nonfictionfilm.com editor Matthew Carey in Los Angeles last month, shortly before the film's theatrical release.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.