Upcoming documentaries include one 43 years in the making
It's been a hot summer for documentaries, with the release of Asif Kapadia's Amy, Best of Enemies from Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon, Matthew Heineman's Cartel Land and Meru, co-directed by Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi, to name but a few.
But with fall around the corner, it's time to look at what's coming soon to theaters and film festivals. It's an intriguing bunch of titles, featuring Oscar-winning directors and some fascinating subjects.
>The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution directed by Stanley Nelson. It's hard to imagine a more timely film, given the present climate of racial tension in the country following the deaths of numerous unarmed black people at the hands of police.
The film is described as the first feature-length documentary to examine the Black Panther Party, which emerged from Oakland, California in the 1960s, in explicit opposition to the non-violent method of resistance to racism advocated by Martin Luther King Jr.
PBS is behind the film, backing a theatrical release before it airs on public television. The Black Panthers opens at Film Forum in New York on Sept. 2; in Boston on Sept. 11; in DC and Philadelphia on Sept. 18, and at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles on Sept. 25. Watch the trailer here
>Amazing Grace directed by Sydney Pollack. The Toronto International Film Festival will debut a documentary the late filmmaker began shooting more than 40 years ago. In 1972 Pollack's cameras followed Aretha Franklin in Los Angeles as she gave a celebrated pair of concerts that resulted in the album Amazing Grace.
Update: TIFF has pulled the Aretha documentary from its lineup as a result of a legal dispute. A federal judge in Colorado issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Telluride Film Festival from screening the film. Possibly out of caution, TIFF cancelled exhibition plans. Read the latest here.
According to the festival, before Pollack died in 2008 he expressed a desire for the film to be completed. Watch the trailer here
>Women He's Undressed directed by Gillian Armstrong. The provocatively-titled documentary, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, is the story of once-acclaimed (but now largely forgotten) Aussie-born costume designer Orry-Kelly. He designed for many of Hollywood's greatest talents, including Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Ava Gardner, Rosalind Russell and even some of the guys -- Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn, for instance.
The title of the documentary is arch because Orry-Kelly was gay, which in that era of Hollywood was not exactly a ticket to success, even for a costume designer.
"He survived partially protected by his friendship with Jack and Ann Warner," a publicist for the film noted. Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury are among the stars interviewed for the film. Watch the trailer here
>Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon directed by Douglas Tirola. The film recounts the birth of the magazine that spawned some of comedy's greatest talents. Without the National Lampoon there would be no Animal House. Enough said.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead opens Sept. 25 in New York, the same day it becomes available on iTunes and VOD. It opens in theaters in Los Angeles and other cities in the following weeks. Watch the trailer here
>Finders Keepers directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel. One of the funniest documentaries of this or any year. The bizarre story of a North Carolina man who lost his leg in an accident, then decided to preserve the remains. He stowed the limb in a smoker, which wound up in possession of another man who refused to return the missing extremity. Yes, this actually happened.
This thoroughly entertaining film opens in New York and Los Angeles Sept. 25, and then expands to more theaters and to VOD on October 2. Watch the trailer here
>He Named Me Malala directed by Davis Guggenheim. The Academy Award-winning filmmaker (An Inconvenient Truth) turns his attention to Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 15 Malala was nearly assassinated in her native Pakistan by Taliban gunmen enraged by her efforts to promote education for girls.
Undeterred by the attack, she has continued to campaign for girls' education rights, an activism that has earned her a place on Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. Watch the trailer here
>The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers directed by Richard Trank. The follow up to Trank's previous film, The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers, which examined Israel's early leaders, including Golda Meir. Both films are based on the memoirs of late diplomat Yehuda Avner.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker, produced the new documentary and its earlier companion. The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers looks at the seminal figures Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, the latter responsible for negotiating the Camp David Accords that brought peace with Egypt.
The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers opens at the AMC Empire in New York on Oct. 9; it opens in Los Angeles and Encino, Calif. on Oct. 14, with a national release to follow.
Late October [exact date tbd]
>All Things Must Pass directed by Colin Hanks. The actor perhaps best known for his work on the TV series Fargo turns his sights on a musical institution: Tower Records. In its heyday there was no more successful record store chain than Tower. The advent of downloadable music imperiled the empire, but the documentary argues there are other reasons the company collapsed.
All Things Must Pass features interviews with musical greats Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, among others. Per the publicist handling the film, it will be released in "late October." Watch the trailer here
>Generosity of Eye directed by Brad Hall. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus produced the documentary, which recently played at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. It's the story of Louis-Dreyfus' father William, who amassed an extraordinary art collection and then decided to sell it to start an endowment for a children's education project in Harlem.
JLD's husband, Brad Hall, directed the film. Distribution plans are unclear at this point, but several pieces from the art collection itself are on view until October 11 at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently shared news about the Rhode Island International Film Festival screening with fans on her Instagram account. The post attracted 1,803 likes as of August 25. Among the comments, curiously, was this one: "Julia PLEASE where are your sunglasses from in your old navy commercial."