An aging building tells the story of a day in the life of two people still living in its humble accommodations. A 92-year old Mr. Istvan and reclusive Mrs. Magdi, neighbors for many years, meet.
Behind the splash of headlines about the Syrian conflict, Khalil (Syrian, age 12) and Niam (Lebanese, age 32) share a rare friendship. Caught between countries, the film carefully focuses on the lives of one woman and one boy in a small village near the Lebanon/Syria border. Filmmaker and former refugee, Niam takes us through the prism of splintered memories and animated ‘re-imaginings’ of the past, to witness a young life currently caught today between countries.
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscope animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, Tower reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
This film is packed wall to wall with the greatest music from Texas and beyond — with performances from Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray Charles, to name a few. Tracing its forty-year evolution, the film transcends the TV show and gives audiences a front-row seat and backstage pass to the greatest performances of the longest running music show in television history.
Poet Robert Bly stands out even among the celebrated, revolutionary generation of American artists who burst forth in the 1950’s. A Thousand Years of Joy charts Bly’s path from farmer’s son to anti-Vietnam War activist to wild man of the 1990’s men’s movement, through his international bestseller Iron John. Above all, Bly has been a champion for poetry’s place in American culture.
While researching migratory birds in Cheorwon, South Korea, along the demilitarized zone that separates the North and the South, the filmmaker came across a woman whose house was full of photographs from the other side of the border. A mix of historical documentary and fiction, Orphans [a requiem] is about the hidden trauma of the Korean War, and the birds that seem to echo that history across the peninsula.
In 1967, an American journalist and a Japanese student rescued an ancient house from the snow country of Japan, and their lives were forever changed. Minka is a short documentary about a remarkable Japanese farmhouse and the memories it contains. Nominated for both IDA and Cinema Eye Honors awards and featured on NYTimes.com.
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South, to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana, to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, the film takes us on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon.
The Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy — but is it? History shows that the victims of the Nazi concentration camps themselves used humor as a means of survival and resistance — but where do we draw the line? In this intimate cinema verité portrait of Auschwitz, survivor Renee Firestone offers fresh insights into the Holocaust in a way we haven’t seen before alongside interviews of influential comedians and thinkers.
This poetic documentary is about the lost culture of cinema-going in small towns on Croatian islands. In the second half of the last century, six witnesses recall the past times, their favorite movies and events surrounding film screenings that had a profound impact on their lives.
Out of all the cross-cultural encounters that have resulted in the richness of American popular music, none has been so prominent or so fraught with fraternity and conflict as the relationships between African Americans and American Jews. Body and Soul: An American Bridge aims to tease out the strands of this cultural knot by focusing on the early performance history of the jazz standard, “Body and Soul,” one of the most recorded songs in the jazz repertoire.
Sonia Warshawski at ninety has been an inspirational public speaker at schools and prisons for years. Her stories of surviving the Holocaust as a teenager have inspired countless people who once felt their own traumas would leave them broken forever. When Sonia is served an eviction notice for her iconic tailor shop, she’s confronted with an agonizing decision: either open up a new shop, or retire. Staying busy has kept the dark parts away. Now that Sonia faces retirement, her horrific past resurfaces.
Arc of Justice traces the inspiring journey of New Communities Inc., defining the struggle for racial and economic justice among African Americans in southwest Georgia. Persevered as the largest black-owned farm in the country despite relentless opposition, New Communities lost its land in 1985 due to discriminatory lending practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but later prevailed in an historic lawsuit, staking its claim to new land and a new beginning in 2009.
Narrated with the words of the men who survived, brought to life with thousands of individual paper cutouts, And We Were Young is an animated oral history of American soldiers, a story of the ‘Doughboys’ in France in the last months of the Great War. Filmed in luminous Ektachrome on an old Russian Super 8 camera, the film is both brutal and beautiful; a painting of an unforgettable picture of the “War to End All Wars.”
Since the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Bulgaria has experienced the most extreme population decline in the world. Low birth rates, high death rates, and two large waves of emigration have erased villages from Bulgaria’s map and pushed others to the verge of extinction. Altimir explores life in one of Bulgaria’s disappearing villages haunted by the promises of communism and capitalism.
“1989” is the story of Prime Minister Miklós Németh of Hungary, and at the same time it is the inside story of the events leading to the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Németh plays himself in reenactments making novel use of historical film. As the plot unfolds young Németh takes power as a reformer amongst hardliners but events accelerate as he takes down the border fence. His survival and triumph are portrayed in archival video.
“Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball” is the story of an 11-year major League pitcher who, after winning two world championships with the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1969 Miracle Mets, embarked on a USO tour through Vietnam that would change his life. After visiting field hospitals, Ron devoted the rest of his life to medicine, eventually becoming the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays. Through interviews with former teammates and friends, his two sons uncover the course of their father’s life.
“Reel in the Closet” brings to light a trove of historical footage from an era when LGBT life was mostly left undocumented. These home movies offer fascinating and often poignant moving images from the 1930s through the AIDS epidemic, which are at risk of being lost to history without the efforts of the archivists who work to find, preserve, and catalog them.
SDFF 2016 Jury Award: Short Documentary
The Taalman sisters relate their memories of a haunted house they grew up in. Director Alina Taalman says ”Growing up, my sisters and I heard voices, saw lights and dreamed of other beings. My mother and I shared a recurring dream of strangers on the driveway. Our dreams and our memories converged into the experience of living in a haunted house”. The question remains: is it mere childhood reminiscence or was it truly haunted?
“The Hollerin’ Contest at Spivey’s Corner” features the history, characters, and sounds of the National Hollerin’ Contest. Hollerin’ is considered by some to be the earliest form of communication between humans, and the competition has been held annually in the small town of Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina since 1969. The film follows the stories of three former champions as they attempt to reclaim their titles, and keep the oft-forgotten tradition of hollerin’ alive.
In 1966 François Truffaut interviewed Alfred Hitchcock, publishing the interviews in his pioneering book “Hitchcock/Truffaut”. In Kent Jones’ new documentary of the same name, a who’s who of modern filmmakers from Scorsese to Bogdanovich share the impact this seminal work had on their careers. Included are recordings from the interview as well as clips from a variety of Hitchcock films. There is something in the film for everyone, from students to Hitchcock fans and film buffs in general.
In 1966, a young dancer and choreographer from San Francisco made an unconventional solo which became a decisive moment in the history of contemporary dance. Then she began experimenting with film. At the age of 56 she came out as a lesbian, and in 1997 she won the Teddy Award. Today, aged 80, she is still working on the stage, after Mikhail Baryshnikov persuaded her to make a belated comeback as a choreographer. This is the story of Yvonne Rainer: choreographer, filmmaker, intellect, and feminist and the equally remarkable times that shaped her creative practice.
Just as James Michael Curley challenged and redefined the dominant politics of early 20th century Boston; just as Curley’s legacy has been simplified and sanitized; just as history in general blunts and sculpts facts to meet an end; “Curley: A Historiophoty by Billy Palumbo” challenges chronology, and objectivity in history-telling not in a search for truth but a quest for questions. In this amusing film Palumbo attempts to redefine history.
The incredible journey of John Nance Garner, from a two-horse Texas town to the corridors of power in Washington. The hard-charging “Cactus Jack” becomes the most influential vice president in modern history and the muscle behind The New Deal. The film traces Nance’s career from his ‘safe’ district in Texas that elected him to congress for 30 years to his eight year stint as FDR’s back-room deal-making vice president.
Filmed with a 1924 hand-crank Cine-Kodak camera, Shaman Trail Scout “Coyote” takes a journey which transcends time, from Inwood Park (where the island was traded for beads and booze), down a native trail (now “Broadway”), into lower Manhattan (sacred burial ground, now including the newest natives of this island empire).