«Our words are stronger than their weapons.» Amazon Studios has revealed the first official trailer for the documentary City of Ghosts, the follow-up to Cartel Land made by filmmaker Matthew Heineman. This doc takes a closer look at the Syrian war as told from the inside, following a group of anonymous journalists working to report on what’s really happening. Heineman is known for getting incredible footage and diving deep into the subject of his docs, and that’s definitely the case here. It’s describe as a «powerful cinematic experience that is sure to shake audiences to their core.» This premiered at Sundance this year, where I saw it, and it’s good but nowhere near as good as Cartel Land. This would also make a good double feature with the doc Last Men in Aleppo, as both films are important looks at the war in Syria. Watch the footage below. ›››
«I’m a weak, used-up old man.» Another Miyazaki documentary? Why not! More the better, I say. Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki is another new documentary about the life and work of master animator & filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. A few years ago, we were treated to the wonderful documentary Kingdom of Dreams and Madness profiling Studio Ghibli and its founders. This new documentary focuses specifically on Miyazaki and also focuses on his return to animation and first experiments with CGI filmmaking. This one is also in Japanese with voice-over and subtitles in English, and will air on TV in Japan this summer, though we don’t know when it’ll show up elsewhere. Director Kaku Arakawa was asked what he had learned from Miyazaki and he said: «he made me realise that if your passions are aroused, you could do anything.» ›››
Everyone thinks Bob Kane is the sole creator of Batman. What the new documentary Batman and Bill presupposes is, maybe he’s not.
Even though Bob Kane is frequently and historically associated with the creation of Batman, the more educated comic book fans now know that many of the signature elements of Batman’s long comic book history were created by another man named Bill Finger. But why is his name not nearly as synonymous with the creation of The Dark Knight? A new documentary explores why Finger was omitted from Batman’s history and only just recently started getting the credit that he’s due.
Watch the Batman and Bill trailer below.
As the trailer explains, though Bob Kane had the initial idea to create a superhero who was quite the opposite of DC Comics’ Big Blue Boy Scout known as Superman, all of the signature traits of Batman’s comic book adventures came from Bill Finger. Not only did Finger create Batman’s trademark design and draw his stories, he was responsible for creating some key pieces of The Caped Crusader’s mythology. Robin, The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Commissioner Gordon, Gotham City and much more were all added into Batman’s universe by Bill Finger.
Thankfully, since 2015, Bill Finger has started receiving prominent credit for his pivotal contributions to the creation of Batman, even appearing in the credits for Gotham and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and presumably anything associated with Batman from here on out.
But how does a man who is so integral to the creation of one of the most revered superheroes of all time get shoved to the side and almost forgotten by comic book history? That’s the story that Batman and Bill is setting out to tell, inspired by author Marc Tyler Nobleman‘s endeavor to make sure Bill Finger got credit for his work, which he chronicled in the book Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.
In addition to Nobleman, plenty of comic book historians, artists, Batman experts (like comic writer and filmmaker Kevin Smith) and more appear in the documentary to talk about this tragic tale of ignorance in the creation of Batman that went on for far too long.
Everyone thinks that Bob Kane created Batman, but that’s not the whole truth. One author makes it his crusade to seek justice for Bill Finger, a struggling writer who was the key figure in creating the iconic superhero, from concept to costume to the very character we all know and love. Bruce Wayne may be Batman’s secret identity, but his creator was always a true mystery.
Batman and Bill will be available to watch on Hulu on May 6.
«Music is the one thing that we all understand, that we don’t understand.» Gravitas Ventures has revealed a trailer for a documentary about the work of composers, titled Score: A Film Music Documentary. This played at film festivals all last year and is opening in theaters this June, which is great news because I’ve been waiting to see this. The doc profiles the work of composers and also examines how important music is to movies. Featuring interviews with composers including Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Trent Reznor, Rachel Portman, Junkie XL (aka Tom Holkenborg), Brian Tyler, Thomas Newman, Bear McCreary, Moby, Garry Marshall, Jerry Goldsmith, and lots more. Hoping this goes deep into the art beyond just some chats. ›››
«It’s not about us. The dilemma is our children.» Grasshopper Films has unveiled an official trailer for the acclaimed, award-winning documentary Last Men in Aleppo, taking us deep inside the war in Syria. The film profiles and follows three different founding members of the humanitarian group known as «The White Helmets» (official website), who have stayed behind in Aleppo while the city is still under siege in an effort to save lives. This trailer cuts right down to it, and is a heartrending, harrowing look at how bad the war in Syria has become, and what it’s doing to that country. I missed this at Sundance, where it won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, but I’m planning to catch it as soon as it’s released. This should be on your radar. ›››
«We makin’ music with our bodies!» Fox Searchlight has revealed the first official trailer for an outstanding documentary titled Step, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year where it received rave reviews from critics and audiences. The film follows a few different teenage women at a special high school in Baltimore, Maryland who are part of the prestigious step dance program. The school is designed to help them get into college, many of them being the first in their family to attend, and it shows how step dancing is a way for them to come together and focus on what maters — expressing themselves creatively. I caught this film at Sundance and really, really loved it. It’s exciting, and energetic, and inspiring, and moving, with just the right balance of heart and honesty. I will be strongly supporting it throughout this year. See below. ›››
Showtime has picked up Risk, a documentary about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks by Citizenfour director Laura Poitras that debuted at Cannes last year.
The news of Showtime debuting Risk came along with a trailer teasing the documentary’s connection to the 2016 elections and the hacked Democratic National Committee emails — a facet that Poitras has added to Risk‘s plot even after the documentary was initially shown to audiences.
Laura Poitras, who won an Academy Award for her 2014 Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, was given “unprecedented access” to Julian Assange, the infamous founder of WikiLeaks, for six years.
But Poitras still finds herself updating her documentary with aspects relating to Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia’s involvement in the election results, and the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. Even after it was initially shown to audiences at Cannes last year, Risk is a documentary in progress, growing more timely by the second as probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are ongoing.
“It is an exciting time to be working with SHOWTIME and NEON,” Poitras said in a press release. “Both organizations are thinking outside the box about how to bring complex stories to a wide audience. I am thrilled to team up with them on RISK.”
Here’s the official synopsis of Risk provided below:
“Filmed over six years including through the 2016 presidential election and up to the present moment, RISK takes viewers closer than they have ever been before to Julian Assange and those who surround him. With unprecedented access, Poitras give us the WikiLeaks story from the inside, allowing viewers to understand our current era of massive leaks, headline-grabbing news, and the revolutionary impact of the internet on global politics. RISK is a portrait of power, principles, betrayal, and sacrifice when the stakes could not be any higher. It is a first-person geopolitical thriller told from the perspective of a filmmaker immersed in the worlds of state surveillance and the cypherpunk movement. RISK confirms Poitras’ directorial ability to record history as it unfolds on camera, and craft narratives at the highest level.”
The trailer is an intriguing look into Assange, who is a highly controversial figure, especially after WikiLeaks’ release of illegally hacked emails arguably played a huge part in the outcome of the election. It’s unclear whether the documentary will take a sympathetic or harsh view toward Assange, who seems equal parts malicious and righteous in the trailer.
This wouldn’t be the first time Assange is the subject of a film, having been played by Benedict Cumberbatch in 2013’s The Fifth Estate, a dramatization of the founding of WikiLeaks.
Showtime is partnering with Neon for a theatrical run of Risk followed by a TV premiere in the summer.
When first-time director Rain Perry got to post with her docThe Shopkeeper, she quickly realized she needed a way to edit without actually editing.
Going through post-production on an independent film can be tough: editors are expensive and the process can drag on for months or even years, especially for documentaries. After reading that Particle Fever director Mark Levinson essentially made himself legendary editor Walter Murch’s assistant on his own film’s post-production, director Rain Perry decided to the same for her documentary The Shopkeeper, about a music producer in Texas.
«It’s super time-consuming but it makes a lot of sense because, as the director, I need to have seen every moment of footage and, as the producer, I want to save time and money.»
«He was always a director, acting was just a way to get there.» Spike has premiered a trailer for their new feature-length documentary titled I Am Heath Ledger, examining the short, tragic, yet still triumphant, joyous life of Australian actor Heath Ledger. Today (April 4th) is also Ledger’s birthday, he would’ve been 38; he died from accidental intoxication of drugs in early 2008. Despite his tragic death, Ledger’s legacy still remains strong and all of his cinematic work will live on to prove his talent. This looks like an intimate and heartfelt inside look at his life, with tons of home video footage and interviews with friends and the people he worked with. Even folks who aren’t the biggest fans of Ledger may find something meaningful in this doc. ›››
«When I look at the present direction of our space program, I feel kind of disappointed.» Gravitas Ventures has unveiled a trailer for an inspiring new documentary titled Fight for Space, about the Space Race and how things have changed since the 1960s. The doc spends time exploring the «Space Race» of the 1960s/70s that drove us to put a man on the moon, then jumps into modern times and asks tough questions: why did we stop, we aren’t we trying again, and what is preventing us from exploring even further? As expected, the doc explains that the «Space Race» was fueled by American’s desire to beat the Russians, along with JFK’s insistence on making it the moon. I wish we had a space program as active as we did back then, and the only way we can ramp things up is to keep bringing attention to the importance of NASA and space exploration. ›››