Samuel M. Delgado, Helena Girón – Sin Dios ni Santa María AKA Neither God Nor Santa Maria (2015)

“Part ethnography, part mystic cinematic mirage, this beautiful and evocative portrait of Yé, a remote village on the island of Lanzarote, is a paradoxically opaque work of tactile pleasures. Shot on expired 16mm celluloid, the film makes a virtue of its degraded textures, granting its images of flora and fauna, coastal vistas and mountainous contours, the look of an excavated travelogue, with scratches and imperfections resonating on the soundtrack as ambient accompaniment to the vast topographical phenomena peering through the fog-shrouded atmosphere. Meanwhile, audio recordings made in the late-sixties by the ethnographer Luis Diego Cuscoy act as ominous narration, the voices relating stories of witchcraft and the occult that, over centuries, have taken on local legend. With an acute eye and ear for natural detail and speculative history, directors Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón have constructed both an oral diary and an archaeological account of a far-off land, all the more vivid for never quite coming into focus.” — Jordan Cronk, Fandor Continue reading

Alessio Rigo de Righi & Matteo Zoppis – Il solengo (2015)

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Synopsis:
Winner of DocLisboa’s 2015 Best International Film Award, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’s documentary explores the life of Mario de Marcella, a man who lived alone in a cave for over 60 years, nicknamed “Il Solengo” (the lone boar that’s been cut off from his pack). No one knows for certain why he decided to become a hermit. Still, hunters from his home village (who would occasionally encounter him in the wilderness) offer conflicting reasons about his solitude through elaborate stories. The negative space created by his absence is filled with gorgeous imagery of the Italian countryside. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – Juvenile Court (1973)

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PLOT SYNOPSIS
From Allmovie
by Bhob Stewart

This 1973 Frederick Wiseman documentary, filmed at the Juvenile Court in Memphis, Tennessee, won the Columbia University School of Journalism’s 1974 Dupont Award for “Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.” In 144 minutes, Wiseman shows a wide variety of cases before the Memphis Juvenile Court, from child abuse and sexual offenses to armed robbery and foster home placement, and it examines such issues as the range and limits of choices available to the court, psychology of offenders, constitutional points, procedural questions, and community protection vs. the desire for rehabilitation. Continue reading

Douglas McGrath – Becoming Mike Nichols (2016)

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Anyone who ever spent any time alone with Mike Nichols will tell you he was one of the most charming men who ever lived. I had that experience once, long ago, over a four-hour lunch. Thanks to HBO’s Becoming Mike Nichols, a splendid new documentary debuting on Monday night, everyone can have their own tête-a-tête. Most of this fine film is drawn from an extended conversation between Nichols and his good friend, theater director Jack O’Brien. Their talk took place in an empty – and then filled – Golden Theater, the Broadway venue where Nichols’ fame began, with An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1960. The film is the product of a chance encounter between O’Brien and the writer Alex Witchel at a Manhattan dinner party in 2014. O’Brien told Witchel the celebrated director was looking frail and was never going to write a memoir. Wouldn’t it be great to capture his best memories before he was gone? Witchel repeated the idea to her husband, writer Frank Rich, who also happens to be an HBO executive. His bosses embraced the idea. O’Brien agreed to interview, Douglas McGrath was hired to direct, and within weeks they were off to the Golden. Four months later, Nichols died of a heart attack aged83. It was Nichols’ idea to do at least part of the interview in front of a live audience, and that makes his performance much more vivid than in any of his other filmed interviews. Continue reading