Bing Wang – He Fengming aka Fengming: A Chinese Memoir (2007)


Robert Koehler wrote:
With virtually a single-camera set-up and absolute attention paid to a woman who survived the horrors of Mao’s China, Wang Bing continues his run as one of the world’s supreme doc filmmakers with “Fengming: A Chinese Memoir.” While his extraordinary epic, “West of the Tracks,” traced the destruction of a city’s industrial zone and the forced relocation of thousands of residents, new pic is scaled in opposite fashion–intimate, minimalist, nearly private, as former journalist and teacher He Fengming describes in vividly painful detail how her life in the revolution turned into a 30-year nightmare. Prospects point to specialized treatment at major fests, but vid is where pic will really stand the test of time. Continue reading

Joan Braderman – Joan Does Dynasty (1986)


“Long before the advent of Slavoj Zizek, U.S. academic Joan Braderman in 1986 offered a bracing exercise in standup theory and comic deconstruction in this half-hour unpacking on video of the most successful nighttime soap opera on television, which is said to be the favorite series of one hundred million people in 78 countries. Utilizing some of the special effects of codirector and coeditor Manuel De Landa to project herself literally into Dynasty and thereby critique its cultural and ideological underpinnings, Braderman manages to mix appreciation with scorn in almost equal quantities.“ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader Continue reading

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt – Havana Motor Club (2015)


Reforms have offered opportunity in Cuba but the children of the Revolution are unsure of the best route forward. For a half-dozen drag racers, this means last-minute changes to their beloved American muscle cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned race in Cuba since 1960. Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, Havana Motor Club offers a fascinating glimpse at the resilience and ingenuity of the competitive spirit. Continue reading

Werner Herzog – Werner Herzog Masterclass (2016)

Capture the spectacular

When the legendary director Werner Herzog was 19, he stole a camera and made his first movie. 70 films and 50 awards later, Werner is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking. You’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, locations, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising films.

Watch, listen, and learn as Werner covers every aspect of filmmaking, from pre-production to distribution.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials. Continue reading

Robert Drew – Primary (1960)


It’s the tail end of winter in 1960. U.S. Senators Hubert Humphrey and John Kennedy seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. Wisconsin’s primary – one of the few direct primaries at the time – is on April 5. We see both candidates on the road; it’s retail politics, shaking hands, signing autographs, smiling. We hear part of a standard stump speech from Kennedy; we watch Humphrey talk to farmers in a rural hall. Kennedy is favored. We see his wife, his brother Robert briefly, and on election night his sisters Pat and Eunice. Jacqueline speaks a few words of Polish at a Milwaukee rally. The returns come in; it’s on to Indiana and West Virginia. Continue reading

Gianfranco Rosi – Fuocoammare (2016)


Situated some 200km off Italy’s southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe. Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea. Continue reading