Documentaries

Unconventional theatre director and playwright Robert Wilson is comprehensively profiled in this candid documentary from the practiced hand of director Katharina Otto. ... Best known for the avant garde 1976 production of Einstein on the Beach (for which he collaborated with Philip Glass), Wilson has been called the USA's foremost ‘theatre artist', pushing restlessly at the boundaries of theatre w... Read more
"Powerful, surreal and frightening … unprecedented in the history of cinema." – Werner Herzog ... In this bizarre and unsettling film, Joshua Oppenheimer presents a chilling picture of a land where mass murderers are celebrated on TV talk shows as heroes. It sounds like a fiction but it's not: the film's subjects – small-time gangsters (themselves ardent fans of film and pop culture) who became de... Read more
Brandy Burre is an actress, mother, housewife and partner. Now watch those roles collide in this innovative film. ... Fans of HBO crime saga The Wire will know Brandy Burre as the flinty political strategist Theresa D'Agostino. Director and critic Robert Greene (who also edited 7 Chinese Brothers and Queen of Earth, both screening in this year's festival) knows her as a neighbour, a devoted mother... Read more
On December 1,1942, a US airforce bomber crashed in the south-east corner of the Gulf of Carpenteria after a bombing raid over New Guinea. Four of the crew survived and, thinking they were near Cairns, naively set off on foot. Their story later made world headlines, but as it was playing out, as they wandered the Gulf coast, another version was being written not very far away, but in a very differ... Read more
“An essential portrait of a key contemporary figure.” - The Guardian ... A character study of China's most famous and outspoken visual artist and dissident, working domestically against a background of strict censorship and internationally to great acclaim, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the topical debut documentary of director Alison Klayman. ... Set during the lead-up to Ai's 2009 ‘Sunflower Seeds' ... Read more
Between 1990 and 1991, Aileen Carol Wuornos, a 35-year-old prostitute, killed seven men. The FBI termed her "America's first female serial killer". ... British documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield unites his interest in social outsiders and oversized personalities — as seen in his other works, Soldier Girls, Monster in a Box and Driving Me Crazy, all seen at previous MIFF's — in this quizzical lo... Read more
“Manages to tap into the same undercurrents of discontent and frustration that fuelled the breakthrough success of Fahrenheit 9/11.” - Variety Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob, who were responsible for the documenting of Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 with The War Room, take us on an hilarious year-long expedition behind the frontlines of mediawars during the 2004 US election. ... I... Read more
The Porno Indians are among the world's finest basket makers. Alice Elliott is one of the few Porno continuing that centuries-old tradition. ... Read more
This portrait of a small grocery store in a tenement neighbourhood contends that utopias can be found in the most unlikely of places. ... Amid the charmless, crumbling tenement buildings in a suburb of Epinay-sur-Seine, Ali Zebboudj's grocery store is a rare social space, a gathering point for the disenfranchised locals to talk and share stories. ... Filmmaker Chantal Briet follows the day-to-day ... Read more
'Images of Elvis', the pinnacle of the Elvis impersonator's art, a cutthroat competition staged in Memphis to determine the worlds finest 'Elvis' (almost). This cheeky documentary, loaded with pathos, plumbs the dedication, desire and devotion of Elvis fandom, specifically a half dozen impersonators hungry for the spotlight. ... Irv Cass, hot favourite, has come runner-up in 'Images of Elvis' twic... Read more
Sometimes, jail is the only place you can be free. ... In Russia, 15-year-olds convicted of criminal acts get sent to adult prisons; for anyone younger it's reform school. Alone in Four Walls takes us inside one such complex in rural Russia, packed to the rafters with 10- to 14-year-old boys convicted of very adult crimes, from petty theft to rape to multiple murder. Almost without exception the i... Read more
Does America have a ruling class? How does one join it, and should one even want to? Written by Lewis Lapham, American Ruling Class explores the US's most taboo topics: class, power and privilege in the nominally democratic republic. The dramatic documentary satire stars Lapham, the renowned essayist, author and editor of Harper's Magazine, as we trail him taking two recent Yale graduates on a pro... Read more
Illegal screenings of the unfinished Amongst Equals have taken place in a variety of forums across the country since January when controversy erupted in the media. But the issue remains unresolved and Amongst Equals will be shown in an innovative form for the first time at this festival. This new cut of the film incorporates aspects of its problematic production, underlining sequences where the sp... Read more
"I'm always drawn to incidents that if unpacked, reveal a lot about a moment and a culture, and I felt this was one of them." - filmmaker Annie Goldson. ... They called him the White Angel. John Scott was the director of the Fijian Red Cross. His courage was lauded during a coup in 2000 when in the face of armed militants he delivered aid to hostages. But a year later he was brutally murdered with... Read more
21 women were murdered in a single year in the Iranian holy city of Mashad. Strangled, their bodies were cocooned in their long, black chadors, knotted at both ends and dumped beside roads or in sewers. Iranian media referred to the events as 'The Spider Killings'. Saeed Hanaei, a 39 year old contractor and family man, was eventually captured when one of the victims he had lured into his web punch... Read more
Flying in the face of popular clichés of a Shangri-la-like Tibet is the errant monk, Gendun Choephel. In 1934, Choephel rejected his monastic life in search of new lands and challenges where he formed a conviction about the importance of Tibet's engagement with the world and modernity. An outsider who was always open to new things, he eventually became a stranger in his homeland and homeless in fo... Read more
... ... Anne Frank has been described as one of the "major icons of the twentieth century" with her diary the second most-read book of Western non-fiction after the bible. ... ... ... Jon Blair's film is effective in placing Anne's story firmly in its twentieth century context. This is not just her life in Holland and her death in a Nazi concentration camp, but the impact the diary has had in the ... Read more
The Ants won an humanitarian award for Outstanding Documentary at this year's Hong Kong Film Festival. ... Waich Okumura is an 80 year-old Japanese man who fought in China's civil war after World War II. The question still remains unanswered: Why did the Japanese join the Chinese conflict between communist and nationalist forces? He has another secret - the ruthless murder of an innocent Chinese u... Read more
Ethan Minsker's documentary investigates the ideas, attitudes and goals of women in the New York underground music scene. 15 bands, mostly unsigned acts with colourful names like Tribe 8, Vitapup and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, are filmed going through their paces - everything from rehearsals, club dates with a handful of people in attendance, and the full­blown mini-concert spectacle. A... Read more
"Moving, complex and brutal... an outstanding film about men at war." - Empire ... In forward operating base Armadillo, a posting of young Danish soldiers are on campaign against the Taliban. Gaining incredible access, director Janus Metz chronicles six months of their everyday lives in Afghanistan, creating a confronting, uncompromised and close-up view of modern warfare. ... Metz's film shows th... Read more
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