As usual… These aren’t necessarily recommendations. Consider the list more of an FYI – films we’ve talked about on this site, at one time or another, that are now streaming on Netflix, that you might want to check out for yourselves.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s list of 5:
1 – The harrowing, yet beautiful tale of courage and resiliency, otherwise known as War Witch, which was an S&A favorite last year, and which was Canada’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (the filmmaker is Canadian, even though the film is set in the Congo).
Directed by Kim Nguyen, the Congo-set tale saw its star, newcomer Rachel Mwanza, win the prestigious Golden Bear award for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival last year – and it was certainly well-deserved.
She also won the same award at the Tribeca Film Festival the same year, where the film simultaneously picked up the award for best narrative feature.
Also known as Rebelle, the film’s synopsis reads as follows:
At 14, Komona has lived through horrors that eclipse any adult’s worst nightmares. In this mesmerizing, otherworldly drama, shot entirely in the Congo, she confides to the baby growing inside of her the harrowing story of her life since rebel warlords stormed her village. Fortified by eerily mystical powers and the warming friendship of an albino boy, the sensitive girl battles through this dire, war-ravaged world enchained as a child soldier.
The film won numerous international awards, and was eventually released theatrically in the USA – although a limited release.
It’s now made its way to Netflix Instant Watch, so check it out.
Watch the trailer below:
2 – A Brazilian film set in São Paulo, titled Antonia, which follows four black girls who have been singing together since childhood, who struggle to fulfill their dream of making a living from their music.
They form a hip-hop group called “Antonia” (hence the film’s title), and then find a manager and begin to put on shows in bars and parties. But, just as the dream seems to be coming true, their hopes are dashed by the daily trials and tribulations that come with poverty, chauvinism and violence, which threaten the group and place their friendship in jeopardy.
Of note, the film is co-produced by Fernando Meirelles, the director of a little film called City of God (remember that? sure you do!).
The film has been around since 2007, when it played at a few prominent film festivals – notably, Toronto International, Berlin International and Amsterdam. It’s available on Netflix as a streamer, so check it out.
Here’s the trailer for Antonia:
3 – An acclaimed feature doc titled Louder Than A Bomb, follows the more than six hundred teenagers from over sixty Chicago area schools, who gather every year for the world’s largest youth poetry slam, a competition known as “Louder Than a Bomb.”
Founded in 2001, “Louder Than a Bomb” is a youth poetry slam built around teams, rather than emphasize individual poets and performances, essentially demanding that the kids work collaboratively with their peers, presenting, critiquing, and rewriting their pieces.
Winner of 17 film festival prizes, including ten audience awards, and hailed as one of the ten best documentaries of 2011 by Roger Ebert, the film, chronicles the “stereotype-confounding” stories of four teams as they prepare for and compete in the 2008 event.
Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel, of the Chicago-based production team Siskel/Jacobs Productions, are the film’s producers and directors.
4 – Might what we know as Disco actually contain hidden meanings, despite attempts by “revisionists” to re-shape it as as a misunderstood culture of protest?
Through interviews with the likes of Gloria Gaynor, The Village People, Kool and the Gang, and others, along with a goldmine of stock footage and speculative reenactments, The Secret Disco Revolution presents a comical investigation into disco and its “mysterious longevity.”
A glittery pop journey into the moral-political-aesthetic soul of Disco, the most famously flakey pop form that will not die. From the current “silent disco” craze to evergreen concert queen Donna Summer, filmmaker Jamie Kastner bops verite-style from present to past, trying to uncover disco’s hidden allure, and discover whether this epitome of shallowness contains any enduring depths. The film’s form and style is as revolutionary as its content. This quietly hilarious doc-satire features an unreliable Nabokovian narrator; “reenactments” that are speculative to the point of complete fantasy; and a unique tone of sustained irony that both presents a fresh look at a well-known era, and compels the audience to question it, without ever having to leave the dance floor.
The Canadian-produced feature documentary was directed by Jamie Kastner. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.
Here’s its fun trailer:
5 – I’ve been a fan of John Sayles since Brother From Another Planet. I haven’t loved every film, but I dig his unwavering indie spirit. He came from the same *school* as directors like Martin Scorcese and James Cameron – working early in their careers with Roger Corman.
Sayles penned a few screenplays for Corman in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and it’s primarily through screenwriting Sayles has been able to survive – writing scripts (or sometimes rewriting) for higher-budgeted studios pictures, and using the money earned from those gigs to help fund his low-budget directorial efforts (like the above) – films that often tell stories centered around the *under-represented* and marginalized, from all walks of life.
Joe Morton starred in Brother From Another Planet, a film for which I’ve read several different interpretations of. The narrative in the low-key dramedy about the adventures of a black extraterrestrial – the ”Brother” of the title – who comes to earth to escape slavery on Planet X, makes for wonderful fodder for dissection. It’s a film that is still, quite frankly, transgressive, even today.
If you haven’t seen it, and you’re a Netflix customer with a streaming account, now you can.