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Docs on Sonia Sanchez, Senegal’s 2011 Presidential Elections, Mavis Staples, Althea Gibson Are Full Frame 2015 Selections

Docs on Sonia Sanchez, Senegal's 2011 Presidential Elections, Mavis Staples, Althea Gibson Are Full Frame 2015 Selections

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, one of the top documentary film festival in the world, has announced its “Invited Program” and “NEW DOCS” lineup of new feature and short films. The full schedule will be released on March 19.  

Of note, with regards to this blog’s interests, from directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, the appropriately-titled “BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez,” a project whose Kickstarter campaign was featured on this blog 2 years ago, which focuses on the life of the 80-year-old poet (born Wilsonia Benita Driver) – her emergence as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, to civil rights involvement, women’s liberation, as a poet, playwright, teacher and activist.

Despite her achievements, there has yet to be a major film documenting her life and the impact of her work, and this documentary – the title drawn from Sanchez’s second book of poetry, “We a BaddDDD People”) hopes to rectify that, with a look at Sanchez as writer and at the groundbreaking artistic and political movements she embraced and influenced. Per the filmmakers, at the heart of the film will be her performances.

Also worth noting is “Incorruptible” from director: E. Chai Vasarhelyi. Its focus: on Senegal’s crisis-heavy 2011 presidential elections. In short, at the time, Senegal’s former president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade’s second term in office saw his popularity take a beating, as many were upset by the lack of progress in dealing with infrastructure problems in the country as well as rising inflation. You might recall an item we posted here on S&A a few years ago, which mentioned criticism Wade faced for his commissioning of the gigantic and expensive African Renaissance Monument, later unveiled during Senegal’s 50th independence anniversary in April 2010, when Wade asserted that he’d essentially earned about 1/3 of any revenue generated by visitors to the statue, simply because he came up with the idea for it.

But that was just one matter of contention out of a handful; his proposals to ammend the country’s constitution in his favor, also drew much criticism; Most notably, Wade announced his intentions to stand for re-election for a 3rd term, even though the constitution limited presidential terms to two, which he already would have served.

However, the country’s Constitutional Council allowed him to go ahead with his bid for a third term, which, of course, also drew much criticism, both in Senegal and abroad, inspiring protests, although that failed to stop Wade from standing for re-election again, the following year.

He would seemingly receive the most votes – almost 35 percent, in a field of a dozen other candidates – the closest behind him being former prime minister Macky Sall, who won almost 27 percent of the vote.

And because a minimum of 50% is needed in order to avoid a second round of voting, a run-off election between Wade and Sall was held a month later, which eventually led to an overwhelming victory for Sall, who won about 66 percent of the vote.

Wade then stepped down in April.

That entire fiasco, we could call it, will be the subject of director Vasarhelyi’s documentary, promising an unbiased work of investigative cinema that captures the election and pro-democracy movement from both sides, 

Vasarhelyi’s last film was the feature documentary also centered on a prominent Senegalese figure – the award-winning “Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love.”

Other titles to be aware of, all films receiving coverage on this blog following previous screenings include: “Mavis!” – on Mavis Staples’ career, family, and legacy; “(T)ERROR” – on FBI informant “Shariff” and his counterterrorism sting engagements, highlighting the controversial methods used in the government’s war on terror; “3 ½ MINUTES” – on the 2012 shooting death of black teenager Jordan Davis at a Florida gas station and the subsequent trial of his killer, Michael Dunn; “Althea” – the story of Althea Gibson, the “Jackie Robinson of tennis;” and “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” – on the vibrant history of the Black Panther Party, from its early beginnings to its dissolution.

There could be others on the below lengthy list that I’m not yet familiar with, and so didn’t mention; but, as usual, I plan to scrub the entirely list in search of titles that fit this blog’s interests.

Full Frame, a qualifying event for consideration for the nominations for both the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject and the Producers Guild of America Awards, celebrates its 18th annual festival this April –  April 9-12, 2015, in Durham, N.C.

“We are incredibly proud of the talent on display in our 2015 lineup,” said director of programming Sadie Tillery. “These new films take us places: remote landscapes, hypnotic fairs, and steep climbs. They probe legal cases, unveil artistic processes, and witness turmoil. They bring history to life and encourage us to think deeply about current events. And altogether, they highlight people, the human experience, and allow us to reflect on the world in which we live. It’s a gift that filmmakers share this work with us, and we can’t wait to share it with our audiences in April.” 

The “NEW DOCS” program includes 49 titles, 35 features and 14 shorts, from across the United States and around the world, selected from over 1,300 submissions, including 12 World Premieres, 13 North American Premieres, and two U.S. Premieres. Nearly all of the films are screening in North Carolina for the first time. “NEW DOCS” films are eligible for the Full Frame Audience Award and are shortlisted for a variety of additional juried prizes. Award winners will be announced at the annual Awards Barbecue on Sunday, April 12.  

The “Invited Program” features 21 films screening out of competition, including one World Premiere and one U.S. Premiere. Within this list are the festival’s “Center Frame” screenings, which feature moderated panel discussions following the films and take place in Fletcher Hall at the Carolina Theatre. The “Opening Night Film,” “Center Frame” programs, and special free screenings will be announced in the coming week.

Full lineup follows: 

NEW DOCS

Abandoned Goods (Directors: Pia Borg, Edward Lawrenson)

A meditation on artwork and experiences connected to the Adamson Collection, some 5,500 paintings, sculptures, and drawings made by patients in Netherne, a psychiatric hospital, between 1946 and 1981.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez (Directors: Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater)

Rich with spoken word performances and readings by young black artists, this film honors the life and legacy of poet, activist, and teacher Sonia Sanchez. World Premiere

Barge (Director: Ben Powell)            

A meditative microcosm of the American Dream, Barge documents a hard-working crew’s month-long hitch aboard a Mississippi River towboat bound for New Orleans.

Bikes vs Cars (Director: Fredrik Gertten)

A global look at bicycles as a tool for change in a world overrun by cars, from the frustrations of gridlock in Los Angeles to the fight for safe bike lanes in São Paulo.

Cairo in One Breath (Director: Anna Kipervaser)

A layered examination of soundscapes and sacred spaces as thousands of muezzins in Cairo are replaced by a single radio broadcast of the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer. World Premiere

Cartel Land (Director: Matthew Heineman)

With stunning access amidst danger and violence, Cartel Land viscerally exposes two contemporary vigilante movements, one on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chasing the Wind (Inseguire il vento) (Director: Filippo Ticozzi)

Gifted Italian mortician Karine spends her days among the dead and her evenings among the living, approaching both worlds with contemplation and calm. North American Premiere

The Circus Dynasty (Director: Anders Riis-Hansen)

Expectations are high when the son and daughter of two famous circus families fall in love. But will the fickle flames of young romance threaten this perfect union? North American Premiere

Containment (Directors: Peter Galison, Robb Moss)

Issues of waste disposal at three radioactive sites pose profound practical and philosophical conundrums for the present and the future. World Premiere

Crooked Candy (Director: Andrew Rodgers)

A vibrant compilation of colorful plastic, this short captures one man’s fascination with Kinder Eggs and the intricate collectibles that lie at the core of these milk chocolate ovoids.

Curious Worlds: The Art & Imagination of David Beck (Director: Olympia Stone)

A portrait of artist David Beck, who sculpts, carves, paints, and welds to make intricate creations as masterfully layered as they are playful and personal. World Premiere

Devil’s Rope (Director: Sophie Bruneau)

An elliptical meditation on barbed wire, from its role in the settling of the American West to its present-day use by militaries and prisons. North American Premiere

The Farewell (La despedida) (Director: Alejandro Alonso)

Long retired from the local mine, Pablo Fabelo spends his days smoking cigars, playing cards, and quietly reminiscing in this languid, lushly photographed short. North American Premiere

The Fish Tamer (El domador de peixos) (Directors: Roger Gómez, Dani Resines)

At the request of an ailing friend, a fisherman sets out to free Juanita, a beloved and exceptionally talented carp.

For Floppy Ears Only (Wat konijnen mogen weten) (Director: Ronja Hijmans)

When her mother suddenly passes away, eight-year-old Lulu finds strength in her father, brothers, and stuffed animal, Rabbit. North American Premiere

From This Day Forward (Director: Sharon Shattuck)

In the lead-up to her wedding, filmmaker Sharon Shattuck returns home to better understand the enduring relationship between her mother and transgender father. World Premiere

Giovanni and the Water Ballet (Director: Astrid Bussink)

Giovanni dreams of becoming the first boy to compete in the Dutch synchronized swimming championship. With the support of his girlfriend, Kim, can he pass one final exam?

Good Things Await (Så Meget Godt I Vente) (Director: Phie Ambo)

An aging farmer runs a biodynamic farm in the Danish countryside, prioritizing spiritual methods over contemporary standards. Will new regulations threaten his way of life?

Graminoids (Directors: Demelza Kooij, Lars Koens)

Changing winds blowing through a field of grass create mesmerizing patterns and otherworldly landscapes in this symphony of sound and movement.

Here Come the Videofreex (Directors: Jon Nealon, Jenny Raskin)

Using brand-new portable video technology, a pioneering collective of 1970s radicals captures counterculture happenings ignored by TV network news. World Premiere

How to Dance in Ohio (Director: Alexandra Shiva)

Three young women on the autism spectrum attempt to navigate social rules and the impending challenges of adulthood as they prepare for their first formal dance.

In the Country (Ute på landet) (Director: Anders Jedenfors)

This exquisite black-and-white portrait captures the choreography of coexistence, revealing simple details of a longstanding couple’s day-to-day life in rural Sweden. North American Premiere

Incorruptible (Director: E. Chai Vasarhelyi)

During the political crisis surrounding Senegal’s 2011 presidential elections, an artist-led youth movement forms to protect the democracy.  World Premiere

King Georges (Director: Erika Frankel)

Forty years after opening La Bec-Fin, French chef Georges Perrier strives to keep his landmark restaurant relevant in a culinary world of new stars and shifting tastes.  World Premiere

Kings of Nowhere (Director: Betzabé García)

In this poetic and patiently photographed film, a handful of residents stay their ground after a flood leaves their Mexican village semi-submerged.

Kings of the Wind & Electric Queens (Directors: Cédric Dupire, Gaspard Kuentz)

This sensory film spirits us through the frenzied preparations and primal beats of an annual fair in Sonepur, India.  U.S. Premiere

The Land (Director: Erin Davis)

Children’s empowerment is tied to exploring risk at an “adventure playground” in North Wales, where kids are free to use saws, make fires, and climb tall trees. World Premiere

The Lanthanide Series (Director: Erin Espelie)

Shifting images, sounds, and texts illuminate the role of rare earth elements and black mirrors in our modern world of screens and recording technology. North American Premiere

Last Day of Freedom (Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones, Nomi Talisman)

Beautiful animation accompanies poignant testimony in this haunting short about a man who discovers his brother has committed a serious crime. World Premiere

The Last Hour in the Sun (Het laatste uur in de zon) (Director: Suzanne Jansen)

Emile longs to be a pilot, but the financial crisis stands in the way of his childhood dream in this film about family, identity, and opening up to the uncertainties of the future. North American Premiere

Love Marriage in Kabul (Director: Amin Palangi)

Afghan-Australian aid worker Mahboba Rawi must challenge traditions and navigate a web of complex negotiations to help two young Afghanis marry for love.

Mavis! (Director: Jessica Edwards)

Joining Mavis Staples on tour, this vibrant film charts the singer’s prolific career and reflects on her deep attachment to family, powerfully highlighting her legacy with exceptional performances.

Monte Adentro (Director: Nicolás Macario Alonso)

Two brothers from a Colombian muleteer family personify the contrast between city and country, joining forces for one epic mule-driving expedition through the Andes.

Nadeshda (Directors: Anna Frances Ewert, Falk Müller)

Three Roma children with musical aspirations grapple with discrimination and the limiting, and sometimes threatening, traditions of their Bulgarian ghetto. U.S. Premiere

Of Men and War (Director: Laurent Bécue-Renard)

Combat veterans at a group therapy center attempt to overcome their PTSD and rebuild their lives in this unflinching look at the walking casualties of war.

Overburden (Director: Chad A. Stevens)

In a West Virginia coal mining community, environmentalist Lorelei Scarbro battles a dangerous coal company, and her community’s pro-coal residents, to protect her home. World Premiere

Peace Officer (Directors: Scott Christopherson, Brad Barber)
After a former sheriff sees his son-in-law killed in a controversial police standoff, he dives into an obsessive investigation of the militarization of American law enforcement.

The Queen (La Reina) (Director: Manuel Abramovich)

As the grown-ups fuss to prepare her to be queen of the carnival, 11-year-old pageant competitor Memi learns that beauty is pain.

R. Enstone (Director: James Varley)

The discovery of a box of mysterious and sometimes darkly paranoid footage shot by a man named Richard Enstone raises unanswerable questions. North American Premiere

Sad Songs of Happiness (Director: Constanze Knoche)

When their voice teacher enters them in a prestigious European music competition, three Palestinian schoolgirls learn lessons about dreams and dashed hopes. North American Premiere

Saving Mes Aynak (Director: Brent E. Huffman)

An Afghan archeologist races to save ancient Buddhist artifacts from a 5,000-year-old site near Kabul before a Chinese mining company demolishes the area.

The Solitude of Memory (¿Por qué el recuerdo?) (Director: Juan Pablo González)

In this brief film about grief and remembrance, a father recounts the story of his son’s death in multiple iterations as his language and landscapes poetically converge.

The Storm Makers (Director: Guillaume Suon)

A heartbreaking exposé of Cambodia’s human trafficking system, revealed through the stories of two guiltless “recruiters” and a young woman who was sold into slavery and escaped. North American Premiere

Tell Spring Not to Come This Year (Directors: Saeed Taji Farouky, Michael McEvoy)

When international forces pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, the ill-equipped troops of the Afghan National Army take over control of the extremely dangerous Helmand Province. North American Premiere

The Term (Directors: Alexei Pivovarov, Pavel Kostomarov, Alexander Rastorguev)

This chaotic, farcical document of the rising tide of protest against Vladimir Putin’s rule in Russia centers around three young leaders of the opposition movement. North American Premiere

(T)ERROR (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe)

FBI informant “Shariff” grants filmmakers unprecedented access as he engages in a counterterrorism sting against a white Muslim man, illuminating the controversial methods employed in the government’s war on terror.

Tocando la Luz (Touch the Light) (Director: Jennifer Redfearn)

In this quietly arresting film, three blind women in Havana, Cuba, share their heartbreaks and hopes, and navigate their profound desire for independence. World Premiere

Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd (Ouïghours: Prisonniers de l’absurde) (Director: Patricio HenrÍquez)

A group of Uyghurs, China’s Muslim minority, escape persecution by fleeing to Afghanistan, only to find themselves sold as terrorists to U.S. forces and held for years at Guantanamo Bay.

White Chimney (Savupiippu) (Director: Jani Peltonen)

This enigmatic short weaves together past and present to explore what happened to a young Finnish actress at a hotel party in 1939.

Invited Program

3 ½ MINUTES (Director: Marc Silver)

In 2012, an African American teenager was shot and killed while sitting in a car with three friends at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. This powerful film examines the ensuing trial.

Althea (Director: Rex Miller)

The story of Althea Gibson, the unlikely “Jackie Robinson of tennis,” a tough, competitive athlete who blazed trails and crossed color lines.

Being Evel (Director: Daniel Junge)

From motorcycles to rockets, from hustler to Johnny Carson’s couch, Evel Knievel’s real triumph spanned more than 14 Greyhound buses.

Best of Enemies (Directors: Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon)

In 1968, a series of nationally televised debates matched conservative William F. Buckley against liberal Gore Vidal: intellectual argument quickly gave way to verbal blood sport.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Director: Stanley Nelson)

A clarifying and vibrant history of the Black Panther Party, rich with rare archival footage, from the Party’s early beginnings to its ultimate dissolution.

City of Gold (Director: Laura Gabbert)

Food critic Jonathan Gold takes us on a journey through Los Angeles’s eclectic food scene, introducing a trove of international delicacies far off the well-beaten path.

Deep Web (Director: Alex Winter)

Alex Winter investigates Silk Road, the online black market and trade hub for illegal drugs, concentrating on the arrest and trial of Dread Pirate Roberts, the site’s unlikely founder.

(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies (Director: Yael Melamede)

Personal stories of dishonesty are interwoven with insights by behavioral economics expert Dan Ariely in this enlightening study of the human tendency to lie. U.S. Premiere

DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Story of the National Lampoon (Director: Douglas Tirola)

This history of the bawdily irreverent humor magazine reveals the antiheroes of the antiestablishment through lively interviews and captivating archival footage.

Harry & Snowman (Director: Ron Davis)

The story of the deep friendship between a former plow horse and a gifted equestrian, who together make an unexpectedly formidable show jumping team. World Premiere

Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation (Director: Barbara Kopple)

This tribute to America’s oldest weekly magazine goes behind the scenes of editorial meetings, intern hirings, and in-depth (left-leaning) political and cultural reporting.

Iris (Director: Albert Maysles)

The late, legendary Albert Maysles documents 93-year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel in this charming celebration of style, wit, and individuality.

Kingdom of Shadows (Director: Bernardo Ruiz)

The U.S.-Mexico drug war is humanized through the stories of a U.S. federal agent, a former drug smuggler, and an activist nun.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (Director: Brett Morgen)

This first fully authorized account of the late Nirvana frontman’s life reveals Kurt Cobain’s personal archive of journals and recordings, unseen and unheard until now.

Listen to Me Marlon (Director: Stevan Riley)

This excavation of the private thoughts of one of Hollywood’s public stars, Marlon Brando, is composed entirely of archival materials, most notably audio messages the actor recorded to himself.

The Look of Silence (Director: Joshua Oppenheimer)

In this arresting companion piece to The Act of Killing, an Indonesian optometrist confronts the men who murdered his brother and demands accountability in a society silenced by fear.

Meru (Directors: Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi)

An elite climbing team tries to ascend the treacherous Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru. Remarkably photographed by the climbers themselves, their journey tests the boundaries of endurance, trust, and friendship.

Sunshine Superman (Director: Marah Strauch)

This portrait of the “father of BASE jumping,” Carl Boenish, weaves recollections from friends and family through an astounding array of his own daring 16mm documentation.

Tiger Tiger (Director: George Butler)

Follow big cat specialist Dr. Alan Rabinowitz deep into the dangerous Sundarbans forest on the border of India and Bangladesh, where he hopes his work will help save endangered wild tigers.

Western (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross)

With equal parts grit and sensitivity, a mayor and a rancher wrestle changing forces and impending violence in brother towns on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Wolfpack (Director: Crystal Moselle)

A stranger-than-fiction story of six teenage brothers who’ve grown up locked inside their Manhattan apartment, with movies as their only avenue to the outside world.

The 18th Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will be held April 9-12, 2015, in Durham, N.C., with Duke University as the presenting sponsor. The complete schedule of films will be announced March 19. Individual tickets go on sale April 2, and can be purchased online at http://www.fullframefest.org.

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