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cinemadaily | Tough Ladies, Cults, and Iraq: DocuWeeks Rolls On...

By Andy Lauer | Indiewire August 5, 2009 at 2:39AM

Going on now at the IFC Center in New York and the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles is the International Documentary Assocation's (IDA) 13th annual DocuWeeks, which gives short and feature length documentaries week-long theatrical runs so that they can qualify for Oscar consideration. Audiences have the chance to catch the 18 features and 10 shorts being showcased during this year's DocuWeeks until August 20.
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Going on now at the IFC Center in New York and the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles is the International Documentary Assocation's (IDA) 13th annual DocuWeeks, which gives short and feature length documentaries week-long theatrical runs so that they can qualify for Oscar consideration. Audiences have the chance to catch the 18 features and 10 shorts being showcased during this year's DocuWeeks until August 20.

indieWIRE reported on the full lineup of films screening at this year's DocuWeeks last month.

"Film fans in withdrawal for the screen presence of complex women, particularly older women, should line up to see Megan Doneman's riveting 'Yes Madam, Sir,' one of 18 new nonfiction features screening in the International Documentary Association's 13th annual 'DocuWeeks' showcase," recommends the Village Voice's Ernest Hardy. "In chronicling the life and groundbreaking achievements of Kiran Bedi, the first female police officer in India, Doneman thankfully pushes beyond the hagiography in which too many filmmakers engage when they want to illustrate a subject's heroism."

Hardy also recommends checking out Julie Bridgham's "Sari Soldiers" and Lee Storey's "Smile 'Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story." The latter, which chronicles the rise of the infamous 60's/70's conservative singing and dancing troupe, "offers a withering critique of the organization's religious cult roots, right-wing political subtext, and insipid music, while also being very respectful of the fact that, to a lot of the young folks who signed on, the group offered the chance to affect positive, even progressive, change in the world."

Susan King at the LA Times talks with several of the filmmakers whose documentaries are screening as part of the showcase, including N.C. Heikin, director of "Kimjongilia," "a haunting chronicle of several North Korean defectors who now live in South Korea."

Hekin on what drove her to make the film: "'I started hearing testimonials... I was flabbergasted. I don't know why I took it completely personally. I said, this can't go on. Every year, I would go to more of these human rights conferences and I would meet more of these defectors and heard more and more stories. I asked them if they would be in the film once I decided to do the documentary.'"

Matt Zoller Seitz raves about Kristian Fraga’s "Severe Clear," which documents a marine Mike Scotti's experiences during the Iraq war, on IFC.com. "Cliff Martinez’s dreamy score, Fraga’s sharp but largely invisible edits and Scotti’s straightforward prose combine to create an essential combat picture that would fit nicely on a double-bill with Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" -- not just for its non-ideological approach to a controversial war, but for its nonjudgmental depiction of a soldier’s life and mindset. It’s a must-see for anyone who’s interested in an honest look at war and its casualties, and essential viewing for anyone who has served in combat or knows someone that has."

Eric Kohn, reviewing the film for indieWIRE during SXSW, was similarly enthusiastic, writing: "Kristian Fraga’s 'Severe Clear' breaks free of the 'Iraq war movie' stigma by remaining essentially apolitical. The movie exclusively relies on cheap camcorder footage shot by U.S. soldier Mike Scotti during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, offering a fascinatingly intimate look at the fraternization and search for adventure shared by many members of the military."

For more on DocuWeeks and to view clips from several of the films being showcased, visit the IDA's website.

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