“Glee the 3D Concert Movie” comes to theaters this week, but if you’re looking for some great performances to prep you for the song stylings by New Directions and the Warblers, look no further than indieWIRE at Hulu Docs – iW‘s regular curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page. This week’s selections spotlight talented young performers trying to reach their dreams.
Like the “Glee” kids, the teenage musicians in Michael Patrei’s inspirational “Ballou” attempt to beat all the odds and claim victory on the national level. Ballou Senior High School is one of the worst in the country, but band leader Darrel Watson won’t let this stop his kids. He uses the power of music to push them to their best, both academically and musically, preparing them not only for the National High Stepping Marching Band Competition in Birmingham AL, but for graduation and beyond.
Delving into similar territory, Alberto Arvelo Mendoza’s “Tocar Y Luchar” (To Play and To Fight) reveals the incredible accomplishments of Venezuela’s innovative Youth Orchestra System, a network of orchestras that has exposed impoverished children from all over the country and beyond to music and inspired social change.
The subjects profiled in Josh Koury’s “We Are Wizards” take their cue from “Harry Potter,” with fans inspired to create musical acts themed around the young wizard or to otherwise engage creatively with JK Rowling’s fantasy world beyond the printed page or film adaptation.
While a departure from the kind of music that the kids on “Glee” might normally perform, Paul Owen’s “Reformat the Planet” highlights performers who show the same kind of passion for their own style of music. In this case, it’s the chiptune music scene – synthesized electronic music made using the sound chips from old computers or video games, like the Nintendo Game Boy. The film focuses on the first Blip Festival and the many artists who performed there in 2006.
Nina Gilden Seavey’s “The Ballad of Bering Strait” tells the story of a Russian country music band as they come to Nashville to record their first album, following them through their first appearance on a US stage. Over more than two years, the seven teenagers experience the intricacies of the US music industry, with its hectic schedule of studio recording, rehearsals, and business meetings, while they adjust to life in rural Tennessee.
Finally, rounding out this week’s selections is Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s “OT: Our Town.” Documenting the unlikely story of a Compton, CA high school’s performance of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” – the school’s first stage production in over 20 years – “OT” challenges stereotypes and expectations through the exploration of art and performance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of indieWIRE.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).