“How to Dance in Ohio,” Alexandra Shiva’s chronicle of three autistic girls’ preparations for Prom, and “San Francisco 2.0,” Alexandra Pelosi’s examination of that city’s transformation from counterculture capital to tech mecca, are two of the eight upcoming documentaries to air on HBO this year.
The other pair of female-directed docs are Leah Wolshock’s “Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists” (self-explanatory) and Alan and Susan Raymond’s “Toe Tag Parole: To Live and Die on Yard A,” a look at an experimental prison yard “free of violence, racial tensions, gang activity and
illegal drug and alcohol use” for inmates serving life sentences.
On the other side of the world, there’s also the female-centric “Tashi and the Monk,” which documents the experiences of a five-year-old girl who arrives at a unique Buddhist orphanage.
Here are the female-centric and/or -directed nonfics we can look forward to in the next four months. Descriptions courtesy of HBO.
TAG PAROLE: TO LIVE AND DIE ON YARD A (debuting Aug. 3) explores the
reality of “the
other death penalty.” The film visits Yard A at California State
Prison, a dedicated yard for men serving life sentences that was created
to break the code of violence dominating prison life. The only one of
its kind in the United States, this experimental
prison yard is free of violence, racial tensions, gang activity and
illegal drug and alcohol use. Directed by Academy Award®
winners Alan and Susan Raymond (HBO’s “I Am A Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School”).
TASHI AND THE MONK (Aug. 17)
visits a unique community in the Himalayas that rescues
orphaned and neglected children. Founded by former Buddhist monk
Lobsang Phunstok, who trained with the Dalai Lama and whose own dark
childhood led him to create this safe haven, Jhamtse Gatsal is home to
boys and girls fleeing extreme poverty, who grow up
in an environment where they are free to be themselves and dream about
their future. Directed by Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke, the film
follows the school’s most recent arrival, Tashi, a feisty five-year old
girl. Winner of the Best Short and the Pare Lorentz
Award at the International Documentary Association’s (IDA) Documentary
SAN FRANCISCO 2.0 (Sept. 28)
visits a city that has long enjoyed a reputation as the
counterculture capitol of America. Now, with the digital gold rush,
members of the young tech elite are flocking to the West Coast to make
their fortunes, and this influx of new wealth is forcing San Francisco
to reinvent itself. How is the tech revolution
affecting the heart, soul and pocketbooks of the city? Emmy®-nominated director Alexandra Pelosi (HBO’s “Journeys with George”) goes home to find out.
HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO (Oct. 26)
spotlights a group of young people on the autism spectrum
who spend 12 weeks practicing their social skills in preparation for a
spring formal dance. Humorous and poignant, the intimate film focuses on
girls transitioning into adulthood, going inside their group therapy
sessions, relationships with their families and private thoughts as they
to understand and navigate the social rules and the universally
relatable feelings of suspense, trepidation and excitement that
accompany a prom and first date. Directed by Alexandra Shiva.
VERY SEMI-SERIOUS: A PARTIALLY THOROUGH PORTRAIT OF NEW YORKER CARTOONISTS
(Dec. 7) is a behind-the-scenes look at the process behind the iconic cartoons at
The New Yorker, the undisputed standard bearer of the single-panel cartoon and a cultural touchstone over the past 90 years.
editor Bob Mankoff sifts through hundreds of submissions each week to
select insightful and humorous work that leaves readers amused, inspired
occasionally irritated. Light-hearted yet poignant, the documentary observes Mankoff as he strives to nurture new talent and represent the magazine’s old
guard, while also considering how his industry must evolve to stay relevant.
Directed by Leah Wolshock.