- Doc Soup: Top 10 Doc Films with a Social Agenda
We’ve been talking a lot lately in the Doc Soup kitchen about really well made documentaries that actually effect change, so I’ve compiled a list of the Most Aesthetically Accomplished Documentary Films that Come with a Social Agenda. I’m not going to include war documentaries, although there happen to be several excellent ones (Operation Homecoming: […]
- Doc Soup: Is a Remarkable Story Enough?
Serves me right for giving the BBC’s Nick Fraser a hard time about his criticism of social activist documentaries last week. As soon as I put down my pen, I am led like a cow to water, to drink from the very same liberal industrial complex that Fraser decried. I was asked to look at […]
- Doc Soup: Something Rotten in the House of Docs?
There’s something rotten in the house of docs, or so it was declared at last week’s Independent Filmmaker Conference panel discussion entitled "Cage Match: Filmmaking or Social Activism?," expertly moderated by POV’s very own Yance Ford. Ford kicked things off with the question, "Is the medium in an identity crisis?" And panelist Nick Fraser, of […]
- Doc Soup: A Documentary Hoax Revealed
Joaquin Phoenix with David Letterman in 2009. This week, actor Joaquin Phoenix will go on the Late Show and he and David Letterman are going to share some laughs. They will wink and nudge and roll their eyes, indicating that they are being sincerely ironic about the sincerity of what they are talking about — […]
- Doc Soup: 'Kings of Pastry'
They took us into the heart of the Clinton campaign (The War Room). They brought us backstage to see Bob Dylan (Don’t Look Back). And they spent sleepless nights chronicling the dot-com boom (Startup.com). Now, directors Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker go into the depths of . . . pastry-making! What, am I missing […]
- Doc Soup: Doc Highlights at the Toronto International Film Festival
What a great film festival. Maybe it’s how lovely Toronto is in September. Maybe it’s the enthusiastic audiences. Maybe it’s the great restaurants. Or maybe it’s how the festival treats otherwise art-house fare like big blockbusters. These are just a few of the reasons I have always loved the Toronto International Film Festival over the […]
- Doc Soup: Adopting Parenthood
Normally with this blog, I like to approach the form, aesthetics, politics and/or cultural context of the documentaries I write about, but for this week’s POV airing of Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, I find myself thinking about just the content. It’s no doubt because I recently experienced the birth of my second […]
- Doc Soup: Daydreaming About The Edge of Dreaming
I had a dream… A Hollywood agent was sitting on a yoga mat somewhere in Santa Monica and a studio executive was sitting next to him. They began to talk. Hollywood Agent: Look, last night I saw this reality show on PBS… Studio Executive: …I think they call them documentaries… HA: Yeah, maybe. Whatever. So, […]
- Doc Soup: 'The Tillman Story'
I’m back! I’ve been out of commission the last few weeks, because there’s a new baby in the Soup Man’s kitchen, and, well, new babies can be very demanding. But I had to take off my baby-bottle goggles to tell you about a great documentary that’s coming out this Friday, August 20. Pat Tillman, left, […]
- Doc Soup: Presumed Guilty
I found Presumed Guilty, which airs tonight on POV (10 PM, check local listings), very compelling. It’s the kind of doc that left me with several burning questions — so I decided to follow up with the lawyers-turned-filmmakers directly. Roberto Hernández graciously responded. Doc Soup Man: Since the Thin Blue Line, as far as […]
- Doc Soup: Restrepo
Should one buy popcorn before watching a documentary about the cruel (albeit, sometimes thrilling) realities of war? That’s one of the confounding contradictions posed by a theatrically-released war documentary such as Restrepo, the Sundance documentary that was directed by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington. Are we supposed to enjoy watching documentaries, like any other good […]
- Doc Soup: Life in a Day
I tend to be optimistic. When I hear about an exciting new documentary in the works, I immediately think of the best of possibilities. And, not too surprisingly, perhaps, the higher my expectations, the more I am disappointed. That’s what came to mind when I heard about a cool (careful, Soup Man) documentary project announced […]
- Doc Soup: All Eyes on Africa
World Cup 2010, South Africa. Photo by Marcello Casal Jr//ABr The World Cup has been grabbing vast swaths of attention for the game of soccer, and providing a raison d’être for some serious-minded programming focusing on the host country, South Africa, as well as the larger host continent. I’ve managed to catch some thin, yet […]
- Doc Soup: The Films of Agnès Varda
It’s no wonder that 82-year-old Agnès Varda calls her deeply personal film about her life and her movies, The Beaches of Agnès. The French New Wave, of which she was a pioneering member, liked to place their characters on a beach, where the enormity of existence and the profundity of life could be adequately pondered. […]
- Doc Soup: All in the Family
This week, POV’s 2010 season kicks off with the great documentary William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Check local listings). I think it’s just perfect that the season begins with a grainy home video of two young girls, Kunstler’s daughters Emily and Sarah, who are also the directors of the film, as they interview their famous […]
- Doc Soup: Whatever Happened to… Philippe Petit from 'Man on Wire'?
The 2008 film Man on Wire helped canonize performance artist Philippe Petit‘s marvelous feat of walking on a wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Petit’s act had become a cherished yet distant memory for many New Yorkers, but the film, which went on to win the Oscar, really placed Petit’s daring walk […]
- Doc Soup: The Top 10 Most Powerful People in the Documentary World
Ah, the irony of creating a power list for people in an industry where everyone feels so powerless. And yet, however small the spoils and anemic the troops, there’s no denying that within the doc kingdom, there is a hierarchy of power. My previous two posts have led up to this, a ranking of the […]
- Doc Soup: The Documentary 'Power' List: Part I
As promised, I’m delivering my list of the most powerful people in documentaries. I have come up with 50, but this week I’m going to build some dramatic tension by presenting 40 out of the 50, leaving the top 10 to come next week. Is this a definitive list? No. It’s more of an impression. […]