The Night of All Nights (Germany, 96 minutes) Dir: Yasemin Samdereli Programme: Special Presentations. (International Premier) Four couples around the world open up about their relationships, which have all lasted, remarkably, longer than fifty years. In When Harry Met Sally -style interviews, each pair reflects on life before and beyond the moments that brought them together, and how they’ve grown as partners. Yasemin Samdereli’s The Night of All Nights manages to do something delightful: it becomes a rom-com documentary. Norman and Bill are a gay American couple who, despite their devotion, have only recently been allowed to get married.
On Her Shoulders (USA, 94 min.) Dir. Alexandria Bombach Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere) Films like On Her Shoulders are awkward to review. When a documentary tackles a subject that is still making headlines, the breadth and depth of its inquiry is inevitably limited. The doc has no meat beyond the portrait of its subject and the cause for which she is “the face.” The subject deserves one’s attention, so disapproval of the film feels like dismissal of her story. A circular dance between cynicism and forgiveness, however, invites one to recognize that a film like On Her Shoulders
’m Leaving Now / Ya Me Voy (USA/Mexico, 74 minutes) Dir: Lindsey Cordero, Armando Croda Programme: Made in Mexico. (World Premiere) A camera attached to a cart full of recyclables is pulled through New York at dawn. In the dim light, with scenes crowded by used bottles and cans, we watch as the city is made viscerally uncomfortable. The bottles rattle over the uneven ground and crash over steps, and the smooth sidewalks and welcoming streets of the metropolis are given new meaning in this context. This is how Ya Me Voy opens, with the after-hours ritual performed by
This is Congo (USA, 92 min.) Dir. Daniel McCabe This is Congo will break your heart into pieces. The doc opens with an invigorating handheld shot as the camera follows several Congolese citizens through their village towards the hills. A woman sings and claps her hands. The camera operator changes position. The shift in vantage point reveals that one of the men in the group has a rifle strapped to his shoulder. Another man has a rocket launcher slung across his chest. As the men break from the village and cross the lush green hillside, a character says in
In the Intense Now (No Intenso Agora) (Brazil, 127 min.) Dir. João Moreira Salles When it comes to writing, wordsmiths rely on the advice of William Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” There are turns of phrase, lengthy passages of carefully crafted verbiage, or clever allusions that might give a writer pride, but will cause his or her editor to gag. Less is more, and shooting a few prized puppies can yield cleaner and stronger prose. Nobody will ever love your words as much as you do. Filmmakers might also want to heed Mr. Faulkner’s advice and
Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick (Canada, 91 min.) Dir. LaTiesha Ti’si’tla Fazakas, Natalie Boll Beau Dick makes one heck of a mask, but he doesn’t wear one. The late Kwakwaka’wakw carver speaks plainly and truthfully in the documentary Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick and, for a man celebrated for beautiful wooden masks, Dick refuses to hide. This portrait of the late artist and activist from Alert Bay, British Columbia, honours the legacy of a man who inspired his people to wear their faces with pride. The doc situates Dick’s life and
Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit (Canada, 77 min.) Dir. Michael McNamara, Aaron Hancox Is there any animal better suited to documentary than the cat? From the poetic felines of Chris Marker films to the box-playing furballs of Maru videos to the feral tabbies of Kedi, cats leave their paw prints of every generation of non-fiction filmmaking. The cats now make their mark on Canadian cinema with the wonderful documentary Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit. Directors Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox spotlight the affinity owners feel for their felines and vice versa. Cats just have a novel personality
Love, Cecil (USA, 99 min.) Dir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland Nar: Rupert Everett Feat: Cecil Beaton Roy Strong, Leslie Caron, David Hockney, David Bailey, Penelope Tree, Hamish Bowles, Isaac Mizrahi Cecil Beaton was a wildly gifted English artist, who had a much-lauded career for over five decades. Although he’s mostly known as the Oscar-winning production and costume designer for My Fair Lady, the vast majority of Beaton’s life was spent as a photographer. And, it must be noted, his photography moved from iconic portrait work to brilliant fashion shoots to deeply moving documentary work. He was also greatly admired