Trailer for new documentary series about Bill Gates

Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates is a new three-part documentary that premieres on September 20. It's directed by Davis Guggenheim who produced An Inconvenient Truth and directed Waiting for Superman.

"When I thought about topics to cover, I knew I didn’t want to make a promotional piece about his work," Guggenheim said. "Instead, I opted to focus on the tougher, more complex problems that nobody wants to think about, like sanitation and nuclear energy. Bill chose to take these issues on, even knowing that he might fail, and I had an instinct that seeing him wrestle with these intractable and frustrating problems would reveal something interesting about him as a person.”

It'll be interesting to see how warts-and-all the documentary really is (or isn't). Read the rest

Trailer: Take a peek at Barack and Michelle Obama's first film, American Factory

The Obamas released their first film with Netflix, which started streaming today — a documentary called American Factory.

From Fast Company:

Called American Factory, the documentary follows the events of when a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in an abandoned General Motors plant in Ohio and hires 2,000 blue-collar American workers to work alongside Chinese immigrants. As France24 explains:

In the new documentary’s early scenes, genuine attempts by the US and Chinese workers to bond with their new colleagues, including fishing and shooting lessons and shared Thanksgiving dinners, appear to bear some fruit.

But as the new Chinese owners become alarmed by heavy financial losses, they fire the American middle managers and increasingly invoke their Chinese replacements’ sense of nationalistic pride to spur harder work, leaving the workforce ever-more divided.

According to Fast Company, the reviews "have been off the charts." And the Obamas have four more films in the works.

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Fast times at Roosevelt Field Mall, a documentary (1983)

In 1983, a crew of young, DIY documentarians visited Long Island's Roosevelt Field Mall to study mall culture. This is Mall City. (via r/ObscureMedia)

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Documentary about the 1980s SoCal underground art happenings with Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, etc.

In the 1980s, Stuart Swezey was at the epicenter of Southern California's underground culture. The co-founder of Amok Books, Swezey was also known for organizing extreme industrial and avant-garde outdoor happenings in remote locations like the Mojave Desert that featured performances by Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Minutemen, and many other experimental and transgressive artists. Now, Swezey has made a documentary about those extreme experiences. Above is the trailer for Desolation Center.

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Los Reyes is the stray dog documentary I never knew I needed

The summer of movies that Séamus willing to pay to see in an actual pay-forty-bucks-for-a-small-popcorn movie theater continues!

Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff spent two years hanging out at the oldest skate park in Santiago, Chile, looking to gain a window into the lives of the folks who congregated their to skate their days away. The documentary they came away with, however, is arguably one million times better. They framed their film through the lives of two stray dogs, Football and Chola, that call the skate park home.

Sadly, I live in oil and cowboy country, just now. I'll likely have to wait to watch it once it hits DVD. Read the rest

Triple Chaser: a short documentary that uses machine learning to document tear gas use against civilians, calling out "philanthropist" Warren Kanders for his company's war-crimes

Laura Poitras (previously) is the Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour; she teamed up with the activist group Forensic Archicture (previously), whose incredible combination of data-visualization and documentary filmmaking have made them a potent force for holding war criminals and authoritarians to account: together, they created Triple Chaser, a short documentary that uses novel machine-learning techniques to document the ways in which tear gas and bullets made by companies belonging to "philanthropist" Warren Kanders have been used against civilians to suppress anti-authoritarian movements, and even to murder innocents, including children. Read the rest

Goreytelling: Animations to go with Edward Gorey's narration of his life

In the 1990s, student filmmaker Christopher Seufert talked his way into Edward Gorey's life and convinced him to record a series of memoirs and tales from his life; the project blossomed into a documentary, only to be derailed when Gorey died. Read the rest

Watch the 1983 breakdancing documentary that inspired the movie Breakin'

Directed by Topper Carew, "Breakin 'n' Enterin'" (1983) documented the Los Angeles B-boy scene emerging at Venice Beach and MacArthur Park's Radio-Tron nightclub. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Ice-T, Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, and Adolfo "Shabba-Doo" Quinones who all appeared the following year in Breakin'. The dancing in this documentary is much better than in the feature film though -- more complex, raw, and aggressive.

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Boing Boing presents: Skeleton Boy, a moving short documentary about the life, death and afterlife of Harry Eastlack, star of the Mutter Museum

Philadelphia's Mutter Museum (previously) is one of my favorite museums in the world: built from the private collection of pathologist Dr Thomas Dent (who aggregated the collections of many other pathologists), it is a solemn and moving place to see the incredible breadth of human physiognomy and pathology. Read the rest

China's toxic livestreaming culture: the vicarious lives of angry, alienated, uneducated rural gamers

China has a massive livestreaming industry, centered around the YY platform, which started out as a Twitch-style gamer livestreaming platform and now hosts a huge number of wildly popular vloggers who earn money when viewers toss them virtual tips that they can redeem for cash. Read the rest

Trailer for new documentary about the 60s-70s Laurel Canyon music scene featuring Tom Petty, Cat Power, Jackson Browne, Norah Jones

In the 1960s and 1970s, Los Angeles's Laurel Canyon neighborhood was flowing with sex, drugs, and folk-rock and roll. Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Jackson Brown, Carole King, the Mamas & The Papas, and countless other musicians made the scene or had homes in the hills. Echo in the Canyon is a new documentary about that magical moment and the influential sound that emerged. The trip back in time to this "legendary paradise, as Tom Petty called it, was directed by Andrew Slater with Jakob Dylan as executive producer.

“The best test of songwriting is that it transcends its moment in time,” Dylan said in a statement. “And there is no doubt that the songs we explore in this film are as powerful today as they were in 1965.”

Echo in the Canyon will see a national release in June.

(Rolling Stone) Read the rest

Ten year old son of the late, great drummer, Dennis Davis, interviews Tony Visconti about his father's work with Bowie

This is so wonderful. Hikaru Davis is the son of the late session drummer, Dennis Davis, who died in 2016. Among many others, Davis played with Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Roy Ayers, and Iggy Pop. But he is most famously remembered as one of David Bowie's drummers, playing on Bowie's 70s records, from Young Americans to Scary Monsters.

When Davis died, his son, then ten (now 13) decided that he wanted to know more about his father and what made him a great drummer by interviewing friends and fellow musicians who'd worked with his dad. The result is HD Projects, a YouTube channel presenting these interview videos as they're finished.

In the most recent upload, Hikaru interviews producer and longtime Bowie collaborator, Tony Visconti. In the video, Tony breaks down Davis' drumming on Bowie's Lodger track, "Look Back in Anger."

Here is Hikaru's statement about his documentary project and interviewing Tony Visconti:

After my father’s passing, I didn’t want to hear anybody say his name. It was not because I wanted to forget about him. It was my way of mourning. It made me sad, angry, and depressed to hear his name from someone. I wanted to keep him only inside of me. Maybe I was too selfish. But I was only 10 years old.

After a while, I started looking at social media to see what people were saying about my father. And I saw an article in Rolling Stone Magazine about Dad’s death. That’s when I saw Mr.

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Watch: The Inventor documentary trailer about the rise and fall of Theranos grifter Elizabeth Holmes

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, HBO's documentary about fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who started her multi-billion-dollar healthcare company Theranos when she was 19-years-old, airs on March 16. That gives me six days to finish the highly-engaging Theranos bio, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by Wall Street Journal reporter, John Carreyrou, if I don't want any book spoilers. Here's the trailer to whet your appetite. Read the rest

The making of It, Stephen King's 1990 miniseries

From the scary movie documentarians "You're So Cool Brewster: The Story of Fright Night" and "Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary" comes "Pennywise: The Story of It."

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Dieter Rams's "10 Principles of Good Design"

Legendary designer Dieter Rams lays out the ten principles underlying his approach to "good design."

A scene from "Rams", Gary Hustwit's new documentary about legendary designer Dieter Rams, with original music by Brian Eno. Motion graphics by Trollback & Co.

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New documentary about Adnan Syed from the "Serial" podcast

This spring, HBO will air a new documentary about Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of the Serial podcast. The four-part series is directed by Amy Berg ("Deliver Us from Evil"). From the Baltimore Sun:

Syed, the subject of the wildly popular “Serial” podcast, was convicted in 2000 of killing his former girlfriend and Woodlawn High School classmate. But “Serial” raised questions about why his attorney, M. Cristina Gutierrez, did not call a potential alibi witness. The attorney died in 2004.

Syed’s conviction was vacated in June 2016 by a Baltimore circuit judge, and the Court of Special Appeals upheld the decision, prompting the state to bring its case for reinstating the conviction before Maryland’s highest court in November.

The HBO trailer prominently features Syed’s family friend, Rabia Chaudry, who brought the case to “Serial” host and former Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Koenig. The documentary, directed by Academy Award nominee Amy Berg, promises “a piece of evidence that nobody even realized existed for all these years.”

It’s unclear when the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court, will make a decision. Chaudry said in November that Syed’s family expects a ruling by August.

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Watch the Private Life of a Cat

Back in 1947, decades before cat memes became a way of life, experimental documentary filmmakers Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid gave us a lovely glimpse of the "Private Life of a Cat." From Archive.org:

RECORDS FEMALE CAT & HER 5 KITTENS AS MOTHER CAT APPROACHES LABOR, KITTENS ARE BORN & OBTAIN MILK & MOTHER CAT THEN CARES FOR THEM IN LEARNING & GROWING PROCESS, IN WHICH TOM CAT OCCASIONALLY PARTICIPATES.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

Previously: Maya Deren's Sights and sounds of Haitian vodou Read the rest

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