PBS premieres Dark Money on Monday October 1. It's a sobering look at how the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC is trickling down to local politics. John S. Adams, a Montana-based reporter profiled in the film, says, "This is scary stuff, but I think this is the proving ground for the American experiment." Read the rest
Want to be buried in a giant wooden coffin that looks like a Coke bottle?
Coffin artist Paa Joe is the guy who can make that happen. He crafts fantasy wood "proverb coffins" (aka as abebuu adekai in his culture) out of his shop in Ghana. He's considered the grandfather of the fantasy coffin trade and his work is exhibited in museums worldwide. But hard times fell on his business.
Paa Joe & The Lion is the 2017 documentary that tells the story of how he and his son are rebuilding the family legacy together. It's now available to stream on Amazon (free with Prime). It's really inspiring!
Paa Joe dreams of his bygone days — bringing money home in briefcases and work being shipped to galleries the world over. Now, he sleeps as the cars hurtle passed. There are no customers, no tourists — there are no coffins to make. His son, Jacob, dreams too, he dreams of returning his father to his glory days and rebuilding the family legacy together. Over the next four years they stand side-by-side, conquering love and death and embracing a life changing opportunity to travel to the UK to undertake an artist residency. It is the start of their future together — master and son... Paa Joe & The Lion
Here's a look at some of his pieces:
via john nash
Cacao pod coffin image via akhenatenator
via Allison Meier
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Rhino fantasy coffin
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A mighty oak tree has broken leaving a legacy behind.
CALLING ALL EARTHLINGS, the new documentary from filmmaker Jonathan Berman ('Commune,' 'The Schvitz') has it all: UFOs, a mystical dome in the Joshua Tree desert, psychic experiences, time travel, Howard Hughes, Nikolai Tesla, communists, eternal life, murder-- oh yeah, and Nazis. Read the rest
Little Pyongyang made the festival rounds and his been picked up by The Guardian. It tells the story of how one soldier made his way to Europe's largest community of North Korean nationals after escaping the brutal regime.
Joong-wha Choi, a former soldier in North Korea, lives today with his wife and children in a sleepy London suburb, home to Europe's biggest North Korean population. Despite enjoying the new found comforts of his British life, and being emancipated from the pressures of the North Korean state, he has a desire to return to the land that betrayed him, and feels like his true home. Joong-wha reflects on both why he left North Korea and the state of his day to day life over the course of several months, in a portrait of loss, longing, and the complexities of healing from trauma.
Here's a nice Q&A with the filmmakers
• Little Pyongyang (YouTube / The Guardian) Read the rest
The Nick Hotel was Nickelodeon's failed attempt to license their brand as a resort hotel focused on fans of their shows. Defunctland does a detailed autopsy. Read the rest
Pathé shot this cool documentary of British artisans turning gold blocks into gold leaf. There's clearly a lot of remarkable skill involved, but there's also a remarkable lack or hearing protection around some very noisy machines. Read the rest
Through a mix of archival and current footage, this lovely documentary puts Milton Glaser's iconic I ❤ NY logo in historical context. Read the rest
This behind-the-scenes Australian news documentary looks at how those 12 boys and their soccer coach were rescued by divers from that remote cave in Thailand earlier this month. What's interesting is the story is told by the divers who were there.
(reddit) Read the rest
The Slenderman is a boogeyman born from the Something Awful forums that manifested in the real world in 2014 when two pre-teen girls stabbed their friend 19 times to please The Slenderman. "A Self-Induced Hallucination" is director Dan Schoenbrun's documentary about The Slenderman that he made entirely from archival footage.
"The Slender Man. He exists because you thought of him. Now try and not think of him."
-Username "I," posted June 15th, 2009 on the Something Awful forums. (User was later banned for "post(ing) like a weird fucker.")
"Why I Spent Months Making An Archival Documentary about The Slenderman" (Filmmaker Magazine)
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Pressing On: The Letterpress Film has just released a trailer for their film that been screening at film festivals to great reviews. It's a beautifully shot homage to the art and craft of letterpress. Read the rest
When Brooklyn-based artist Iris Scott begins a new piece, she doesn't get out paintbrushes. Instead, she simply puts on gloves when she starts on an oil painting. Scott is a fine art finger painter.
This 10-minute long mini documentary on her from a couple of years ago shares how she got started and what she thinks of her "gift." She's quick to point out that it's not a natural talent, that it's the result of a lot of time and practice:
I do not think I was just gifted by any means. I think that I just practiced a lot. The only gift you might say I have is a tremendous interest and willingness to put tons of hours at it. I definitely don't believe people are born with the gift to paint. I know I wasn't. I just practiced a lot starting at a very early age. And anyone can pick up painting at any time of their life and as long as you throw a ton of hours at it, you will improve in ways you just never thought you possibly could. Just watch what happens, go throw 10,000 hours at one subject or one art form and just watch what happens, suddenly everyone will start telling you you are gifted.
Here's a how-to video she made that shows her process a little closer:
Do go check out her site. I was blown away by her work.
(The Awesomer) Read the rest
I could not be more thrilled that Come Inside My Mind, a documentary about the legendary Robin Williams, will air soon. Look for it on HBO starting on July 16.
The film explores his extraordinary life and career, revealing what drove him to give voice to the characters in his mind. With previously unheard and unseen glimpses into his creative process through interviews with Williams, as well as home movies and onstage footage, this insightful tribute features in-depth interviews with those who knew and loved him, including Billy Crystal, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Pam Dawber and his son, Zak Williams.
The documentary underscores what made Williams so unique, ranging from his youthful days in the San Francisco Bay area, to his time in New York at The Juilliard School, to his rocket-propelled fame on TV’s Mork & Mindy, to his profound impact on the American cultural landscape. Such career high points as his landmark comedy show at the Metropolitan Opera, his Broadway debut in “Waiting for Godot,” his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting and his classic confessional bits about his alcohol and drug issues and 2009 heart surgery capture the spark that made him stand out across four decades in entertainment. Williams’ tragic death in 2014, which revealed he had been suffering from the disease Lewy Body Dementia, left fans around the world heartbroken...
(Kottke) Read the rest
Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf hosts the new Channel 4 documentary What Makes a Woman? Science and society are grappling with the complex and contentious topics of sex, sexuality, and gender. New research and evidence demonstrate that simplistic binaries are more complicated than previously believed. Read the rest
Yiwu International Trade City in Yiwu, Zhejiang, China is the largest wholesale consumer market in the world. This documentary looks at the people who look after its countless booths. Read the rest
The Wild Inside follows Arizona prisoners in a program where they work to break wild horses rounded up from the desert. Read the rest
In 1980, two young men start the same community college and soon discover, after being mistaken for each other several times on campus, that they are twins. Their story gets crazier when they learn they have another brother, which makes them identical, separated-at-birth triplets. The trio becomes internationally famous. Then, as the documentary's trailer alludes, there is a dramatic twist, one that "unearths an unimaginable secret that has radical repercussions."
Word of warning: This is a strange-but-true story and there are spoilers aplenty out there on the internet. What I'm saying is, if you don't already know the story, don't go researching it now before seeing the film.
Three Identical Strangers premiered at Sundance and has a U.S. theatrical release date of June 29.
(Kottke) Read the rest
In 2015, Patti Smith went on tour with her band to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her debut album, Horses. Now it's been announced that a new documentary titled Horses: Patti Smith and her Band has been made using footage of the tour's final gig at Los Angeles' Wiltern Theater.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2014, the then 67-year-old said,
"I think we continue to deliver all of these songs sometimes stronger than when I was young... So I'm going to be happy to celebrate it, to perform the album with happiness, not with any kind of cynicism or a cashing-in thing. It will be a true, proud celebration, so the answer is yes."
I attended one of the three sold-out shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco in early 2015 and can attest that it was a strong performance. The 1975 album was performed in its entirety, in sequence, and Patti rocked the whole show hard.
The new film was directed by Steven Sebring and executive produced by record producer Jimmy Iovine. It premieres April 23 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. After the screening, Smith and her band will perform some songs, including the album's title track.
(PAPER) Read the rest