Thursday, 31 May 2007

The best independent documentaries


Darius Weems, a 15-year old from Athens, Georgia, is a car enthusiast and a devotee of Pimp My Ride. He also suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a wasting disease that is rarely survived beyond the early twenties. In an attempt to get his wheelchair `pimped’ on the show, Darius and his friends set off in a giant RV across the breadth of America, from coast to coast. Darius had previously never left his hometown; so, for the first time, he sees the mountains, swims in the ocean and encounters wasabi sauce.
Screening : June 4 18:00 at Cineworld
Screening : June 5 12:00 at The Renoir

Never have so few companies controlled so much of the music played on the radio and for sale at retail stores. At the same time, there are more bands and more ways to discover their music than ever. Music seems to have split in two - the homogenous corporate product that is spoon-fed to consumers and the diverse independent music that finds devoted fans online and at clubs across the country. Before the Music Dies is both an indictment of the corporate music business, with AutoTune as its tool of choice, and a celebration of the joy of real music. From celebrated musicians such as Erykah Badu and Eric Clapton, to Seattle buskers and Mississippi gospel singers, the filmmakers’ tour across the USA combines great performances with a deep love and concern for contemporary music. Screening with the short The Ramones and I (dir. Rusty Nails). A teenage boy finds salvation from the suburbs – through punk. With exclusive live footage from one of New York’s greatest bands.
Screening & After Party : June 2 19:15 at Horse Hospital
After Party : June 2 21:15 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 5 14:00 at Horse Hospital

Four stand-up comedians embark on an extraordinary tour: entertaining
US troops on bases across Iraq. The title comes from co-director Danny Bevins, one of the comics and himself a former paratrooper, attempting to explain to his mother his motivation in taking easily the world’s most dangerous comedy gig. The film offers both comedy, and revelatory insight into the daily life of US troops in occupied Iraq. From base to base in trucks and Black Hawk helicopters, the comics and the soldiers they meet reflect on war, duty and home.
Screening : June 3 15:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 5 12:00 at Horse Hospital

An award-winning film about the awesome Jack Beers. Raised in extreme poverty in NYC, Jack found fame as “New York's Strongest Boy”. And at 94, the film opens with a reprise of one of his not-to-be-missed feats of strength! An extraordinary tribute to one of New York’s greatest characters. As an ironworker, he built many of the city’s landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall. His engineering contribution to The Manhattan Project is credited with helping to shorten WW2, and saving many lives. He was responsible for erecting the famous Empire State Building spire, was a championship dog trainer, and to top it off, he garnered over 200 film credits as a character actor. A real-life Zelig. This moving, funny, and inspirational documentary follows Jack Beer’s colorful life which perfectly reflects that of his city.
Screening : June 2 13:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 4 14:15 at The Renoir

The world premiere of a concert documentary featuring seminal indie band Sonic Youth on Independence Day 2006. Produced by Reno, Nevada-based Project Moonshine, the film was shot and produced by teenagers, on a shoestring budget, in an echo of Sonic Youth’s own DIY ethos from the eighties. Featuring intimate interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, and an exclusive concert performance, the film is essential viewing for fans of the band. Highlights include new versions of Tom Violence, Shaking Hell, Incinerate and Kool Thing.
Screening : June 2 21:30 at The Renoir
Screening : June 4 20:30 at Horse Hospital

As the first black attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Kennedy Justice Department in the 1960’s, Henderson, fresh out of law school, confronted the intricate challenges of being a black man in authority within the largely all-white world of the American legal system. With rare and powerful archival footage "Soul of Justice" offers viewers an intimate window into the world of the young lawyer as he grapples with tough choices, including the decision to loan a car to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a crucial act which which ultimately cost him his job.
Screening : June 1 17:30 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 2 15:30 at Horse Hospital

Mexico city is not Gotham City, but if you were to run into any of the five masked activists who protect this metropolis, you’d wonder if you had fallen into a comic book. These real-life superheroes are celebrated Lucha Libre wrestlers who use their fame to battle for social justice. Join Super Barrio, Super Gay, Ecologista Universal, Super Animal (with his sidekick Super Animalito) and Fray Tormenta as they fight slum landlords, bullfighters, homophobia and poverty in Mexican-Canadian director Arturo Perez Torres’s colourful and extraordinary documentary.
Screening : June 1 19:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 3 19:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 7 12:00 at Horse Hospital

The stories of six Los Angeles women, all survivors of the Holocaust. The film begins with their `normal’, pre-war lives across Europe, and we chart their paths from encountering growing anti-Semitism through to the horror of the camps. An essential female perspective on life in the Nazis’ most notorious concentration camp, that claimed the lives of their close family and friends. Yet the story the women tell is not merely that of suffering, but is a testament to solidarity and human resilience. We learn of the singing, the sharing of food, the virtual family groups that carried these remarkable women through unimaginable conditions.
Screening : June 6 21:30 at The Renoir
Screening : June 7 12:00 at The Renoir


A coming of age documentary about a teenage boy who finds salvation from the suburbs with the help of New York's greatest punk band... The Ramones.
Screened before "Before the Music Dies"

The arthritis drug Vioxx was one of Merck’s biggest selling drugs, with up to 80 million prescriptions worldwide and generating revenues estimated at $2.5bn annually. In 2004, the company withdrew the drug following concerns over dramatically increased risks of heart disease, and substantial lawsuits followed. This scathing documentary from directors Lattanzio Firmian and Alberto Baudo follows the Vioxx scandal, and uncovers some deeply disturbing facts about the relationship between the corporations of Big Pharma, the medical profession and the regulatory bodies charged with protecting the public. The Tuesday 5th screening of the film is to be followed by a special panel discussion hosted by Ben Goldacre, doctor, journalist and author of the Guardian’s Bad Science column.
Screening : June 5 18:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 7 16:15 at Horse Hospital

Dalee Henderson claims he was born with three strikes against him: black, gay and from the South. His sheer force of personality drove him to success and fame as one of Hollywood’s leading celebrity hairdressers in the eighties. Then came his diagnosis as HIV positive. White Shadows is a tough and inspiring documentary, following Dalee towards the end of his time. The gruelling portrait of the physical suffering of life with AIDS is offset by his hope, spirit and love of life. Genuinely inspirational.
Screening : June 4 18:30 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 6 12:00 at Horse Hospital

Before World War II, there were an estimated 200 theatres and troupes in the United States performing in Yiddish. New York’s Second Avenue was the Yiddish Broadway, and the Jewish population of the Lower East Side supported productions with huge casts and outstanding production values. Today, veteran actress Zypora Spaisman faces a daily struggle to keep New York’s last professional Yiddish theatre company alive. Dan Katzir’s warm, funny and moving documentary follows a tenacious and extraordinary woman fighting to preserve a unique corner of cultural heritage.
Screening : June 3 13:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 4 14:00 at Horse Hospital

For many Americans, winning the lottery is the ultimate dream come true. Rags-to-riches stories and their sordid flip side - tales of millions wasted - are common fodder for talk shows, but the public is rarely allowed more than a superficial glimpse into the world of instant, unexpected wealth. Millions follows six big-money lottery winners to show just how dramatically the experience can affect ordinary people. Meet the Minnesota dinnerladies and the poster-boys of the New York State Lottery, Lucky Lightbulb Louis and Curtis, Millions tells their rather more complicated stories in a poignant story of luck, loss and redemption.
Screening : June 4 16:00 at Horse Hospital
Screening : June 6 18:30 at Horse Hospital

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