DocFest07 turns the lens on foreigners, farmers, filmmakers and Flynt.
Photograph: Jamie meltzer
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
With films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and An Inconvenient Truth garnering major box office and inspiring a new wave of nonfiction flicks, documentary fans are a well-fed bunch these days. But the lineup for DocFest07, running through November 1 at the Paley Center for Media (the former Museum of Television & Radio), should make their mouths water all the same.
According to Paley Center president Pat Mitchell, the hottest ticket at the eighth annual festival is the Who biopic Amazing Journey, with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend on hand for a postscreening Q&A. “It sold out online in about 15 minutes,” she beams. “We’re showing it in our two satellite theaters—and maybe in our L.A. center—just to accommodate more people.” We offer our thoughts on the film below, along with a look at other top festival picks.
Amazing Journey: The Story of the WhoFast-paced enough to sustain the attention of the Behind the Music set, this comprehensive profile blends archival performance footage with unguarded interviews from surviving members Townshend and Daltrey, plus commentary from musical successors like Eddie Vedder and Noel Gallagher. Paul Crow and Murray Lerner, who filmed the Who for their 1970 Isle of Wight Festival concert film, trace the group through a dizzying array of high points (the debut of “I Can’t Explain” on pirate radio, the stunning success of Tommy) and tragedies (the trampling of 11 fans at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum in 1979, the overdose deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwistle)—proving that the band’s personal history is as complex and engaging as its music.—EC (Tue 30 at 7pm)
To Die in JerusalemHilla Medalia could’ve taken the easy route with her debut full-length documentary (the festival’s opening-night feature), wistfully ruminating on the lost potential of Israeli teen Rachel Levy and 17-year-old Palestinian Ayat al-Akhras, the female suicide bomber who took both their lives in 2002. Instead, she turns the camera on Levy’s mom, Abigail, as she works up the courage to confront the mother of her daughter’s killer. The pain and tension are palpable, but there are no Oprah-style breakthroughs—just unanswered questions for both Abigail and the audience, who will get a far more intimate (and disturbing) read on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than most outsiders encounter.—DA (Wed 24 at 7pm)
Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone“Apathy is the biggest enemy that democracy has,” pronounces Larry Flynt in this hagiography of the polarizing porn peddler. Joan Brooker-Marks’s meandering footage focuses primarily on the Hustler publisher’s role as a First Amendment crusader, fighting Jerry Falwell’s 1987 libel suit and refusing to disclose his source for tapes of an FBI drug sting against automaker John DeLorean. While Left Alone mines similar territory as Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt, recent probes into congressional sex scandals have added a new wrinkle to his ongoing saga. Besides, we’ll take the raw hard-core stuff over Hollywood airbrushing any day.—EC (Fri 26 at 7pm)
Knee DeepToward the beginning of Michael Chandler’s darkly satiric account of attempted matricide in rural Farmington, Maine, we’re informed that subject Josh Osborne has never been on an airplane, gone to a doctor or worn a watch. He also dropped out of school after sixth grade to labor on the family dairy farm, which he expected to inherit. When his negligent mom sells the land to developers, he naturally assumes his only recourse is to shoot her—and the locals are disturbingly sympathetic. Chandler, whose Forgotten Fires detailed the KKK's burning of black churches in a small Southern town, is a master at gauging the values of a community in crisis.—EC (Sat 27 at 4:30pm)
Welcome to NollywoodRoger Corman would swoon at the DIY antics employed by Nigerian moviemakers, like shooting chase scenes dangling from car bonnets and hiring former guerrillas as extras.Churning out nearly 2,500 straight-to-video releases a year, they’ve made the West African nation the world’s third-largest movie market after the U.S. and India. Director Jamie Meltzer (Off the Charts) paints an astounding backdrop— cardboard plots, three-day shoots, failing generators—then follows “Mr. Prolific,” Chico Ejiro (who wrapped 80 films in a five-year period), as he mounts his most daring production to date, a re-creation of Liberian civil war that threatens to bankrupt him.—DA (Sat 27 at 3pm)
DocFest07 screens Wed 24-Nov 1 at the Paley Center for Media. See Museums. For a full schedule of films, go to paleycenter.org.