Toronto filmmaker Alan Zweig’s latest documentary, Coppers, is a disturbing, sad and very moving look at the long term effects of working as a police officer. It recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I was able to speak with the director about the film. “I drove a cab for 18 years and I hated cops,” Zweig told me over the phone while doing press at TIFF. “I always saw them as bullies. But when I met Gary I saw a tough guy who had been through a lot.”
Henry Glassie: Field Work, the latest film by acclaimed director Pat Collins (Song of Granite), recently had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It’s main subject is an American folklorist who has dedicated 50 years of his life to studying folk artists and their work. From sculptors in Brazil, to carpet weaver and ceramicists in Turkey, Collins’ film accompanies Glassie as he visits several countries to explore how each culture manifests its own standards of beauty and meaning through its artisans and craftspeople. I recently sat down with Collins and asked him about his film.
“Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” a film by Sophie Huber, tosses you straight into a stylish mood poem. It’s medium-raucous to medium-mellow jazz with soft shots of “cool cats” opinionating on a range of topics – improvised jazz-chat. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, Norah Jones, Don Was, and more, these jazz musicians cross an interview-portal to play in dimensions of possibility beyond the dilemmas of yes or no. Consequently, they have a points of view more engaging than your Average Joe
The world celebrated when Myanmar’s military government transferred power to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi after her landslide election in 2015. But how is political responsibility passed down in a country whose new democracy is founded on 50 years of dictatorship and entrenched ethnic discrimination? Karen Stokkendal Poulsen’s new film, On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship, shows the ways in which she has had to contend with an atmosphere of total distrust and collaborate with the same men who kept her under house arrest for a total of 15 years.
Most Woodstock documentaries have that mental plague of the sixties, of not remembering well. The original Woodstock (1970) directed by Michael Wadleigh was all about sensory experience — mind blowing split screens and a stream of consciousness narrative that barely reflected the chronology of the actual events. It has taken fifty years but Barak Goodman and his PBS American Experience team have artfully done justice to the real Woodstock, not some mythic fantasy in our collective imagination.
Television thrives on the neurotic lunacy of hoarders, but rarely do we experience the passion and purpose of a methodical collector, who really made a difference. Matt Wolf’s masterful documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project takes us into the visionary psychic and cluttered physical worlds of a woman who turned her acquiring fury into a unique archive of contemporary history. Recorder had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2019.