America is the country that invented the concept of Baby Boomers, and now that they’re aging and so often becoming a problem for their adult children faced with the challenges of elder care or even elder understanding, it should be surprising but is not that other countries are the ones best at addressing the issue in their artistic expression. “The Disappearance of My Mother” is in theaters now and Helen Highly Recommends you see it, whatever gen-letter happens to define you. It’s an Italian documentary by Beniamino Barrese, a young-adult photographer, about his relationship with his aging, ex-supermodel mother, Benedetta Barzini. This film is as full of contradictions as real life – incongruities rarely acknowledged much less captured with the candor of this cinematic memoir that is both shocking and soft.
DOC NYC 2019 will run from November 6 – 15 and include more than 300 films and events, with 28 world premieres and 27 US premieres. Films are curated into 21 different Sections, or categories. It’s an overwhelming amount of content to contemplate, and I’ll do my best to help you sort through it. I would have liked to offer a catchy headline such as “Top Ten Docs to See,” but ten barely scratches the surface. Even twenty seems to leave out films that warrant a mention. So… without counting, here are the films that Helen feels Highly Compelled to suggest — my DOC NYC Picks, or DOC NYC Highlights.
H.G. Wells said, “We all have our time machines. Those that take us back are memories, and those that carry us forward, are dreams.” The new documentary film, Our Time Machine, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival this year, manages to do both, and more. Using a kind of Chinese magic-realism, directors S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun and editor Bob Lee, along with artist Maleonn, take the viewer to a world that not only interweaves dreams and memories, but also mixes transcendent allegory and deeply-rooted personal reality as part of one amazingly cohesive story, told with both power and grace.