18 June 2007

I'm a sucker for a British accent, a big-eyed girl and a good documentary

Whitney "Pop Candy" Matheson went to the Silverdocs documentary festival in DC and wrote about her favourite 10 films and for the most part we, uh, concur.

1. Big Rig. Doug Pray, director of the DJ film Scratch, delves into the realm of truck drivers in this fest favorite. Viewers get up-close and personal with all kinds of drivers -- young, old, female, one-armed, you name it -- and Pray covers just about every inch of the U.S. Check the website for a trailer.The filmmaker says: "We got out there, and this is exactly what we found," Pray said at the screening. "It went from being Convoy to being Grapes of Wrath."

2. Chicago 10 -- Brett Morgen's movie about the Chicago Seven and the protests surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention mixes archival footage with Waking Life-esque animation. I'm confident you'll be able to see it at some point -- the voices certainly provide star power, and Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter produced it.

Read on my brother, read on...................

3. Kurt Cobain: About a Son -- You don't see Cobain's face in this movie. You don't hear Nirvana songs. Director A.J. Schnack (Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns) combines Michael Azerrad's Cobain interviews with beautifully shot scenes of Aberdeen, Wash., Olympia and Seattle. The result is a unique and moving portrait of the artist as more than the suicidal singer of Smells Like Teen Spirit.The filmmaker says: "It was not an attempt to raise Kurt up. It was an attempt to show that he was just a guy," Schnack said at the screening. "To me, the stars of the film are the cities."

4. A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory. I loved this examination of Williams, a face from the '60s Factory who had a close relationship with Warhol and mysteriously disappeared. Highlights include amazing, never-before-seen footage from the era and interviews with scores of surviving Factory regulars, including Brigid Berlin and Gerard Malanga.

5. The Gates. Albert and David Maysles started making this movie in 1978, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude first conceived of the barf art project in New York's Central Park. The result makes a good souvenir for those who saw The Gates and is almost like being there for those of us who couldn't make it.

6. Frank & Cindy. G.J. Echternkamp turns the camera on his mother and stepfather in this hilarious, horrifying and bizarre doc. You might remember Frank and Cindy from an episode of Showtime's This American Life; if so, you might be surprised to hear they're still together! Several clips are available on MySpace.

7. What Would Jesus Buy? -- Morgan Spurlock produced this documentary about the commercialization of Christmas and Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. It's presented in the similar whimsical style as Super Size Me; fans of that movie will probably like this one, too.

8. Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe -- This is a pretty straightforward, narrated doc of Wagstaff, a photography collector who developed an intimate relationship with Mapplethorpe at the same time Mapplethorpe was living with Patti Smith. Smith is interviewed about her friendship with the artists.

9. Scott Walker -- 30 Century Man. David Bowie, Brian Eno, Radiohead, Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr, Sting ... the list of Scott Walker fans is endless, though this doc about the influential and reclusive musician is more of a love letter than an in-depth examination of Walker's work. Bowie executive-produced the project.

10. Does Your Soul Have a Cold? -- Mike Mills follows Thumbsucker with an examination of depression in Japan. The visuals are arresting and you can't help but stare at the folks featured, though I found myself checking my watch a few times. It's slated to premiere on IFC in October.

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