Before nerds dominated the pop culture landscape, Galaxy Quest was already making fun of them, and paying loving homage to them. The 1999 comedy has long been dubbed the bestStar Trek movie that’s not a Star Trek movie, but it also may be the best depiction of fan culture at their best, with the nerds getting to save the day at the end of the film.
And the power is once again in fans’ hands for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which comes from the fan-powered companies Fandom and ScreenJunkies. “Fandom is powered by fans who deeply care about the movies, shows and games they love,” said Fandom SVP of Programming Michael Chiang. “ Galaxy Quest was the first film that put fans at the center of the action and really foretold the era we’re in now, where fans are the most powerful force in entertainment.”
Here is the synopsis for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary:
The documentary features the film’s stars, including Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Justin Long, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, Missi Pyle, Rainn Wilson and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, along with director Dean Parisot, writer Robert Gordon, and a legion of celebrity fans sharing their reminiscences and appreciation for this beloved film. Among the celebrities who appear in “Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary” are Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Greg Berlanti, Damon Lindelof and more than a dozen other notable filmmakers, craftspeople and entertainment-industry observers who offer keen insight into the ways, both big and small, that “Galaxy Quest” has had lasting impact and developed a fan base that extends around the world.
We’re under a month away from The Walt Disney Company entering the streaming wars with their Disney+ streaming service. The full roster of programming coming to the Disney+ was recently revealed, but it looks like one of their launch day shows was left out of the mix.
The Imagineering Story is a new documentary series, coming exclusively to Disney+, that will take a look behind the scenes of all the theme park magic that happens at Disneyland, Disney World, and more. Watch The Imagineering Story trailer below.
The Imagineering Story Trailer
The Imagineering Story is directed by Leslie Iwerks, who previously delved into the history of Pixar Animation and what made them the successful studio they are today with the documentary The Pixar Story available on Netflix now. So this glimpse into the evolution of Disney’s theme parks and the Imagineers who make them possible should be quite fascinating. Plus, this will dive even deeper than Iwerks has gone before since The Imagineering Story will have six hour-long episodes.
From the looks of the trailer, this will be the most in-depth look behind the scenes of Disney’s theme parks that we’ve ever seen. This includes going behind closed doors that nobody except Disney employees and Imagineers have seen before. There are even a few snippets that walk around the set of the upcoming Rise of the Resistance ride, the second major attraction in the recently opened theme park expansion Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
These are the kind of things that get me most excited about Disney+. Sure, at the end of the day this might as well be a six-hour commercial to convince families that they need to go to a Disney theme park, but I’m a sucker for peeking behind the curtain and seeing how the things that I love come together, especially when it involves the various high-tech rides.
The Imagineering Story will be available on Disney+ when it launches on November 12. It will probably be a good companion series to go along with the One Day at Disney documentary series, which will have 52-short form episodes and a feature-length documentary.
In 2018, Americans watched in horror from afar as the tiny town of Paradise in Northern California became engulfed in flames. Eighty-five people died in what would become the deadliest and most destructive forest fire in the state’s history, and the sixth deadliest in United States history. The devastating outcome of that fateful disaster has been chronicled in a 40-minute documentary “Fire in Paradise,” titled for the ironically named town at the center of the destruction. The film, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival, has now released its first gripping trailer.
The synopsis provided by the Hamptons International Film Festival reads: “On the morning of November 8, 2018, a seemingly small fire broke out in Butte County, California, near the town of Paradise. Over the course of a few short hours, the Camp Fire grew into the country's deadliest wildfire in over a century, killing 85 people and destroying Paradise. Through firsthand footage of the disaster and personal interviews with survivors and emergency responders, ‘Fire in Paradise’ vividly retells the terrifying survival stories from that day.”
Netflix has a good track record for Best Documentary Short, having produced two of the five nominees in the category last year. Those films included Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's “End Game” and Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton's “Period. End of Sentence.”
The streaming giant has already enjoyed a robust year in documentaries, debuting such features as Martin Scorsese’s “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story,” “Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly,” “Fyre,” “Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation,” “Knock Down the House,” and the upcoming “Tell Me Who I Am.” Netflix films “American Factory” and “The Edge of Democracy” recently nabbed a coveted spot on the International Documentary Association’s awards shortlist, positioning both films for potential Oscar nominations for Best Documentary Feature.
In 2018, Netflix had Bryan Fogel’s Oscar-winning feature documentary “Icarus,” as well as Yance Ford’s nominated “Strong Island.”
“Fire in Paradise” was directed by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper. Netflix will release “Fire in Paradise” on its platform on November 1. Check out the film’s first trailer below.
‘The Treehouse’ Strips Away the Aesthetics of Western Sci-fi [NYFF]
Science fiction elucidates, though it rarely does so with such precision. Minh Quý Truong’s Nhà Cây The Treehouse began as a documentary on indigenous tribes, but it morphed toward abstraction during its lengthy edit. What Truong wanted to say with his film — about the ways in which we remember, and about the ethics and brutality of the moving image — could not be contained within the literal, or within the traditionally cinematic. So, he chose a new narrative framework: human colonies on Mars in the year 2045.
You’d be forgiven for confusing The Treehouse with a human-interest piece; for all intents and purposes, it is one. The film is composed of long, languid shots of indigenous subjects — the Ruc, Hmong and Kor peoples, many of whom live in the caves and forests of Vietnam — as they reflect on their pasts, their surroundings and their daily lives. But the film we’re watching, as narrated by a fictitious filmmaker living on Mars, arrives with transmuted context.
This “narrator” shot The Treehouse on Earth in 2045 and abandoned it shortly after. Now back on Mars, he relays its images and the meaning he gleams from them to his father, over some sort of radio broadcast. In fact, the film, composed of real, celluloid documentary footage shot by Truong, may not be a documentary at all, but a series of memories, interpreted and re-interpreted by the filmmaker. His weighty, contemplative narration is accompanied by signal interference and low, electronic hums. However, neither Mars, nor the futuristic technology spoken of and heard throughout the film, are ever seen on screen. Mars only appears superimposed on the film strip — think Star Wars’ twin suns — high in the sky, like a minor background detail the human subjects are unconcerned with it. The film’s genre, if one chooses to classify it as sci-fi, depends almost entirely on spoken word and oral tradition.
This tradition, a way of canonizing cultures and stories divorced from western cinema, is Truong’s key focus. His subjects seem constrained by the frame. They’re barely able to move within it or move around their lush green backdrops, but the stories they tell about their own lives are vivid, wildly imaginative, and likely true. One man tells of the tall treehouse where he lived with his father; another woman points to the rock on which she was born, as if she remembers it. Several subjects speak of relocation, forced upon them and upon their “ancestors” by American troops during the Vietnam war, and by the Vietnamese government during, what is for us, the recent past.
About halfway through the 84-minute runtime, the narrator provides visual context for this violent history. He does so by using documentary footage shot by American soldiers as they burned and brutalized local villages, prompting him to question his own place in this cinematic tradition. When the Americans came with their cameras, they used them as weapons — something filmmakers Kirsten Johnson and Kaori Oda contemplate in her own documentaries, Cameraperson and Toward a Common Tenderness. The ethics of the image are a vital topic in the digital age, and will become even more so as we approach 2045; in The Treehouse, Truong interrogates the image not only as a tool with potentially negative impact, but as de facto harm, in the context of his indigenous subjects.
As the unseen narrator drives between destinations, the news on his car radio tells of an indigenous father-son duo who stumbled into a modern town. As one might expect, there was a breakdown in communication, and the duo was arrested luckily, the narrator has a translator with him at all times, someone to interpret both literal meaning and the unspoken nuances of culture. All this transpires in between phone calls to the narrator’s own father, rife with beeps and whirs that might belong on a Star Trek show.
The evocation of such a pillar of western sci-fi is fitting. The Prime Directive on Star Trek barred the U.S.S. Enterprise from interfering with the normal development of societies on other planets; we on Earth have, historically, done poorly with this tenet when it comes to our own neighbors. Just last year, an American missionary was killed while trying to contact a remote tribe on an Island in the Indian Ocean. He had travelled there as part of a long-standing colonial tradition: to impose western culture on indigenous peoples.
Truong is acutely aware of this dynamic. He not only places the American documentary footage alongside his own, as if to implicate himself in adhering to harmful traditions, but he also uses footage shot by accident, when his operator left the camera running. The narrator compares this to the accidental footage in Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I, which Varda called “the dance of the lens cap” — but here, the narrator speaks of his footage mournfully, as if he regrets having stolen glimpses of indigenous land.
Regret seems to permeate the entire film; a feeling that capturing and canonizing these intimate traditions is a form of barbarism. Truong appears to wrestle with the long-held wisdom of “show, don’t tell” when he arrives at a particular point in his story. The funeral practice of one of the tribes involves building houses; small tombs, as monuments to the dead, where loved ones can enter and mourn. Truong captures these houses the way he captures any other facet of life — matter-of-fact-ly — but his presentation is skewed. Every time he films a tomb, every time he sits alongside a mourning family member, and every time the narrator or one of the subjects speaks of death, Truong presents The Treehouse in colour-negative.
It’s a stark, unsettling depiction of an already macabre subject, but Truong’s attempt here is to tie the tradition of images, with which he’s familiar, to the tradition of language and stories, from which he, and the narrator on Mars, could not feel more distant. In the language of his subjects, words like “life” and “death,” when translated, come to mean “positive” and “negative.” The words, in their original incarnations, tie the tribe in question to something spiritual and universal. But when translated to filmic terms, the result is an ugly, uneasy reflection. It isn’t hard to see why the narrator gave up on his film.
There are, of course, silent socio-economic implications the film feels no need to address. Who gets to go to Mars? Who gets left behind, and how has climate change affected them? While it leaves these questions up to the imagination, what it presents, front and center, is a poetic contemplation about answering them — or answering any questions — cinematically in the first place.
The Treehouse is a richly detailed exploration of peoples yet unseen — though in the process of its making, it begins to wonder if they should stay that way.
The American Film Institute unveiled their lineup for AFI Fest’s World Cinema and the inaugural Documentary section. The fest will take place November 14-21 in Los Angeles.
The world cinema section will include five international feature film Oscar submissions and 16 titles from 19 countries. This includes the Los Angeles premiere of Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life as well as Levan Akin’s And We Danced from Sweden, Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone from Canada, Jan Komasa’s Corpus Christi from Poland, Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor from Italy and Cornlieu’s The Whistlers from Romania.
On the documentary side, the fest will include Alex Gibney’s Citizen K as well as Desert One from two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple. Other films in the doc lineup include Bikram: Yoga, Guru, Predator from Eva Orner, Jolie Coiffure from Rosine Mbakam and The Human Factor from Dror Moreh.
Read AFI Fest’s complete World Cinema and Documentary lineup below.
AND THEN WE DANCED While training at the National Georgian Ensemble, the arrival of preternaturally talented Irakli awakens a sense of friendly competition in Merab, along with more complicated feelings between the two boys. This twirling, rhythmic romance sees the profundity of first love intensified by the risk that exposure could threaten career, familial and community support. DIR Levan Akin. SCR Levan Akin CAST Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli, Tamar Bukhnikashvili. Georgia, Sweden, France
ANTIGONE An immigrant family is ripped apart by a police shooting in Québécois writer/director Sophie Deraspe's original and propulsive drama that takes its inspiration from Sophocles' tragedy and centers it on a daughter's painful choices that could determine the family's fate. DIR Sophie Deraspe. SCR Sophie Deraspe CAST Nahéma Ricci, Nour Belkhiria, Rawad El-Zein, Hakim Brahimi, Rachida Oussaada, Antoine Desrochers, Paul Doucet. Canada
BACURAU The inhabitants of a remote Brazilian village realize that their town has been erased from the map. When the water supply is cut, cell-phone coverage fades and a local family is murdered, it becomes clear they are under attack. Tension explodes into war as the community bands together, determined to survive the assault. DIR Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho. SCR Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles. CAST Bárbara Colen, Sonia Braga, Udo Kier. Brazil, France
BALLOON QI QIU Shepard Dargye and his wife, Drolkar, live a simple life with their sons and patriarch on the family farm in rural Tibet. When a death in the family occurs, the family must make decisions as faith and political realities collide in this delicate and beautiful film from Pema Tseden. DIR Pema Tseden. SCR Pema Tseden. CAST: Sonam Wangmo, Jinpa, Yangshik Tso. China
CORPUS CHRISTI BOŻE CIAŁO After he is released from a brutally violent juvenile detention center, a young man, disguised as a priest, finds himself hiding out in a small town with a dark past. As the townspeople grieve and the priest attempts to help them heal, he moves towards grace in a most unexpected way. DIR Jan Komasa. SCR Mateusz Pacewicz. CAST Bartosz Bielenia, Eliza Rycembel, Aleksandra Konieczna, Tomasz Ziętek, Leszek Lichota, Łukasz Simlat. Poland
DEERSKIN In Quentin Dupieux's surreal, dark comedy, Georges Jean Dujardin buys his dream jacket — vintage, fringed and 100% deerskin —in the French Alps. As George's madness spirals from existential midlife crisis to violent psychotic breakdown, he attempts to document his new mission of ensuring that the jacket is the only one left in existence. DIR Quentin Dupieux. SCR Quentin Dupieux. CAST: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel. France
A HIDDEN LIFE Terrence Malick returns with this harrowing true-life tale of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, eliciting comparisons in scope to his Academy Award-nominated TREE OF LIFE. When the Third Reich shatters Franz's simple life, he is forced to reconcile the prevailing beliefs of his church and country with his own personal convictions. DIR Terrence Malick. SCR Terrence Malick. CAST August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, Bruno Ganz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Karin Neuhäuser, Ulrich Matthes. USA, Germany
I WAS AT HOME, BUT… ICH WAR ZUHAUSE, ABER… In Angela Schanelec's cryptic, disjointed and enigmatic winner of Best Director at the 2019 Berlinale, familial trauma is premise to a series of defiantly fragmented vignettes. Astrid attempts to purchase a second-hand bicycle, her son and his classmates stage Hamlet, two teachers discuss their relationship, a dog, a rabbit and a donkey. DIR Angela Schanelec. SCR Angela Schanelec. CAST Maren Eggert, Franz Rogowski, Clara Möller, Jakob Lassalle, Lilith Stangenberg, Alan Williams, Jirka Zett, Dane Komljen. Germany, Serbia
LIBERTÉ In a small clearing in the woods somewhere between Potsdam and Berlin, over the course of one extended night of debauchery, a band of exiled Libertines seeking support from the German Duc de Walchen Helmut Berger will revel in the freedom to take sexuality to its darkest places. DIR Albert Serra. SCR Albert Serra. CAST Lluís Serrat, Marc Susini, Théodora Marcadé, Helmut Berger, Alex Duttman, Xavier Perez, Baptiste Pinteaux, Laura Poulvet, Iliana Zabeth, Cătălin Jugravu. France, Portugal, Spain
PROXIMA Sarah, a French astronaut, earns her dream job: a spot on a year-long mission to Mars. During training, Sarah wrestles with the stress of separation from her daughter and earning respect from her male colleagues. Shot on location in real training facilities, PROXIMA is a poignant, thoughtful journey through the complexities of parenthood. DIR Alice Winocour. SCR Alice Winocour. CAST Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zélie Boulant-Lemesle, Aleksey Fateev, Lars Eidinger. France, Germany.
THE SLEEPWALKERS LOS SONÁMBULOS While preparing to spend the summer at her mother-in-law's cottage, Luisa discovers her teenage daughter Ana sleepwalking naked. In the countryside, each woman becomes alienated by repeated attempts to connect and be understood and, with surmounting feelings of entrapment, will be pushed beyond complacency in Paula Hernández's elegant and bold debut. DIR Paula Hernández. SCR Paula Hernández. CAST Érica Rivas, Ornella D'elía, Marilú Marini, Luis Ziembrowski, Daniel Hendler, Valeria Lois, Rafael Federman. Argentina, Uruguay
SON-MOTHER PESAR-MADAR A single mother of two faces a terrible dilemma whether to: marry a single father who will provide for her and her daughter but, who, due to Iranian custom, refuses to also take in her 12-year-old son. Director Mahnaz Muhammadi brilliantly navigates this unsentimental critique of Iranian traditions and the impossible choices that they can impose. DIR Mahnaz Mohammadi. SCR Mohammad Rasoulof. CAST Raha Khodayari, Mahan Nasiri, Reza Behboodi, Maryam Boubani. Iran. TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH Facing production difficulties and confrontations amid language barriers and uncomfortable misunderstandings, the on-camera host of a Japanese crew shooting a travelogue in Uzbekistan begins to spiral into untapped anxieties, alienation and loneliness, leaving her to wander the streets of the unfamiliar landscape alone, where fears of the unknown are all-consuming. DIR Kiyoshi Kurosawa. SCR Kiyoshi Kurosawa CAST: Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase, Shota Sometani, Adiz Radjabov, Tokio Emoto. Japan, Uzbekistan, Qatar
THE TRAITOR Celebrated Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio FISTS IN THE POCKET, 1965 steps behind the camera with one of the most compelling modern dramatic stories of our time. THE TRAITOR is the ultra-widescreen true story of the Sicilian Mafia and Tommaso Buscetta, who makes a fateful decision that will permanently transform the Mafia. DIR Marco Bellocchio. SCR Marco Bellocchio, Ludovica Rampoldi, Valia Santella, Francesco Piccolo. CAST Pierfrancesco Favino, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Nicola Calí, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fabrizio Ferracane, Fausto Russo Alesi. Italy
THE TRUTH In his first film outside of Japan, Palme d'Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda SHOPLIFTERS casts legendary actresses Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as a fading screen star and her daughter in this witty and touching battle of wills between two women coming to grips with the movie business and each other. DIR Hirokazu Kore-eda. SCR Hirokazu Kore-eda CAST Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Ludivine Sagnier. France, Japan
THE WHISTLERS An epically proportioned heist plot unravels when corrupt police officer Cristi is drawn into an elaborate money laundering scheme and ubiquitous hidden cameras threaten to expose him. A departure for Romanian auteur Corneliu Porumboiu, this tremendously entertaining and inventive crime thriller flashes a droll sense of humor under its stone-faced seriousness. DIR Corneliu Porumboiu. SCR Corneliu Porumboiu CAST Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi, George Pisterneanu. Romania, France, Germany
BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATORCapitalizing on yoga's growing popularity, the charismatic Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, built an empire of yoga studios and teaching programs. Eva Orner's stunning documentary exposes Choudhury's dark secret — he was abusing his position of authority, preying on women and creating a cult-like atmosphere that gave him virtual immunity. DIR Eva Orner. USA
CHEZ JOLIE COIFFUREInside a bustling Brussels hair salon, manager Sabine can be seen braiding hair and lending support to a vibrant group of African migrants. In this lovely observational chamber piece, filmmaker Rosine Mbakam offers an affectionate tribute to Sabine and her community. Despite the traumas of migration, their enduring charm and laughter are testament to human resilience. DIR Rosine Mbakam. SCR Rosine Mbakam. Belgium
CITIZEN KHero or villain? Mikhail Khodorkovsky is perhaps a unique blend of both. In this gripping documentary, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney charts the fascinating rise and fall of the former Russian oil tycoon whose story bears witness to Putin's ruthlessness and to the changing fortunes of those who dared to oppose him. DIR Alex Gibney. SCR Alex Gibney. FEATURING Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Leonid Nevzlin, Igor Malashenko, Anton Drel, Maria Logan, Alexei Navalny, Tatyana Lysova, Derk Sauer, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Martin Sixsmith, Arkady Ostrovsky. USA
DESERT ONE Two-time Academy Award®-winning director Barbara Kopple revisits the 1980 secret mission by the Army's elite Delta Force to rescue US hostages held captive in Tehran. Using previously unused archival material and featuring riveting interviews with the principals, Kopple's breathtaking account paints an unforgettable portrait of American heroism — and its profound cost. DIR Barbara Kopple. SCR Francisco Bello. FEATURING Jimmy Carter, Ted Koppel, Walter Mondale. USA
THE HUMAN FACTORDror Moreh's THE GATEKEEPERS fair-minded and highly dramatic documentary delivers vivid recollections from American diplomatic envoys who have witnessed — and shaped —the most tenuous negotiations of the Middle East peace process. Their insights into world leaders, including Arafat, Rabin and Clinton, leave a devastating impression about what could have been... and still isn't. DIR Dror Moreh. SCR Dror Moreh, Oron Adar. FEATURING Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal, Aaron Miller, Daniel Kurtzer, Robert Malley. UK, Israel
I AM NOT ALONE Capturing the fury, emotion, and spontaneous expressions of freedom that overtook the streets of Armenia in 2018, Garin Hovannisian's fascinating eye-witness documentary affords a unique glimpse into a revolution-in-the-making by offering unprecedented access to the grassroots movement that dared to challenge an entrenched regime, as well as the regime's leaders themselves. DIR Garin Hovannisian. SCR Garin Hovannisian. FEATURING Nikol Pashinyan, Serzh Sargsyan, Valeriy Osipyan, Anna Hakobyan, Raffi Hovannisian, Armen Sarkissian, Chalo the Dog. Armenia
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE Famed neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT, who died in 2015, led an extraordinary life. Master filmmaker Ric Burns, granted intimate access in Sacks' final months, paints a deeply moving portrait that captures his remarkable life and reveals the enormity of his spirit. DIR Ric Burns. USA PRESENT.PERFECT. WAN MEI XIAN ZAI SHI Winner of the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Zhu Shengze's found-footage documentary compiles live streaming footage from over 800 hours of material. Its hosts are those with disabilities, the marginalized and the working-class, who poetically demonstrate the need to seek out or create global communities and the threat this poses to state control. DIR Shengze Zhu. SCR Shengze Zhu. USA, Hong Kong READY FOR WAR Andrew Renzi's startling documentary tells the heartbreaking immigration story of veterans of the Armed Services who, after having fought for the U.S. as a path to legal citizenship, find themselves not only without citizenship but being deported instead. For some, in a cruel twist, once in Mexico, the drug cartels pressure them to join their ranks. DIR Andrew Renzi. FEATURING Hector Barajas, Miguel Perez, Nathan Fletcher, Tammy Duckworth, Esperanza Perez. USA
SEARCHING EVA For 25-year-old Eva, complex emotions surrounding adolescence, family, body, art and sex work are processed publicly through unflinchingly personal photos and writing posted on social media. In an attempt to capture the essence of this elusive personality, Pia Hellenthal's extraordinary feature debut is a cinematic portrait that unfolds as a blitz of sound and image. DIR Pia Hellenthal. SCR Pia Hellenthal, Giorgia Malatrasi. FEATURING Eva Collé. Germany SOUTH OXFORD, ALL IOWA LAWN TENNIS CLUB, MARAVILLA, SERVEFilmmaker Darius Clark Monroe returns to the screen with a series of intimate nonfiction shorts exploring America's culture and passion for tennis and handball. Four stories, warmly crafted with both archival and original materials, illustrates the great humanity of society and the powerful, soulful bond we experience through sports. DIR Darius Clark Monroe. FEATURING Richard Northern, Ann Northern, Mark Kuhn, Denise Kuhn, Amanda Perez, Hyacinth Yorke. USA
When “The Kingmaker” director Lauren Greenfield began making what would become her latest film, she intended to investigate what had become of the island in the Philippines, Calauit, that had become a reserve for endangered African animals in the mid-1970s.
She thought that the country’s former first lady, Imelda Marcos, would be just one interview of many in her investigation of the island. But Greenfield, the filmmaker behind “Generation Wealth” and “The Queen of Versailles,” found an eager and compelling subject ready to share her life story — or at least her version of it.
“I guess the surprise for me is I thought there might be a redemption element in it, because I filmed her between 85 and 90 and thought maybe she would change her story. But she stuck to her story,” Greenfield told the crowd in a Q&A following an International Documentary Association screening of the film.
The first half of the film follows Marcos as she tells her version of the life she lived as first lady of the Philippines from 1965 until the 1986 People Power Revolution forced her dictator husband, Ferdinand Marcos, out of power and out of the country. The island, incidentally, was turned into an animal reserve after the Marcoses went on an African safari and she wanted some of the animals shipped back with her.
“It became clear, even when I first started with the island, that her version of history was not the version of history that anybody else agreed with. And in the beginning, I think what’s happened in the past is people haven’t really taken her seriously, that she’s kind of laughable or delusional or crazy because of some of the things she’s said. And I think she ends up really getting the last laugh because her story got traction. And that was something that really evolved while we were making it,” Greenfield said. “But by the end, especially with her alliance with [current president Rodrigo] Duterte, it became literally deadly serious.”
So while in the first half of the movie, Marcos’ voice is the center of the story, the second half features survivors of her husband’s declaration of martial law and focuses on the political comeback of the Marcos family — Marcos, now 90, is a congresswoman, her oldest daughter is a senator, and her son is a senator and vice presidential candidate.
“I think what happened in the storytelling, though, is that, as I realized that her story was not true and didn’t align with any journalistic or first person account, I did what I haven’t really done in my other movies,” Greenfield said: “I went outside and looked for truth-tellers… who could be these reliable people who could give us perspective on what she was saying. The tricky thing I found in the cutting was that people really believe what the filmmaker puts in front of them. So she would say something like, ‘All of the animals are dead on the island.’ And even if you could see the animals, people still thought that maybe those were old pictures of the animals, or they really believed her. So in the edit, we had to really carefully kind of debunk things right next to when she said them, and I think as the film progresses, you realize she’s an unreliable narrator.”
The film tackles present-day politics in the Philippines and the ties between President Rodrigo Duterte and the Marcos family. While the trailer has gone viral in the Philippines and “The Kingmaker” does have an international distribution deal, it does show some of the brutal killings that have occurred under Duterte’s rule and Greenfield isn’t certain that her film will get a release there.
“We’re really hopeful that we can show it in the Philippines. There’s another film that came out this season about Duterte’s street killings, ‘On the President’s Orders,’ which I guess Duterte has criticized and said that they staged things for drama,” she said. “He’s done that with some of the photographs too. So I don’t know. It’s not a place that welcomes free press. It’s one of the most dangerous places for journalists. So we’ll see if they welcome the film.”
The IDA Documentary Screening Series brings some of the year's most acclaimed documentary films to the IDA community and members of industry guilds and organizations. Films selected for the Series receive exclusive access to an audience of tastemakers and doc lovers during the important Awards campaigning season from September through November. For more information about the series, and a complete schedule, visit IDA.