SundanceNow Doc Club, the advertising-free boutique SVOD service dedicated solely to documentaries, announced today that artist and filmmaker Laurie Anderson – whose new feature documentary Heart Of A Dog is premiering this week at the Toronto International Film Festival – has guest curated a collection for Doc Club entitled the “Laurie Anderson Collection.” The collection is available to stream now, only at DocClub.com.
SundanceNow Doc Club is the only member-based, advertising-free streaming video service dedicated solely to documentaries. It takes the experience of the independent video store digital, providing a destination for consumers who are overwhelmed by content and are looking for a more tailored approach to streaming video. Overseen by resident curator Thom Powers (DOC NYC, Toronto International Film Festival), Doc Club films are handpicked by experts (including programmers from the Sundance Institute) and guest curators like Ira Glass, Susan Sarandon and Dan Savage.
Doc Club satisfies all types of documentary enthusiasts, providing access to classics and hard-to-find documentaries as well as many of the most exciting documentaries of the last decade. Membership benefits include special screenings, free movie tickets, events with filmmakers and behind-the-scenes looks at film festivals. Recent releases include the exclusive digital premiere of the Sundance Hit a Gay Girl In Damascus: The Amina Profile, the seminal true crime Docuseries the Staircase and a collection of favorites guest curated by the minds behind Documentary Now! Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader.
On the importance of documentaries, Anderson said: “Documentaries for me are maps of other worlds, places I couldn’t have imagined. I am happiest when I am suddenly in a place I don’t recognize at all. Something I don’t quite understand at first is going on there. These places look real enough to be actual places but because they are often mixtures of memory, facts and ideas they sometimes look more like dreamscapes. The films I have chosen for this small collection are all about places and they raise big questions having to do with wonder, memory, maps and reality. All of them play with disorientation and although the people who move through them are real enough it is the places themselves that have the real magic for me.”
The six films featured in the collection, alongside Anderson’s personal notes on each of her selections, are:
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (2012)
Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary, the critically-acclaimed 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. As the years pass in front of the camera of a Palestinian farmer, we witness his son grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess.
“Here is the desert between Palestine and Israel. Huge housing developments oddly called settlements rise up out of the desert like mirages as the borders are constantly redrawn with cranes, barbed wire, concrete walls and shipping containers.
Emad the cameraman cannot stop shooting no matter what his friends and family say. His father has leaped onto the police van that is taking his son to prison, Emad films. The Israeli settlers furiously attack him threatening to break his head. Emad shoots. His friends are shot and killed. Emad is there. Filming. Bullets fracture the camera’s body. Blood splatters on the lens. After five cameras break he is still filming. This film is endurance and rage. The most powerful image is ancient olive trees that have been set afire, their leaves waving and their bark snapping as black plumes of smoke rise in the desert.“
BALLETS RUSSES (2005)
Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have fashioned a dazzling and entrancing ode to the revolutionary 20th-century dance troupes that performed under the Ballets Russes banner. Directed with consummate invention and infused with juicy anecdotal interviews from many of the companies’ glamorous stars, Ballets Russes treats audiences to a rare glimpse of the remarkable dancers, choreographers, composers and designers who transformed the face of dance.
“The film recreates the remembered world of ballet from the 30s and 40s with its ‘baby ballerinas’ (the precocious pre-teen etoiles), battling impresarios and fabulous costumes. Fast forward to the stars decades later still with the best posture, grace and remarkable composure as they reminisce and recreate their most famous moves intercut with footage from their days as stars. But it is the ancient stages with their backstage intrigue, footlights scandals and sets that are invoked. For the dancers who performed on them, getting back onto these stages and recreating the magic that happened on them animates them.“
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (2010)
Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, a breathtaking new 3D documentary from the incomparable Werner Herzog (Encounters At The End Of The World, Grizzly Man) follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most ancient visual art known to have been created by man. A hit at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, Cave Of Forgotten Dreams is an unforgettable cinematic experience that provides a unique glimpse of pristine artwork dating back to human hands over 30,000 years ago — almost twice as old as any previous discovery.
“Herzog’s softly persistent voice lures you into the cave where the oldest cave drawings in the world have been hidden for tens of thousands of years. Exquisitely drawn horses heads are painted onto the soft overhangs. One of the drawings, Herzog informs us, was drawn over by another later artist. The gap between the drawings was 5,000 years. We are locked in history and they were not he tells us. The eerie wonderland is mapped by digital imagery using millions of reference points creating one of the most beautiful three-dimensional maps I have ever seen. Herzog as the guide is reassuring unsettling and yet another story.”
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (2012)
Banksy‘s story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. Billed as ‘the world’s first street art disaster movie‘ the film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.
“Careening on skateboards through the streets of Paris New York and LA with cans of spray, slathering glue onto posters and sticking them on buildings before the cops arrive, this film is a high speed chase through dark streets as they get tagged with graffiti. Meanwhile we get to meet the obsessive French film maker, the artist Shephard Fairey and Banksy who turns the tables on the whole thing. The spirit of the genius creator of Dismaland, the pop up dystopian Disneyworld in the UK infuses the film. Hilarious. Great beats!“
MY WINNIPEG (2008)
Visionary Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin pays tribute to his beloved hometown with this self-described “docu-fantasia” that is equal parts transcendental rumination, historical chronicle, and personal portrait. In the first segment, Maddin’s camera drifts dreamlike through crowded trains as a floating kielbasa hangs from the ceiling and the director/narrator ponders just why the city boasts the most sleepwalkers per capita of any major international city. Later, the viewer is treated to images of numerous historical monuments in the city as they learn about such key historical events as the Winnipeg General Strike, the defeat of the Winnipeg Jets, and even the Golden Boy pageant scandal and a racetrack tragedy that found numerous horses sent to an icy death. As the third and final segment gets underway, the director draws inspiration from filmmaker William Castle to present pivotal — and often traumatic — events from his childhood that left an indelible mark while simultaneously serving to mold his unique vision of his beloved Winnipeg.
“The town of Winnipeg is ruled by the narrator’s tough-as-a-turkey white-haired mother who looms in windows. The filmmaker has hired actors to recreate the scenes of his childhood. But the actors don’t learn their lines and the sets are flimsy flats. It’s the rotting hockey rink, the pungent beauty parlor, the bleak snow driven streets and crumbling railroad tracks that are the most poignant. Punctuated by silent film (tragedy!) texts and frames filled with snow flakes that look like sparks, the film also stars the corpse of his father who is stored in the living room. “We’re always lost,” says the narrator who is shown on a train hurtling through the film unable to wake up. But then again Winnipeg has the highest number of sleepwalkers in the world.“
THE UNMISTAKEN CHILD (2009)
Young monk Tenzin Zopa has spent most of his life studying at the feet of the esteemed Geshe Lama Konchog. When the older man dies after a long, influential life, Tenzin is assigned to find his teacher’s reincarnated soul. Tenzin journeys throughout Nepal, from one small village to another, in search of the child in whom Konchog’s spirit has come to reside. This documentary from Nati Baratz charts Tenzin’s arduous, emotional quest, a task that will be judged a success or failure by the Dalai Lama himself.
“A monk looks for the incarnation of his beloved teacher and travels through a world of mountains, deep valleys, swirling smoke, and whirling prayer wheels. Guided by the clues- the direction of the smoke of the the cremated body and the phantom footprint in the ashes of the remains of his teacher- the monk meets dozens of small boys and gives them tests to determine if they could be his teacher ‘I cannot trust my feelings,’ he says. But instinct draws him to a small boy. Doubt and love animate this search. The map is made of karma. “
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