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12th and Clairmount
Fifty years ago, in the heat of July, the city of Detroit was irrevocably shaken by five of the most pivotal and divisive days in its history. The turmoil of that summer left 43 dead, hundreds injured, and more than a thousand buildings destroyed. Drawing from over 400 reels of donated home movies, this important and carefully crafted documentary delves into the complex causes and effects of the 1967 Race Riots. Weaving together found footage with newly recorded oral histories and powerful illustrations, Brian Kaufman showcases his adroit storytelling skills in a debut feature that is at once complicated and seamless. Produced by the Detroit Free Press in collaboration with Bridge Magazine, WXYZ-TV, and a group of metro Detroit cultural institutions led by the Detroit Institute of the Arts, this is the perfect companion piece to Kathryn Bigelow’s new film, “Detroit,” capturing the full spectrum of life in Detroit and the explosive tensions that are still alive today.
Film Info
Section:US Documentary
Release Year:2017
Runtime:82 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Brian Kaufman
Kathy Kieliszewski
Bill McGraw
Screenwriter:Brian Kaufman
Kathy Kieliszewski
Bill McGraw
Editing By:Brian Kaufman
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500 Years
How could genocide occur in a country without its citizens ever knowing? In this sweeping documentary, filmmaker Pamela Yates gives a powerful new voice to the previously silenced Mayan people of Guatemala, who suffered the slaughter of entire villages in the 1980s under former president Rios Montt. The murders committed by Montt and his army, backed by the Reagan administration, went mostly unnoticed by the Mayans’ fellow countrymen, many of whom still do not believe a genocide ever occurred. Yates juxtaposes moving interviews with Mayan survivors and footage of Montt’s 2013 trial, which culminated in a fierce citizen uprising that flooded the streets of Guatemala with protestors demanding long-overdue justice. “500 Years” is an important and inspiring film that bears witness to the stories and strength of Guatemala’s indigenous people.
Film Info
Section:Foreign Documentary
Cinema Salon
Don't Miss
Original Title:500 Años
Release Year:2017
Runtime:105 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:Guatemala
Original Language:Spanish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Irma Alicia Velàsquez
NimatujMatilde
Terraza Gallego
Daniel Pascual Hernàndez
Andrea Ixchìu Hernàndez
Produced by:Paco de Onis
Cinematography:Melle van Essen
Rene Soza
Editing By:Peter Kinoy
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Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
After the 2008 financial crisis, only one bank was targeted for mortgage fraud in the US. It wasn’t Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, JP Morgan Chase, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac; instead, the feds targeted a small immigrant-run enterprise called Abacus Federal Savings Bank. After one of the bank’s employees was caught taking bribes, the Manhattan DA’s office accused Abacus of corruption. In this searing documentary, as riveting as any legal thriller, Oscar-nominated director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) unravels the judicial witch hunt that Abacus owner and Chinese immigrant Thomas Sung and his family endured over the next three years. James asks the crucial question: Why did federal investigators target a small, family-run business instead of any of the large corporations responsible for the Great Recession? Amid our current climate of suspected government corruption and regulation rollbacks, this is a vital reminder of all that is at stake when profits and not people come first.
Film Info
Section:US Documentary
Don't Miss
Release Year:2016
Runtime:88 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Julie Goldman
Mark Mitten
Cinematography:Tom Bergmann
Editing By:David E. Simpson
John Farbrother
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ACORN and the Firestorm
An essential part of documentary filmmaking’s DNA is the capacity for nuance, a trait the world of 24-hour cable news does not share. This is demonstrated all too clearly in this riveting look at a heated scandal of the 2000s, the explosive political collapse of the longstanding nonprofit ACORN. The community organizing group that played a critical role in the 2008 election of Barack Obama, once boasting over 500,000 members worldwide, was taken down by a pair of undercover conservative activists posing as a prostitute and a pimp. The carefully staged operation, orchestrated by Andrew Breitbart, led to ACORN’s eventual bankruptcy, setting the stage for today’s polarized political climate and the rise of Breitbart News. A compelling cautionary tale, this true-life political thriller shines an unquestionably fascinating light on our troubled present.
Film Info
Section:US Documentary
Cinema Salon
Don't Miss
Release Year:2017
Runtime:84 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Premiere Status:Midwest Premiere
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
India
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Bertha Lewis
Hannah Giles
Wade Rathke
Maude Hurd
Produced by:Reuben Atlas
Sam Pollard
Cinematography:Frank Larson
Spencer Chumbley
Naiti Gamez
Natalie Kingston
Editing By:Francisco Bello
Music By:Khari Mateen
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Ada for Mayor
Imagine Occupy Wall Street rising in Spain, and you’ll get a sense of the public movement that propelled unlikely folk hero Ada Colau from street raconteur to Barcelona’s first female mayor in 2015. Along for the whirlwind ride was director Pau Faus, who had an exclusive front-row seat to document Colau’s journey from a housing rights activist repeatedly arrested for disruptive protesting, to an unlikely seat of political power in the course of a few short years. Through a combination of first-person video confessionals and up-close coverage of Colau’s public campaign appearances, Faus focuses an intimate lens on Colau’s initial self-doubt and discomfort with being in the public eye, and the eventual aplomb with which she took office. “Ada for Mayor” is a rousing tribute to the power of everyday activists and the ability of one individual to change the system from within by speaking out in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds
Film Info
Section:Foreign Documentary
Original Title:Alcaldesa
Release Year:2016
Runtime:88 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:Spain
Original Language:Catalan
Spanish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Ventura Durall
Screenwriter:Ventura Durall
Pau Faus
Silvia González Laá
Cinematography:Pau Faus
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After the Storm
For Ryota Shinoda—a failed writer, third-rate private detective, and luckless gambler estranged from his family—a massive incoming typhoon is just the latest in a series of disasters to hit his life. But the storm may also be Ryota’s last shot at redemption. Forced to find shelter with his ex-wife, their young son, and his recently widowed mother, Ryota struggles to regain his family’s trust during the long night as the storm rages around them. Funny, rueful, and wistfully melancholic, acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Koreeda’s beautiful family saga is dotted with illuminating dialogue about the intertwined mysteries of family and personal destiny—and the unexpected moments that define us. “I really just can’t understand how things turned out like this,” says one character during the storm, reflecting the bittersweet truth of how easy it is to misunderstand each other and also—suddenly, wonderfully—find each other again.
Film Info
Section:Foreign Fiction
Original Title:Umi yori mo mada fukaku
Release Year:2016
Runtime:117 min.
Type of Film:Feature Narrative
Rating:NR
Production Country:Japan
Original Language:Japanese
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Abe Hiroshi
Maki Yoko
Yoshizawa Taiyo
Kilin Kiki
Produced by:Tsugihiko Fujiwara
Takashi Ishihara
Kazumi Kawashiro
Kaoru Matsuzaki
Hijiri Taguchi
Tatsumi Yoda
Akihiko Yose
Screenwriter:Hirokazu Koreeda
Cinematography:Yutaka Yamazaki
Editing By:Hirokazu Koreeda
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Afterimage
This angry, vivid, passionate biopic tells the story of committed avant garde painter Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who lived in Poland during the age of Stalin. After losing two limbs in World War I, he rose above his disability, creating art that challenged the pillars of Polish society. Strzeminski taught his students that art is about an individual way of seeing, and not rote reproduction of a collectively agreed-upon reality. “Afterimage” is the last film by Polish master Andrzej Wajda, who died last year at age 90. One of cinema’s great directors, with over 50 films to his credit, Wajda saved one of his most affecting films for last—a poignant reflection on how the pressures of society and personal challenges can inspire artistic greatness.
Film Info
Section:Foreign Fiction
Free Buzz Movies
Original Title:Powidoki
Release Year:2016
Runtime:98 min.
Type of Film:Feature Narrative
Rating:NR
Production Country:Poland
Original Language:Polish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Boguslaw Linda
Bronislawa Zamachowska
Zofia Wichlacz
Produced by:Michal Kwiecinski
Screenwriter:Andrzej Wajda
Andrzej Mularczyk
Cinematography:Pawel Edelman
Editing By:Grazyna Gradon
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All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone
Independent journalist I.F. Stone built a legacy uncovering the deception of the powers that be, inspiring generations of maverick journalists to do the same. Using archival footage and new interviews, this sobering documentary is less a portrait of the legendary news figure than it is a critique of the mainstream media and a call to arms for the necessarily adversarial relationship of journalists to government, particularly in times of crisis and war. Stone’s work through the latter half of the 20th century is portrayed as hugely influential and, in the context of the chaos of the 2016 presidential election, as the type of reporting needed now more than ever. Writers like John Carlos Frey, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman, and others are presented as following in Stone’s footsteps, which are traced backwards to McCarthyism and through the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. This debut documentary from TV news veteran Fred Peabody, which also features a talking head appearance from our own
Film Info
Section:Foreign Documentary
Cinema Salon
Release Year:2016
Runtime:91 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:Canada
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Jeff Cohen
Andrew Munger
Steve Ord
Peter Raymont
Cinematography:John Westheuser
Editing By:Jim Munro
James Yates
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AlphaGo
If scientists are lucky, the work they do in cloistered labs might get presented at a conference. But once in a while, science takes the world stage, as it did in this fascinating doc about scientists testing the limits of rapidly-evolving AI technology. The engaging, brilliant team at London-based intelligence think tank DeepMind try to program a computer to beat Lee Sedol, the charming world champion of the ancient Chinese board game Go, long considered the holy grail for artificial intelligence. With its near-infinite number of possible outcomes, Go is exponentially more complex than chess. Because mastery of the game requires creativity, expert players and the AI community long believed we were at least a decade away from computers beating human Go players. You won’t know who to cheer as DeepMind takes on Lee Sedol in a weeklong 2016 tournament in Seoul, with much more on the line than a million dollar prize
Film Info
Section:US Documentary
Don't Miss
Release Year:2017
Runtime:90 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:English
Korean
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Lee Sedol
Demis Hassabis
David Silver
Aja Huang
Fan Hui
Produced by:Gary Krieg
Kevin Proudfoot
Josh Rosen
Cinematography:Greg Kohs
Editing By:Cindy Lee
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At the End of the Tunnel
This smart, expertly paced, adrenaline-pumping, twisty, escape-from-reality thriller comes complete with a cute kid and a dog. Hunky paraplegic computer expert Joaquin (Leonardo Sbaraglia, “Wild Tales”) lives alone, grieving the deaths of his wife and child, working as a computer tech in his basement. Stuck with an empty house and in need of money, Joaquin rents a room to a beautiful woman and her daughter who turn up one rainy day. Soon thereafter, he overhears a team of hoods tunneling under his property to get into the vault at a nearby bank, which leads Joaquin to do some digging of his own. A box office hit in Argentina, “At the End of the Tunnel” is for everyone who enjoys films about people who think their way out of big problems, and who don’t mind a little action, violence, and gun play along the way.
Film Info
Section:Foreign Fiction
Original Title:Al final del túnel
Release Year:2016
Runtime:120 min.
Type of Film:Feature Narrative
Rating:NR
Production Country:Argentina
Spain
Original Language:Spanish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Leonardo Sbaraglia
Federico Luppi
Clara Lago
Pablo Echarri
Uma Salduende
Produced by:Gerardo Herrero
Axel Kuschevatzky
Sofía Toro Pollicino
Venessa Ragone
Martín Seefeld
Screenwriter:Rodrigo Grande
Cinematography:Félix Monti
Editing By:Leire Alonso
Manuel Bauer
Irene Blecua
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Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies
In the tradition of great TCFF zomcoms like “Zombeavers” comes “Attack of the Lederhozen Zombies,” because nothing says Saturday night at TCFF like flesh-starved Austrians dressed in silly suspenders and short pants. The plot goes a little something like this: two pro snowboarders and their girlfriends find themselves stuck on an Alpine mountain the same night an overzealous resort owner unleashes his new, and, as it turns out, highly toxic artificial snow (there’s an environmental message here somewhere), spawning the titular army of sartorially-challenged undead. Striking a tone somewhere between an 80s ski comedy and “Dead Snow,” it’s safe to say the chills you feel won’t just be from the snow on screen. And there’s a lot of transferable survival skills to be found here, like using slope skis to sever attackers. Come for the education, stay for the company.
Film Info
Section:Midnight
Original Title:Angriff der Lederhosenzombies
Release Year:2016
Runtime:78 min.
Type of Film:Feature Narrative
Rating:NR
Production Country:Austria
Original Language:English
German
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Laurie Calvert
Gabriela Marcinková
Margarete Tiesel
Produced by:Markus Fischer
Screenwriter:Armin Prediger
Dominik Hartl
Cinematography:Xiaosu Han
Andreas Thalhammer
Editing By:Daniel Prochaska
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Austerlitz
Why would a young man wake up and put on a shirt that says “Cool Story, Bro” before heading out for a day trip to Austerlitz? What happens when a historic site of unimaginable suffering becomes a pit stop for family vacationers? This ingeniously simple, mesmerizing documentary—a vital entry in the growing chapter of cinema evaluating the Holocaust’s present-day legacy—arrests and unsettles us from its opening images. Capturing a typical day at the site of a concentration camp turned tourist attraction, we watch throngs of tourists pour into the gates, pausing briefly to snap a shot. Some pose, laughing and smiling alongside signs. Sergei Lotznitsa’s camera simply observes these scenes in stark black-and-white, and it becomes increasingly clear just how little connection many of the daytrippers feel to the atrocities they’re looking in on, viewing sites of unconscionable human suffering with only a cursory interest in, or understanding of, the history on which they tread.
Film Info
Section:Avant Garde Film at Dutmers
Original Title:Austerlicas
Release Year:2016
Runtime:94 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:Germany
Original Language:English
German
Spanish
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Kirill Krasovski
Cinematography:Sergei Loznitsa
Jesse Mazuch
Editing By:Danielius Kokanauskis
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Awake, a Dream from Standing Rock
Moving from summer 2016, when demonstrations over the Dakota Access Pipeline’s demolishing of sacred Native burial grounds began, to the current and disheartening pipeline status, “Awake” is a powerful visual poem, uncovering complex hidden truths with simplicity. The grand, sweeping plains at Standing Rock are a bittersweet backdrop for images of peaceful protesters barraged by water cannons and choked by tear gas that—until now—had reached the outside world only as jittery iPhone video. A shaky voice reports an attack on unarmed civilians. The 911 operator offers to send police, but the caller explains it’s the police doing the attacking. The operator can’t do anything if the police are already on the scene. “Who protects the people from the police?” the caller asks. Protester Floris White Bull narrates: “I am not dreaming. I’m awake. I have been woken by the spirit inside me that demanded I open my eyes and see the world.” Presented by the Grand Traverse Band with filmmakers and gue
Film Info
Section:Special Screenings
Release Year:2017
Runtime:84 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Floris White Bull
Wes “Mekasi" Horineck
Oceti Sakowin Youth
Doug Good Feather
Tara Houska
Produced by:Kyle Cadotte
Teena Pugliese
Deia Schlosberg
Screenwriter:Josh Fox
Floris Ptesan Hunka
Floris White Bull
Cinematography:Josh Fox
James Spione
Myron Dewey
Editing By:Josh Fox
James Spione
Myron Dewey
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Barry
Before he was Barack, he was Barry—an intelligent, handsome, charismatic bit of a square, who struggled with questions of identity, purpose, and belonging. It’s hard to imagine a time when the coolest commander-in-chief on record wasn’t quite as cool, but this stellar biopic about the future 44th president’s college years at Columbia University in New York reconstructs how the biracial brainiac stepped outside his comfort zone to explore black culture while also navigating relationships with his white girlfriend (Anya Taylor-Joy) and mother (Ashley Judd). Dancing to the B-52s, reading “Invisible Man,” shooting hoops, and debating democracy via the ancient Greeks, the man we know now didn’t yet exist—but the future was calling. Led by Devon Terrell’s winsome lead performance, director Vikram Gandhi’s poignant charmer may reveal the events and relationships that shaped the man who would become the leader of the free world, but it also stands on its own as a tender and true coming-of-age
Film Info
Section:US Fiction
Don't Miss
Release Year:2016
Runtime:104 min.
Type of Film:Feature Narrative
Rating:NR
Production Country:USA
Original Language:Swahili
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Cast:Devon Terrell
Anya Taylor-Joy
Jason Mitchell
Ellar Coltrane
Jenna Elfman
Produced by:Vikram Gandhi
Teddy Schwarzman
Ben Stillman
Dana O'Keffe
Screenwriter:Adam Mansbach
Cinematography:Adam Newport-Berra
Editing By:Jacob Craycroft
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Beats of the Antonov
This dynamic, emotional, even jubilant debut documentary proves that the human need for music prevails even in the throes of war. Returning to his homeland, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka spent two years capturing the vibrant music and rituals that unify refugees in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions through a shared heritage. Despite living each day in fear of bombings and the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by North Sudan’s government, Kuka captures farmers and herders expressing happiness and joy through laughter, songs signalling the conclusion of raids, and ceremonial dances. This Toronto International Film Festival Audience Award winner seeks to preserve and celebrate a musical tradition and cultural identity threatened with annihilation, and reminds us that the optimism and resilient spirit that beats in the hearts of a courageous people cannot be squashed.
Film Info
Section:Travel Ban
Free Buzz Movies
Release Year:2014
Runtime:68 min.
Type of Film:Feature Documentary
Rating:NR
Production Country:Sudan
South Africa
Original Language:Arabic
Subtitles:English
Cast/Crew Info
Produced by:Steven Markovitz
Screenwriter:Hajooj Kuka
Cinematography:Hajooj Kuka
Editing By:Hajooj Kuka
Khalid Shamis
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