Sydney FF 2019: MY NUDITY MEANS NOTHING – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

For those still shaken by Marina de Van’s shocking, brave and wholly unique 2002 debut film In My Skin, that the French filmmaker, actor and writer has finally returned with a feature-length film is cause for unbridled celebration. Like In My Skin, although shifting from fictional filmmaking to a documentary format with My Nudity Means Nothing, in many ways these two works have much in common: both feature de Van as their central subject, and both hold at their core a fundamental, almost clinical, focus on the relationship between gender, identity and corporeality.

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Sydney FF 2019: A DOG CALLED MONEY – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Weaving together a range of different threads and textures in his revealing documentary about cult British rock icon PJ Harvey and her 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project, Irish filmmaker and photojournalist Seamus Murphy‘s A Dog Called Money crosses the globe with the musician to meet the people and places that inspired her.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 14, 2019: TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM

Inspiring and intimate, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am is a revealing portrait of a true American icon. The Nobel Prize-winning author shares details of her life and work honestly and openly, while fellow luminaries — and enthusiastic fans — like Oprah Winfrey, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, and many more wax rhapsodic about Morrison’s talent and significance as a writer.

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ECHO IN THE CANYON – Review by Martha K. Baker

The Byrds and the Beach Boys. The Mamas and the Papas. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Their songs echo out of Laurel Canyon, circa 1960. Echo in the Canyon, a nostalgic documentary, provides plenty of musical worms crawling into receptive ears with clips from the past and coverage of recent concerts.

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HOMECOMING: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

If you don’t already understand why superstar singer-songwriter Beyoncé is damn near worshipped as a goddess, the new documentary Homecoming (streaming globally on Netflix) is here to show you why. Part concert film, part myth-in-the-making, this is a glorious pop spectacle that is both enormously entertaining and hugely important.

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ASK DR. RUTH – Review by Sheila Roberts

Ryan White’s charming documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, examines the remarkable life and career of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the Goddess of Good Sex, who has attracted millions of loyal followers by talking frankly and explicitly about the most personal and profound aspects of human sexuality and happiness. Now, nearly 91, she remains a tireless voice of sexual literacy. She continues to work non-stop, advising, educating and shocking her audience who admire her non-judgmental perspective and respect for people.

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WILD HORSE, WILD RIDER – Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

It may sound like a reality TV show, but it’s an annual event that has become a way of life for devoted participants. It’s The Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, and it’s the subject of this documentary film. The premise is simple: place 100 wild mustang horses in the hands of 100 capable trainers and give the trainers 100 days to tame the mustangs, teach them a series of tricks and perform with them as a horse and trainer team in a competitive horse show.

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THE COMPETITION (LE CONCOURS) – Review by Diane Carson

Director Claire Simon’s documentary Le Concours/The Competition begins with the nitty gritty details of bureaucratic paperwork before moving to a large, packed auditorium. After watching two brief film clips, hundreds of aspiring applicants have three hours to write individual reactions, crucial elements for possible admission to the prestigious Parisian French film school La Fémis.

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THE SEER AND THE UNSEEN – Review by Pam Grady

A grandmother takes on the powers that be in The Seer and the Unseen, Sara Dosa’s sophomore feature that made its debut at the SFFILM Festival. The documentary’s depiction of efforts to stop development across one of Iceland’s magnificent lava fields is enchanting—and not just because Iceland’s legendary elves are the titular “unseen.”

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