BECOMING – Review by Martha K Baker

That Becoming is a so-called “authorized project” from the Obamas’ Higher Ground production company does not dilute its significance or its intimacy as director Nadia Hallgren follows Obama on tour, slips in vintage newsreels, and interviews Obama’s daughters. Michelle Obama’s husband also appears on camera — with a smile.

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AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (SXSW2020) – Review by Marina Antunes

Katrine Philp’s An Elephant in the Room follows children in mourning for deceases parents. The film comes at a difficult time when conversations about death and grief may be central to the lives of many families. It’s reassuring to see that regardless of how deep the grief may be, we can get through it — but it’s easier if you don’ t go at it alone.

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THE RABBI GOES WEST (OXFF2020) – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Did you hear the one about the Brooklyn rabbi who moves to Montana and celebrates his daughter’s birthday at a shooting range? There’s no punchline to this. It’s a real scene from The Rabbi Goes West, a fascinating and surprising documentary about the Jewish community in Big Sky Country.

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FEELS GOOD MAN (SXSW2020) – Review by Nell Minow

Feels Good Man is not just comic artist Matt Furie’s story, or even that of his creation, Pepe the frog. It is the story of us, and it illuminates some confusing and painful realities about the way we communicate, form opinions, and make vital decisions about the future of our country, and so much that doesn’t feel good, man.

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DARK CITY BENEATH THE BEAT (SXSW)2020 – Review by Nikki Baughan

Baltimore itself is the stage where rappers and poets perform on street corners, dancers hotfoot their way across bridges and through buildings, clubs host sweaty dance-off competitions, where crowds gather to watch those with the best moves crowned King or Queen. And in one poignant sequence, a tulle-clad dancer performs a beautiful mixture of ballet and club moves in the graveyard where Tamika Ray (aka FatGirl), a pioneer of Baltimore dance, lays buried.

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Filmmaker Emily Barclay Ford on THE PUSHBACK, Purpose and Pushing Back (Guest Post)

We raced to finish The Pushback in time for our SXSW delivery deadline and then the festival was canceled the same day. Although we are sad that we did not get to premiere at the festival and in Texas, where the documentary was shot, we feel like we have to make lemonade out of lemons and find the opportunity in this moment. Due to the shutdown of other productions, there will likely be more appetite for finished content in the coming months. And with social distancing, cancellation of group events, and potentially the inability to canvas, we’re thinking that a film like ours can be a useful tool to reach people through their living rooms at a safe distance.

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THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE (SXSW2020) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Are you ‘cliterate’? How many of you out there know the exact physiological structure of the clitoris? How many of you are uncomfortable with it being brought up, or even written in a sentence? That is what the new documentary The Dilemma of Desire considers as part of a larger examination of the disconnection from, and vilification of, women’s sexuality, and how it damages self-acceptance and self-value for women around the world

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FOR MADMEN ONLY (SXSW2020) – Review by Lois Alter Mark

I was a little wary about watching For Madmen Only because I had never heard of its subject, Del Close. But with the perfect timing of the comedians it celebrates, narrator Michaela Watkins begins this fascinating documentary by reassuring viewers, “If you never heard of Del Close, well, congratulations. That means you’re not a comedian, which, all in all, is probably good news for you.”

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WE DON’T DESERVE DOGS (SXSW2020) – Review by Tara McNamara

We Don’t Deserve Dogs is a documentary that shows how dogs are truly man’s best friend all across the globe, in a series of vignettes. People in one location in one country share their experience with how one dog has impacted their lives. Usually, the animal helped them with a positive transformation, but not always. Ultimately, as all dog films, it’s not really about the dogs. It’s about the humans.

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