BIFF17 REVIEW: Woman on Fire [2017]

“I’m sick and tired of being afraid and hiding” I’m not sure anyone could have written a better script than Brooke Guinan‘s real life to truly focus on what it means to be a transgender person in a bigoted, “traditional” world. Here’s a woman born as George Guinan VI into a FDNY (New York Fire […]

BIFF17 REVIEW: Mermaids [2017]

“All tails are welcome here” On first blush Ali Weinstein‘s documentary Mermaids focuses its glimpse at the titular sea myth’s power towards the whimsical and fun. She takes us from the days of old at Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (which is still in operation) to a contemporary trend of mer-lovers creating or commissioning […]

REVIEW: I Am Another You [2017]

“I’ll show you what freedom is like” Documentarian Nanfu Wang left China in 2011 to find the freedom that remaining in her home country never could provide. She came to America—specifically New York City—to study filmmaking before ultimately creating the 2017 Oscars-shortlisted Hooligan Sparrow (which depicted some of the oppression and persecution that she sought […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Of Sheep and Men [2017]

“In this country, the big fish eat the small fish” It’s the cusp of Eid in Algiers, Bab el Oued circa 2016 and the rams are running wild. Well, not wild per se considering each is bought, sold, and always owned. They seem to be a huge staple in this impoverished town as a means […]

REVIEW: Red Trees [2017]

“A Mr. Hitler is in power, but it’s the vending machines that I recall” If yours were one of only twelve Jewish families in all of Prague to survive World War II, you’d do your best to move forward despite the memories of death, fear, and oppression that marked you in a way no one […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood [2017]

“Get what I mean?” If the phrase “tell-all” hadn’t been coined before 2012, Scotty Bowers‘ memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars would have done the job. Here’s a Marine Corps veteran of World War II born in Illinois who decided to land in Hollywood upon his […]

REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

“If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Los Burritos [Cocaine Prison] [2017]

“If it doesn’t happen, what can I do?” If you’ve ever watched season three of “Prison Break” and wondered what was going on with Sona’s weird open air slum-like community barely watched by guards, know that the truth isn’t very far off. Just look at Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison in Cochabamba, a small concrete establishment […]

REVIEW: American Promise [2013]

“I hope times have changed” Before Boyhood began its eleven-year gestation as a fictionalized document of a real life coming-of-age journey in America, multiple documentary projects were born in the same vein. The Up Series started in 1964, Doug Block‘s The Kids Grow Up used home video from as far back as the 90s to […]

REVIEW: I Called Him Morgan [2017]

“I’m making the biggest mistake of my life” The life of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was one of extreme highs and lows. He was a musician plucked towards superstardom at the age of eighteen by Dizzy Gillespie, eventually touring with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers while helping create the Blue Note label’s sound. But […]

REVIEW: Bienvenue à F.L. [Welcome to F.L.] [2015]

“It’s hard to figure out exactly who you are and then it’s even harder to actually become that person” It would have been difficult for filmmaker Geneviève Dulude-De Celles to find a better metaphor in action than the one at the center of her documentary Bienvenue à F.L. [Welcome to F.L.]. Beyond the wonderfully spare […]