Every month, Utne Reader previews a selection of current and upcoming independent film and documentary releases. This sampler was curated by editor Ben Sauder.
June 2016 Film Sampler
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Bestselling author and noted scholar Irvin D. Yalom is one of the most influential psychotherapists living today. This cinematic documentary is more than a typical biography: together with Dr. Yalom we embark on an existential journey through the many layers of the human mind, navigating the depths and shallows of our psyche. Along the way we learn about Yalom's groundbreaking work in the development of the field of psychotherapy, and listen as he reveals some of his most fundamental insights and wisdom. (Distributor synopsis)
Our Mockingbird is a documentary that uses Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird as a lens to view race, class, gender and justice, then and now. Woven through the film is the story of two extraordinarily different high schools in Birmingham, Alabama — one black, one white — who collaborate on a remarkable production of the adapted play, To Kill a Mockingbird. (Distributor synopsis)
The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West
Life, Animated is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood. The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song. Until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive.
Life, Animated, the documentary, is based on Ron Suskind’s best-selling book, “Life Animated: a story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism.” Directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, and produced by the acclaimed Julie Goldman, the documentary premiered January 23rd, 2016, at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won director Roger Ross Williams the Sundance Directing Award: U.S. Documentary. (Distributor synopsis)
The Fear of 13
Part confessional and part performance, this haunting psychological thriller is a stylistically daring experiment in storytelling. Nick, a death row inmate, petitions the court to be executed. As he goes on to tell his story, it gradually becomes clear that nothing is quite what it seems. Nick spins his tale with all the twists and turns of classic crime drama, with a final shocking twist that casts everything in a new light. (Distributor synopsis)
Germans and Jews
Today, Europe’s fastest growing Jewish population is in Berlin. Germany is considered one of the most democratic societies in the world, assuming the position of moral leader of Europe as they embrace hundreds of thousands of refugees. This development couldn’t have been imagined in 1945. Through personal stories Germans & Jews explores Germany’s transformation as a society, from silence about the Holocaust to facing it head on. Unexpectedly, a nuanced story of reconciliation emerges. What began as a private conversation between the two filmmakers and friends, Tal Recanati (Jewish) and Janina Quint (non-Jewish German), grew into a cultural exchange among many and we realize that the two people are inextricably linked through the memory of the Holocaust. Germans and Jews is at once uncomfortable and provocative, unexpected and enlightening. (Distributor synopsis)