Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Auteurs: True/False Film Festival Celebration

In honor of this year's True/False Film Festival The Auteurs are hosting an online a retrospective selection of documentaries from past festivals (all free).

The Auteurs
True/False Film Festival
To Watch the Documentaries Online

Sons of a Gun (USA: Rivkah Beth Medow and Greg O'Toole, 2008: 70 mins)

A freshly minted classic, Sons of a Gun is a portrait of a new archetypal American family—Larry, a laissez-faire LAPD hostage negotiator, and the three mentally ill adults under his care in a Bay Area motel room. Inside this claustrophobic fish bowl, we come to see lovability and comic timing along with the tics and the outbursts. Delightful and disturbing, the film crackles like a dark sitcom by way of R. Crumb and the Beale sisters. With expressive camerawork and brisk editing, Medow and O’Toole have created indelible characters and a narrative that fulfills a social mission much more effectively than a prescriptive piece on behalf of the mentally ill. It’s a jaw-dropping ride that confounds our expectations at every turn — including a second-act twist that shatters any notion their lives were going to be romanticized.

Someday My Prince Will Come Someday My Prince Will Come (UK: Marc Isaacs, 2005: 48 mins)

Heartrending and hilarious in ways that only the love life of an 11-year-old can be, this British doc is certain to provoke lots of discussion and perhaps some controversy. Rare in its willingness to accept kids on their own terms, Someday My Prince Will Come is narrated in rhyming voice-over by its subject, Laura-Anne, as she brings us along on her quest to find a “prince.” Along the way, we’re reminded of the tumultuous nature of young love and offered an unvarnished look at the social life of a small British coastal village.

The Mother (Russia/France/Switzerland: Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov, 2007: 80 mins)

Though its focus remains tight on its main subject — a Russian single mother of nine — Antoine Cattin and Pavel Kostomarov’s award-winning film has the scope, precision and resonance of a literary masterpiece. The cinematography is startling, with bleached colors that reflect the washed-out dreams of its subjects. Though shot largely with handheld cameras, its compositions would do Cartier-Bresson proud. The film’s blend of long takes and jump cuts give it the feel of an epic. And the characters and their stories are richer than fiction, as they celebrate, fight, grieve and survive. But The Mother is more than the sum of these magnificent parts, thanks to the richness and complexity of the themes it explores: the daily violence absorbed by women and children, the impossible traps of modern masculinity, the generations-long impact of addiction, the innocence of first love. Taking the long-form documentary to new heights, Cattin and Kostomarov have crafted an urgent classic of 21st-century cinema.

The Order of Myths (USA: Margaret Brown, 2008: 97 mins)

The first Mardi Gras in America was celebrated in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. In 2007, it is still racially segregated. Filmmaker Margaret Brown (Be Here to Love Me: A Film about Townes Van Zandt), herself a daughter of Mobile, escorts us into the parallel hearts of the city s two carnivals. With unprecedented access, she traces the exotic world of secret mystic societies and centuries-old traditions and pageantry; diamond-encrusted crowns, voluminous, hand-sewn gowns, surreal masks and enormous paper mache floats. Against this opulent backdrop, she uncovers a tangled web of historical violence and power dynamics, elusive forces that keep this hallowed tradition organized along enduring color lines.

Running Stumbled (USA: John Maringouin, 2006: 85 mins)

Louisiana-born filmmaker John Maringouin arrives at the front door of his father Johnny Roe’s New Orleans home unannounced to offer an apocalyptic portrait of his dysfunctional family in this unflinching, multi-sensory documentary that utilizes digital and auditory manipulation to take the viewer deeper into the psyche of a disturbed artist than they may care to travel. When Maringouin was just a child, his drug-addicted father once threatened to kill his family. These days, artist Johnny lives in drug-addicted squalor with his common-law wife Virgie. Now, as arguments erupt and threats are made, the pieces of the puzzle that Maringouin has worked for years to assemble finally begin to fall into place. —allmovie guide

The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories (Bulgaria: Andrey Paounov, 2007: 100 mins)

A small town and its hopeful citizens are about to embark on a bright new journey. Massive rusty cranes, foreign investors, and the joyful chants of cheerleaders carry the dream of a great nuclear future. Disturbed only by gigantic stinging mosquitoes, the townsfolk celebrate the atomic hurray by engraving the nuclear power plant logo on buildings and soup bowls. Amidst the apparent atomic prosperity, lies a past that no one wants to remember. An island holding terrifying secrets. Stories of shocking and horrible crimes loom on the city just like the dark clouds of mosquitoes descending on its citizens. A world instantly transformed by ideologies, regimes and dreams of economic prosperity. The tales of characters whose lives intersect in a sinister past, nuclear future and the stinging mosquitoes fl­ying through time, sealing their fate together.

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