Miami Film Festival is Underway With Excellent Documentary Program

The 2011 Miami International Film Festival began last Friday, but I won’t be arriving to the event for another two days. I want to highlight the fest in advance, though, because I’m very excited about the new documentary program, Doc-You-Up, which has been curated by Thom Powers (Toronto Film Festival, DOC NYC, Stranger Than Fiction), surely one of the best doc programmers in the business right now.

Many of his picks for Miami are lifted out of Sundance, and so I’m happy to (1) recommend some of the films I saw there and (2) catch up with some of those I missed. Of the latter, I’m looking forward to seeing great-buzz titles like “Bobby Fischer Against the World,” “Black Power Mix Tape,” “We Were Here” and “The Redemption of General Butt Naked” (and perhaps “Magic Trip,” the buzz on which was less than great in Park City).

On top of that I’m especially anticipating a special screening of the 1962 Drew Associates classic “Mooney vs. Fowle,” hoping to revisit the war film “Armadillo,” which was a favorite of mine at DOC NYC, and, relative to the fest’s focus on Ibero-American cinema, catching some episodes of the doc series “Black in Latin America” and seeing the animated Columbian doc “Little Voices.”

Back to the recommendations, I definitely urge anyone in attendance to see “Project Nim,” my favorite doc from Sundance and likely my favorite of the year. That is showing tonight with a Q&A with director James Marsh. I wish I could be there, as I can’t wait to see the film a second time. From my review at Cinematical:

‘Man on Wire’ Oscar-winner James Marsh has done it again … Along the way, there are some laughs to be had, but there is much more heartbreak. If ‘Man on Wire’ is one of the most crowd-pleasing docs of all time, this may be one of the most constantly devastating.

Also tonight is Morgan Spurlock’s “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” (which I don’t love but should give another look to at some point), “Bobby Fischer” and “Butt Naked.” Good luck deciding which to choose. Spurlock is also the subject of and will be present for a conversational seminar tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow night is a screening of Marshall Curry’s domestic terrorism film, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which deserved much more attention in Park City than it received. Sure, it does pale in comparison to Curry’s “Streetwise,” mainly in terms of character, but that’s a tough film to top. And this still left me with a lot to think about, with much difficulty.

Other must-see Sundance vets this week include “Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” (read my Cinematical review here) and Steve James’ magnificent “The Interrupters,” which I believe (and hope) should be an Oscar frontrunner this year. From my review of the latter, which some avoided due to its length:

Any concern about the film’s length is met with the realization that it could not be any shorter. Every second is necessary. The thing about issues like this is that a single individual subject cannot be filmed exclusively and meant to be representative of the whole problem and community. And coverage of multiple characters and aspects related to the issue must not be only glimpsed at. Either sort of obscuration would be as insufficient as the statistical data and eclipsed attention the media attends to the matter. And the audience would leave the story without proper concern, let alone combined outrage and optimism.

Look for my thoughts on as many of the Doc-You-Up (and DOX Competition) films as I can manage to fit in over the next week. And watch for other reviews and reports from Miami at Spout and Cinematical.

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About Christopher Campbell
I am a blogger for Documentary Channel and Movies.com, where I write the Doc Talk column. I prefer real stories to fake ones. I tweet here: @thefilmcynic

One Response to Miami Film Festival is Underway With Excellent Documentary Program

  1. Pingback: Miami 2011: “Magic Trip” « Nothing But the Doc

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