Miami 2011: “Mooney vs. Fowle”

I don’t know that I’ve ever attended a screening where the crowd is so into the documentary on screen (well, maybe the Bieber doc). James Lipscomb’s 1962 “Living Camera” episode “Mooney vs. Fowle” played to a crowd mostly made up of people who are in the Drew Associates’ vérité classic, and they understandably treated the film as if it were a slideshow projected at their high school reunion. People all around me talked amongst themselves, pointing out themselves or friends. At first it irritated me that I couldn’t always hear the dialogue from the actual film, but after a while I had an appreciation for what this experience was for everyone there. Most had apparently never seen it.

The doc brings us back to a 1961 football game played in front of 40,000 people at the Orange Bowl. A high school football game, pitting Miami High against their rivals from Edison High. The title refers to the coaches of each, and the film follows them separately, with their real families and their clan of players, in the days leading up to the big event. And then at last it astonishingly chronicles the game from all kinds of angles you wouldn’t expect from even the newly mobile tools of the Drew crew. Today’s television coverage doesn’t come nearly as close to capturing the spirit of the sport and its fans the way Lipscomb does here.

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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).

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