Words pass from a mouth to an ear, to a mind. What happens between is a mystery of articulation, and understanding. This week's films reflect on language, knowledge and communication with humour and spoken difficulty.
A dozen red chairs, an equal number of mutually disparate life stories. Just a room and a common language, however, become a means toward understanding as foreigners from all corners of the world meet each week at the Centre Pompidou in Paris for free lessons to hone their French.
Students of different careers prepare to take final exams. Botany, anatomy, sociology, medieval philosophy, criminal law, morphology, theoretical physics and piano. Each one uses their own abilities to cope with the situation of oral exposure, the most common evaluative practice in the National Universities of Argentina.
Perhaps the most difficult terrain to know and accept is the surface and depth of one's own body. This week's films explore grounding interiors, complicated distances, and shifting self, in a world that is less than accepting.
A young filmmaker who shares a Beirut apartment with his mother and pet dog attempts to reconstruct his identity by renovating his bedroom. But as the Syrian construction workers come and go in the freshly embattled household, new questions, old arguments and unexpected passions get stirred. What emerges is an intimate essay about the meaning of masculinity and a young man’s search for acceptance across two continents.
A blending of documentary and experimental narrative strategies, combining stunning 16mm landscape cinematography with a bold, lyrical voice-over to share two San Francisco stories: the history of the Golden Gate Bridge as "suicide landmark," and the story of a butch dyke in San Francisco searching for love and self-discovery. The Joy of Life is a film about landscapes, both physical and emotional.
As racist statues are rightfully submerged this week's pairing of films portray submersion as a rite of passage and water as a body for community.
The film follows the everyday lives of three women of different ages who have dived together in the sea around a small fishing village on the Shima peninsular for 30 years. Shot between the silent, underwater world and rural life on land, this film is a unique portrait of a tradition that is not expected to survive much longer.
A 10-meter diving tower. People who have never been up there before have to choose whether to jump or climb down. The situation in itself highlights a dilemma: to weigh the instinctive fear of taking the step out against the humiliation of having to climb down. Ten Meter Tower is an entertaining study of the human in a vulnerable position.
Through weeks of vital turbulence, displayed rupture, and solidarity with black lives, it's equally vital to reflect upon, unsettle and upturn your own seat of power. At every strata: from the Chair of the Board to a chair of cardboard on the street, there is a necessary struggle to overcome. These two films portray the distance of relational understanding, and the will or lack of, for some humans to progress.
In this studied staging the filmmaker creates an immersive three-day Group Relations conference—an intricate feedback apparatus designed to surface and reflect upon unconscious group phenomena—around which he conceived a complex filming structure. Twenty-eight participants representing a cross-section of Chicago participate in small and large group encounters, the group enacts a temporary institution whose purpose is to study itself and examine the identities, roles, desires and biases that individuals import into the group.
An insightful, groundbreaking film about the state of race relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight North American men of Asian, European, Latino and African descent. In a series of intelligent, emotional and dramatic confrontations the men reveal the pain and scars that racism has caused them. What emerges is a deeper sense of understanding and trust.
As objects move, constructions fall, and out of their ruins a new spectacle of the scaffold is bolted in place. This week's poetic pairing traces movements and histories through objects, and material culture in the country of Lebanon.
This film traces the shifting economies of objects in contemporary Lebanon. The film moves between three main characters: the gatekeeper of the Roman temples of Niha in the Beqaa Valley; a young mechanic from Britel, a village known for trading automobile parts; and an archaeological conservator working at the American University of Beirut.
A portrait of workers in exile. An empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present. This essay documentary portrays Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut on the ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war. At the same time their own houses are being bombed in Syria.
A healthy human eye can distinguish and be lit up by 17,000 different colours, but so often the minds behind them fall to an illness: discriminating the difference of a few. These films look behind the thick skin of sick power to reveal a skeleton of human care.
A short political documentary by Madeline Anderson about black hospital workers on strike in Charleston South Carolina. This was the first half-hour documentary film by an African-American woman in the film industry union.
In Mexico City's wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
Some doors open again, and fields of light pour through porous windows. The simple joy of outward seeing, of glancing movements in changing light, coincidence of colour, and broken shadows hit the eye with a warm radiance. Here are moments of cinema for retinal reverie.
JOY. in a word, a film expressing JOY. Showing that there are other coins and other sides to the blk. boy. man. narrative than have been and are being shown.
Intimate and personal moments from the lives of the black community of Hale County, Alabama, forming an emotive impression of the historic South, trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of race, while simultaneously existing as a testament to dreaming - despite the odds.
Sometimes a movement is required to stay where we are. These images offer a lens of refracted belonging, shifting grounds, and poetic presence. Take a seat and be stirred.
An incomplete and imperfect portrait of reflections from Standing Rock. Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the camp and the difficulties and the reluctance in looking back with a clear and critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is like, and what he hopes it will become.
A lyrical essay in five parts, Evaporating Borders is told through a series of vignettes that explore the lives of political and economic refugees on the island of Cyprus. The film explores the themes of displacement, belonging, identity, and migration.
A plasterboard perimeter, a barbed wire border, a stonewall separation: All of these man-made boundaries can fall to positive permeation.
A performative film that presents narratives derived from legal cases based on evidence heard or experienced through walls.
Day turns into night, and the night turns the day. As nightclubs hum silent, and bodies dance apart, this week's films shake the streams with a political art.
A re-evaluation of acid house, a musical phenomenon that owed its emergence to the social and political landscape of 1980s Britain.
At a required distance our fragments of social interaction, of recognition, of coming to know other normalities, are ingested through minor observation and overheard conversations. These films of looking and listening create connection, and meaning through such chance encounter.
The kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom, and the bathroom. Move a chair from here to there, try a new recipe, and open a world from the inside out. Something Real is back in your inbox.
A raw and humorous conversation between two friends about the effectiveness of publicly supporting the cultural boycott of Israel.
Avoid the January sales and pick up this 2 for 1 offer instead. Doyenne of documentary Agnès Varda and dearly departed Albert Maysles create beautifully eccentric tributes to local legends and their métiers - from the humble to the haute couture. Explore the shops that time forgot on a picturesque street in Paris and get to know nonagenarian fashion icon Iris Apfel as she struts her stuff down the sidewalks of New York.
An account of the daily lives of shopkeepers on a short stretch of the Rue Daguerre, a picturesque street in Paris.
Our coolest subscribers will have spotted that Something Real has been put on ice for a spell. While our doc-endorsing digits thaw out fully in time for the New Year, wrap up warm to discover two frosty films brought in for you from the cold.
The original record of Irvine and Mallory's doomed Everest expedition of 1924, crafted from beautifully restored footage and set to a specially commissioned new score.
Where we grow, the spaces we share and the streets we walk shape who we are. We in turn decorate the character of that place. See this NYT article on a New York state of mind, and these incredible portraits of the city's people.
A beautiful, vibrant record of a largely Puerto Rican & Dominican community in South Brooklyn of the 1980s.
Dir. Diego Echeverria (1984)
A real-life thriller, (T)ERROR is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during a live FBI counterterrorism sting operation.
Dirs. Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe (2015)
It's been a busy few weeks in filmlandia with some directors collecting gongs at The Emmys and others launching Oscar campaigns at TIFF. Behind all this polished metal are people who love making and talking about film. Here are some to watch tonight.
A love letter to cinema and two if its renowned talents. This illuminating documentary explores the art and influence of Alfred Hitchcock through his famed 1962 interview with French auteur François Truffaut.
Dir. Kent Jones (2016)
A documentary film that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent.
Dir. Steve James (2014)
The perilous state of existence for refugees trying to reach Britain has only worsened in recent weeks. These two stories document the trials of movement and recognition of migrants.
A six-part documentary about the dangerous paths of Syrian asylum seekers in the E.U.
Dir. Matthew Cassel (2016)
A recent study suggests that our trust in the words we read is affected by how they are printed. Get to know your Arial from your Optima this weekend.
A film about a typeface that delves into the world of graphic arts and takes a deeper look into style changes and the controversies over the role of graphic designer since World War II.
Dir. Gary Hustwit (2007)
A deeply moving documentary about reconciliation and justice in the Lebanon, bringing two people together whose lives have been changed forever by the civil war.
Dir. Eliane Raheb (2012)
'In the great prison where I was then incarcerated, I was merely the figure and the letter of a little cell in a long gallery. One of a thousand lifeless numbers, as of a thousand lifeless lives.' – Oscar Wilde. Inspired by a series of prison reading events we are serving two lock and key docs.
A riveting examination of a horrible crime which probes the human psyche to explore why people kill and why the state kills.
Dir. Werner Herzog (2011)
Texas is a State of complexity and controversy. Dovetail these two deep south tales into your weekend for some poetically solid enlightenment.
For decades, two towns on opposite sides of the Texas-Mexico border have coexisted quietly, but encroaching drug-related violence threatens the peace.
Dirs. Bill and Turner Ross (2015)
As summer stretches its jaw from eyefuls of ice-cream to BBQ banquets, diet fever is served up in new plans, books, and apps. Get your teeth into these two beefy shock docs!
This eye-opening film reveals what happens when actor and director Damon Gameau adopts a diet high in refined sugar for 60 days, to the detriment of his physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Dir. Damon Gameau (2014)
It's music festival season and fields are filled with bodies moved by summer sounds. If you aren't the outdoorsy type, pitch a tent in your living room, burn some gigabytes and stream these bangers.
An inventive, lyrical ode to creativity and an intimate examination of the artistic process of musician and cultural icon Nick Cave.
Dirs. Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (2014)
This intimate and inventive portrait uses material from the Cobains' personal archives in an in-depth examination of the Nirvana frontman's childhood, music career and untimely death.
Dir. Brett Morgen (2015)
Solidarity marches across the US and UK have illuminated protests after the latest police shootings of black men in US. Stay informed by watching these two moving stories of recent protest and injustice.
Reveals the deep racial prejudices and tragedies that ensue as a result through the murder of Jordan Davis and trial of shooter Michael Dunn.
Dir. Marc Silver (2015)
A series of racist acts prompts three University of Missouri students to pick up cameras and take us inside a peaceful student movement whose protests brought down the college president.
Dirs. Adam Dietrich, Varun Bajaj, Kellan Marvin (2016)
A legal case deciding the right to access abortion clinics in Texas concluded this week, prompting wider actions across America to repeal restrictions. These two hard-hitting docs explore the ethical and moral struggles of the right to abort.
A sea captain navigates through loopholes in international law to provide abortions on the high seas.
Dir. Diana Whitten (2014)
This week we are saying flixit to the Brexit with a composition of two constitutional conundrums. Sit back and vote with your remote.
After Zimbabwe's disputed 2008 election results, political enemies are asked to write a new constitution and save their country from a bleak future.
Dir. Camilla Nielsson (2015)
After the passing of one boxing legend, we're floating a couple butterflies that sting like bees over your way. Enjoy round 1 and 2 on us.
An intimate coming-of-age story about a new kind of American heroine. Claressa “T-Rex” Shields is the youngest female boxer fighting for gold at the 2012 Olympics.
Dirs. Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari (2015)
A pseudo anthropological study of a man and a woman, both labelled 'the perfect human'. Each 'functioning' in a white boundless room, as though they were subjects in a zoo.
Jorgen Leth (1967)
Middlefart is an entirely mediocre place. From stories about civil disobedience to the mayor's visit to a fortune teller, the individual scenes of this film serve as display cabinets at a virtual museum about ordinary Denmark in the year 2011
Dir. Michael Madsen (2011)
After discovering one of Prince's fine and secret gestures, this week's watchlist is a double-bill of goodwill.
A high-spirited runaway boy in Pakistan tries to find his way back home from the orphanage in which he lives, aided by a sympathetic ambulance driver.
Dirs. Omar Mullick, Bassam Tariq (2013)