Doc Fortnight 2020 opens tonight at the Museum of Modern Art, and it will offer New Yorkers a first opportunity to see a number of highlights from Sundance Film Festival, which wrapped over the weekend. Crip Camp, the winner of an audience award, focuses on the origins of the movement that would lead to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Screen’s Fionnuala Halligan calls the film “enlightening and inspirational” but also “occasionally heart-breaking” in that it “recalls the idealism of the 1970s, long since gone.”
Also arriving in New York straight from Park City is Film About a Father Who, which opened this year’s Slamdance. Director Lynne Sachs says that it “bears witness to the familial tensions that arose from my attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings, some of whom I have known all their lives, others I only recently discovered.”
Some Kind of Heaven, the first feature by twenty-three-year-old Lance Oppenheim, captures life in the Villages, the world’s largest retirement community. It’s in central Florida, and as Filmmaker’s Vadim Rizov explains, the film “isn’t here to either celebrate or roast a community established, as its founder explains in archival footage, to suggest a kind of eternal ’50s, boomer culture perpetuating itself in endless pallid copies of a fundamental unreality: town squares, movie theaters, clean crime-free streets full of aging white people.” Some Kind of Heaven is shot by David Bolen “with a visual discipline rare in U.S. nonfiction,” adds Rizov, and edited by Daniel Garber “for no dead time.”
In The Earth Is Blue as an Orange, which won Iryna Tsilyk a directing award at Sundance, a single mother and her four children make and then premiere a movie based on their lives in war-torn Ukraine. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, a Berlin-based filmmaker from Lesotho, won a special jury award for visionary filmmaking for This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection. Now MoMA will present his first feature, Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You., a film about exile and colonialism that premiered at last year’s Berlinale. Mother will screen with A Story from Africa (2018), a half-hour film by Billy Woodberry, a key figure of the LA Rebellion.
Doc Fortnight curators Joshua Siegel and Stergios Dinopoulos call their program “eclectic by design,” but there are thematic clusters. At Hyperallergic, Dan Schindel finds that several titles take on “labor and alienation, and often how the two subjects are related.” Schindel previews Tali Yankelevich’s “almost whimsical” My Darling Supermarket, a group portrait of workers at a store in São Paulo; Laura Herrero Garvin’s La mami, which follows Doña Olga, the woman who watches over the dancers at the Cabaret Barba Azu in Mexico City; Sung-a Yoon’s Overseas, in which Filipina women train not just to become nannies abroad but also to prepare for sexual assault, verbal abuse, and virtual enslavement; a double feature comprising Ben Rivers’s Ghost Strata and Denis Côté’s Wilcox; and an evening of films from the collective 13BC.
The program also features a showcase of interactive and immersive documentary art, a salute to the late artist and filmmaker Barbara Hammer, a collection of short works by Basma alSharif and Sky Hopinka, and a presentation of Mark Cousins’s fourteen-hour series Women Make Film: A New Road Movie through Cinema (2018), narrated by Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Debra Winger, Adjoa Andoh, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton, and Sharmila Tagore. Doc Fortnight 2020 will run through February 19.
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