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Top Five Must-See Docs And Bio Films This Spring!

Anokhi Buzz List It! Reviews May 05, 2017

Looking to delve into some cool documentary and biographical films? Check out our list of must-see movies!

A great documentary or biopic can inform us about a real-life issue or person we may not have known about, and it can also help us put together the many moving pieces of a story.

As we usher in spring, here is our list of five riveting features out this season.

 

The Journey Is The Destination

documentary
Dan took this photo for Reuters during the famine in Somalia in the 1980s. Photo Credit: Dan Eldon

“Dan Eldon blazed through his life like a meteor, leaving a trail that awes with its intensity and beauty.”—USA Today.

This film was inspired by the real journey of young photojournalist Dan Eldon, who was born in England but raised in Nairobi, Kenya. By his early 20s, Eldon had already travelled to more than 40 countries — several of which were politically unstable and becoming increasingly dangerous — to create a series of journals chronicling his photos. He became the youngest staff member to work on the front lines for Reuters. Photos weren’t his only passion, however. Eldon also headed many fundraising campaigns and worked in refugee camps. His life came to a tragic end during a riot in Somalia while he was covering the violent famine that struck the country in 1993.

You can catch the Canadian debut of The Journey Is The Destination on Sunday, May 7th, 2017, at 2:00 PM at  Famous People’s Players Theater in Etobicoke. Several pieces of Eldon’s work will also be on display until May 31st at Artworld Fine Art Gallery, also in Etobicoke. This biopic is slated to stream on Netflix in March of 2018.

 

Casting JonBenét

documentary
The documentary was nominated for an award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Photo Credit: Casting JonBenét

 

Casting JonBenét is not like any JonBenét Ramsey movie or special you’ve seen this year – or ever.” —E! Online

In the more than two decades since six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey’s death, there has been no shortage of theories about who killed the American beauty queen. This film goes back to Boulder, Colorado, where the little girl was murdered. It features interviews with dozens of actors auditioning for a film about Ramsey’s mysterious death. But instead of focusing on a re-enactment of the 1996 tragedy, director Kitty Green makes the audition footage the focal point of her film as she delves into what the actors think happened to the child.

This take on Ramsey’s short life is now available on Netflix.

Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower

documentary
The documentary features a mix of original and media outlet footage, social media videos and protestor clips. Photo Credit: Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

“Leadership can be acquired or be innate, but sometimes it emerges as a phenomenon that could hardly be stopped if the individual tried — although displeased authorities may try hard to.” —Variety

Just as the title of this picture suggests, Joshua Wong has become a force in his country and the wider world. He was even recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the world’s greatest leaders in 2015. At just 14, he led a movement that eventually resulted in Hong Kong scrapping a controversial curriculum introduced by China. Two years later, when the Chinese Communist Party backtracked on its promise of granting autonomy to Hong Kong, Wong decided to go on a life-changing mission to save his city by rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets.

This film documenting Joshua’s activism will start streaming on Netflix on May 26, 2017.

A Better Man

documentary
Khan says her film documents a personal experiment for her and her abusive ex-partner. Photo Credit: A Better Man

“Khan is a riveting presence, and sequences where she and Steve return to the scenes of the crime — their apartment, their high school — are devastating.” —NOW Toronto

This is a brave film that attempts to offer a glimpse into an abusive relationship from the eyes of the abuser. Co-director Attiya Khan was abused daily by her high school boyfriend, Steve, so she made the gut-wrenching decision to confront him one-on-one more than 20 years later, and it’s all caught on camera. Throughout the film, Khan attempts to learn what drove Steve to abuse her the way he did. She also begins to heal from the traumatic experience and finally get the closure she needs.

This film was screened as part of the Hot Docs Festival 2017. It will also play on June 9th at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Bloor Street West.

Machines

documentary
Some of the workers featured in the film make the equivalent of $3 CDN for one day of work. Photo Credit: Machines

“Machines powerfully evokes the sights and sounds — and almost even the smells — of a sprawling, stygian textiles plant south of India’s eighth-largest (but very seldom filmed) city, Surat.” —The Hollywood Reporter

Exhausted workers — including many children — are the focus of this documentary that aims to shed light on their 12-hour days at a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat. Some of the labourers travel more than 1,600 kilometres despite the job’s low wages just to be able to provide for their families. Rahul Jain’s debut film uses a roving camera to capture just what these workers experience — from intimate exchanges with coworkers to the slave-like work they endure, day in and day out. These workers’ hardship highlights what many viewers in the developing world might ordinarily ignore.

This feature is part of the Hot Docs Festival line-up. It’s being screened on Sunday, May 7th, at 7:00 PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on King Street West.

Main Image Photo Credit: Machines

Neetu Seupersadsingh

Neetu Seupersadsingh

Author

Neetu Seupersadsingh has loved writing for as long as she can remember. That's why Carleton University’s journalism program  was her clear choice for post-secondary studies. In Ottawa, she was able to further develop her skill in arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporting. So...

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