Toronto International Film Festival closes this weekend and our Programmer/Artistic Director, Andrea van Beuren, just got back with a handful of docs that she is hoping to add to newportFILM’s slate this season. Take a peek at Andrea’s top 8 favorites from the fest…
1. Burts’s Buzz
Director Jody Shapiro returns to the Festival with Burt’s Buzz, a vibrant and incisive portrait of Burt Shavitz. Famous for its all-natural personal care items, Burt’s Bees has become a household name in many parts of the world. The company built a mighty reputation as a producer of eco-friendly products made from simple ingredients, and in the process it has become a billion-dollar business. But less well-known is the eccentric man behind the brand, whose bearded face still graces many of its labels.
2. Finding Vivian Maier
When Vivian Maier died in 2009 at age eighty-three, she left behind more than 100,000 negatives of her street photography — images that she’d scarcely shared with anyone. She had spent most of her adult life as a nanny with no spouse, no children of her own and no close ties. Her photographs and belongings were hidden in storage, until the rent came overdue and the facility auctioned them off. They might have vanished into obscurity were it not for the intervention of John Maloof, a twenty six- year-old amateur historian in Chicago, who purchased a box of her unidentified photographs and became obsessed by what he discovered.
Artist Chris Jordan is renowned for his epic photographs that give fresh insight into modern consumption. Now making his directorial debut in collaboration with Sabine Emiliani, the skilled editor of The March of the Penguins, he’s already attracted 10 million viewers for his similarly titled short film that went viral on the Internet. Filmed during repeated trips to the remote Midway Atoll island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Midway focuses on the albatrosses who inhabit the island amid machinery left over from World War II. Jordan’s masterful images, both beautiful and frightening, leave an indelible impression.
4. The Dog
An astonishing documentary portrait of the late John Wojtowicz, whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank to finance his male lover’s sex-reassignment surgery was the real-life inspiration for the classic Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon.
In a short span of time, our lives have been transformed by mobile phones and internet technologies — what does this mean, particularly for a generation who’s never known anything else? Beeban Kidron’s timely and insightful documentary encourages us to think critically about our adoption of technology.
6. The Armstrong Lie
Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney masterfully explores the fall of the disgraced cycling champion following the 2009 Tour de France, making use of his extraordinary access to attain rare interviews with former teammates, alleged doping mastermind Dr. Michele Ferrari, and Armstrong himself.
7. The Unknown Known
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War, Standard Operating Procedure) continues his exploration of post-9/11 American imperialism with this riveting, feature-length interview with notorious former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
This revelatory documentary on J.D. Salinger, legendarily reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, uses rare archival material and information on unpublished works to piece together details of the writer’s life after he left the public eye.