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Documentaries

“Go forth and find your chickens!” Samuel Goldwyn Films has debuted an official trailer for Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!, the latest documentary by acclaimed documentarian Morgan Spurlock. This first premiered in 2017 at the Toronto Film Festival, but hasn’t been released yet – arriving in theaters & on VOD in September this year. Spurlock’s big directorial debut was the very successful doc Super Size Me, which originally premiered in 2004. He returns with a sequel, reigniting his battle with the food industry – this time from behind the register – as he opens his own fast food restaurant. We follow him every step of the way, from raising the poultry and conjuring recipes to designing the brand and scouting a location. Giving us another unique, fascinating Spurlock inside look at an industry that isn’t as special as it pretends to be. I always enjoy seeing Spurlock dive into his own stories, experimenting with honesty and showing us the …

“I drove like I’ve never driven before.” 1091 Media has debuted an official trailer for a thrilling documentary titled Blink of An Eye, a shortened version of the title of the book this is based on about NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip – “In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything”. The story begins when Michael leaves his small Kentucky town to follow in the footsteps of his brother. He gets help from the legendary Richard Petty, but proceeds to race 462 times without a win. The longest losing streak in NASCAR. Despite this, Earnhardt puts him in one of his cars in the 2001 Daytona 500. On the last lap, the running order is Michael in first, Earnhardt’s son “Jr” in second, and Earnhardt himself in third. Earnhardt blocks the 40 cars, but is swept up in what looks to be a minor crash that ends up killing him. Michael still wrestles with that …

“Data is the most valuable asset on Earth.” Netflix has finally unveiled an official trailer for a documentary titled The Great Hack, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Netflix has been planning a release for this since before the festival, and I’ve been anxious to get a look at it, since it’s right up my alley. This new doc is co-directed by one of the filmmakers behind The Square, and “uncovers the dark world of data exploitation, offering astounding access to the personal journeys of key players in the explosive Cambridge Analytica / Facebook data scandal.” The film looks at this specific “hack” – what happened, who controls our data, what they’re doing with it, and why it’s such a major part of our modern world. “Award-winning filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim continue their tradition of exploring the seismic ripples of social media with this riveting, complex film.” Looks scary – a wake-up for everyone. Official …

“They’re like those friends that I’d never had and I wish I had.” Hulu has debuted an official trailer for the award-winning documentary Jawline, the feature directorial debut of Liza Mandelup. This won Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival where it first premiered earlier this year. It also just won a Youth Jury Award “Special Mention” at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee. “A film that captures a complex emerging subculture and truthfully reflecting the online world and what lies behind it.” Here’s the first trailer (+ poster) for Liza Mandelup’s documentary Jawline, direct from Hulu’s YouTube: Liza Mandelup’s feature debut, Jawline, follows the 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl …

“That’s part of my past, now…” Janus Films has debuted an official trailer for a brand new restoration of the classic documentary Streetwise, which originally showed at the Sundance Film Festival (then known as the “U.S. Film Festival”) back in January of 1985. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1985, but lost to The Times of Harvey Milk that year. Made by filmmaker Martin Bell, the documentarian returned thirty years later with the new follow-up / sequel titled Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell. The original doc is a groundbreaking film on homeless and runaway teenagers, and one of the main subjects was a woman named Tiny. They caught up with her again 30 years later for an update. “Now a forty-four year-old mother of ten, Blackwell reflects with Mark on the journey they’ve experienced together, from Blackwell’s struggles with addiction to her regrets to her dreams for her own children…” Both of these …

“Kings don’t back down from a challenge. They push until they’ve reached the top.” Gravitas + Budweiser have debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Kings of Beer, a “never-before-seen look” at the rigorous standards & intense competition behind the brewing of the “world’s most iconic American Lager” – Budweiser. This is basically a corporate promo documentary made by the same company that is profiled, but it also looks like a well-made doc about this brewing competition and all the beer lovers who compete. The “Brewmaster” who can brew the best, most consistent American Lager over a 12-month period will bring home the coveted Global Brewmaster Cup. The film follows three challengers as they work to create the best Bud beer. Perfect summer movie, no? There’s another doc this year about beer called Beers of Joy, too. Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Sean Mullin’s doc Kings of Beer, direct from Bud’s YouTube: In Kings of Beer, a diverse group …

“The Bible is a moving target.” Abramorama has debuted the official trailer for a new documentary titled American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel, which looks like an inspiring watch despite the sound of it from that title. The doc film takes audiences right into the buckle of Bible belt where a group of defiant ministers, congregations, and community leaders are challenging deeply rooted fundamentalist Christian doctrine in favor of a Gospel of Inclusion. Labeled as “heretics” for their beliefs and actions, they refuse to wield their faith as a sword sharpened by literal interpretations of the Bible. Especially those fundamentalist dangerous Christian interpretations that continue to justify nationalism and hack away at landmark civil rights protections for women, minorities, immigrants, and LGBTQ communities. This seems like a sincere doc about good people fighting to make a real difference in society today, while still maintaining their faith. Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Jeanine Isabel Butler’s doc American Heretics, from …

“This is going to wake a lot of people up.” A trailer has arrived for the documentary The Game Changers, which first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018. The film is about athletes and body-builders who have switched to a plant-based diet (basically vegan, but that word can scare people away so they don’t like to use it). Not only does it challenge the belief that you must eat meat to be strong, but it uses science and actual evidence to show that plant-based diets can lead to better health and better performance overall. “The Game Changers will introduce the world to elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, cultural icons, and everyday heroes. Each on a mission to create a seismic shift in the way we eat and live.” The film is executive produced by James Cameron, and features Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about his experiences, along with many other athletes, celebrities, body-builders, doctors, and strength champions. Maybe …

“The villain of the story – he only wore white.” Magnolia Pictures has released a new full-length official US trailer for the incredible documentary Cold Case Hammarskjöld, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. This is the latest film from Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, who is a bit of a kooky character (if you’re not familiar with him), and he puts himself in the film quite a bit in addition to directing (and doing a large amount of research). In Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Mads decides to investigate the mysterious death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961. As he gets deeper into the investigation, he discovers something seriously frightening about a shadowy organization based in South Africa that seems to have orchestrated a biological attack as a means of control. I saw this film at Sundance and it’s shocking and astonishing – read my full review. A must …

“I feel like I’m just looking for guidance in how to be a blind artist.” Stimulus Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for a compelling, very unique documentary titled Vision Portraits, which first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. The film is an in-depth exploration of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists including others working in highly visual mediums explaining their thoughts about blindness, and processes. It is made by filmmaker Rodney Evans, exploring his own feelings about his loss of vision. He also profiles three other creative people – photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton, writer Ryan Knighton. Reviews describe it as “an evocative meditation on sight, cinema, and the tools of filmmaking”, a contemplative film that “consistently fascinates the mind and activates the senses.” This looks very good, I’m always keen to watch documentaries that explore topics in an unconventional way. Here’s the trailer (+ poster / a captioned version) for Rodney …