For each year of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival's 10-year existence, it has programmed a gazillion worthy flicks from all over the world, and expected the general movie-going public to find time for all of them. It never happens. Inevitably, every year, you miss one or two choice docs and end up having to replace watching it on the big screen at the Wilma with watching it on Netflix on your iPhone in the bathroom.
We don't want that to happen. That's why we pored over this year's 100-plus films to select the six that you should be scheduling for RIGHT NOW (even though there's not an official schedule out yet). Our focus is on newer releases that have considerable pre-BSDFF buzz. Here they are, and our reasons for highlighting them:
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Crewdson is a photographer who, you could say, is meticulous in his setup. We're not talking about how he sets up light stands; more along the lines of, he'll set a house on fire to get a certain image. Literally. Filmed over 10 years by director Ben Shapiro, Brief Encounters offers "an intimate portrait of one of the most heralded image-makers of our time." It's also on many best-of lists for the year.
The Central Park Five
Ken Burns (yes, that Ken Burns) co-directs this racially charged story of five black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly accused in the 1989 Central Park Jogger rape case. It won the 2012 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Non-Fiction Film.
Only the Young
The description of this film may make you a little suspicious. ("Only the Young powerfully summons up an evanescent moment: that potent stew of teenage urgency, boredom, and young love that adults misconstrue as aimless wandering.") But by all accounts the work of directors Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet is a powerful look at love, rebellion and skateboarding among two Christian friends. The National Board of Review named it one of the year's five best documentaries and it received honorable mention in the category at the Philadelphia Film Festival.
Another winner from the Cinema Eye Honors for Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation. Director Angad Bhalla's feature follows "the unlikely friendship between a New York artist and one of America’s most famous inmates as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project."
The latest from directors/brothers Bill and Turner Ross ended up on a ton of year's best lists, won the Gold Hugo for best doc at the Chicago International Film Festival and took the grand jury prize at the Dallas International Film Festival. The American Film Institute described it as a "dreamlike documentary [that] follows three young boys across the Mississippi into New Orleans’ French Quarter for a kaleidoscopic night of revelry.” This one is at the top of my must-see list.