CINEMA NOUVEAU LAUNCHES THE 2014 DOCCIE FEST WITH FOUR EXTRAORDINARY FILMS DEALING WITH FOUR EXTRAORDINARY TOPICS
Three wrongly-accused teenagers, local striking miners, the skill of a Dutch master painter and a world-class athlete’s fall from grace create the food for thought in four extraordinary documentaries that make up this year’s Doccie Fest, presented exclusively by Cinema Nouveau on its big digital screens. The four films will be screened over four weeks, from 23 May, at Cinema Nouveau in the Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg; Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria; Gateway in Durban; and at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
The Doccie Fest launches on Friday, 23 May with director Amy Berg’s West of Memphis (running time: 147mins), a powerful examination of a catastrophic failure of justice in Arkansas, USA. A ‘fictional’ version of this event unfolds in Devil’s Knot, currently on circuit at Cinema Nouveau, but this astounding documentary shows why fact always trumps fiction.
Berg collaborated on the production with first-time producers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis, together with the multiple Academy Award winning team of filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Her unprecedented access to the inner workings of the defense presents footage of the investigation, research and appeals process that reveals shocking new information about a case that still haunts the American South.
West of Memphis is told and made by those who actually lived the nightmare of events, documenting their extraordinary and desperate fight to bring the truth to light; a fight to stop the State of Arkansas from killing an innocent man. Starting with a searing examination of the police investigation into the 1993 murders of three, eight-year-old boys - Christopher Byers, Steven Branch and Michael Moore - in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, the film goes on to uncover new evidence surrounding the arrest and conviction of the other three victims of this shocking crime – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley.
All three were teenagers when they became the target of the police investigation, and all three went on to lose 18 years of their lives - imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. How the documentary came to be made, is in itself a key part of the story of Damien Echols’ fight to save his own life. Director Amy Berg wrote: “… the 18 years of injustice, an investigation rife with corruption, and the destruction of multiple lives—I understood that this was a story that not only exposed a frightening failure of justice within our legal system, but exposed a judicial culture where innocence did not matter.”
The film reveals how close Damien and his wife Lorri Davis, together with his legal team, friends and supporters, came to losing that battle. But as Echols, who spent 18 years on death row, himself has stated: "... in the face of such horror, in the face of resounding grief and pain, you cannot give up... you must never give up."
(Trailer: West of Memphis - http://www.youtube.com/
The second production in the Doccie Fest releases on Friday, 30 May, and is a hard-hitting account of the deaths of 34 striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in the North West province in August 2012. Miners Shot Down (running time: 90mins, 13V) is a locally-produced documentary in the political thriller genre from renowned South African filmmaker, Rehad Desai of Uhuru Productions.
Desai was at Marikana in August 2012, covering the wildcat strike by Lonmin’s rock drill operators in the days leading up to the massacre. At the time, he had intended to make a film about enduring inequality faced by mineworkers and mining communities across the country’s platinum belt. But nobody at the time could have predicted that the South African state would turn its guns on miners at Marikana who, out of sheer frustration with their union the NUM, had decided to go it alone to demand a living wage.
Since the massacre, unpacking the events that led to the country’s first post-colonial massacre has become Desai’s obsession. Since January this year, the miners’ have been on a prolonged strike regarding a basic living wage, creating further content for headlines and front page news stories, making the subject of this documentary all the more relevant in 2014.
(Trailer: Miners Shot Down - http://www.youtube.com/
Releasing on Friday, 06 June is the third title in Cinema Nouveau’s Doccie Fest. Tim's Vermeer (running time: 81mins) tells the fascinating obsession of Texas-based inventor Tim Jenison with the works of celebrated 17th century Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer.
How did the painter manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? One painting of Vermeer’s comes under particular scrutiny – that of "The Music Lesson", which features an astonishing amount of detail.
Did Dutch master Johannes Vermeer use technology to help make his astonishing lifelike images? He did, according to Tim's Vermeer, a documentary featuring Jenison, written and narrated by Penn Jillette (of ‘Penn & Teller’ fame), and directed by his partner, Teller.
Artist David Hockney and others believe that Vermeer may have employed a device called a camera obscura, though many art historians are not convinced. But when inventor and digital video expert Tim Jenison became intrigued with the question, he decided to take a scientific approach. His quest is detailed in the film.
Jenison eventually comes to the conclusion that Vermeer used a variety of optical devices (mirrors, camera obscura, lenses) in his works. To test this theory, he decides to recreate "The Music Lesson" from scratch, even though he is not a skilled painter. The epic research project Jenison embarks on spans a decade, and is as extraordinary as his discoveries that take him to Delft in Holland where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, to the north coast of Yorkshire to meet Hockney, and to Buckingham Palace to view the Vermeer in the Royal Family’s collection.
(Trailer: Tim’s Vermeer - http://www.youtube.com/
The Armstrong Lie (running time: 124mins), a documentary chronicling cycling legend Lance Armstrong's improbable rise and ultimate fall from grace,, is the fourth and final film in the Doccie Fest. It releases on Friday, 13 June. In 2009, Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong's much-publicised comeback to cycling. The project was shelved however, when one of the most talked about doping scandals in the history of sport erupted, creating headlines around the world.
The project was back on track following Armstrong's eventual confession on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, which was viewed by millions of people globally. This intriguing documentary picks up events in 2013 and presents a riveting, insider's view of the unravelling of one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of sports. As Lance Armstrong himself said: "I didn't live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one."
(Trailer: The Armstrong Lie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?
For screening times and booking information for the 2014 Doccie Fest, visit www.cinemanouveau.co.za or sterkinekor.mobi, or call our Ticketline on 082 16789. Follow Cinema Nouveau on Twitter @nouveaubuzz or on Facebook. You can also download the Ster-Kinekor app on any Nokia, Samsung Android, iPhone and BlackBerry smartphone, for updates and to book from your mobile.