List Film

Reviews & features: Documentary

GFF live: A Night at the Regal

20 Feb 20154 stars

Joe McAlinden, eagleowl and BSP provide live soundtracks to short films and archive footage

It’s a nice idea for a site-specific Glasgow Film Festival event – drawing on the past life of the O2 ABC as one of the city’s grand old picture houses to host a quadruple-bill of short movies and video pieces set to live soundtracks. Beyond that…

Strange Electricity: Jim Tenors recalls making Sähkö The Movie

18 Feb 2015

Ahead of a rare screening in Glasgow, the director shares his memories of filming the documentary

Only the few will have seen Sähkö The Movie – regarded among certain technoheads as the ‘Holy Grail of electronic music documentaries’. Rarely screened live, besides the odd special event like Sonar festival, or a night at MoMA in New York, it’s coming…

Maidan

16 Feb 20154 stars

Excellent documentary from Sergei Loznitsa which shows the power of protest

On February 20th, 2014, a clash between protestors and police in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) saw over 50 people lose their lives, and marked the beginning of the end of Viktor Yanukovych's contentious presidency. Released on the…

Glasgow Film Festival 2015: Music Highlights

12 Feb 2015

2015 GFF programme includes glimpses of Daft Punk, the Mekons and Talking Heads

We pick out some musical highlights from Glasgow Film Festival's 2015 programme, including Stop Making Sense, Revenge of the Mekons and The Fall of the House of Usher

BAFTA 2015 winners include Eddie Redmayne, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel

9 Feb 2015

Redmayne picks up Best Actor gong, and The Lego Movie wins Best Animated Film

Eddie Redmayne won best actor at last night's BAFTA Film Awards for his portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The film won a trio of gongs, rounded off with outstanding British film and adapted screenplay. Julianne Moore…

Dancing in Jaffa

9 Feb 20153 stars

Dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his homeland in Hilla Medalia's doc

Ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine makes a naïve attempt to bring Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli children together via the medium of dance in this heart-warming but uneven documentary from Hilla Medalia. This also marks Dulaine's return to his city of birth…

Love is All

9 Feb 20153 stars

Delightful, slightly rudderless documentary from the great Kim Longinotto

The noted British documentarian Kim Longinotto – director of Divorce Iranian Style and Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go, among many others – oversees one of those whirling carousels of dusted-off archive footage that serve to remind us what a busy and…

Tales of the Grim Sleeper

26 Jan 20154 stars

Gripping and disturbing serial killer documentary from Nick Broomfield

Nick Broomfield’s latest documentary hones in on the strange and disturbing case of a serial killer nicknamed the 'Grim Sleeper' by the press, due to an apparent period of slumber from his crimes, which stretch back more than a quarter of a century.

No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers

26 Jan 20154 stars

Elizabeth Marcus' insightful film disabuses numerous notions about the band

'We've sold millions of albums, and nobody knows who we are,' says Manic Street Preachers drummer Sean Moore in Elizabeth Marcus' excellent documentary about the Welsh band. It may sound churlish, but the film gives credence to his lament; whatever you…

La Maison de la Radio

19 Jan 20152 stars

Nicolas Philibert's Radio France documentary proves both fascinating and frustrating

French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert will be best known to international audiences for his excellent 2002 documentary Être et Avoir, a portrait of a single-room school in rural France. His latest work, La Maison de la Radio, takes the same fly-on-the-wall…

Beyond Clueless

19 Jan 20153 stars

Charlie Lyne's entertaining documentary celebrates and dissects the teen movie

Ever since James Dean set light to the establishment in the 50s, teens have been central to cinema, both as audience and subject. Every generation since has films that define adolescence: from the antics of The Beatles and the students of Rydell High in…

Q&A: Charlie Lyne on directing Beyond Clueless

16 Jan 2015

An homage to the glorious teen movies of the 90s

British film critic Charlie Lyne pays tribute to the teen movie, in particular its 1990s incarnation, with Beyond Clueless, an affectionate but determinedly anti-ironic appreciation. With reference to some 200 films, narration by actress and teen movie…

Point and Shoot

12 Jan 20152 stars

Marshall Curry's flawed film documents Matt VanDyke's quest for masculinity

You can tell a lot about a documentary from its closing frames. In Point and Shoot the Oscar-nominated writer-director Marshall Curry asks a summing-up question of his subject Matt VanDyke, an OCD-suffering Baltimore filmmaker turned Arab Spring…

Erebus: Into the Unknown

5 Jan 20153 stars

Chilling yet stirring documentary from Charlotte Purdy and Peter Burger

On 28 November 1979 a flight took off from New Zealand loaded with 257 passengers heading on a sightseeing tour over Antarctica. They would never be seen alive again. This documentary mixes archive footage, interviews and reconstructions to bring to…

The Last of the Unjust

5 Jan 20155 stars

Claude Lanzmann revisits the subject of the Holocaust in this fine documentary

Claude Lanzmann's Shoah is one of the most important documentaries ever made. His monumental oral history of the Holocaust was constructed over 12 years. In 1975 in Rome, Lanzmann interviewed Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish…

National Gallery

5 Jan 20154 stars

Frederick Wiseman's compelling documentary examines the great museum

Given the current trend for museum themed pictures, the timing is right for venerable documentary maker Frederick Wiseman to place his distinctive, considered mark on London’s National Gallery. Taken from 12 weeks' worth of behind the scenes snooping…

The Green Prince

8 Dec 20143 stars

Fascinating but flawed documentary focussing on an Israeli informant

‘The Green Prince’ was the codename used by Israel’s intelligence service for its most highly placed informant, Mosab Hassan Yousef, when he was passing information to them on Hamas’ activities during the Second Intifada. So, at least, runs Yousef’s own…

Manakamana

8 Dec 20144 stars

A mesmeric documentary following pilgrims as they visit the titular temple

Perched atop a mountain in the Nepalese countryside, the temple of Manakamana is a destination for thousands of visitors, devotees and tourists alike, who all make the trip via a panoramic cable car. And it's in this intimate setting that the entirety…

Vertical Cinema and Strange Electricity at Glasgow Short Film Festival

4 Dec 2014

Festival announces two major events for 2015, including Scottish premiere of Vertical Cinema

First movies were black and white and completely silent. Then they were Technicolor and positively chatty. Now we can feast our eyes on 3D and IMAX images. Are there still new possibilities cinema can discover? Vertical Cinema experiments with a new…

Hockney

24 Nov 20144 stars

Warm, insightful documentary from Randall Wright examining the celebrated artist

Britain’s most enduringly popular modern artist, David Hockney, has been the subject of many documentaries, including one made for TV by this film's director Randall Wright in 2003 (David Hockney: Secret Knowledge). None could claim to be as intimate…

We Are The Giant

11 Nov 20144 stars

Frontline tales from the Arab Spring brought together by director Greg Barker

A small girl sings a song of hope and freedom in the street, just as an explosion wreaks havoc around her. A peace activist interrupts a downbeat interview about whether nonviolent protest has been unsuccessful when a shell rocks the street outside. And…

Life Itself

10 Nov 20144 stars

Steve James takes a loving look at the life and legacy of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert did a lot for film criticism: he promoted small films and reviewed with Midwestern honesty. Life Itself, a warm-hearted and artful documentary by filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), is a loving look at Ebert’s life as perhaps the most…

The Case Against 8

3 Nov 20143 stars

Elegant but unbalanced account of the fight against a controversial amendment

The eight of the title refers to Proposition 8, which would have added to California's Declaration of Rights the specification that marriage be permitted only between a man and a woman, and was ruled as unconstitutional in 2010. Ben Cotner and Ryan…

The Possibilities Are Endless

3 Nov 20144 stars

Striking documentary charting the trauma and triumph of singer Edwyn Collins

In 2005 the Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage that left him with very limited speech and movement. Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet, as this impressionistic and moving documentary from…

The Overnighters

27 Oct 20144 stars

Jesse Moss's oil fracking documentary exposes the myth of the American dream

In the small town of Williston, North Dakota oil fracking has brought big changes, not just to the environment (the once desolate prairies are now dotted with heavy machinery), but also to the local community. The lure of opportunity sees thousands of…