Since 1999, 18 of the last 22 winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee have been Indian-American, making the incredible trend one of the longest in sports history. “Breaking the Bee” is a feature-length documentary that explores and celebrates this new dynasty while following four students, ages 7 to 14, as they vie for the title of spelling bee champion.
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Documentary in which painter and critic Matthew Collings charts the rise of abstract art over the last 100 years, whilst trying to answer a set of basic questions that many people have about this often-baffling art form. How do we respond to abstract art when we see it? Is it supposed to be hard or easy? When abstract artists chuck paint about with abandon, what does it mean? Does abstract art stand for something or is it supposed to be understood as just itself?
In the final decades of the 20th century, the Philippines was a country where low-budget exploitation-film producers were free to make nearly any kind of movie they wanted, any way they pleased. It was a country with extremely lax labor regulations and a very permissive attitude towards cultural expression. As a result, it became a hotbed for the production of cheapie movies. Their history and the genre itself are detailed in this breezy, nostalgic documentary.
KINGDOM OF SHADOWS follows three people grappling with the hard choices and destructive consequences of the U.S.-Mexico “drug war”. Filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz weaves together the seemingly disconnected stories of an activist nun in deeply scarred Monterrey, Mexico, a U.S. Federal agent on the border, and a former Texas smuggler to reveal the human side of an often-misunderstood conflict that has resulted in the “disappearance” of more than 23,000 people in Mexico—a growing human rights crisis that only recently has made international headlines.
Over the past 25 years, Lauren Greenfield’s documentary photography and film projects have explored youth culture, gender, body image, and affluence. In this fascinating meld of career retrospective and film essay, Greenfield offers a meditation on her extensive body of work, structuring it through the lens of materialism and its increasing sway on culture and society in America and throughout the world. Underscoring the ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, her portraits reveal a focus on cultivating image over substance, where subjects unable to attain actual wealth instead settle for its trappings, no matter their ability to pay for it.
THE S FROM HELL is a short documentary-cum-horror film about the scariest corporate symbol in history – The 1964 Screen Gems logo, aka ‘The S From Hell.’ Built around interviews with survivors still traumatized from their childhood exposure to the logo after shows like Bewitched or The Monkees, the film brings their stories to life with animation, found footage, and dramatic reenactments.