MR. BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS

By C.J. Hirschfield

March 14, 2022

Cinema junkies forgive iconic documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman for the length of some of his works that venture deep into American institutions; his most recent City Hall covering the government of Boston clocked in at four and a half hours. We absolve him because he is so good at taking us inside worlds that we don’t know, as his camera disappears and we learn so much by listening and observing, happy to have made the journey.

Comparisons to Wiseman’s work are inevitable as we describe the numerous joys of Maria Speth’s new documentary, Mr. Bachmann and his Class, the closing night film at Berlin & Beyond 2022, at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. It is now streaming on MUBI. Continue reading

JUJUTSU KAISEN 0: A High-Level Domain Expansion

By Mihaela Mihailova

In popular culture, the phrase “cursed content” refers to something undesirable or repulsive. For fans of the popular shōnen anime series Jujutsu Kaisen, however, it is precisely what they came – and stayed – for. Fortunately for them, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a feature-length prequel based on the supernatural manga by Gege Akutami, has arrived to fill the monsterless void left behind by season one’s conclusion in 2021.

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BREAKING BREAD ACROSS BORDERS + Recipes

By Joyce Goldstein

A-Sham celebrates the food of the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon) in a three-day event where Arab and Jewish chefs cook their traditional foods together, sharing family recipes and culture.

 

BREAKING BREAD, a new documentary by Beth Elise Hawk focuses on the annual A- Sham Arabic Food Festival in Haifa, a city with a healthy cultural life enjoyed by both Arabs and Jews.

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THE CREATIVE HIGH

By C.J. Hirschfield

In 2020, more people in San Francisco died of overdoses than of covid-19—an almost impossible statistic to comprehend.

So a film featuring people living in that city who are in recovery from addiction is timely and hopeful; what is unique is that all nine of them have had their lives dramatically transformed by the “alternative high” they achieve through art-making.

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FLEE Brings Secrets to Animated Life

By C.J. Hirschfield

More and more often, documentary filmmakers are turning to animation to tell stories—or parts of stories—that can’t be represented in any other way. In the case of the compelling new film FLEE, the storyteller spent much of his life since childhood in the shadows as an illegal Afghan refugee, and even now does not feel comfortable sharing his last name, or his face. It’s understood that traditional documentaries involve some degree of manipulation, and animated nonfiction films provide even more leeway to let imaginations take flight.

February 2022 Movies | Moviefone

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Try Harder!

By Risa Nye

For those whose memories of high school days are a bit clouded and sentimental, TRY HARDER!, Debbie Lum and Nico Opper’s documentary about students at San Francisco’s academic powerhouse, Lowell High, will be an eye-opener. Parents of toddlers who are already buying Ivy League sweatshirts in size 3T might do well to observe what happens when kids who try hard sometimes learn that they need to re-define what success means in the college admission process.

try harder!

While this film is about the students, it is also about the way support from caring teachers, parents, counselors, and peers has an enormous impact on the levels of stress these kids experience while trying to do all the things necessary to be competitive in a process with nearly impossible odds. As an example, the kids hear that Stanford’s acceptance rate is around 4%. They already know how hard it is, but some will try and beat the odds anyway.

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