While the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Event (TIFF) are primarily known for premiering dozens of would-be blockbusters and Oscar contenders —films like The Fabelmans , Don’t Worry Darling , Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery , The Woman King , Bros , and The particular Whale —the fall festivals are also a hugely fertile ground for unveiling great new documentaries. Several recent Greatest Documentary Feature Oscar contenders have premiered at the drop festivals, including Attica , Free Solo , plus Collective , and it looks like several likely contenders were revealed this year as well.
Close to 50 documentary features premiered between Venice, Telluride, and TIFF, and although we didn’t see all of them, we sure saw a lot. Read on for our picks of the Best Documentaries from the Fall Festivals and check back here for more festival coverage.
(Photo by Toronto International Movie Festival)
Brett Morgen has made some of the most visually plus technically stunning biographical documentaries in recent memory, which includes highly lauded films on Kurt Cobain ( Cobain: Montage associated with Heck ) and Jane Goodall ( Jane ). But knowing that won’t prepare you for what Morgen does with David Bowie’s life and work in Moonage Daydream , which is almost more of a conceptual art project than a documentary film. That’s a good thing, by the way. For 135 minutes, Morgen takes us deep into Bowie’s mind, his influences, his ever-evolving identity, plus personas, and some of the most timeless music ever made. The result is an aural plus visual collage that feels more like a good experience than a movie, and one can only imagine that Bowie would be proud. Moonage Fantasy premiered at Cannes and also played at JPEG before opening theatrically, where it’s currently available in both regular theaters and on IMAX screens courtesy of Neon.
(Photo simply by Courtesy associated with Toronto International Film Festival)
When Sidney Poitier passed earlier this 12 months, we lost one of the great actors plus movie stars inside the history of American cinema, but this timely portrait by director Reginald Hudlin ( Marshall ) and producer Oprah Winfrey provides the wonderful method to appreciate the screen legend. Numerous luminaries are upon hand to describe what Poitier’s work—as both an actor plus an activist—meant to all of them, including Denzel Washington , Morgan Freeman , Halle Berry , Robert Redford , and Spike Lee , while Poitier’s daughters also tell the story of the man behind the movie star. Sidney doesn’t challenge the audience in style or substance, but some American lives are so grand on their own merits that their stories defy the particular need with regard to creative filmmaking. Sidney opened at TIFF and is now available in order to stream upon Apple TV+.
(Photo by Courtesy of Netflix)
The best kind associated with biographical songs documentaries are usually those that will help place the breadth of someone’s career in a new plus greater context, and that’s absolutely exactly what happens here with Louis Armstrong. Filmmaker Sacha Jenkins (who has an extensive good working along with Black musicians, including Rick James and Wu-Tang Clan) uses a treasure trove associated with material—including Armstrong’s own audio diaries—and a good exciting visual style to show viewers that Louis Armstrong was far more than just a singer and the trumpet player. Armstrong’s voice and music come alive in the film, but so do the personality and politics of a Black guy who was immensely famous inside America during the height of mid-20th century racism. Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues premiered in TIFF plus is being released by Apple TV+, where it will be available to stream beginning October 28.
(Photo by Telluride Film Festival)
In 2004 NASA landed two rovers on Mars, each of which were expected to remain operational for about 90 days. They lasted quite a bit longer, and Opportunity—affectionately called Oppy simply by her functional staff—continued functioning for nearly 15 years. Director Ryan White ( The Case Against 8 ) takes us both inside the NASA control rooms and to the surface of Mars (where Oppy always began her day with a newly selected “Good morning” song) for a fun, engaging, plus emotional look at the life cycle of this little robot that will could, and at the support staff that started to feel the profound attachment to her role in their daily lives. Good Night Oppy is a love letter not just in order to space and exploration, but also to the way we create and find meaning in sometimes odd places. Great Night Oppy premiered from Telluride and will get a theatrical release from Amazon on November 4 before then becoming accessible to flow on Amazon . com Prime Video starting Nov 23.
(Photo by Thanks to Toronto International Film Festival)
Acclaimed artist Nan Goldin offers spent the particular last several years waging a personal war against the Sackler family—owners of Purdue Pharma, the maker associated with OxyContin—and the way they would wash their name through the particular great museums of the world, cultivating the clean reputation as celebrated art donors. Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras (who so memorably captured Edward Snowden taking on the NSA in 2014’s Citizenfour ) is back with another spectacular portrait of one person’s fight against a broken system. Poitras switches back again and forth in focus, covering both the historical context associated with Goldin’s famed art profession and her present battles against the particular art globe that normalizes and legitimizes the Sackler name. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed premiered at Venice and can receive a theatrical release through Neon upon November 23 before eventually streaming on HBO.
With films like Cartel Land (a 2015 Oscar nominee), City of Ghosts , plus The First Wave , Matthew Heineman has proven himself to be among the world’s most adept documentarians and filmmakers capturing the realities and aftermaths of war zones plus global hotspots. That skill is once again showcased in Retrograde , which takes viewers inside the particular final months from the battle in Afghanistan and shines a spotlight on the Afghan officers being trained simply by American Green Berets to continue the fight after the US withdrawal. As always with Heineman’s films, he manages in order to capture the particular human lives at the heart of a conflict without sacrificing the macro view of the conflict itself. Retrograde opened at Telluride and will be released theatrically by Nat Geo, but no date has been set yet.
(Photo simply by Courtesy of Telluride Movie Festival)
40 years prior to Robert Downey Jr. became one associated with the biggest stars inside the planet by playing Marvel’s Iron Man , his father, Robert downey Sr. , helped create the independent American movie theater scene of the 1960s. With irreverent, satirical, and absurdist classics like Putney Swope plus Greaser’s Palace , Downey Sr. turned underground cinema on its head and forged a path that will countless subsequent filmmakers would follow. Sr. captures the particular eponymous subject at the end associated with his life (he died last year), as his son attempts to understand their father plus say goodbye. Movie director Chris Smith ( Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond , American Movie ) knows how to tell a story with an unique character or relationship at the particular center, and the Robert downey men certainly qualify. But Sr. is also a touching and heartfelt story of family, legacy, and mortality. After premiering at Telluride, Sr. was acquired by Netflix, who will release this sometime later this yr.
(Photo simply by Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival)
After making the Oscar-nominated Blackfish in 2013, filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite took some time away from documentaries to make two acclaimed features, Megan Leavey plus Our Friend . But since 2016 Cowperthwaite has also been working on an explosive new documentary that has been finally unveiled to enthusiastic praise inside TIFF. The particular Grab is a shocking, globe-trotting exposé about the ways countries like Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia have been producing covert land grabs around the world—including several in the US—to try and control the future of water, farming, and livestock.
We talked to Cowperthwaite about her movie, which had so much material that she experienced to cut an entire plot element about a brewing conflict among Egypt plus Ethiopia because Ethiopia is trying in order to dam the particular Nile to harness it as an energy source. “It could have been the series, ” Cowperthwaite admits. “But I also knew that will people’s appetite to sit with this particular information hour after hr, it’s asking a lot. ” Cowperthwaite will certainly be taking another break from documentaries and provides already finished shooting the girl next narrative feature, a space station thriller known as I. S. S. starring Ariana DeBose. “Documentaries can own you, ” Cowperthwaite said. “It’s very hard for me to untether. I tend to simply live along with this stuff. ” But The Grab had been worth it, and it’s an incredible film that should start a lot of conversations when audiences get in order to see this. The film is currently in negotiations for distribution, but Cowperthwaite acknowledges the challenge associated with “upping her enemy count” with the particular film. “In this one, all of us picked the lot of battles, ” she said. But the battles were worth it for a finished product this good, as viewers will hopefully see in the near future.
(Photo by Courtesy associated with Toronto World Film Festival)
At a large house within the Catskills, throughout the prim plus proper 1950s and early ‘60s, an increasingly large group of cross-dressing men and transgender women gathered within secret, cultivating a private community exactly where they could feel unafraid and proud. Through archival footage and contemporary interviews, filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz explores the lasting heritage of these gatherings, both upon the people who frequented them and furthermore around the larger LGBTQ+ community in New York, which usually began slowly coming out of the particular shadows in the subsequent years. Casa Susanna plays almost like a prequel to the classic skin flick Paris Is Burning , filling in the particular blanks on a forgotten but crucial place plus time in the storyplot of America’s LGBTQ+ community. Casa Susanna premiered at Venice and it is still seeking US distribution.
(Photo by Courtesy of Toronto International Movie Festival)
Since Andrew Yang launched his Presidential run in 2019, the concept of Universal Basic Income has become a hot topic beyond just economists. Yet how might it look in practice? That is what a nonprofit called GiveDirectly offers been attempting to find out. Using a series associated with villages within Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African nations for the targeted experiment that started in 2018, the idea is to give every member of these villages a regular monthly income regarding 12 many years and see how it affects their lives. Filmmakers Sam Soko and Lauren DeFilippo take us inside the first four years of this task, showing both the intended benefits and the unintended consequences for the villagers of Kogutu, Kenya, as the 12-year experiment continues to unfold. Free Money opened at JPEG and will be still seeking US submission.
(Photo simply by Thanks to Netflix)
Five years after Icarus (which won the particular 2017 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature), filmmaker Bryan Fogel has returned in order to continue his story regarding Russian doping in sports, but this time the story takes a far darker, a lot more deadly turn. Following the events from the first movie, Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov received the death order from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Over the course of three yrs documented inside the film, Fogel tracks Rodchenkov’s efforts to survive his own country’s efforts to kill him, which involve continuous movement, a security detail, and a good attempt to obtain US citizenship. Like the predecessor, Icarus: The Aftermath crafts a continuously evolving story with several surprises in store, but this time the focus shifts from a global issue with relatively small stakes to a small, personal story with the stakes of life plus death. Icarus: The Consequences premiered with Telluride and is still looking for US distribution.
(Photo by Courtesy associated with Toronto Essential Film Festival)
In some of the very most beautiful and breathtaking video footage you’ll notice this season, marine videographer Patrick Dykstra provides incredible access to the pod of sperm whales and gets much closer than expected to one of them over a period associated with time. That premise may sound like the rehash of My Octopus Teacher , but the execution here is very different, more subtle, plus more about the imagery and majesty of the animals than the relationship. The particular visual scale of Patrick with the whales is usually especially stunning, and the particular underwater photography captures this perfectly. Meat and the Whale premiered on TIFF and is even now seeking ALL OF US distribution.