Films / Programs

Documentary

Be they hard-hitting or lyrical, political or personal, timely or timeless, narrowly focused or wide-ranging, SDFF documentaries shed all kinds of light on the world’s treasures and tragedies.

  • Code Black

    Code Black

    USA , 2013 , 81 min. Starz's People's Choice Award - Documentary Feature Documenting the clash between severe medical needs and the economic realities of our health-care system, physician Ryan McGarry’s film chronicles the efforts of a team of young doctors at a Los Angeles hospital to treat the hundreds of peop... more
  • 12 O'Clock Boys X

    12 O'Clock Boys X

    USA , 2013 , 75 min. Debut filmmaker Lotfy Nathan’s documentary showcases Baltimore’s notorious dirt-bike packs, whose illegal wheelie-popping the police are powerless to stop. The account follows Pug, a boy who’s recently lost his older brother and who yearns to assimilate into the group... more
  • Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton

    Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton

    USA , 2013 , 90 min. This doc chronicles indie label Stones Throw Records, known for its eclectic talent. DJ Peanut Butter Wolf founded the label with friends in 1996; the label has been credited with reviving vinyl and serving as a creative hotbed for the diverse styles that are its ethos... more
  • Remote Area Medical

    Remote Area Medical

    USA , 2013 , 80 min. Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman’s documentary shows how dedicated volunteers and medical staff administer free health care to America’s working poor. In a makeshift “hospital” set up at a Tennessee NASCAR track, patients share their heartrending stories... more
  • Bending Steel

    Bending Steel

    USA , 2013 , 93 min. Dave Carroll documents Chris “Wonder” Shoeck’s obsession with the ancient art of bending steel. A loner, Schoeck yearns to be a Coney Island strongman, but fears public performance and failure. This moving film captures his self-doubt and ultimate triumph as he joins a community of powerful men... more
  • Brave Miss World

    Brave Miss World

    USA , 2013 , 91 min. This heartbreaking documentary follows Miss World 1998 Linor Abargil on her journey as an advocate for rape survivors. She and director Cecelia Peck shed light on the struggle rape survivors face with themselves, their family, society, and the law... more
  • Caucus

    Caucus

    USA , 2013 , 104 min. AJ Schnack documents the competitive 2011-2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, featuring a full slate of candidates vying for the nomination to go up against President Obama. Viewers get a fly-on-the-wall look at the backroom strategizing, as well as the candidates’ public personas... more
  • Desert Runners

    Desert Runners

    USA , 2013 , 92 min. Desert Runners follows a collection of brave souls attempting the 4Desert Ultramarathon Series across the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and a 150-mile footrace across the single most inhospitable landscape in the world: Antarctica... more
  • Eternal Amazon

    Eternal Amazon

    Brazil , 2012 , 88 min. Since the Industrial Revolution, “progress” has been synonymous with vanquishing nature, but now we know the future of man lies in a sustainable existence. The Amazon, often under assault by nightmarish exploitation, is making a comeback. Destructive agriculture is history... more
  • The Final Member X

    The Final Member X

    Canada , 2012 , 75 min. Siggi’s dream is to include a human specimen in his phallus museum. Two men are competing to be the first; one is a promiscuous Icelandic legend, the other an American who tattoos the flag on his organ and is willing to remove it antemortem... more
  • A Fragile Trust:  Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times

    A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times

    USA , 2013 , 76 min. Samantha Grant scrutinizes not only Jayson Blair’s plagiarism and deceit during his tenure at The New York Times, but also the journalistic integrity of the bureaucratic newspaper system. How could his copious fabrications and errors have been overlooked?... more
  • Gold Fever

    Gold Fever

    USA , 2013 , 84 min. For centuries, gold has remained a symbol of wealth and power. Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine in the Guatemalan highlands posts record profits, but for locals, gold frenzy can mean intimidation, pollution, even murder. Three women defend their ancestral lands, whatever the consequences... more
  • Great Chicken Wing Hunt

    Great Chicken Wing Hunt

    USA , 2012 , 70 min. Matt Reynolds leaves a successful career abroad, returning to the United States to document his search for the perfect chicken wing. With an eclectic group of wing aficionados, he sets out on a roller coaster ride that traverses New York and explores wing culture in America... more
  • Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

    Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

    Switzerland , 2012 , 77 min. A mesmerizing biographical portrait of this year’s John Cassavetes Award recipient, Harry Dean Stanton, with Harry Dean Stanton in person to receive the award.... more
  • Here Was Cuba

    Here Was Cuba

    Ireland , 2013 , 75 min. The world was almost annihilated in October 1962. This is not science fiction but the Cuban Missile Crisis, a history lesson that should not be forgotten because more countries today have these bombs and “there is no room for error with a nuclear weapon.”... more
  • I Learn America

    I Learn America

    USA , 2013 , 93 min. This documentary follows five young immigrants at a public high school in New York City dedicated to teaching newly arrived students from over 50 countries. They face the task of learning a new language and culture alongside the usual challenges of adolescence... more
  • I Sing Beijing

    I Sing Beijing

    USA , 2012 , 87 min. I Sing Beijing follows Hao Jiang Tian, a Chinese-born opera singer, as he tackles his dream to organize a trip for young Western singers to travel to China, learn Mandarin, and perform live before an audience of thousands... more
  • I Will Be Murdered

    I Will Be Murdered

    United Kingdom , 2013 , 90 min. Recorded before his death, Rodrigo Rosenberg’s political statement accuses Guatemala’s president of his murder and nearly brings down the government. Justin Webster’s documentary follows the twists and turns of the subsequent investigation with the intensity of a spy novel... more
  • If You Build It

    If You Build It

    USA , 2012 , 82 min. Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley document a group of high-school students in rural North Carolina who take a design/build class taught by designers Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller with the aim of reviving and rebuilding their economically depressed community... more
  • The Kill Team

    The Kill Team

    USA , 2013 , 79 min. Dan Krauss directs this doc about Spc. Adam Winfield, a soldier in Afghanistan whose platoon called itself “The Kill Team.” Members of intentionally killed civilians and planted evidence, but when he threatens to out their crimes, Winfield is charged with premeditated murder... more
  • Lion Ark

    Lion Ark

    USA , 2013 , 97 min. A punchy behind-the-scenes documentary produced by activist group Animal Defenders International, Lion Ark presents the dramatic rescue and relocation of 25 African lions from illegal Bolivian circuses. The story ends happily in Colorado for the tragically mistreated creatures... more
  • Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love

    Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love

    USA , 2013 , 85 min. This valentine to one of the most prolific composers of our age is a lesson in how it is done. Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and others recall Hamlisch’s legacy, especially his adage that “if you don’t know how to write with heart, it never connects.”... more
  • Michael H., Profession: Director

    Michael H., Profession: Director

    France , 2013 , 93 min. Yves Montmayeur’s intimate portrait of the acclaimed and controversial filmmaker Michael Haneke offers exceptional insight into the Austrian’s searing body of work. Michael H. is must for fans of Caché, The White Ribbon, and this spring’s Oscar winner, Amour... more
  • Mistaken for Strangers X

    Mistaken for Strangers X

    USA , 2013 , 75 min. Tom Berninger’s film is not your typical music doc. When his older brother Matt, vocalist for indie rock band The National, invites him to join a big tour as roadie, Berninger brings his camera. Polar opposites, the brothers reconnect in this poignant look at sibling rivalry... more
  • No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

    No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

    United Kingdom , 2013 , 93 min. Nobel-nominated filmmaker Callum Macrae documents the Sri Lankan government’s war crimes against its own people in 2009. Officials deny killing some 70,000 civilians; this film raises awareness in the international community, which must ensure the guilty are held responsible... more
  • Salma

    Salma

    United Kingdom , 2013 , 90 min. One village in southern India locks its adolescent girls up when they hit puberty, not allowing them to see the outside world until marriage. Refusing these customs, Salma remained incarcerated for 25 years and went on to become an esteemed Tamil poet... more
  • The Search for Emak Bakia

    The Search for Emak Bakia

    Spain , 2012 , 84 min. The Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film Winner This endlessly enchanting experimental doc seeks an answer to the origins of Man Ray’s mysterious 1926 Basque-language film. Oskar Alegria’s fascinating investigation uncovers an incidentally connected cast of real-world Romanian pr... more
  • Teenage

    Teenage

    USA , 2013 , 80 min. It seems odd that the official definition of “teenager” coincided with the dropping of “the bomb,” thus too ushering in the postmodern era. Fusing experiences from British, U.S., and German youth 1904-1945, this filmic bricolage reveals the eerily cyclical nature of generational discord... more
  • Torn Cloth

    Torn Cloth

    USA , 2013 , 82 min. A tough old Thai soldier and his wife train orphan boys in Muay Thai boxing, the most extreme form of which is essentially bare-knuckled, full-body fighting. It offers an escape from extreme deprivation and hope for a better life, while threatening terrible bodily harm... more
  • Truth Has Fallen

    Truth Has Fallen

    USA , 2013 , 60 min. Impressionistic animation accompanies voice-over accounts of three Americans wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit. Director and USC professor Shelia Sofian challenges the hubristic misconception that we have “the greatest justice system in the world.”... more
  • Uranium Drive-In

    Uranium Drive-In

    USA , 2013 , 70 min. Uranium Drive-In documents the proposed construction of a uranium mill in southwestern Colorado. Economically depressed Naturita wants jobs; environmentalists in the nearby resort town of Telluride are opposed. We get personal stories from those at the heart of the complex issue.... more
  • We Always Lie to Strangers

    We Always Lie to Strangers

    USA , 2013 , 108 min. This documentary by David Wilson and AJ Schnack (Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns) follows lively performers from the popular Bible Belt tourist town of Branson, Missouri. In a changing economic and social climate, the founding families of Branson are forced to adapt... more
  • What Is Cinema?

    What Is Cinema?

    USA , 2013 , 80 min. A perfect entry for a film festival, Chuck Workman’s documentary celebrates this treasured art form. Through investigating the true wonder of cinema, What Is Cinema? will make all of us that much more passionate of our communal yet very personal pastime, watching movies... more
  • When I Walk

    When I Walk

    USA , 2012 , 85 min. When 25-year-old filmmaker Jason DaSilva is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he turns the camera on himself, documenting six years of living with the degenerative disease following his fall on a beach. He struggles with devastating challenges, but discovers the miracle of life... more
  • Wrong Time Wrong Place

    Wrong Time Wrong Place

    Netherlands , 2012 , 80 min. John Appel’s documentary delves into the aftermath of the 2011 Norway massacre, exploring the seemingly random acts that allowed some victims to survive while others perished at the hands of gunman Anders Breivik. In emotional interviews, survivors describe their brush with death... more
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