Festival featuring wide array of documentary films will take place September 14-16
The Newburyport Documentary Film Festival (NDFF) announced its 2018 lineup of 29 new documentary films to be featured September 14 through 16 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Highlighting a wide array of topics ranging from animals and nature to human rights to food and cars, the festival is an important cultural annual event that highlights Newburyport as a destination city that celebrates art, culture and diversity. A new film festival overview video highlights what it means to the community and beyond.
Several attending filmmakers will be accessible to filmgoers with select screenings augmented by intimate Q&A sessions with filmmakers. The full list of films can be found below. Film lovers can view the full film schedule and buy tickets by visiting the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival website.
ANIMALS AND NATURE
• Life in the Dog House – LIFE IN THE DOG HOUSE tells the inspiring life stories of Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the remarkable work they do at Danny & Ron’s Rescue. Ten years and 10,000 dogs later, their unique approach to life and dog rescue will capture hearts and inspire millions to make the right choices when it comes to man’s best friend.
• Rodents of Unusual Size – Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn’t know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20-pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win.
• The High Sierra Trail – This exciting documentary bounces back and forth between the modern experience of hiking the High Sierra Trail and the early 1900s when the trail was created. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Last of the Big Tuskers – A big tusker elephant is an elephant with at least one tusk weighing 100 pounds or more. Only 100 years ago, thousands roamed the wilds of Africa. Sadly, today only 22 remain. Last of the Big Tuskers focuses on the last of these iconic animals and what is being done to keep them safe.
ART, FILM AND MUSIC
• Bathtubs over Broadway – When he started as a comedy writer for the LATE NIGHT SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, Steve Young had few interests outside of his day job. But while gathering material for a segment on the show, Steve stumbled onto a few vintage record albums that would change his life forever. Steve Young grew up in Massachusetts, where he did improvisation. He will be in attendance – lucky filmgoers may see a short performance!
• Immaculate Memories – The life and art of Christopher Pratt ‘Canada’s most famous living painter’ (The Globe & Mail) is the first feature-length documentary he has agreed to participate in. An honest, funny, eloquent, bizarre, and sometimes unsettling account of his life and art, and an extremely important cultural document.
• Lotte That Silhouette Girl – Once upon a time, long before Disney and other animation giants, Lotte Reiniger ignited the screen with shadows, light, and a pair of magical scissors. This stunning documentary uses Lotte’s unique silhouette style as it re-writes history from a new point of view to tell the magical and charming fairy tale that was one of animations’ biggest influencers. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Saving Brinton – In a farmhouse basement on the Iowa countryside, eccentric collector Mike Zahs makes a remarkable discovery: the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to America’s Heartland.
CARS AND SPORTS
• For What It’s Worth – Every car has a story. For What It’s Worth gives a front seat view of demolition derby drivers Bob “The Killer Bee” Bennison, Kyle Harrigan and Kyle Cohen, as they prepare for New Jersey’s annual Turkey Derby. From rural Pennsylvania to the sprawling scrap yards of Suffolk County, this short documentary shows what’s possible even after those cars reach the end of the road. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• State of Exception – A David and Goliath story about citizens banding together to defend their communities against forced eviction in Rio before the World Cup and Olympics. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
• Balian (The Healer) – BALIAN (The Healer) depicts what happens when a traditional Balinese healer is ‘discovered’ by the West. “A magical portrait of a one-of-a-kind trickster/healer – and it’s funny, too.” – Alan Berliner. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Ghost in a Machine – William Quill, a 78-year-old Newburyport native and retired college professor, paints an insightful portrait of his life as a “builder” — both as an academic and as a manual laborer. Through recollections and archival footage documenting the ups and downs of the restoration of his historic home, Quill creates a poignant but down to earth allegory of life itself. This local story is directed by William Quill’s son Mike Quill. Both men will be in attendance.
• How’s Your Time, Wu? – In the frigid mountains of northeastern Yunnan Province, China, the four Xia siblings have created a familial constellation amongst themselves, supplying one another with warmth and affection, sibling to sibling. Their parents are among the many migrant workers and are seldom home.
• Mrs. Schneider – In 1950s Brooklyn, a young boy’s idyllic childhood is changed after a simple interaction with his Jewish neighbor.
• Pecking Order – Join members of the 148-year-old Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in the lead up to the NZ National Show, as they battle history (and each other) in their quest for glory. ‘Pecking Order’ is a hilarious, unique, and heart-warming slice of Kiwiana which is sure to delight and surprise audiences of all ages.
• Space Savers – Each snowfall, Boston residents respond to threatened parking spaces with items of subconscious self-expression.
• The Providers – This documentary follows the stories of three healthcare providers bringing care to those living on the margins, in a rural American community struggling with a shortage of doctors and the ravages of the opioid epidemic. Set against the beautiful landscape of northern New Mexico, the film tells the story of patients and providers with intimate access and immersive observational storytelling. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Farmsteaders – Having abandoned a career as a food processing engineer at General Mills, Nick returns home, the prodigal son, and he, his wife Celeste and their young family resurrect his late grandfather’s dairy farm. Heroic, benign and accessible, Nick and Celeste’s meditations on life, legacy, and resistance offer an unexpected voice from a forsaken people – those who grow the food that sustains us.
• Great! Lakes – In the small town of Knife River, Minnesota, twin sisters, Pamela Matson & Patricia Canelake, make candy the old-fashioned way using recipes invented by their grandfather in the early 1900s. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Knife Skills – What does it take to build a world-class French restaurant? What if the staff is almost entirely men and women just out of prison? What if most have never cooked or served before, and have barely two months to learn their trade? Knife Skills follows the hectic launch of Edwins restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. This is a unique film that was nominated for an Academy Award.
HUMAN RIGHTS, RACE AND GENDER
• Black Memorabilia – BLACK MEMORABILIA moves beyond perverse attractions and absolute objections to collectibles and antiques that serve as reminders of America’s troubled racial history. The film combats a set of generalized stereotypes by presenting an intimate and poetic portrait of the people who consume, manufacture and assume the identities of these objects. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Capturing the Flag – A tight-knit group of friends travel to Cumberland County, North Carolina – 2016 “posterchild” for voter suppression – intent on proving that the big idea of American democracy can be defended by small acts of individual citizens. An unexpected story about American Democracy. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Crime+Punishment – Amidst a landmark class action lawsuit over illegal policing quotas, Crime + Punishment chronicles the real lives and struggles of a group of black and Latino whistleblower cops and the young minorities they are pressured to arrest and summons in New York City. This film won the Sundance Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking. It has screened at Full Frame, International Film Festival Boston, HotDocs and AFI Docs.
• Intelligent Lives – Three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce.
• Left on Pearl – A documentary about a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women’s liberation movement, the 1971 takeover and 10-day occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• Letter from Masanjia – When a desperate SOS letter penned by a political prisoner turns up in Halloween decorations sold in Oregon, it sparks a nail-biting chain of events that exposes appalling human rights violations and leads to sweeping labor reform in China. This film premiered at TriBeCa Film Festival and sold out screenings at HotDocs. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• The Most Dangerous Year – In 2016 a group of Washington State families with transgender kids join the fight against the wave of discriminatory anti-transgender legislation sweeping through the nation and into their home state in this present-day civil rights movement.
WAR AND VETERANS
• Forever under Siege – An in-depth look at the effects of war. In this investigation into the lives of former and current U.S. soldiers, an array of candid interviews delivers moving narratives about the casualties of mental health and fosters contemplation about the fierce determination of the human spirit, patriotism and why we go to war. The filmmaker will be in attendance.
• The Guests – The Guests takes a look at life in the precarious setting of a refugee camp, where Syrian refugees live in some of the worst conditions imaginable. Leaving their war-torn homes behind, they have settled in the desert not far from the war zone. This film takes us into the refugee camp on a hot summer afternoon to witness the human ability to adapt to harsh conditions.
Joanne Morris, Newburyport Documentary Film Festival