As equipment, technology and access to research become increasingly accessible, documentary filmmaking is the best it has ever been. The Gateway’s Columbus Documentary Week is a roundup of 15 standouts in the genre. They all look amazing, but here are five I think are especially worth digging into.
“A Band Called Death”
July 12, 13, 16, 18
Death was a Detroit band in the 1970s that played punk… before there was such a thing as punk. What’s even odder is that three black men comprised the band. As Alice Cooper put it, this was a time when “it was pretty hard to be black and play rock. You had to be Motown if you were black.” This documentary follows the band’s struggle for autonomy (no record label wanted to touch them if their name was “Death” but the band refused to change) and its rediscovery and resurgence in recent years. This is a music movie to stomp your Docs to.
“The Source Family”
Ah, the 1970s. When utopian living was still considered a possibility and an old man with 13 beautiful, young wives wasn’t unusual. OK, it was still unusual even then, but the Source Family inspired a lot of progress in different sects of their Sunset Strip existence. Ultimately their story comes to a sad end, but the ride there is a fascinating look at indulging human nature.
“Call Me Kuchu”
Profound in its relevancy and its tragedy, “Call Me Kuchu” is a modern look at the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda, where a new bill is threatening to make death or life in prison a punishment for homosexuality. It includes interviews with David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, whose murder was heard by activists around the world. Since this is a one-day only showing, the Gateway’s hosting a 5 p.m. social mixer beforehand; $10 will get you one drink and entry to the movie.
This movie is an important look at the roadblocks thrown in an investigative journalist’s path by the government as he tries to uncover the truth of the country’s covert wars. It’s also artistically innovative, winning a cinematography award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
“Live Long, Ping Pong”
This short film will air before each screening of “Venus and Serena,” a doc about the outstanding racket-swinging sisters. A Columbus-based group, Blue Monkey Films, spotlight in “Live Long, Ping Pong” the senior citizens who knock the crap out of ping pong balls in a competition at the Arnold Fitness Classic. See if you can keep up.