Columbus Documentary Week highlights

  • Photo courtesy of IFC Films
    The Punk Singer
  • Photo courtesy of The Cinema Guild
    Leviathan
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From the December 5, 2013 edition

Good news, fellow documentary lovers! It’s Columbus Documentary Week at the Gateway Film Center! Yes, again. GFC did a similar event in July, but who am I to complain? Because documentaries.

The week features an almost overwhelming slate of 27 documentaries, most limited to 2-3 screenings, so you’ll want to carefully check the listings at the Gateway website (gatewayfilmcenter.com) to make sure you don’t miss the doc that’s right for you. Here are some highlights to help you decide.

If you want to get a jump on possible Oscar Best Documentary nominees, a couple of very different top contenders are making return engagements: “The Act of Killing, in which former Indonesian death squad leaders recreate their mass executions, and “20 Feet from Stardom,” a chronicle of the unsung (get it?) talents of professional backup singers.

Also playing from the Academy’s just-released shortlist are the killer Sea World exposé “Blackfish” and “God Loves Uganda,” about the negative affect of American evangelical Christian missionary efforts in Uganda.

For the one 2013 doc you really ought to see on the big screen, check out “Leviathan,” an immersive experimental fishing vessel doc the AV Club appropriately labeled “Gaspar Noé meets ‘The Deadliest Catch.’”

There’s also a great slate of biographical docs, from “Dear Mr. Watterson, about the creator of beloved comic strip Calvin & Hobbes to “Bettie Page Reveals All,” the story of the late pin-up icon told through audio interviews with an elderly Page (and lots of pictures).

My personal bio pic would be “The Punk Singer,” an excellent doc about Bikini Kill frontwoman/riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna. (Look for our own riot grrrl Abernathy Miller’s interview with Hanna soon on this site.)

Design nerds should queue up now for “Design Is One,” an amazing look at the invisible hand of designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli in everything from product and graphic design to interior architecture.

There are niche docs for just about every interest from magic (“Magic Camp”) to our widening socioeconomic gaps (“Inequality for All”). Don’t wait for the next Documentary Week. Go see one now.