A strong contingent of international documentaries is making their premieres at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, which begins next week in New York. The 12 films of this year’s World Documentary Competition cover a wide range of topics, aesthetics and filmmaking styles, drawing from both American and international sources. This year’s lineup of American documentaries is particularly strong and will make waves in the months to come (remember that the current film BULLY premiered last year at Tribeca). All are making their world premieres at the event. Here are the U.S. films competing this year (descriptions provided by TFF):
DOWNEAST (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin)
Hit hard by the closure of the sardine canning factory, the laid-off residents of a Maine town just want to get back to work. Charged with the spirit of a generation that still gives it 110 percent, this poignant and poetic documentary sheds new light on the trying task of putting America back to work.
FAME HIGH (Scott Hamilton Kennedy)
This film captures all the drama, competition, heartbreak, and triumph among a group of struggling students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. From the nail-biting freshman auditions to the spectacular senior graduation performance, this endearing coming-of-age documentary is a tribute to discovering your passion and deciding whether you have the talent to take it to the next level.
HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE (Stephen Maing)
As the Chinese government expands its efforts to police the Internet and block websites in the country, the rising tide of censorship has aroused a wave of citizen reporters committed to investigating local news stories and crime scenes. This timely and probing documentary tracks rogue bloggers Zola and Tiger Temple as they risk political persecution to become China’s uncensored eyes and ears.
THE LIST (Beth Murphy)
After leading rebuilding teams in war-torn cities in Iraq, Kirk Johnson returned to America to establish and advocate for a growing number of Iraqi citizens now targeted by radical militias because they aided the U.S. in the reconstruction effort. TFF alum Beth Murphy creates an affecting portrait of an unlikely but passionate humanitarian who has championed the cause of Iraqi refugees largely ignored by the U.S. government.
OFF LABEL (Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher)
The term “off-label” refers to the use of pharmaceuticals in any way counter to their prescribed dosage and function. Weaving together powerful personal stories, the filmmakers expose the breadth of off-label drug use and take us on an emotional road trip through an overmedicated, misdiagnosed, and drug-addled America.
THE REVISIONARIES (Scott Thurman)
Once in a decade, the 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education meet in Austin to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. The panel, led by a charismatic evangelical Christian, implements standards that will ultimately go into effect in science and history textbooks for schoolchildren across the nation…..often denouncing such accepted science as evolution and climate change. This hot-button issue film offers a galvanizing peek behind the curtain at the politicization of education.