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Hail the Documentary:

10th annual DocuTime Film Fest

1/28, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

UNCW, King Hall

601 S. College Rd. • $5-23

Students free with ID

Like much of my generation, the majority of my documentary viewing is done solely through Netflix. It’s as simple as: a recommendation for a Frank Lloyd Wright doc. Why not? Sounds intriguing. Click. Instant queue. Paula Lee Haller, DocuTime founder and chair, goes the extra mile (quite literally) in choosing what to screen during the 10th anniversary of Wilmington’s one-day documentary film festival, DocuTime. “I’ll be honest,” she says. “I travel around the world and search for [the films].”

When hearing Haller speak about her life and the passion she holds for the art of documentary filmmaking, it’s easy to assume DocuTime is in very good hands. The Michigan native lived all over the world before moving to Los Angeles where she founded the International Documentary Association (IDA) in 1982, a nonprofit group which promotes nonfiction filmmakers and increases public awareness of documentaries. “It was always my dream to spread documentary festivals all across the country,” Haller says—“a little ambitious, but [I knew] it could be done.”

After producing a handful of wildly successful IDA DocuFests, disaster hit the West Coast when the 1994 Northridge earthquake rocked Los Angeles and left Haller looking east. “I didn’t know if I wanted to live the rest of my life in L.A,” she says. “By chance, I met a person who had come back from working on a movie at Screen Gems. She said, ‘You’d love Wilmington; it’s a great town.’ So I moved and the rest is history. There wasn’t any scientific reason, sometimes you just have the impulse.”

Once Haller arrived in Wilmington, she found a potential home for DocuTime at Screen Gems’ screening room. This was a decade ago,  just before the release of Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine.” Then, the documentary genre didn’t quite have the same commercial appeal it does now. “We had to inaugurate and tell people about documentaries,” she explains. “Now it’s quite common for them to have theatrical distribution, but 10 years ago, not so much.”

With support from WHQR Public Radio, it eventually evolved into Wilmington’s first exclusive documentary film festival. After six years, the festival gained attention and outgrew Screen Gems. Haller then met with Dr. Lou Buttino, former chair of UNCW Department of Film Studies and fellow documentarian, and he offered the King Hall Auditorium as DocuTime’s new home.

Now celebrating its 10th year, DocuTime’s 2012 line up includes a global variety of unique, award-winning films. The day kicks off with “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a portrayal of women fighting for peace in Liberia.

“These women stand up to this monster dictator [and] eventually help get rid of him because of their bravery, courage and common sense,” Haller explains. “They dressed in white, and stood on the road and said you cannot go beyond this line. I hope any woman in Wilmington who has any passion for making a difference will come with something white on—a handkerchief, scarf, gloves, anything.”

One of the bigger names of the lineup is “Being Elmo” which won an incredible amount of awards at festivals across the world last year, including Special Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance. “It’s about Elmo, but it’s really about the wonderful young man who created Elmo is for the public,” Haller determines.

These are just two titles amongst a diverse group of films offered to Wilmington. Following is the full schedule; tickets are available at Sharky’s box office or at etix.com for $7 general admission, $5 for seniors, and an All Day Pass is available for $23. Students enter free with ID.
 
DOCUTIME 2012 SCHEDULE
10-11:15 a.m.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” (72 min.; USA)
Directors: Abigail E. Disney, Gini Reticker
A group of women rise up for peace in Liberia and help bring to power the country’s first female head of state. This winner of the Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. It is a compelling testimony to the potential of women worldwide to alter the history of nations.
 
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
“Unfinished Spaces” (86 min.; Cuba)
Directors: Alysa Nahmias, Benjamin Murray
In 1961, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara commissioned three young, visionary architects to create Cuba’s National Art Schools. But as the Cuban Revolution began, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream. “Unfinished Spaces” documents the undertaking.
 
1:30-3:20 p.m.
“Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands” (43 min., Canada)
Director: Peter Mettler
The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta are an oil reserve the size of England. Extracting crude oil that lies beneath the unspoiled wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort. See how the world’s largest industrial, capital and energy project leaves behind a barren wasteland.
 
“Electric Shadows” (30 min., Iran)
Directors: Hervé and Renaud Cohen
A team of film projectionists travel through the Chinese countryside on bicycles showing films to peasants in 20 neighboring villages. “Electric Shadows” explores their devotion to this underappreciated profession threatened by the arrival of television and Chinese economic reforms.

“Cat  Listening to Music” (3 min)
“Slow Tango” (4 min)
Two Selections from Chris Marker’s “Bestiary” (France), the anthology of short films avoids the commercial cinema’s tendency to anthropomorphize animals in favor of a simple celebration of their exotic beauty, primal nature and mystery.

“Cat Listening to Music” is everything the title promises. And more.

“Slow Tango” consists of one arresting, static shot of an elephant in Slovenia’s Ljubljana Zoo. The animal shuffles around its enclosure, performing syncopated dance steps to the accompaniment of Igor Stravinsky’s “Tango.”
 
“Flying People” (24 min; UK)
Director: Tom Collinson
It’s a film about the passion for flight and the will to overcome any handicap or obstacle that might deny it. But it’s also about you.
 
“Sharp Edge Blunt” (USA; 2 min.)
Director: Leighton Pierce
Pierce explores the margins of memory and perception and the cinematic construction of space and time in order to crack the hold on normal reality.
 
3:30-4:50 p.m.
“Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” (80 min.; USA)
Directors: Constance Marks, Philip Shane
Elmo is an international icon. His creator and puppeteer? Not so much. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance follows Kevin Clash’s journey from Baltimore to Sesame Street.
 
5-6:25 p.m.
“Carol Channing: Larger Than Life” (83 min.; USA)
Director: Dori Berinstein
It’s the story of legendary performer Carol Channing’s life. “Larger than Life” captures the magic and vivacity of the 90-year-old icon—both on- and offstage. The film is both an intimate love story and a rarefied journey inside Broadway’s most glamorous era.

 

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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