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You never know what you’re going to get when you tune into Storyville on BBC Four – that’s half its charm. This week it is the turn of Israeli director Nati Baratz to showcase his documentary The Baby and The Buddha, (also known as Unmistaken Child). Proving that good things most certainly do come to those who wait, the film is the culmination of four years of hard work. Seeing the final product, there is no doubt about it, it was worth every minute of research and filming.

After the death of his Tibetan master, devoted disciple Tenzin Zopa is tasked with the job of finding his reincarnation. Given that it could be anywhere in the world, he’s got a tough job ahead of him. His secret mission takes him by helicopter, mule and foot and with the help of villagers, astrology and various dreams, Tenzin eventually comes across a young boy who he believes is the reincarnated Geshe Lama Konchog

While the film brings to light a rarely seen aspect of the Buddhist faith, the true revelation is Tenzin’s journey as a man. We come to know him as modest and shy, but with an impish sense of humour. He appears to be of another time and place, yet lives profoundly in the present. Alone on his quest, he is only able to share his thoughts and feelings with filmmaker Baratz. Tenzin’s simple honesty and unselfconsciousness make the viewer a privileged partner in his passage.

See the trailer below and click here for more information.

 

Louis Theroux had better watch out, there’s a new boy in town and he’s every bit as quirky, charming and insightful. He goes by the name of Ben Lewis, ordinary sounding enough, but he’s got some edgy glasses and is even partial to some hat-wearing. And if that’s not interesting enough, he’s taking on some of the most influential people in the art world – a few billionaires, that’s all!

Making money is art - Andy Warhol famously declared back in 1975, but what Lewis is investigating in The Great Contemporary Art Bubble is how art itself became such big business. Why does a seemingly blank canvas now fetch upwards of $5million dollars, what’s so great about phamaldahide and why does nobody at Sotheby’s want to explain the absurdity of modern art prices to a very polite Ben Lewis?

Running back and forth between London and New York, Lewis interviews leading art dealers, collectors and market analysts in a bid to discover the reason behind the greatest rise in the financial value of art in history. Prices were increasing at an incredible rate and the art world seemed immune from economic forces. Peaking in May 2008, just months later it all came to a standstill when the bubble burst in October that year.

Despite many rejection letters from potential interviewees, Lewis successfully lifts the veil of secrecy- albeit for a brief sixty minutes – and reveals to us a world of speculation and underhand practice.

A documentary that offers food for thought for cynics and modern art-lovers alike. Coming out with lines Louis would be proud of – (a particular favourite of mine), I worry that neon is the cheese sandwich of contemporary art - this film is definitely one to watch, and so is Ben Lewis.

Click here to find out more.

 

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of yoga, brought to you by filmmaker and yoga super-fan, Kate Churchill. Rather than using the hard sell however, Kate quite cunningly chooses to follow Nick Rosen, a true sceptic and thus the perfect guinea pig. If she can convince him, surely she can convince anyone. Well, as you’ll soon find out, it is a rather big if indeed.

And so Enlighten Up is the story of one slighltly hen-pecked Rosen as he travels the world in search of the true meaning of yoga. In close pursuit is Kate, determined to enlighten him and indeed us. Will encounters with celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks and world-renowned gurus convince him? You’ll have to watch it to find out!

Watch the trailer below and click here if you want to find out more.

Courtesy of the BBC

Courtesy of the BBC

It is the kind of stuff tabloid editors dream of – the story of a celebrity priest, utterly adored by a nation, who turns out not to be perfect after all. That said, this documentary most definitely eclipses your average kiss-and-tell story… 

It is quite incredible to conceive of someone who lived in the media spotlight ever being able to harbour a secret, let alone one so explosive it would rip Ireland apart. Yet Father Michael Cleary did just that.

Taking her first steps as a film student way back when, a young Alison Millar had one ambition – filming the man himself. This was long before the truth had surfaced and all Alison wanted was a glimpse of Ireland’s most unlikely superstar. Her wish came true when he eventually agreed to feature in her documentary. What she filmed was the almost rock and roll lifestyle of a man loved who charmed the nation through songs and sermons, not only in Church but on TV and on the radio too.

A year after Cleary’s death in 1993, his secret was out. A bombshell not just for his family, but for the Church and for the whole of Ireland – The woman he had claimed was his housekeeper was in fact his wife and her son – well you’ve guessed it, was his son too. After all, who would ever have dreamed that a catholic priest, consigned to a life of celibacy was in fact a real father?

The dust, now settled, Millar retrieved her original footage from her parent’s attic where she had kept it for safe keeping all that time. Intrigued as to how she could have moved into Cleary’s home and spent so long filming him, and yet, have failed to spot what was really going on, Millar returned 15 years later, to find out what really happened…

The unbelievable true story of one man’s fall from grace from beyond the grave – At Home With The Clearys, is, quite simply, a faultless documentary.

See it this week on BBC Storyville. Click here to find out more.

Making a film wouldn’t be most people’s first port of call having just been diagnosed with the big C but for Joshua Isaacs, this was the perfect way to express himself. And so, My Left Hand is the story of a young father felled by epithelioid sarcomaa cancer so rare that Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, which specializes in rare malignancies, saw only 16 patients between 1982 and 1995. But more than that, it is a valiant effort to make spiritual sense of his suffering

Six years after the cancerous lump was removed he found himself once again having to battle the illness. As well as naturally contemplating what his future holds, he explores his emotions, doubts, fears, and faith in God and Judaism as he endures chemotherapy, radiation, and the amputation of his left hand.

Beyond darkness and desperation we have all come to associate with the word cancerthe film ends by ultimately celebrating life, something there can never be enough of.

Click here to find out more.

 

A follow up from his 2004 book The Case For Israel, Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz is back, this time with a film of the same name, which defens Israel as a democratic state coping with threats in a hostile environment.

Unafraid of confronting the most contentious of issues, Dershowitz probes beneath what little coverage there is on the news, inviting us to see for ourselves why Israel does what it does. Though he raises the question of checkpoints in the West Bank and the rejected Camp David offer, the mood is very much a positive one,  focussing upon reaching a two-state solution.

The documentary also addresses Israel’s status as the only democracy in the Middle East. However, it is more often than not the case that it is condemned as a country which frequently violates human rights. What Dershowitz suggests is that Israel is unfairly singled out, meanwhile countries which consistently violate human rights (notably denouncing gay rights, feminism and democracy), such as Saudi Arabia, are given a free ride.

Whatever your beliefs – political or religious, a peaceful reconciliation is surely the only durable solution. Given the recent conflict in Gaza, and the fact that today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, marking Israel’s 61st birthday, what better time to put the peace talks back on track?

Click here to find out more Dershowitz’s documentary.


 

Courtesy of weddingcaketoppers.com

Courtesy of weddingcaketoppers.com

Bride and groom meet the cinematographer, cinematographer meet the bride and groom. Lights, camera, action and voila!

Introducing the wedding documentary – for all those couples suffering from a temporary bout of amnesia, an American by the name of Vijay Rakhra is offering an interactive DVD with clickable special sections, an 18-minute trailer and much much more.

Forget the amnesia (!), if you have simply tired of the humdrum wedding vid of days gone by, Rakhra has come to the rescue, ready and waiting to document your very own love story. Promising an individualised Hollywood-style video ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 dollars – what are you waiting for?

Well, I for one cannot wait to see how far this docu-mania spreads. Who knows, we might soon see the birth of Baby Doc…

Click here to find out more.

 

Courtesy of kah-bonn.de

Courtesy of kah-bonn.de

The 10th annual Documentary Photography Symposium will feature the photography of Stuart Klipper and Petronella Ytsma.

Click here to find out more.

A masterpiece so perfectly done, with so much art, dignity and compassion, that it commands attention – The Telegraph

Courtesy of britdoc.org

Courtesy of britdoc.org

In case you hadn’t already heard, last night’s BAFTA for Best Single Documentary was won by Brian Woods‘ Chosen, which was produced by True Vision.

Testament to the power of a compelling story, simply told, the film deals with a subject often whispered but rarely spoken about – the sexual abuse of boys by teachers in Britain’s private schools.

The award for Best Single Documentary is given in honour of one of the founding fathers of documentary film-making Robert Flaherty, and was this year awarded by Louis Theroux

Click here to watch the trailer and find out more.

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