Whoa! The Little Rock Film Festival just announced easily its strongest documentary line-up yet. It includes multiple SXSW and Sundance winners and films — about civil rights and music and Branson — that're sure to have special appeal to a local audience. Jacob Hatley's documentary about Turkey Scratch native Levon Helm, "Ain't in It for My Health," is bound to be the big draw. Robert posted trailers of it last week. The film debuted today in New York and other select cities to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Helm's death.
Here's how the New York Times described it, which makes it sound pretty great to me.
Less an archival clip job than a late-night jam session, it is informal and inviting. The crew, and therefore the audience, hangs out with Mr. Helm in and around his house in Woodstock, N.Y., checking in with his wife, daughter and friends, and kibitzing while he smokes a joint with Billy Bob Thornton and muses on various subjects in his creaky Arkansas drawl.
Other highlights (though really, every doc on the program looks great) on the jump:
"We Always Lie to Strangers," dir. AJ Schnack and David Wilson. A portrait of Branson and what it's like live there that won the Special Jury Prize for Directing at SXSW.
"Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," dir Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin. The winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance tells the story of the famed feminist art collective, whose controversial arrest in Russia has captured the attention of the world.
"Blood Brother," dir. Steve Hoover. The winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance tells the story of a young American who travels to an AIDS orphanage in India.
"Our Nixon," dir. Penny Lane and Brian L. Frye. An all archival footage doc portrait of Nixon culled from footage shot by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, which was seized during Watergate and forgotten for nearly four decades.
"Bayou Maharajah," dir Lily Keber. A profile of New Orleans piano great James Booker.