Here's a special edition of my weekly programmer picks which previews a brand new season on SBS ONE showcasing the best in documentary every Sunday. It’s about the best filmmakers telling incredible stories in provocative, award-winning films. It all begins on Sunday, August 19th at 9:30pm with Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Even before he won the 2002 Best Documentary Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore was here on SBS with his series, The Awful Truth and now he’s back with his latest film. After tackling the gun lobby in Columbine, the Bush Administration in Fahrenheit 9/11 and the US healthcare system in Sicko, he’s setting his sights on a mighty big target – the whole capitalist economy. Always one to wear his politics on his sleeve, Moore pits democracy against capitalism and argues that in America at least, capitalism has won out. Made in the wake of the US government’s bail out of Wall Street after the GFC, the ongoing Euro Crisis continues to highlight the vulnerability of market economies, their governments, and especially their citizens.
Errol Morris may have won an Oscar for his mesmerising interrogation/confessional of former US defence chief Robert McNamara in The Fog of War but it was the blackly comic portraits of American eccentrics that launched his career. Tabloid returns him to that territory. The film tells the extraordinary story of Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming, who was charged with the kidnap and sexual assault of a Mormon missionary in the 1970s – an incident she insists was simply a consensual romantic rendezvous. The case became a tabloid sensation, and Morris lets McKinney tell the bizarre story in her own words. The film is about the slippery nature of truth – a theme Morris constantly returns to – and it is very funny.
Another portrait of a villain in many people’s eyes, Tyson attempts to capture the complex figure that is the former heavyweight boxing champion and more recently guest star in the Hangover movies, Mike Tyson. There’s an unexpectedly childlike quality to Tyson as he speaks about his pet pigeons and his search for parental figures. He speaks candidly about his troubled past and his conversion to Islam in prison after his rape conviction – a charge he continues to deny. Margaret and David each gave the film four stars describing it as “surprisingly fine” and “really impressive”.
Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die
This film topped my list of the best documentaries for 2011 and the award-givers have agreed with the film recently picking up the RTS Award and BAFTA for Best Documentary. It’s an extraordinarily moving account of Peter Smedley, a 71-year old British man suffering from motor neurone disease and his assisted suicide death with Dignitas in Switzerland. We are guided through this process by comic fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is grappling with his own personal thoughts of assisted suicide.
By the People: The Election of Barack Obama – an insider account of Obama’s 2008 election campaign.
Into the Abyss: A Tale of Life, A Tale of Death – Werner Herzog provides a chilling interview with convicted killers awaiting their sentence on death row.
Under African Skies – Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) traces the recording of Paul Simon’s Graceland album and the controversy caused by his flouting of the anti-apartheid cultural boycott.
About this writer
Physicist and author Brian Greene, brings us a mind-blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality.
Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.
A fresh perspective on the birth of civilisation in the Near and Middle East and its dynamic influence on the West.