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Documentaries

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Spitting Distance 360º

Spitting Distance 360º

Red Bull followed photographer Ulla Lohmann, her husband Sebastian and a small film crew as they descended as near as possible to one of the lava craters in Vanuatu’s Ambrym, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Full episode here.

Instagram’s Best Skateboarder

Instagram’s Best Skateboarder

“I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just trying to have fun.” Veteran skateboarder Daewon Song has never been comfortable in the limelight. But he’s smart enough to leverage social media to stay relevant. These days he’s playing HORSE against himself on Instagram.

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Creative Spark: Deborah Cook

Creative Spark: Deborah Cook

Deborah Cook (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Boxtrolls, Coraline) is a costume designer who specializes in making clothes for stop-motion puppets. She spoke with the Oscars about what her job entails, the challenges of designing small scale clothing and more.

Man & Grizzly Bear: Rewriting History

Man & Grizzly Bear: Rewriting History

GoPro celebrates Endangered Species Day with this documentary about naturalist Casey Anderson. About 13 years ago, Casey rescued a grizzly bear, who’s now one of his closest pals and inspired him to create a grizzly sanctuary. Quite a contrast from The Revenant.

Home

Home

Thomas Gleeson’s wordless short film about a transported home. Thomas says it’s his way of exploring what makes a house a home and exposing its fragility. But what we love most about the film is that it seems to be told from the house’s perspective.

The Rise of the Synths

The Rise of the Synths

Castell & Moreno Films upcoming crowdfunded documentary looks at the growing popularity of 1980s style Synthwave music, and the musicians, technology and sounds that provide their inspiration. Sizzle/concept reel here.

My Scientology Movie (Teaser)

My Scientology Movie (Teaser)

BBC journalist Louis Theroux’s Scientology meta-documentary is a making-of of itself. Predictably stonewalled by the group, Louis decides to use actors to reenact testimonies from former members, which angers them so much that they begin filming him.

Building Hollywood’s Monsters

Building Hollywood’s Monsters

Great Big Story introduces us to artists Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis of Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. to learn about their numerous contributions to moviemaking, in the form of amazing, handmade creatures, along with the performances that go with.

Being a Creature Performer

Being a Creature Performer

Creature designer and performer Tom Woodruff Jr. has been acting in monster suits for around 25 years. He spoke with the Oscars about falling in love with monsters, his big breaks and his favorite creature to act out.

Tickled (Trailer)

Tickled (Trailer)

Journalist David Farrier stumbled upon a company that creates videos of “tickling competitions.” Little did he know that it would lead him to a creepy rabbit hole of exploitation, harassment and blackmail. Review here.

Beyond Beauty

Beyond Beauty

(PG-13: Language) i-D and tattoo artist Grace Neutral explore South Korea’s bizarre conservatism on physical beauty. Plastic surgery is par for the course there, but tattoos are so frowned upon that only doctors are legally allowed to operate tattoo parlors. Part 1 here.

Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (Teaser)

Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (Teaser)

A documentary about Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke (Still Life, Mountains May Depart), whose meditative films often depict the ill effects of China’s economic boom from the perspective of normal citizens. Directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries).

Creative Spark: Brenda Chapman

Creative Spark: Brenda Chapman

Veteran animated film artist, writer and director Brenda Chapman (Brave, The Prince of Egypt, Beauty and the Beast) spoke with the Oscars about her creative process, the idiosyncrasies of editing animated works, and her inspiration for Brave.

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Nuts! (Trailer)

Nuts! (Trailer)

Filmmaker Penny Lane (Our Nixon) presents Nuts!, a documentary about the infamous scammer John R. Brinkley. Brinkley became rich and famous by transplanting goat testicles into people as a cure for impotence and other diseases. Which of course didn’t work.

The Life of a Pro Fingerboarder

The Life of a Pro Fingerboarder

Twenty three-year-old Mike Schneider founded FlatFace Fingerboards when he was 9, believing he could do better than the popular Tech Deck fingerboards. He spoke with Great Big Story about his love for the sport and what goes into fingerboard tournaments.

John Green Helps a Pro Soccer Team

John Green Helps a Pro Soccer Team

“So I play FIFA, and I upload the videos to Youtube. I get ad money, and I want to give you that ad money.” Right now there’s a fairy tale story unfolding at England’s top soccer league. But two leagues below that is an equally heartwarming and a very modern tale.

De Palma (Trailer)

De Palma (Trailer)

Brian De Palma is the man behind great films like Scarface, Carrie, and The Untouchables, but his approach has always laughed in the face of Hollywood’s norms. Noam Baumback and Jake Paltrow’s documentary takes us inside the mind of this cinematic maestro – in his own words.

Making Stop-Motion Puppets

Making Stop-Motion Puppets

Georgina Hayns is a Creative Supervisor at Laika, the animation studio behind Boxtrolls, Coraline and more. She recently spoke with The Oscars about how they bring a stop-motion puppet to life, a process that takes up to 6 months per puppet.

D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic

D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic

Retro Report tells the triumphant tale of the pioneering tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Ironically, D&D achieved mainstream success because mass media demonized it, similar to how video games and social media are treated today.

A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart

Retro Report chronicles the continuing development of the artificial heart. Today, the life-saving device serves as a stopgap while patients wait for a donor heart, but experts continue to work on a surrogate heart that can be used permanently.

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Alfa Romeo: A Common Thread

Alfa Romeo: A Common Thread

Brothers Howard and David Swig showcase two of their favorite cars: a 1959 Alfa Romeo Veloce Zagato, and a 1960 Giulietta Sprint Veloce. The siblings inherited their love for classic cars from their dad, and continue to bond over it as adults. Another awesome Petrolicious short.

Devin Williams: 10,000 Hours

Devin Williams: 10,000 Hours

An injury derailed Devin Williams’ dream of playing high level college hoops, and he ended up in an art university. End of story? Nope. A class assignment unlocked his eye for filmmaking and teaching. Now he’s a YouTube star who has positively impacted many lives.

Ice Music

Ice Music

Ice Music is an annual performance in Luleå, Sweden where the instruments and the concert hall are mainly made of ice. Ice sculptor Tim Linhart started it more than 20 years ago when he realized that the upright bass he carved was actually playable.

The Birth of a Wooden House

The Birth of a Wooden House

After showing the craftsmanship that goes into handmade tools, John Neeman Tools built an entire home from hand-felled trees, locally sourced stones, and mostly using hand tools. The frame and roof were made with wood joints and pegs, with no nails, screws or hardware.

MissMe: The Artful Vandal

MissMe: The Artful Vandal

(PG-13) Montreal artist MissMe had a successful career working at one of the world’s top ad agencies, but she quit her job to become an underground street artist, creating provocative works of public art which rebel against the objectification of women in advertising.

High Chaparral

High Chaparral

MEL Films’ brilliant documentary looks at a group of Syrian refugees who have turned a Wild West style theme park in the middle of a snowy Swedish forest into their home. It’s a fascinating and odd setting that has provided a safe (but temporary) haven for hundreds.

Noisey Ep.1: Bompton

Noisey Ep.1: Bompton

(PG-13) The first episode of Viceland’s music documentary series Noisey focuses on Kendrick Lamar and Compton, where everyone has the same dreams as the rest of America, but the paths they take are twisted by poverty and violence.

From Degenerate to Celebrity

From Degenerate to Celebrity

(PG-13: Language) Stevie Williams’ ambition and love for skateboarding drove him to run away from home to become a pro skater. He went through years of hardship, but now that he’s successful, Stevie admits missing having nothing but that fire in his belly.

The Terminator & the Washing Machine

The Terminator & the Washing Machine

“Every time a computer does some narrow thing there’s a temptation to think that it’s all over for us.” Breakthroughs in robotics and artificial intelligence are often met with a hint of dread. Retro Report talked to scientists to ask if we should fear our creations.

Matt Mingay: Stuntin’ Sydney

Matt Mingay: Stuntin’ Sydney

Aussie daredevil Matt Mingay takes us on a ride-along on his flaming Hot Wheels stunt bike, giving us an up-close perspective on his crazy tricks, and just a tiny taste of how much it hurts when he crashes. Stick around til the end for some awesome car drifting action.

Infrastructure Observatory

Infrastructure Observatory

In 2012, just for the heck of it, Tim Hwang fooled a nuclear plant into giving him a tour by setting up a fake organization called Infrastructure Observatory. Tim eventually turned it into a real group that organizes tours for his fellow infrastructure enthusiasts.

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