As I pore over the hundreds of screenings at the Seattle International Film Festival every year, I find myself focusing on two categories – documentaries and Scandinavian films. Here are some of my favorite documentaries from SIFFs gone by.
Every Little Step is about the making of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. Yes, it’s about actors auditioning for a musical about auditioning for a musical. Interviews with composer Marvin Hamlisch when the musical premiered in the mid-1970s are interspersed with actors auditioning for roles and the producers making casting decisions for the 2006 Broadway revival. It’s every bit as dramatic as you’d expect.
American Teen looks at five high school teens in Indiana. There’s the prom queen, the jock, the rebel, the geek and the heartthrob. (sound familiar?) It was both lauded for its realistic depiction of cliques and the pressures of growing up in modern day America, and criticized for manipulating its subjects and teetering on the edge of fiction. Either way, you’ll find yourself rooting for the underdogs and hoping the popular kids will get their due.
Page One: Inside the New York Times takes an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the nation’s most prestigious newspaper. It captures the pervasive anxiety of the newsroom, from day to day activities such as pitching stories to the sustainibility of publishing a print newspaper in a digital age. Interviews with staff members, particularly the caustic David Carr and the controversial Brian Stelter (whose own book, Top of the Morning, received a scathing review in New York Times itself) are highlights.