Docs In Theaters: ‘Bears,’ ‘The Final Member,’ ‘Half the Road,’ ‘Manakamana’ and More

Docs In Theaters: ‘Bears,’ ‘The Final Member,’ ‘Half the Road,’ ‘Manakamana’ and More


Nonfics is not able to review every documentary and nonfiction film released in the U.S. That’s why Docs In Theaters is here to provide at least a guide to all the new releases, without critical thoughts. Where available, we will link to our own review of the film or a review at our sister site, Film School Rejects.


Directed by Alastair Fothergill (African Cats; Chimpanzee) and Keith Scholey (African Cats)

Narrated by John C. Reilly

Music by George Fenton (Oscar nominee for Gandhi, Cry Freedom, Dangerous Liaisons and The Fisher King)

Official Synopsis: In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure Bears showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting — but risky — as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food — ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run — while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. Bears captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses — Alaska! [Disneynature]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Film School Rejects grade: A [Review by Kate Erbland]

Now playing nationwide.

Cesar’s Last Fast

Directed by Lorena Parlee and Richard Ray Perez (Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election)

Edited by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut (American Blackout), Lewis Erskine (Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple), Carla Gutierrez (Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers) and Christopher S. Johnson

Official Synopsis: A cinematic portrayal of famed labor organizer Cesar E. Chavez, focusing on Chavez’s fearless determination in organizing the largest non-violent protest in U.S. history to accomplish his ultimate goal of obtaining basic human rights for over 50,000 farm workers in California. [Participant Media]

Nonfics Rating: n/a [Review by Dan Schindel]

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical showings, check the Screenings section on the film’s website.

The Final Member

Directed and produced by Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math

Edited by Tyler Hubby (The Devil and Daniel Johnston) and Andrew Dickler (Anvil: The Story of Anvil)

Music by Rob Simonsen (Love Etc.)

Official Synopsis: Paris has the Louvre. London has the Tate Modern, and New York the Metropolitan Museum. But Husavik, Iceland — a diminutive village on the fringe of the Arctic Circle — boasts the world’s only museum devoted exclusively to painstakingly preserved male genitalia. Founded and curated by Sigurður “Siggi” Hjartarson, the Icelandic Phallological Museum houses four decades worth of mammalian members, from a petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, and every “thing” in between. But, lamentably, Siggi’s collection lacks the holy grail of phallic phantasmagoria: a human specimen. Siggi’s world changes dramatically when he receives generous offers from an elderly Icelandic Casanova and an eccentric American. However, as the competition for eternal penile preservation heats up between the two men, Siggi soon discovers that this process is more complicated than it initially appeared. In their debut feature film, Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math follow Siggi on his dogged, often emotional quest to complete his exhibition in a peculiar, yet startlingly relatable, story of self-fulfillment and the value of personal legacies (both big and small). [Drafthouse Films]

Nonfics Rating: ★★★★ [Review by Daniel Walber]

Film School Rejects grade: B+ [Review by Luke Mullen]

Now playing in New York City, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Yonkers.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical showings, check the Screenings section on the film’s website.

Half The Road: The Passion, Pitfalls & Power of Women’s Professional Cycling

Directed by Kathryn Bertine

Narrated by Bob Roll

Featuring Bertine, Marianne Vos, Kristin Armstrong, Emma Pooley, Evelyn Stevens, Ina Teutenberg, Amber Neban, Rochelle Gilmore, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, Chrissie Wellington, Kathrine Switzer, Dr. Richard Carmona & more.

Official Synopsis: Modern society has long believed that women hold up half the sky in terms of equality and progression. So when it comes to the sport of professional cycling, why aren’t women receiving half the road?

Directed by pro cyclist Kathryn Bertine, Half The Road explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on both the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequality that modern-day female athletes face in male dominated sports. With footage from some of the world’s best races to interviews with Olympians, World Champions, rookies, coaches, officials, doctors and family members, Half The Road offers a unique insight to the drive, dedication, and passion it takes for a female cyclist to thrive.

Included as well are notable women who have achieved inroads in other sports, such as Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to official register (as “K.V. Switzer”) and run the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967; the iconic photo of her being attacked by a race official was listed by Time-Life as among its “100 Photographs that Changed the World.” [First Run Features]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at Cinema Village in New York City and Circle Cinema in Tulsa.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical showings, check the Playdates section on the film’s First Run Features website.


Directed and edited by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez (Bastard of Utopia)

Produced by the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab (Leviathan; Sweetgrass)

Official Synopsis: High above a jungle in Nepal, pilgrims make an ancient journey by cable car to worship Manakamana. [The Cinema Guild]

Nonfics Rating: ★★★ [Review by Daniel Walber]

Now playing at the IFC Center in New York City.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical showings, check the Screenings page on the film’s website.

Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe a la Hache

Directed by Nailah Jefferson

Produced by Jefferson and strong>William Keys (Somebodies)

Official Synopsis: Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Nailah Jefferson’s Vanishing Pearls chronicles the untold story of personal and professional devastation in Pointe à la Hache, a close-knit fishing village on the Gulf coast.

The filmmaker delves into the worst environmental disaster in American history just as news cameras leave the scene of the crime. While 49 Million barrels of oil settle in the once vibrant coastal waters, a generations-old community of African-American fishermen pledge to fight for justice, accountability and their way of life. [African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement]

Nonfics Rating: ★ [Review by Christopher Campbell]

Now playing at the Imagenation Raw Space in New York City and Downtown Independent in Los Angeles.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical showings, check the Screenings section on the film’s website.

Visions of Mary Frank

Directed by John Cohen

Official Synopsis: A program of films by and about two important contemporary artists: Mary Frank and Tacita Dean. John Cohen — filmmaker, photographer, musician, ethnographer — visits with his friend Mary Frank in her Chelsea studio, talking about her life and art. Married young (originally to Robert Frank and, since 1997, to musicologist Leo Treitler), and pregnant at 17, she’s brutally honest about often having put her art before all else, about the early influence of dance upon her brushstrokes, and about being (in Cohen’s words) “hot in a cool world.” Her paintings, her political activism, and her past (the film includes wonderful footage of her with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac) tell the story of a deeply-felt, well-lived life. British artist Tacita Dean’s JG, like much of Mary Frank’s work, has a profound relationship with the natural world. But she is the “cool” to Mary’s “hot.” Her 35mm anamorphic film sometimes divides the screen into three parts, using a fixed camera and masking to create stunning, surreal juxtapositions of earth, salt, clay, mountains, an armadillo awakening, and much else that surprises and delights. JG is an homage to both the writings of J.G. Ballard and the Spiral Jetty earthwork of sculptor Robert Smithson. [Film Forum]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing free of charge at Film Forum in New York City.

Syndication Player

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.