Docs In Theaters: ‘Bettie Page Reveals All,’ ‘Narco Cultura,’ ‘Weekend of a Champion’ and More

DIT 112213

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.

Bettie Page Reveals All

Produced and directed by Mark Mori (Oscar nominee for Building Bombs)

Narrated by Bettie Page

Featuring Hugh Hefner, Rev. Robert Schuller, Olivia, Bunny Yeager

Official Synopsis: In Mori’s alluring documentary, the real Bettie Page emerges from the veil of myth and rumor via audio interviews taped a decade prior to her death in 2008. With earthy, razor sharp wit, Bettie tells her life story — from humble beginnings as one of six children in an impoverished southern family, to high school salutatorian, to scandalous 50s pin-up model, to shocking retirement in 1957 at the peak of her modeling career. Sharing rare details about her short-lived first marriage and many torrid affairs, this keen insider’s glimpse follows Bettie through decades of broken marriages, born-again Christianity, and bouts of mental illness, before her ultimate return to the public eye in the early 90’s, unaware of her cult status. Ranked by Forbes in 2012 as one of the top ten posthumous celebrity earners, Bettie and her enduring legacy continue to flourish. With a stunning array of gorgeous photographs, unusual archival material, and playful movie footage, Bettie Page Reveals All shows how Bettie’s unabashed sexual expression and provocative poses set the stage for the sexual revolution and ushered in a modern era in fashion. For stars like Katy Perry and Beyonce, as well as new generations of adoring fans around the world, Bettie remains an irresistible style icon and an empowering role model. [Music Box Films]

Winner of the Jury Award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2013 Garden State Film Festival
Winner of the award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2013 Cinekink Film Festival

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Village East Cinema in New York City. Opens next Friday in Los Angeles and Irvine, CA.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the film’s website.

Die Narbe (The Scar) Part 1: Westberlin (West)

Directed by Burkhard von Harder

Official Synopsis: 20 years after the Fall: mapping the entire 156 km of the remains of the former wall from above. Persisting uninterrupted aerial views of the snow-covered city on a grey day in January 2009.

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the now playing page on the film’s website.

Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky

Written and directed by Michel Gondry (Dave Chappelle’s Block Party; The Thorn In the Heart)

Produced by Gondry, Raffi Adlan (The We and I), Georges Bermann (The Thorn In the Heart) and Julie Fong (Dave Chappelle’s Block Party)

Edited by Sophie Reine and Adam M. Weber

Featuring Gondry and Noam Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media)

Official Synopsis: From Michel Gondry, the innovative director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, comes this unique animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. The result is not only a dazzling, vital portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of modern times, but also a beautifully animated work of art. [IFC Films]

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

Now playing at the IFC Center in New York City.

Also available on VOD beginning Monday, November 25th.

It’s Better to Jump

Directed by Gina Angelone, Mouna Stewart and Patrick Alexander Stewart (cinematographer on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream)

Official Synopsis: It’s better to Jump is about the ancient walled city of Akka in northern Israel, inhabited by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Baha’i. But its history goes all the way back to rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs. As Akka undergoes harsh economic pressures and vast social change, the present-day situation is causing Arab families to leave the places where they have grown roots for dozens of generations and shaped a rich culture for over a thousand years. This film focuses on the aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian inhabitants who call the Old City home. Atop a forty-foot, centuries-old seawall in this ancient port city, young people dare to stand along the one-meter thick structure and risk their fate by jumping into the roiling waters below. This perilous tradition has continued for many generations and has become a rite of passage for the children of Akka. Within their current dilemma, jumping from the ancient seawall becomes not only an expression of extreme exhilaration, but also a matter of self-determination. [Patrick Stewart Productions]

Winner of the Golden Lion Award at the 2013 Barcelona Film Festival

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City. Opens in Los Angeles on December 6th.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the calendar of events page on the film’s website.

JFK: A President Betrayed

Written, directed and editor by Cory Taylor (director of The Power of the Powerless; Emmy winning editor of Avalanche: The White Death)

Narrated by Morgan Freeman (March of the Penguins)

Official Synopsis: The Kennedy Administration, the golden days of our American “Camelot,” is one of the most written about and popular periods of American history. But there is one profound and moving story still waiting to be told. JFK: A President Betrayed uncovers new evidence that reveals how President John F. Kennedy boldly reversed deeply entrenched pro-war government policy to embark on secret back-channel peace efforts with Russian President Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and other “enemies” of the United States. The film raises many questions as to whom his real enemies were. JFK: A President Betrayed offers a poignant look at the 35th president’s desperate, solitary struggle to mitigate armed conflict and makes clear the extent to which he risked political capital — and, ultimately, his life — to pull the world back from the brink of war and possible nuclear annihilation. Featuring new, probing interviews with advisors to Kennedy and Khrushchev, JFK: A President Betrayed is a meticulously well-researched portrait of a president who refused the counsel of powerful, hawkish government officials advocating for, among other things, a U.S. nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Instead, Kennedy learned to trust his gut — instincts forged by the considerable suffering he experienced during the Second World War, and tested by the early crises of his administration.

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing in New York City and Los Angeles.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the film’s website.

Narco Cultura

Directed by Shaul Schwarz

Produced by Todd Hagopian, Lars Knudsen (I Am Secretly an Important Man) and Jay Van Hoy (I Am Secretly an Important Man)

Featuring El Komander and Buknas de Culiacan

Official Synopsis: For Mexicans and Latinos in the Americas, there is no music more popular today than narcocorridos. These bloodthirsty and explicit odes to the exploits of narco traffickers and drug lords of Mexico openly glorify violence, narcotics and money. Like gangsta rap in the nineties, “Narco” is a movement threatening to burst into the mainstream. Featuring powerful footage from the front lines of the drug wars and performances from some of the hottest Narcocorrido artists (including El Komander and Buknas de Culiacan) Narco Cultura takes viewers behind the scenes of the most explosive and violent music subculture in America. [Cinedigm]

Nonfics Rating: ★★★ [Review by Dan Schindel]

Now playing in New York City and Miami. Expands to most major U.S. cities on December 6, 2013.

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

Weekend of a Champion (Re-Edited Re-Release)

Written and directed by Frank Simon (The Queen, 1968) with Roman Polanski

Produced by Polanski

Cinematography by William Brayne (Frederick Wiseman’s Law and Order, Hospital, Basic Training, Essene, Juvenile Court, Primate, Welfare, Meat and Canal Zone)

Featuring Polanski and Jackie Stewart (Senna)

Official Synopsis: In 1971, Motor Racing fan Roman Polanski spent a weekend with world champion driver Jackie Stewart as he attempted to win the Monaco Grand Prix. Polanski was given intimate access to Stewart’s world for three days, both on the track and off. The result is an extraordinarily rare glimpse into the life of a gifted athlete at the height of his powers. Forty years on, Polanski and Stewart meet once again. In a remarkable post-script, they discuss the sport, both past and present, with a unique and unmatched perspective. [Submarine Deluxe]

Winner of a Special Recognition honor for Documentary at the 1972 Berlin International Film Festival

Nonfics rating: n/a

Now playing at the IFC Center in New York City.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.