Docs In Theaters: ‘God Loves Uganda,’ ‘Broadway Idiot,’ ‘AKA Doc Pomus,’ ‘Design Is One’ and More

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Since Nonfics is still a new and fairly small site, we aren’t 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. However, when available, we will link to our own review of the film or a review at our sister site, Film School Rejects.

A.K.A. Doc Pomus

Directed by William Hechter and Peter Miller (Sacco and Vanzetti)

Featuring Lou Reed, Dr. John, Ben E. King, Joan Osborne, Shawn Colvin, Dion, Leiber and Stoller, and B.B. King.

Official Synopsis: Paralyzed with polio as a child, Brooklyn-born Jerome Felder reinvented himself first as a blues singer, renaming himself Doc Pomus, then emerged as a one of the most brilliant songwriters of the early rock and roll era, writing “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and dozens of other hits. For most of his life Doc was confined to crutches and a wheelchair, but he lived more during his sixty-five years than others could experience in several lifetimes. A.K.A. Doc Pomus brings to life Doc’s joyous, romantic, heartbreaking, and extraordinarily eventful journey. In his later years, Doc was a mentor to generations of younger songwriters, and a fierce advocate for downtrodden rhythm and blues musicians. He wrote a thousand songs — including some of the most recorded songs in the history of popular music — but his most lasting gift may have been his uniquely generous spirit. “If the music industry had a heart,” the record producer Jerry Wexler remembered, “it would be Doc Pomus.”Packed with incomparable music and rare archival imagery, A.K.A. Doc Pomus features interviews with Doc’s collaborators and friends, including Dr. John, Ben E. King, Joan Osborne, Shawn Colvin, Dion, Leiber and Stoller, and B.B. King. Passages from Doc’s private journals are read by his close friend, Lou Reed. Doc Pomus’ gripping life story makes for a powerful and lively film that introduces this unique American character to a new, much wider circle of admirers. [Clear Lake Historical Productions]

Winner of the Festival Grand Prize at the 2012 Stony Brook Film Festival.

Film School Rejects grade: C+ [review]

Now Playing in Los Angeles, Encino, Providence, Phoenix, Wilmington, Ogden, UT and Lake Park, FL

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

Broadway Idiot

Directed by Doug Hamilton (Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution)

Featuring Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool, Michael Mayer, John Gallagher Jr., Donald Trump

Official Synopsis: From punk rock mosh pits and sold-out stadiums to the Great White Way, this electrifying doc goes behind the scenes to follow Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong as he transforms his mega-hit album, American Idiot, into a staged Broadway musical. Allowing access to rehearsals and more, Broadway Idiot provides a unique window into the art of theater as rock stars and stage stars collide. [FilmBuff]

Also check out our interview with Doug Hamilton.

Now Playing at the Village East in New York City.

Opens Sunday in Portland and plays Monday for single events in major cities nationwide.

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

Also now available on iTunes and VOD (Movies On Demand, Amazon, Google Play, etc.).

Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen

Directed by John Mulholland

Narrated by Sam Waterston

Featuring Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Robert Osborne, George Plimpton, Elmore Leonard and Patricia Neal

Official Synopsis: In many ways it was the perfect match: Ernest Hemingway whose heroes personified his definition of courage — “grace under pressure” — and Gary Cooper, the man who often portrayed those characters on screen. Yet in other ways-politically, intellectually, and personally- Hemingway and Cooper were a study in contradictions. The story of this extraordinary 20+ year friendship is the focus of this documentary, the film narrated by Sam Waterson, features interviews with such Hollywood luminaries as Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston,

Now Playing at the Quad in New York City.

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

No trailer available


Design Is One: The Vignellis

Directed by Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra (The Art of Influence)

Featuring Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Milton Glaser, Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand

Official Synopsis: Two of the world’s most influential designers, Lella and Massimo Vignelli’s work covers such a broad spectrum that one could say they are known by everyone, even by those who don’t know their names. Adhering to self-proclaimed motto, “If you can’t find it, design it,” their achievements in industrial and product design, graphic and publication design, corporate identity, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, and furniture design have earned worldwide respect and numerous international awards for over 40 years.

After Massimo brought the Helvetica typeface to America in 1965, he and Lella moved on to a diverse array of projects, including New York’s subway signage and maps; the interior of Saint Peter’s Church at Citicorp Center; Venini lamps; Heller dinnerware; furniture for Poltrona Frau; and branding for Knoll International, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ford and American Airlines. [First Run Features]

Now Playing at the IFC Center in New York City.

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

God Loves Uganda

Directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams (Oscar winner for short doc Music by Prudence)

Produced by Julie Goldman (recent Emmy winner for Manhunt; 2010 Emmy nominee for Sergio)

Edited by Benjamin Gray (About Face: Supermodels Then and Now) and Richard Hankin (Capturing the Friedmans)

Official Synopsis: The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law. [Full Credit Productions]

Check out our thoughts on God Loves Uganda in an editorial on documentaries as platforms for purely evil subjects.

Winner of the Full Frame Inspirational Award at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Winner of the Best Overall Documentary award at DocuWest 2013.
Winner of the Sheffield Youth Jury Award at the 2013 Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival.
Winner of the Feature Length Documentary award at the 2013 Ashland Independent Film Festival.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Pink Peach Feature at the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival.
Winner of the audience award at MountainFilm 2013.

Now Playing at the Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas in New York City.

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


Directed by Rob Bruce, Scott Gaffney, Murray Wais, Steve Winter and David Zieff

Edited by Gaffney and Zieff (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster)

Official Synopsis: McConkey is a heartfelt examination of the legacy one athlete left to the progression of his sports, and the path he paved to conquer his dreams. Shane McConkey is revered as a pioneer of freeskiing and ski-BASE jumping, and through his talent and ability to use his trademark irreverent humor, he inspired countless lives. In a new film from Red Bull Media House in association with Matchstick Productions, McConkey celebrates the life of one of the world’s ultimate innovators.

Now Playing at the Village East in New York City and The Regent Theatre in Los Angeles.

Screening tonight in Park City, UT, and Monday in San Francisco.

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

Also now available on iTunes

Symphony for the Soil

Directed by Deborah Koons (The Future of Food)

Edited by Vivien Hillgrove (The Future of Food)

Narrated by Ignacio Chapela

Official Synopsis: Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil is an intriguing presentation that highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet. [Lily Films]

Now Playing at the Quad in New York City.

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

Walter: Lessons From the World’s Oldest People

Directed, produced, edited and written by Hunter Weeks (10 MPH)

Official Synopsis: After an encounter with Walter Breuning, the World’s Oldest Man, Hunter Weeks and his fiancée, Sarah, embark on an adventure to meet the oldest people in the world, including some of the people born in the 1800s. Capturing the extraordinary lives of people 110 years or older, including World’s Oldest Person, Besse Cooper of Georgia, the couple’s journey sheds light on what is truly important in life. Traveling across the United States, Cuba, and Italy, Hunter and Sarah explore life’s lessons through the stories of several living supercentenarians and the families that support them. WALTER connects us to the inspiring lives of our elders and their lessons for living life right.

Now Playing in Encino and Beverly Hills.

Screens tomorrow in Bend, OR.

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

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.