Docs In Theaters: ‘The Armstrong Lie,’ ‘Medora,’ ‘At Berkeley,’ ‘Approved for Adoption’ 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.

Approved for Adoption

Written and directed by Laurent Boileau and Jung based on the graphic novel by Jung

Official Synopsis: This remarkable animated doc traces the unconventional upbringing of the filmmaker Jung Henin, one of thousands of Korean children adopted by Western families after the end of the Korean War. It is the story of a boy stranded between two cultures. Sepia-toned animated vignettes — some humorous and some poetic — track Jung from the day he first meets his new blond siblings, through elementary school, and into his teenage years, when his emerging sense of identity begins to create fissures at home and ignite the latent biases of his adoptive parents. The filmmaker tells his story using his own animation intercut with snippets of super-8 family footage and archival film. The result is an animated memoir like no other: clear-eyed and unflinching, humorous and wry, and above all, inspiring in the capacity of the human heart. [GKIDS]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

For more information, check the" target=”_blank”>GKIDS website.

The Armstrong Lie

Written, directed and produced by Alex Gibney (Oscar winner for Taxi to the Dark Side and nominee for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room)

Produced by Frank Marshall (Oscar-nominee for Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple and others) and Matthew Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man)

Edited by Andy Grieve (Emmy winner for Stand Up to Cancer), Lindy Jankura (assistant editor on Taxi to the Dark Side) and Tim Squyres (Oscar nominee for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Pi)

Featuring Lance Armstrong

Official Synopsis: In 2008, Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney set out to make a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s comeback to the world of competitive cycling. Widely regarded as one of the most prominent figures in the history of sports, Armstrong had brought global attention to cycling as the man who had triumphed over cancer and went on to win bicycling’s greatest race, the Tour de France, a record seven consecutive times…By early 2013, Lance Armstrong had admitted to using performance enhancing drugs following a federal criminal investigation and an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (in 2012 the USADA, in conjunction with the International Cycling Union, effectively stripped Armstrong of all seven of his previous titles and banned him from all sport for life). Setting out to chronicle a comeback, Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie instead emerges as a riveting insider’s view, chronicling the collapse of one of the greatest legends of our time. As Lance Armstrong tells Gibney’s camera: “I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one.” [Sony Pictures Classics]

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

Now playing in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin.

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

At Berkeley

Directed by Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follis; High School)

Official Synopsis: The University of California at Berkeley, the oldest and most prestigious member of a ten campus public education system, is also one of the finest research and teaching facilities in the world. The film, At Berkeley, shows the major aspects of university life, its intellectual and social mission, its obligation to the state and to larger ideas of higher education, as well as illustrates how decisions are made and implemented by the administration in collaboration with its various constituencies. [Zipporah Films]

Nonfics rating: ★★★★ [Review by Christopher Campbell]

Now playing at the IFC Center in New York City and at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH, on November 10.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the calendar page on the Zipporah Films website.


Directed and edited by AJ Schnack (Kurt Cobain About a Son; Convention)

Produced by Schnack, Nathan Truesdell (Convention), Edward Park (Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest) and Shirley Moyers (Kurt Cobain About a Son; Convention)

Cinematography by Schnack, Truesdell and Bill Ross and Turner Ross (co-directors of Tchoupitoulas)

Featuring Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Marcus Bachmann

Official Synopsis: For the past 40 years, the race for the American Presidency has begun in the state of Iowa, where candidates spend months traveling the state’s 99 counties hoping to win its “first-in-the-nation” vote and prove themselves a viable candidate. In intimate, often funny and sometimes emotional detail, Caucus tells the story of the 2011–2012 campaign in Iowa as eight Republicans fight to become their party’s standard-bearer and take on Barack Obama. But to win, each has to first navigate state fairs, town hall meetings in pizza halls and agitated questions from the increasingly contentious GOP base.

Nonfics Rating: ★★★★ [Review by Christopher Campbell]

Now playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. Also screening this week at the Virginia Film Festival, AFI Fest and the Denver Film Festival.

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

The Ghosts in Our Machine

Written, directed and produced by Liz Marshall (Water on the Table)

Edited by Roland Schlimme (Manufactured Landscapes) and Roderick Deogrades (Acquainted with the Night)

Official Synopsis: In much the same way Food Inc. opened audiences’ eyes to the bleak realities of the food manufacturing industry, The Ghosts in Our Machine piques our awareness to a dramatic reality that is largely hidden from our view; animals used for food, clothing, entertainment and biomedical research. Award-winning filmmaker Marshall directs The Ghosts in Our Machine through the heart and lens of acclaimed animal photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. Haunting and heart-warming, audiences experience a diverse cast of animal subjects rescued from and living within the machine of our modern world. Over the course of a year, Marshall shadows McArthur as she photographs several animal stories in parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe, with each photograph and story serving as a window into global animal industries. This visually arresting one-of-a-kind documentary shines a cinematic light on the animals we don’t easily acknowledge, the “ghosts” who are the animals trapped within the cogs of our voracious consumer world. McArthur’s epic photo project We Animals is comprised of thousands of photographs taken around the world, documenting animals with heart-breaking empathic vividness. The Ghosts in Our Machine charts McArthur’s efforts to bring wider attention to a topic most of humankind strives hard to avoid.

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Village East Cinema in New York City.

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


Directed by Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart

Executive produced by Steve Buscemi (Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2), Stanley Tucci (Soul Food Junkies), Wren Arthur (A Prairie Home Companion), Michael B. Clark (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Tim Foley

Official Synopsis: Years ago, Medora was a booming rural community with prosperous farms, an automotive parts factory, a brick plant, and a thriving middle class. The factories have since closed, crippling Medora’s economy and its pride. The population has slowly dwindled to around 500 people. Drug use is common, the school faces consolidation, and as one resident put it, “This town’s on the ropes.” Medora follows the down-but-not-out Medora Hornets varsity basketball team over the course of the 2011 season, capturing the players’ stories both on and off the court. The Hornets were riding a brutal losing streak when we arrived, and the team’s struggle to compete bears eerie resonances with the town’s fight for survival. Medora is an in-depth, deeply personal look at small-town life, a thrilling, underdog basketball story, and an inspiring tale of a community refusing to give up hope despite the brutal odds stacked against them. On a grander scale, it’s a film about America, and the thousands of small towns across the country facing the same fight. As one towns-person told us, “Once we lose these small towns, we can’t get them back.”

Film School Reject Grade: B+ [Review by Christopher Campbell]

Now playing in New York City and Los Angeles. Also screening in numerous cities nationwide this Tuesday.

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

People of a Feather

Directed and produced by Joel Heath

Official Synopsis: Featuring stunning footage from seven winters in the Arctic, People of a Feather takes you through time into the world of the Inuit on the Belcher Islands in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Connecting past, present and future is a unique relationship with the eider duck. Eider down, the warmest feather in the world, allows both Inuit and bird to survive harsh Arctic winters. Traditional life is juxtaposed with modern challenges as both Inuit and eiders confront changing sea ice and ocean currents disrupted by the massive hydroelectric dams powering New York and eastern North America. Inspired by Inuit ingenuity and the technology of a simple feather, the film is a call to action to implement energy solutions that work with nature. [First Run Features]

Won 2012 Leo Awards for Best Documentary and Best Screenwriting in a Documentary
Nominated for 2012 Leo Awards Best Direction in a Documentary Program, Best Cinematography in a Documentary Program or Series and Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series
Won Bronze Medal for Direction and a Silver Medal for Cinematography at the 2012 New York Festivals
Won the 2012 Vancouver Film Critics Circle award for Best British Columbia Film
Won the award for Most Popular Environmental Film at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival

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

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City

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

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

Directed by Shane Meadows (This Is England)

Produced by Mark Herbert (This Is England; Four Lions)

Edited by Matthew Gray (assistant editor on Four Lions), Chris King (Exit Through the Gift Shop; Senna) and Tobias Zaldua (Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten)

Featuring Ian Brown, Gary Mounfield (aka Mani Mani), John Squire and Reni

Official Synopsis: In 2012, a resurrection no one thought possible took place when legendary band, The Stone Roses reformed after 16 years. With unprecedented access to previously unseen archive footage, Made of Stone is a revealing journey through the life of one of the most revered and influential bands in British music history. Acclaimed filmmaker Shane Meadows brings his unique directorial style, humor and emotional depth to the film, capturing the band at work and in their everyday lives as they rehearsed for their much-anticipated reunion, which culminated in three triumphant homecoming gigs at Manchester’s Heaton Park in front of 220,000 adoring fans. Incorporating never-seen-before material spanning the band’s musical history, the personal experiences of many of those touched by the band and their music, and unparalleled access to the record-breaking sell-out concerts which took place in Summer 2012, this is the definitive record of the definitive band of the past 25 years.

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing in limited release nationwide.

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

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.