Docs In Theaters: ‘The Crash Reel,’ ‘Nuclear Nation,’ ‘Two Lessons,’ ‘Liv & Ingmar’ 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.

Beatocello’s Umbrella

Directed by Beatocello’s Umbrella (Maria Bethania: Music Is Perfume)

Official Synopsis: In Beatocello’s Umbrella award-winning director Georges Gachot tells the story of Beat Richner, pediatric M.D. author, illustrator and concert cellist; from his coming-of-age in Switzerland, to his street performances as a young medical student in the persona of the clown Beatocello; to his founding of five children’s hospitals in today’s Cambodia. Revered as a national hero, Richner’s Herculean efforts have saved the lives of millions of Cambodia’s children over the past 20 years, some who have grown up to serve as doctors in his state-of- the-art pediatric hospitals. Now at 64 , Richner continues to practice medicine and travel the world concertizing and singing about his protective red umbrella, which has come to symbolize the health and hope he brought to a grateful nation. Unlike many of his contemporaries who held utopian world views, Beat Richner is one of the few who worked to made his vision a reality. [Gachot Films]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

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

The Crash Reel

Directed by Lucy Walker (Two-time Oscar nominee for Waste Land and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom)

Produced by Walker and Julian Cautherley (The Beautiful Game)

Executive produced by Sheila Evans (Paradise Lost) and Geralyn White Dreyfous (The Square

Edited by Pedro Kos (Waste Land; The Square)

Cinematography by Nick Higgins (Walker’s Countdown to Zero; First Position)

Score composed by Moby (Waste Land and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom)

Starring Kevin Pearce, Shaun White, Sarah Burke

Official Synopsis: In 2009, American snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce was enjoying the most successful competitive season of his career, winning several events and challenging the dominance of his friend-turned-rival, the legendary Shaun White. But on Dec. 31, while riding the slopes of Park City, Utah in final training for the 2010 Winter Olympics, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma, followed by a long road of adjusting to what would be a lifelong disability. Directed by two-time Oscar® nominee Lucy Walker, The Crash Reel is an exhilarating ride through the world of Pearce, whose story underscores the high stakes for extreme sports stars. This riveting tale takes surprising turns as it follows his close-knit family and friends, drawing on footage filmed over two decades, from 232 different sources, that captures the soul of the sport. [HBO Documentary Films]

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

Now playing nationwide in select cities.

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

Also available on HBO On Demand and HBO Go [next live airing on HBO 2: December 21st]

Liv & Ingmar

Written and directed by Dheeraj Akolkar

Starring Liv Ullman

Official Synopsis: Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman met in 1965 during the filming of Persona. Both were married, and there was a difference in age: Liv was 25, and Ingmar was 47. But none of it mattered. They lived together for five years, had a child, and made 11 films together. Now, nearly 5 decades later, Ingmar is gone … but their bond remains. Told entirely from Liv’s point-of-view through an interview filmed at the house she shared with Bergman, Liv & Ingmar brings together excerpts from their films, still photos, behind-the-scenes footage, and personal letters to tell the tale of two great artists who were also human beings, lovers, and friends. [Janus Films]

Nonfics rating: n/a

Now playing at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York City.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the Theatrical Playdates page on the Janus Films website.

Nuclear Nation

Directed by Atsushi Funahashi (Big River)

Official Synopsis: March 11, 2011: A huge tsunami triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radiation, and turning the residents of Futaba into “nuclear refugees.” The devastation experienced by the town — dead livestock left to rot, crops abandoned, homes and businesses destroyed — was infinitely worse than anything reported by the newspapers. A year later, many refugees are still unable to return to contaminated homes. The irony of this disaster occurring in a nation that experienced two nuclear bombs is not lost on the victims who poignantly question their responsibility for striking a Faustian bargain with nuclear power. Nuclear Nation examines a tragedy in miniature, but also suggests that it could one day be replicated on a grand scale — perhaps in your own backyard. [First Run Features]

Film School Rejects grade: n/a

Now playing at the Film Forum in New York City

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

Two Lessons (Siberian Lesson and Argentinian Lesson)

Directed Wojciech Staron

Official Synopsis: In 1996, Wojciech Staron documented Malgosia, his girlfriend, as she traveled the Siberian city Usolie-Sibirskoe and gave Polish language lessons to the descendants of exiled Poles. Captured on beautiful 16mm film, Siberian Lesson is the candid diary of a young teacher acclimating and falling in love, as well as a portrait of a community still reeling from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many years after their Siberian journey, now a married couple with two children, Wojciech and Malgosia traveled to a very different place: Azara, a remote village in northern Argentina, where Malgosia once again taught Polish to fellow emigrants. In the gorgeous, startlingly intimate Argentinian Lesson, Wojciech also turns his 16mm camera on Janek, his 8-year-old son, and his friend Marcia, a bright Argentinian girl of Polish descent bravely contending with poverty. As independent episodes, Siberian Lesson (1998) and Argentinian Lesson (2011) have screened at film festivals including True/False, RIDM and IDFA where they have earned Staron, today a renowned cinematographer who received a 2011 Berlinale Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement in Cinematography, a reputation as a gifted documentarian. The Maysles Cinema is proud to premiere Two Lessons, a film that brings the two halves of Staron’s project together for the first time. [The Maysles Cinema]

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

Opens Monday at the Maysles Cinema in New York City.

Tricked: The Documentary

Directed by John Keith Wasson (Surviving Hitler: A Love Story) and Jane Wells

Produced by Wells (The Devil Came on Horseback) and Cristina Ljungberg (The Devil Came on Horseback)

Edited by Craig McKay (Two-time Oscar nominee for Reds and The Silence of the Lambs) and Beth Moran (Neil Young: Heart of Gold)

Official Synopsis: Modern-day slavery is alive and well in the United States as thousands of victims are trafficked throughout the country to satisfy America’s $3 billion a year sex trafficking industry. Meet the pimps, the johns, the police, the parents and the victims of the America’s thriving sex trade in Tricked, a comprehensive documentary that uncovers America’s dirty secret. It’s an industry that is fueled by greed, fantasy and the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and girls. Embedded with the Denver Vice squad, Tricked follows Sgt. Dan Steele and his colleagues in their dogged pursuit of traffickers and devotion to rescuing victims. In Las Vegas, ground zero for escort services, Las Vegas Police detectives work to hit traffickers where it hurts them most, by seizing their financial assets. In New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, brash and unrepentant johns reveal the how, why, when and where of what they call “a hobby.” From Sgt. Steele to the survivors, Tricked weaves together dramatic, disparate, inter-dependent characters and provides an unflinching view of the world of sex trafficking, the almost incomprehensible and disturbing bonds between the traffickers and victims and the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by law enforcement nationwide. [3 Generations]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

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

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.