Docs In Theaters: ‘The Missing Picture,’ ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune,’ ‘Anita,’ ‘Big Joy’ and More

Documentary Posters

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.

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Written and directed by Grace Lee (The Grace Lee Project)

Produced by Lee, Caroline Libresco (Sunset Story) and Austin Wilkin (Bob and the Monster)

Edited by Kim Roberts (Food, Inc.; Waiting for ‘Superman’)

Featuring Grace Lee Boggs, Danny Glover, Angela Davis, Bill Ayers, Bill Moyers, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis

Official Synopsis: What does it mean to be an American revolutionary today? Grace Lee Boggs is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman in Detroit whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.

The documentary film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs plunges us into Boggs’s lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs’s constantly evolving strategy — her willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around her — drives the story forward. Angela Davis, Bill Moyers, Bill Ayers, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Danny Glover, Boggs’s late husband James and a host of Detroit comrades across three generations help shape this uniquely American story. As she wrestles with a Detroit in ongoing transition, contradictions of violence and non-violence, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, the 1967 rebellions, and non-linear notions of time and history, Boggs emerges with an approach that is radical in its simplicity and clarity: revolution is not an act of aggression or merely a protest. Revolution, Boggs says, is about something deeper within the human experience — the ability to transform oneself to transform the world.

As it kinetically unfurls an evolving life, city, and philosophy, American Revolutionary takes the viewer on a journey into the power of ideas and the necessity of expansive, imaginative thinking, as well as ongoing dialectical conversation, to propel societal change…

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs has been 12 years in the making. It incorporates a rich archival trove from the 1920s to the present and visual effects to reinforce Boggs’s statement that history “is the story of the past as well as the future.” Animated graphics by Syd Garon and Casey Ryder from Studio Number One bring Boggs’s whirring mind to life, illustrating her view that ideas are not fixed, but that once they become fixed, they are dead.

In an age when seemingly insurmountable injustices and contradictions face us, American Revolutionary inspires concerned citizens and dreamers of all ages with new thinking to sustain their struggle and engagement. [LeeLee Films Inc.]

Winner of the Best Documentary award at the 2013 Woodstock Film Festival.
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Nonfics Rating: ★★ [Review by Dan Schindel]

Now playing at the AMC Loews 19th St. in New York City. Also screening tomorrow in Detroit at the Freep Film Festival.

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


Written and directed by Freida Lee Mock (Oscar winner for the feature Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision and Oscar nominee for the shorts To Live or Let Die, Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember, Never Give Up: The 20th Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper and Sing!)

Edited by Brian Johnson (Buena Vista Social Club)

Featuring Anita Hill

Official Synopsis: An entire country watched transfixed as a poised, beautiful African-American woman in a blue dress sat before a Senate committee of 14 white men and with a clear, unwavering voice recounted the repeated acts of sexual harassment she had endured while working with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. That October day in 1991 Anita Hill, a bookish law professor from Oklahoma, was thrust onto the world stage and instantly became a celebrated, hated, venerated, and divisive figure.

Anita Hill’s graphic testimony was a turning point for gender equality in the U.S. and ignited a political firestorm about sexual misconduct and power in the workplace that resonates still today. She has become an American icon, empowering millions of women and men around the world to stand up for equality and justice.

Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, Anita reveals the intimate story of a woman who spoke truth to power. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, the film is both a celebration of Anita Hill’s legacy and a rare glimpse into her private life with friends and family, many of whom were by her side that fateful day 22 years ago. Anita Hill courageously speaks openly and intimately for the first time about her experiences that led her to testify before the Senate and the obstacles she faced in simply telling the truth. She also candidly discusses what happened to her life and work in the 22 years since. [Samuel Goldwyn Films]

Nonfics Rating: ★★ [Review by Daniel Walber]

Now playing in New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Francisco, Encino and Pasadena.

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

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

Directed by Stephen Silha, Eric Slade (Hope Along the Wind: The Life of Harry Hay) and Dawn Logsdon (Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans)

Edited by Logsdon (The Weather Underground)

Featuring James Broughton, George Kuchar, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Official Synopsis: The luminous life and work of James Broughton has hit the big screen. Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton provides a humorous antidote to the cynicism and materialism of our age. Led by journalist and futurist Stephen Silha, who had a mentorship relationship with Broughton for the last 10 of his 85 years, the Big Joy project brings together the skills of many artists and media-makers who have been influenced by Broughton…The Big Joy film creates a journey through the life and works of the exquisite poet, a vibrant lover, innovator, and role model James Broughton. Most importantly, those people who knew or worked with James will share their stories and insights into the life of this master of visual and verbal images. James’ story shows what it means to be yourself, how making art can keep you from losing hope, and how you can find true love — and yourself — at age 62, or any age. [Frisky Divinity Productions]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

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

From Both Sides of the Aegean: Expulsion and Exchange of Populations (Turkey — Greece: 1922–1924)

Written and directed by Maria Ilioú (Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City — 1900–1922)

Official Synopsis: Director Maria Iliou and historical consultant Alexander Kitroeff who in 2013 presented the documentary Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City — 1900–1922 at the Quad Cinema in NYC, now present Part II entitled From Both Sides of the Aegean, which deals with the Expulsion and Exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece in 1922–1924, once again bringing to audiences unpublished images forgotten in “locked” file cabinets in America and Europe as well as a new perspective.

Part II From Both Sides of the Aegean is based on the belief that the moment has arrived for us to recognize that the children and grandchildren of the Greek Orthodox and Muslim refugees can now tell their stories in common, that the moment has arrived to tell the whole story from both sides of the Aegean and not just half of it. [Quad Cinema]

Nonfics Rating: n/a

Now playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Directed by Frank Pavich (N.Y.H.C.)

Produced by Pavich, Stephen Scarlata (N.Y.H.C.) and Travis Stevens (A Horrible Way to Die)

Featuring Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nicolas Winding Refn, H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon Drew McWeeny, Devin Faraci, Chris Foss, Michel Seydoux, Richard Stanley

Official Synopsis: In 1975, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films El Topo and The Holy Mountain launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12 year old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including HR Giger and Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune was poised to change cinema forever.

For two years, Jodo and his team of “spiritual warriors” worked night and day on the massive task of creating the fabulous world of DUNE: over 3,000 storyboards, numerous paintings, incredible costumes, and an outrageous, moving and powerful script.

In the words of Jodorowsky’s producer, Michel Seydoux, “It should have been enough. But it wasn’t.” [Sony Pictures Classics]

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

Now playing at the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York City and at The Landmark in Los Angeles. Opens next week in Chicago, San Francisco and other California locations.

For details on current and upcoming theatrical openings, check the film’s dates page on the Sony Pictures Classics website.

The Missing Picture

Directed by Rithy Panh (S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine; Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell)

Written by Panh and Christophe Bataille

Produced by Catherine Dussart (Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell)

Cinematography by Prum Mesa (S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine)

Edited by Panh and Marie-Christine Rougerie (S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine; Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell)

Official Synopsis: The Missing Picture explores filmmaker Rithy Panh’s quest to create the missing images during the period when the Khmer Rouge ruled over Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Panh uses intricately detailed clay figurines intercut with archival footage he could find to relay what is indelibly recorded in his memory, he creates the missing pictures of what does not exist in photograph or film. [Strand Releasing]

Nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the International Competition at the 2013 Cinemanila International Film Festival
Winner of the In Spirit for Freedom Award for Best Documentary at the 2013 Jerusalem Film Festival
Winner of a Special Mention at the 2013 Ghent International Film Festival

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

Now playing at Film Forum in New York City.

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

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records

Produced and directed by Jeff Broadway

Edited by Rob Gordon Bralver (Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia )

Featuring: Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), Tyler the Creator

Official Synopsis: Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton is a feature-length documentary about avant-garde Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records. The film weaves together rare concert footage, never-before-seen archival material, inner-circle home video and photographs and in-depth interviews with the artists who put Stones Throw Records on the map. Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton gives an exclusive look into the label’s left-of-center artists, history, culture, and global following. [Syndctd Entertainment]

Nonfics Rating: ★★★ [Review by Landon Palmer]

Screening this weekend in San Francisco and Vancouver.

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

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.