Director: Jacob Kornbluth
Starring: Robert ReichThe Story: Documentary about the way economics work — and don't work. The Lowdown: Sure to be divisive, which is to say that people who believe the rich should be taxed less will hate it. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich proves an engaging personality as he explains how the economy relies on a prosperous middle class.
A few hundred people rallied under clear blue skies in Pack Square Park Saturday afternoon to call on Duke Energy to shutter its Asheville coal plant and advocate for clean energy. The event, called "Beyond Coal: A Rally for Our Future," featured local speakers, singers and popular TV actor/vampire Ian Somerhalder. [Photo gallery at the bottom.]
Genre: Rock Documentary
Director: Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori
Starring: Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, John Auer, Jody StephensIn Brief: An extensive, deeply researched look at the career of the commercially ignored but critically acclaimed Memphis rock band Big Star. The film is an obvious work of fans and a must-see for those who already love the band. But its subject matter, combined with some faulty storytelling, makes this doc a difficult sell for the uninitiated.
Director: Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz)
Starring: Michael Polley, Harry Gulkin, John Buchan, Cathy Gulkin, Geoffrey Bowes, Diane PolleyThe Story: A somewhat unorthodox documentary that attempts to piece together a portrait of director Sarah Polley's mother, only to become much more. The Lowdown: Mixing interviews, home movies, archival and recreated footage, Sarah Polley has created a strikingly personal work about her family and herself. It may not be perfect, but it's warm and perceptive.
Director: Rick Rowley (The Fourth World War)
Starring: Jeremy Scahill, Nasser al-Aulaqi, Jerome Starkey, Andrew ExumThe Story: A globe-trotting American journalist illustrates the ways in which the war on terror has spiraled out of control. The Lowdown: A solemn, heady, but uneven and often-flawed documentary that’s at its strongest when mixing humanity with politics.
Genre: Music Documentary
Director: Morgan Neville (Johnny Cash's America)
Starring: Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill, Mick Jagger, Bette MidlerThe Story: Documentary on the world of backup singers. The Lowdown: Charming, tuneful, occasionally moving and always entertaining about the singers who contributed so much to so many great songs.
Director: Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side)
Starring: Julian Assange, Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning, James Ball, Michael HaydenThe Story: Documentary about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. The Lowdown: Long — too long — and complex look at people and events you may already know about. Here, however, it's distilled into a coherent whole.
Director: Jacob Hatley
Starring: Levon Helm, Amy Helm, Larry Campbell, Billy Bob Thornton, Libby Titus FagenIn Brief: Admirably tight documentary about drummer, singer, songwriter and rock legend Levon Helm. Shot in 2008, the film is more content to concentrate on the present than to load itself down with clips from the past. As a film for the faithful, it tends to assume, probably correctly, that the viewer needs only the basics of background information.
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