A 12-year-old heavy metal band, thirsty Beyoncé fans and hardcore Russians who grew up in the junkyard – these docs are necessary watches
A lot of great documentaries have come out this year. Dior and I, Amy, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. While they’ll undoubtedly go on to land award season nods or at least a Netflix playback, there are thousands more underdogs toiling to be seen. All of the documentaries mentioned below will be, rather unfortunately, near impossible to find. No UK release dates planned for the majority, a lot are still making the rounds at film festivals like Copenhagen’s just-finished CPH:DOX. Keep these titles in mind, however, because in the age of the internet, most everything is a click away.
WAITING FOR B
Ever wondered who those dedicated people are camped outside a venue for days on end to buy concert tickets? Waiting For B takes us to the Beyhive’s front lines, where mere days of waiting is for amateurs. These Brazilians camp out two months in advance of Beyoncé’s Sao Paolo date, angling to get the best seats in the house. Eager fans pitch igloo tents and hunker down. As they bide their time, the queue becomes an unlikely gathering spot for LGBT youth who worship at the altar of Beysus.
BANKSY DOES NEW YORK
Everyone wants a Banksy. So much so that devotees rent concrete cutters, extract a piece of his graffiti from a building’s exterior and flog it at auction. When the world’s foremost anonymous artist infiltrates New York City, residents try their darnedest to sniff him out. They block off streets when an installation rolls through town in the back of a cube van. Everyone’s enamoured, waking up to a new Bansky installation that was mysteriously installed overnight. One party, however, isn’t completely thrilled with his arrival in the Big Apple. The NYPD and mayor Bill de Blasio condemn his work, saying his graffiti is destroying buildings and stirring up too much crazy.
Ready to show the male-dominated status quo in the Middle East that they can rip, the so-called ‘Speed Sisters’ have seemingly every obstacle to overcome. As the first female racing team in the Middle East, nothing comes easy. Not least of which is the funds. In the cash-poor Israeli-occupied West Bank, young drivers aren’t able to enjoy such costly sports. Apart from shining a light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a new way, Speed Sisters offers a thrilling perspective on what it’s like to be a badass women fighting stereotypes at every breakneck turn.
SOMETHING BETTER TO COME
Half heartbreaking, half eye-opening, Something Better to Come is a bit like the Russian Boyhood. The film tells the story of Yula, who has lived in Svalka – one of the largest landfills in Europe – since she was a child. Polish director Hanna Polak filmed the homeless community whose existence is confined to the edge of Russia’s horrendous trash heap. However, by following them for a dedicated 14 years, she exposes her hopes and fears to the camera.
ALL THINGS MUST PASS
Tower Records, the ultimate destination for new music from 1960-2006, was once a fixture on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard. Once impenetrable, the tower eventually fell to piracy, bowing to the invention of Napster and file-sharing. When the record store was at its peak, Elton John would peruse the aisles weekly and employees would party late into the night, sleeping off their hangovers to the best new tunes. Tower Records was a true hangout, and this feel-good documentary charts its meteoric rise and unprecedented fall.
WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED
Apart from the questionable title, this documentary is a real charmer, spinning tales from the career of Orry-Kelly – “one of the greatest costume designers of all time”. The legend put out 285 films and dressed Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Gillian Armstrong’s portrait of the small-town Aussie will be your master class in how he dominated the silhouette all throughout the golden age of Hollywood.
BREAKING A MONSTER
Malcolm Brickhouse, Alec Atkins and Jarad Dawkins are three 12-year-old head bangers who thrash their axes on the regular in a band called Unlocking the Truth. Do they have time for ladies? No! They’re busy shredding! After an impromptu concert in Times Square was uploaded to YouTube, it racked up millions of views. Riding that wave of viral fame, the trio secures a record deal and a gig at SXSW, but maybe their newfound fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Staking out the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem, director Khalik Allah’s Field Niggas goes beyond the trappings of poverty porn and delves deep into the lives of the homeless night dwellers who congregate here. It’s been described as ‘hallucinatory’ by virtually everyone, with a distinct visual aesthetic that helps the narrative – unbroken anecdotes from these often drug-addled, always poor New Yorkers – go the extra mile.
Danny Fields: manager of the Ramones, part of Warhol’s extensive posse, editor of 16 magazine. Movie critic. Porn director. Friend of John Waters. One of the most influential figures in the history of punk. While there is not yet a trailer in circ, Danny Says is an injection of adrenaline showcasing the heady days of the 60s and 70s when he was milling about New York and living large in the back room of night spot Max’s Kansas City. Get to know the real Fields through this visual thrill ride overflowing with incredible anecdotes.
Every year we gratuitously ogle Eurovision to see which country has birthed the breakout star. In 2006, it was Finland, with Lordi – a creature feature dressed up like Darth Maul blasting heavy metal at hell’s gate. The singer enjoyed relatively fame for a while after, but now he can’t even afford to feed his pet pythons. His themed restaurant is not turning profit and any dreams of international fame are fading fast. This is touching, and – if you enjoy a bit of schadenfreude – an incredible watch.