Films Programs

True Stories

If a filmmaker such as Terry Gilliam or David Lynch got his hands on the raw footage from the 32 documentary films screening in this year’s Festival (28 of which are presented in this True Stories section), chances are a pretty interesting mashup would be the result…

“The two sisters from Women With Cows walk out their barn door in Sweden and enter a jazz club in Greenwich Village to hear a performance by Michel Petrucciani, the amazing 3-foot-tall French jazz pianist (Michel Petrucciani). Joining Petrucciani on stage is a dazzling ensemble from The Girls in the Band. The designer Diana Vreeland (Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel), looking at proof sheets of Marilyn Monroe with the photographer Bert Stern (Bert Stern: Original Madman), nods in the direction of Jose Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning author lost in deep conversation with his wife Pilar (Jose and Pilar) and the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed (The Island President). Then, suddenly, a bulldozer crashes through the ceiling as Donald Trump breaks ground for his new golf course on the Scottish coast (You’ve Been Trumped). And, of course, all of this will end up in Mark Cousins’ triumphant 15-hour film-about-film (The Story of Film: An Odyssey)….”

You can take your own Odyssean journey through time and space to discover an incredible array of stories, all made from the stuff of real life. And by the time you see three or four, chances are your own surrealistic movie will take shape in your head as you leave the theater.


Arranged Happiness   

Arranged Happiness
Germany, 2011, 87 min.
A loving, first-hand portrayal of a Muslim Kashmiri family’s search for a groom for 27-year-old Waheeda, this humane, mesmerizing documentary provides an intimate and compelling counterweight to widely held perceptions of Islam’s practices in the West.... more



Bert Stern, Original Madman   

Bert Stern, Original Madman
USA, 2011, 93 min.
Bert Stern, the original “mad man” photographer, sheds light on a fascinating, topsy-turvy life and career that took him from the mailroom to the heights of success as one of the most celebrated photographers of the 1950s and beyond.... more



Bitter Seeds   

Bitter Seeds
India, 2011, 88 min.
Beautifully told and deeply disturbing, Micha Peled’s documentary explores the way farming with genetically modified seeds is having disastrous consequences in India. The third film in Peled’s “Globalization Trilogy” after China Blue and Store Wars.... more



The British Guide to Showing Off   

The British Guide to Showing Off
United Kingdom, 2011, 97 min.
A colorful, exuberant salute to Andrew Logan, the founder of the "Alternative Miss World Contest", a flamboyant, gender-bending beauty pageant which has run in Britain since 1972. A joyful celebration of creativity and difference.... more



California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown   

California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown
USA, 2010, 90 min.
An illuminating and personal portrait of Gov. Edmund G “Pat” Brown, the patriarch of the so-called “West Coast Kennedys” and one of California’s most important governors, by his granddaughter Sascha Rice.... more



Carol Channing: Larger Than Life   

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life
USA, 2011, 88 min.
A glittering celebration of the irrepressible Queen of Broadway, a human dynamo who still lives life large even as she approaches 90. An all-star cast share fond memories while copious clips revive Channing’s greatest hits.... more



Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel   

Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel
USA, 2011, 86 min.
Both the inventor and embodiment of the term "pizzazz", Diana Vreeland ruled over the editorial content of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue for decades. This tribute to one of our greatest style icons blends archival material and interviews with fashion luminaries with a chic, assured hand.... more



Die Standing Up   

Die Standing Up
Mexico, 2011, 90 min.
The inspiring story of Irina, a tireless fighter in the war for personal freedoms, a transsexual who works for progressive causes from her wheelchair despite a severe disability, and her powerful love story with her partner Nelida, whom she married as a man.... more



Dolphin Boy   

Dolphin Boy
Israel, 2011, 72 min.
From the director of Palm Springs favorite 39 Pounds of Love comes a true story of a father’s tender love and the healing power of nature. An Arab teenager who suffers a brutal attack is helped to heal through dolphin-assisted therapy.... more



First Position   

First Position
USA, 2011, 90 min.
Filled with drama, tension and suspense, this enormously satisfying documentary follows six gifted ballet students from disparate social, regional, economic and ethnic backgrounds as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious competition where the world’s top dance companies and sc... more



Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story   

Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story
USA, 2011, 84 min.
This moving and gripping documentary places the daring Operation Entebbe hostage-rescue mission by Israeli Defense forces against the fascinating backdrop of the largely untold life story of its commander, Yoni Netanyahu, older brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister.... more



The Girls in the Band   

The Girls in the Band
USA, 2011, 83 min.
The hidden history of women jazz musicians finally sees the light of day in this glorious celebration of some of our greatest musicians, period.A delightful sound and visual journey for history buffs and fans of music alike.... more



The Island President   

The Island President
USA, 2011, 101 min.
In this dazzling documentary, the charismatic and inspiring first democratic President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, fights for one of the most low-lying countries in the world to stay above water at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.... more



Jiro Dreams of Sushi   

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
USA, 2011, 83 min.
“What defines deliciousness?” ponders 85-year-old Jiro, sushi chef extraordinaire, as he turns raw fish into art in his world renowned, 10-seat, $300-a-plate Tokyo restaurant. Jiro is both an insightful character study and a mouth-watering love letter to the ultimate Japanese cuisine.... more



The Loving Story   

The Loving Story
USA, 2011, 77 min.
In 1958, a white man and a part black, part Cherokee woman were convicted of breaking Virginia's law against interracial marriage. This eye-opening documentary examines the overlooked story of this couple's courageous fight and the Supreme Court case that resulted.... more



Mulberry Child   

Mulberry Child
USA, 2011, 85 min.
Mixing interviews and dramatic reenactments, this deeply moving documentary explores author Jian Ping’s best-selling memoir: how she grew up the daughter of a senior government official and her family’s struggles to survive Mao’s Cultural Revolution.... more



Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory   

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
USA, 2011, 106 min.
The third part of the landmark HBO documentary series contesting the murder conviction of three Arkansas men brings the case to a shocking conclusion. Winner: Best Documentary 2011, National Board of Review.... more



Run for Life   

Run for Life
Serbia, 2011, 72 min.
A moving, humanist tale about three Ethiopian long distance runners who defect to Serbia in the hope of improving their lives, and the filmmaker who becomes more a part of their story than he intends.... more



Semper Fi: Always Faithful   

Semper Fi: Always Faithful
USA, 2011, 76 min.
The heartbreaking and inspirational story of Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger whose daughter’s death from leukemia took him on a thirteen-year quest to hold the Marine Corps accountable in one of the country’s largest cases of environmental contamination.... more



Shakespeare High   

Shakespeare High
USA, 2011, 81 min.
In this high energy, emotional documentary, Shakespeare gets the competitive juices flowing as teens from throughout Southern California gather for the annual Shakespeare drama competition and prove that the arts can be a vibrant force in saving young people’s lives.... more



The Story of Film:An Odyssey   

The Story of Film:An Odyssey
United Kingdom, 2011, 180 min.
The history of cinema gets a long overdue reorientation in this epic documentary series by the avid and engaging Mark Cousins. Tracing the evolution of film styles not only across the decades but across the globe, Cousins unearths countless undiscovered or misplaced treasures and talks film with the... more



The Tall Man   

The Tall Man
Australia, 2011, 80 min.
A riveting and tragic true crime story set against the backdrop of Palm Island, a small Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.Beautifully filmed and movingly told, this is a truly unforgettable documentary.... more



The Tiniest Place   

The Tiniest Place
El Salvador, 2011, 104 min.
The heartbreaking yet hopeful story of Cinquera, a small town in rural El Salvador that was completely depopulated during the Civil War, as told by the survivors who have returned with astonishing resilience to rebuild their lives on their native soil.... more



Unfinished Spaces   

Unfinished Spaces
Cuba, 2011, 86 min.
Masterfully interweaving art, politics and history, this spellbinding doc recounts the secret history of a little-known architectural marvel, commissioned as a showpiece art school by Fidel Castro, but then deemed “decadent” when he was forced to throw in his lot with the Soviet Union. ... more



Vito   

Vito
USA, 2011, 93 min.
A fascinating documentary about the life of pioneering gay activist, film historian and author Vito Russo, author of the seminal The Celluloid Closet (1981) and a leading player in the early Gay Liberation movement.... more



Wish Me Away   

Wish Me Away
USA, 2011, 96 min.
Coming out is never easy, but when you’re a country music star it could also be career suicide. This inspiring, award-winning doc introduces us to courageous singer-songwriter Chely Wright, a devout Christian who also happens to be a lesbian.... more



Women with Cows   

Women with Cows
Sweden, 2011, 93 min.
One of the most popular Swedish documentaries of all-time, this film features Inger, who is not so fond of cows, older sis Britt, who loves them, and a bunch of photogenic cows. Warning: film contains one scene of animal destruction. ... more



You’ve Been Trumped   

You’ve Been Trumped
United Kingdom, 2011, 96 min.
Anthony Baxter's biting and entertaining documentary trails "The Donald" as he seeks to build a massive golf resort on unspoiled Scottish coastline and comes up against a spirited group of local landowners who will not go down without a fight.... more



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