DOCday is Sundance Channel’s new weekly documentary destination, airing every Monday from Noon to Midnight, with a premiere at 9PM.
April 14 ^ Aussie Doc Double Feature: “Cunnamulla” and “Cane Toads – An Unnatural History” – These two Aussie docs offer unorthodox glimpses of life Down Under. Airs April 14th, beginning at 9:00pm.
“Cunnamulla” – Directed by Dennis O’Rourke. An award-winning look at the isolated country town of Cunnamulla, which lies 816 miles west of Brisbane at the last stop on the railroad line. O’Rourke profiles a range of the town’s inhabitants, including an energetic young radio DJ who hopes that his band will be a new AC/DC; a taxi driver and his wife, who freely offers her views on her fellow residents; and a pair of teenage girls who put their trust in one another while trying to avoid pregnancy. Winner of the 2001 Best Documentary Award from the Film Critics Circle of Australia and the 2001 AFI Award for Direction in a Documentary.
“Cane Toads – An Unnatural History” – Directed by Mark Lewis. A clever, frequently hilarious account of the
environmental triumph of the titular toad, a non-native species that has made itself decidedly at home since arriving in Australia in 1936. Imported to combat the beetles that were destroying Queensland’s sugar cane fields, the canetoad failed to curb the beetles (which simply flew away), but did such a spectacular job of reproduction that they have all but overrun their host habitat. Australians have reacted in a variety of ways; some have vowed to eradicate the creature, while others view them with affection; a few have even learned how to distill the toad’s unique chemistry into a hallucinogenic drug.
April 21 at 9:00pm ^ “City of Dreams” – Directed by Belinda Mason. “Two people working together can change the world.” So wrote architect Marion Mahony who, with her husband and colleague Walter Burley Griffin, blazed a visionary trail in 20th Century architecture. Associates of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mahony and Griffin believed that buildings should reflect and harmonize with the surrounding landscape. “City of Dreams” describes how the couple pursued that ideal in their extraordinary collaboration, which came to worldwide attention in 1912 when Griffin won a competition to design the new Australian capital in Canberra. Though their ideal city was never built, Mahony and Griffin went on to design 270 projects in Australia, including an environmental community near Sydney.
April 28 at 9pm ^ “Chile, Obstinate Memory” -Directed by Patricio Guzmán. Twenty-three years after cinematically chronicling the bloody coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s democratically elected Marxist government on September 11, 1973, filmmaker Patricio Guzmán returns to Santiago with his award-winning documentary The Battle of Chile. Previously banned by General Pinochet’s regime, The Battle of Chile is seen for the first time by witnesses to the coup and by a new generation of Chileans who engage in a moving debate about their history.
May 12th at 9pm ^ Vakvagany – Directed by Benjamin Meade and Andras Suranyi. An unusual and thought-provoking take on reality cinema, built around the home movies of a Hungarian family shot between 1948 and 1964. Capturing a post-war Europe in black and white and without sound, the movies offer an eerie peek into the lives of the Loscei family, at work and at play. Commenting on the films are underground filmmaker Stan Brakhage; renowned psychiatrist Dr. Roy Menninger, who detects some disturbing sexual undercurrents; and the novelist James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), who makes some hilariously earthy assessments. Meanwhile, the filmmakers fill in some blanks in the Loscei family history through interviews with former colleagues and friends; once they make contact with one of the Loscei children, now a middle-aged adult, the film takes some unexpected turns.
May 26th at 9pm ^ My Father the Genius – Directed by Lucia Small. Filmmaker Lucia Small was stunned when her estranged father, the little-known architect Glen Howard Small, called to tell her he wanted to put her in charge of his professional effects and biography. She proposed a documentary instead – to be made now, while he was still alive. With the witty and entertaining “My Father the Genius,” Lucia Small investigates her father’s lifelong boasts of his own genius. A rising star in the 1960s, Small’s visionary designs merged nature with technology in such utopian concepts as the Biomorphic Biosphere Megastructure and the Green Machine. But while Glen Small was trying to save the world through architecture, he was creating chaos at home; and “My Father the Genius” is also about Small the father, who largely disappeared from his daughters’ lives after he left his first wife. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Atlanta Film Festival, and recipient of a Special Commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics.