HIFF 2016: World Cinema Documentary

World Cinema Documentary

The heart of cinema: this extraordinary section encompasses 14 features, ranging from award-winning festival favorites to one-of-a-kind World Premieres, curated for our audience from around the globe.

Presented by


US Premiere | USA
Director: Takuji Masuda
The inspiration for the Topper Burks character in the surf classic LORDS OF DOGTOWN, Bunker Spreckels was the wildly rich heir to a sugar empire—and Clark Gable’s stepson—who secured a spot in surfing legend with his innovative board design and excessive playboy lifestyle in the ’60s and ’70s. Before his untimely death on Oahu in 1977 (at age 27), Bunker gave an in-depth, no-holds-barred interview to C.R. Stecyk, around which this uninhibited documentary is centered. A whirlwind of addiction, sex, and global jetsetting, surf champion Takuji Masuda’s BUNKER77 introduces the man Laird Hamilton calls “one of the all-time originals of all time.”

davis-way-650DAVI’S WAY

World Premiere | USA
Director: Tom Donahue
DAVI’S WAY follows legendary character actor and singer Robert Davi–known for his portrayal of the Bond villain in LICENSE TO KILL–and his quest to honor friend and hero Frank Sinatra. To celebrate the beloved crooner’s 100th birthday, he hopes to meticulously recreate the “Main Event,” Sinatra’s historic 1974 concert at Madison Square Garden. With only a year until the anniversary, Davi and his lovable assistant frantically get to work on the preparations. Chronicling the unpredictable and often humorous nature of planning such an event, this comedic and poignant documentary plays like a real-life mix of Curb Your Enthusiasm and THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

franca-chaos-creation-650FRANCA: CHAOS AND CREATION

North American Premiere | USA/Italy
Director: Francesco Carrozzini
When Franca Sozzani took over as editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia at the end of the 80s, she started a fashion revolution. Shunning the conventional magazine covers and fashion spreads of the time, she explored subjects that had previously been off-limits. By skillfully mixing fashion, high concept art, and photography, she created some of the most iconic magazine covers of the past 25 years. Through interviews with some of her closest collaborators and friends, including Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Courtney Love and others, director Francesco Carrozzini delivers an intimate portrait of his mother and a candid look at one of the most influential names in fashion.

god-knows-where-i-am-650GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM

New York Premiere | USA | 2016
Directors: Todd Wider, Jedd Wider
Following one of the coldest winters in New Hampshire’s history, the body of Linda Bishop is discovered in an abandoned farmhouse. Beside her is a journal, revealing a lovely, vibrant woman waiting to be saved. Pushing the boundaries of documentary storytelling, filmmakers Todd Wider and Jedd Wider—and narrator Lori Singer—bring her words to life as they uncover the truth about Linda in their compelling and empathetic documentary debut. An evocative story of a woman held prisoner by her own mind, GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM is a powerful indictment of our society’s failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

into-the-inferno-650INTO THE INFERNO

East Coast Premiere | United Kingdom/Austria
Director: Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog’s latest documentary is a spellbinding visual and sensory experience. Teaming up with volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, the pair embark on an epic journey that takes them around the world–filming volcanoes from an archipelago in the South Pacific all the way to Indonesia, Ethiopia, Iceland, and North Korea. In their globe-trotting exploration of volcanoes, both active and dormant, they discover fascinating myths and belief systems associated with these natural wonders. A visual tour de force, INTO THE INFERNO is a meditative and revelatory film unlike any other.


Director: Lydia Tenaglia
Jeremiah Tower was America’s first celebrity chef, but many have never heard his name. A controversial and outrageous personality, Tower revolutionized American culinary history through his award-winning restaurants, including Chez Panisse and the era-defining Stars, as well as in his cookbooks. THE LAST MAGNIFICENT, featuring interviews by Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, Ruth Reichl, and Executive Producer Anthony Bourdain, offers a never-before-seen look at the long career of the artist and legend. A must-see for food lovers.

legs-big-issue-small-town-650LEGS: A BIG ISSUE IN A SMALL TOWN

Directors: Beatrice Alda, Jennifer Brooke
LEGS: A BIG ISSUE IN A SMALL TOWN explores one town’s reactions when two homeowners install a provocative 16-foot Larry Rivers sculpture in their yard. Based and filmed in the Hamptons’ own Sag Harbor, the film is full of real-life characters, conflicts, and controversy, as townspeople struggle to define their community. Is this seemingly idyllic village the accepting, welcoming place it appears to be? As they investigate the response to the sculpture, filmmakers Beatrice Alda and Jennifer Brooke not only examine who gets to decide what art is, but also issues of race, class, sexual orientation, and discrimination, which are intricately woven into the fabric of the town.


Director: Benjamin Ree
By the young age of 13, Magnus Carlsen earned the reputation as the “Mozart of Chess,” one of the youngest grandmasters ever. By 22 he became World Champion and he is currently the highest rated chess-player in history. With a keen understanding of the mechanics of the game and an innate knack for trusting his instincts, he rivaled and beat more experienced players. With unprecedented access to home videos and archival footage, filmmaker Benjamin Ree captures a tender and loving family dynamic that surrounds Magnus as he fights to become a chess champion. As his genius shines with his family by his side, Magnus fights to become a world champion in this endearing and ultimately intoxicating quest for self-validation.
Presented with support from the Norwegian Film Institute and Norwegian Consulate.

marathon-patriots-day-bombing-650MARATHON: THE PATRIOTS DAY BOMBING

World Premiere | USA
Directors: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg
Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s powerful documentary recounts the dramatic story of the 2013 terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon through the emotional experiences of individuals whose lives were forever impacted. Following events from the moment of the attack to the sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the film features surveillance footage, news clips, home movies and interviews with survivors, their families, first responders, investigators, government officials and reporters from the Boston Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the bombing. Over the course of three years, the survivors face the challenges of physical and emotional recovery as they and their families strive to reclaim their lives and communities in the wake of terrorism.


North American Premiere | USA/Spain
Directors: Andrew Becker, Daniel Mehrer
Looking to escape the stress of modern life in Holland, Martin and Margo find a simple and quiet way of life nestled in an isolated village in Northern Spain. An idyllic setting for the young couple, Santoalla is also home to the Rodriguez family, the only remaining locals in town. Divided by cultural and ideological differences for a decade, their story comes to a boiling point when Martin mysteriously disappears. With a devastated Margo left behind, an engrossing and tense village strife turns into a thrilling search for the truth in Andrew Becker and Daniel Mehrer’s atmospheric debut, SANTOALLA.


World Premiere | USA
Director: Matt Schrader
Throughout history, music has always had a powerful impact on both cinema and audiences. The first documentary of its kind, SCORE celebrates the emotional resonance of music in film by offering an inside look at the work of Hollywood’s most accomplished composers. First time director Matt Schrader goes behind the creative process of nearly two dozen musicians, including prolific artists such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Danny Elfman. Experimenting with new methods and technology, these musical auteurs push the boundaries of both sound and storytelling to create some of the most iconic melodies in history. A must-see for cinephiles and music aficionados alike.

sour-grapes-650SOUR GRAPES

US Premiere | UK/France
Directors: Jerry Rothwell, Reuben Atlas
The young, charismatic, and enigmatic Rudy Kurniawan is considered to be the greatest wine savant of all time. His sharp palate measures the multiple layers of a wine bottle–the fruits, yeast and vinegar balance, even the year of manufacture. While enjoying a lavish lifestyle with an extravagant group of wine collectors, he makes his fortune buying cheap wine and selling it as vintage Burgundy for millions. SOUR GRAPES is the unbelievable true story of how Kurniawan, an Indonesian immigrant, committed one of the greatest wine frauds in U.S. history. An epic quest for truth, the film showcases the vulnerable, superficial, and outright humorous narrative of what is and what isn’t.


Director: Deborah S. Esquenazi
In the midst of the Satanic ritual abuse panic of the early ’90s, four lesbian women from San Antonio Texas, are tried and convicted of sexual assault. Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary incorporates home footage and recent interviews with the accused, their families and experts, as it follows their fight for exoneration after spending almost a decade behind bars. SOUTHWEST OF SALEM is a gripping story that challenges the legitimacy of a legal system that allowed bias and prejudice to seep into and corrupt its procedures, amounting to what was called at the time “the modern version of the witchcraft trials.”


World Premiere | USA
Director: Jessie Auritt
Few would know it by looking at her, but Naomi “Supergirl” Kutin is the strongest girl in the world. The 11-year-old, 95-pound Orthodox Jewish girl from New Jersey is a competitive powerlifter who can lift three times her body weight, impressing even the largest of bodybuilders. SUPERGIRL follows Naomi’s inspiring journey as she simultaneously trains for national competitions and prepares for her bat mitzvah. In her feature debut, director Jessie Auritt beautifully captures the balancing act of being a teenage girl with religious obligation and fighting to set new records in powerlifting. With many obstacles in her way, Naomi discovers what it truly means to be strong.