2018 ALA-VRT Notable Videos for Adults

The American Library Association (ALA) Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults Committee has compiled its 2018 list of Notable Videos for Adults, 15 outstanding films released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults.

 

Here is the complete list:

 

Abacus, Small Enough to Jail (2017, dir. Steve James). 89 minutes. PBS. DVD. Available from various distributors. Subtitles.

This Oscar-nominated documentary tells the story of the Chinese immigrant Sung Family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York, the only U.S. bank prosecuted in relation to the 2008 financial crisis.

 

Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock (2017, dir. Myron Dewey, Josh Fox and James Spione). 84 minutes. International WOW Co. DVD. Available from Bullfrog Films (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/awake.html) and various distributors.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with 500 other tribes and allies, lead a peaceful resistance against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their sacred ground.

 

David Lynch: The Art Life (2016, dir. Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Rick Barnes and John Nguyen). 88 minutes. Criterion Collection. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH. Takes viewers on a rare look inside the art studio of David Lynch as Lynch recounts the people and events that led him to his life as an artist.

 

 

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016, dir. Bill Morrison). 120 minutes. Kino Lorber. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. CC.

After hundreds of silent films are uncovered in a Yukon, Canada gold rush town, its history is pieced together through the experimental reconstruction of the films themselves.

 

Gleason (2016, dir. Clay Tweel). 111 minutes. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.

Football star Steve Gleason and his wife, Michel, while expecting the birth of their son, grapple with his diagnosis of ALS at the age of 34. This gut-wrenching and ultimately transcendent film delivers a powerful and unvarnished view of Gleason’s physical suffering and the psychological toll it takes on his marriage and family.

 

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (2017, dir. Frank Stiefel). 40 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Grasshopper Film (http://store.grasshopperfilm.com/heaven-is-a-traffic-jam-on-the-405.html).

Honest and poignant look at the life of artist Mindy Alper and the effects of her childhood trauma, mental illness, anxiety and depression on her art.

 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016, dir. Raoul Peck). 93 minutes. Magnolia Pictures. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH.

Through an unfinished work of James Baldwin, the history of black America is told from early 20th century to #BlackLivesMatter.

 

 

I Called Him Morgan (2017, dir. Kasper Collin). 91 minutes. FilmRise. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH.

In 1972, jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was murdered at age 33 by his wife, cutting short what was already a legendary career. Using archival footage and photographs, interviews with his friends and fellow musicians, we are introduced to the tragedy of their story set against the backdrop of his amazing music.

 

Last Men in Aleppo (2017, dir. Feras Fayyad and Steen Johannessen). 104 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD. Available from Grasshopper (http://grasshopperfilm.com/film/last-men-in-aleppo/) and various distributors. Arabic with English subtitles.

During the Syrian civil war, residents from the town of Aleppo risk their lives as White Helmets, search and rescue volunteers. This Oscar-nominated documentary presents a harrowing and heartbreaking look at daily life, death and struggle in the streets of the besieged city.

 

Newtown (2017, dir. Kim A. Snyder). 85 minutes. Passion River Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.

Through raw and heartbreaking interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, doctors and first responders, the film documents a traumatized community working to find a sense of purpose in the aftermath of the senseless mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

The Pearl Button (2016, dir. Patricio Guzman). 82 minutes. Kino Lorber Films. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Kino Lorber (https://www.kinolorber.com/product/view/id/3020) and other distributors. Spanish with English subtitles.

Through stunning cinematography and poetic juxtapositions, Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman explores the importance of water to Chile’s history and culture.

 

Political Animals (2017, dir. Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares). 87 minutes. Gravitas Ventures. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. CC.

The film follows four groundbreaking lesbians who took the fight for the causes most personal to them and their communities off the streets and into the halls of the California state legislature.

 

The Talk: Race in America (2017, dir. Samuel D. Pollard). 115 minutes. PBS.

A powerful film about ‘the talk’ that parents must have with their children of color to teach them how to act around the police in order to remain safe. Interweaves personal narratives of police violence against innocent young victims.

 

Tower (2016, dir. Keith Maitland). 82 minutes. Kino Lorber. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Kino-Lorber (https://www.kinolorberedu.com/film/tower) and various distributors. CC.

On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included sixteen dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to comprehend the tragedy. Through the dynamic combination of archival footage and rotoscopic animation, Tower reveals the untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting.

 

Whose Streets? (2017, dir. Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis). 101 minutes. Magnolia Home Entertainment. DVD. Available from various distributors. Does not include captioning.

When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of Ferguson, Missouri. Footage shot on cellphones and hand-held video cameras lend the film an immediacy and urgency in this unflinching look at the uprising told by the activists and leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

 

Dewey the Cat’s Favorite:

 

Kedi (2017, dir. Ceyda Torun) 80 minutes. Oscilloscope Laboratories. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. In Turkish with English subtitles.

A city symphony of Istanbul told through the eyes of its street cats and the community that cares for them.

 

The 2018 Notable Films for Adults Committee:

Kati Irons Perez (Chair), Pierce County Library System

Cecilia Cygnar, Niles Public Library District

Philip Hallman, Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan

Tiffany Hudson, Salt Lake City Public Library

Kyle Knight, St. Louis Public Library

Kathleen Morley, Seattle Public Library

Lorraine Wochna, Alden Library, Ohio University

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“Tell Them We Are Rising” Black Colleges Doc Available Now from PBS

PBS Distribution has released Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99). The rich history of America’s “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs) began before slavery ended, flourished during the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the nation’s course for over 150 years—yet this story remains largely unknown. Director Stanley Nelson here explores the powerful tale of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs. A haven for black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

“The Lion in Winter” 50th Anniversary Edition Bows March 13 from Kino

Kino will release The Lion in Winter: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray: $29.95) on March 13. Acting greats Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton star in this epic 1968 masterpiece directed by Anthony Harvey. Behind the great stone walls of an English castle, the world’s most powerful empire is in crisis. Three sons struggle to win their father’s favor, as well as his crown. King Henry II (O’Toole) and his queen, Eleanor (Hepburn), engage in a battle of royal wits that pits elder son Richard (Hopkins) against his brothers John (Nigel Terry) and Geoffrey (John Castle), while the cunning King Philip of France (Dalton) takes advantage of the internal fracturing in his bid to destroy their kingdom. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor (O’Toole), Director (Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse), and the winner of Oscars for Best Actress (Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman) and Music Score (John Barry), bonus features on this Blu-ray debut made from a 2016 4K restoration include audio commentary by Harvey, and an interview with sound recordist Simon Kaye.

“American Masters” Doc on Painter Tyrus Wong Available Now from PBS

PBS Distribution recently released American Masters: Tyrus (DVD: $24.99). Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure. Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again, and the film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter (who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse), a Hollywood sketch artist, and a “Disney Legend.” Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, together with movie clips and archival footage, illustrate how his unique style—melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art—is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites, hand-painted California dinnerware, and Depression-era WPA paintings.

“The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Collector Edition” Slated for March 27 from Fox

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is celebrating a quarter century of laughter and friendship with The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Collector Edition (DVD: $9.99, Blu-ray: $11.99), slated for March 27. In this beloved 1993 family favorite, it’s the early 1960s and fifth-grader Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) has just moved into town with his folks (Karen Allen and Denis Leary). Kids call him a dork—he can’t even throw a baseball! But that changes when the leader of the neighborhood gang recruits him to play on the nearby sandlot field, which marks the beginning of a magical summer of baseball, wild adventures, first kisses, and fearsome confrontations with the dreaded beast and its owner (James Earl Jones) who live behind the left field fence. Bonus features include 10 custom Topps baseball cards featuring the characters, a production featurette, and an all-new booklet with behind-the-scenes photos.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s Acclaimed Novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” Arrives on March 13 from Fox

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season One (DVD: 3 discs, $29.98; Blu-ray: 3 discs, $39.99) will bow March 13 from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning 1985 bestselling novel, 2017’s The Handmaid’s Tale chronicles the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, part of a female caste forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her. Aired on Hulu, the 10-episode series also features Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley, and Max Minghella. Winner of eight Emmy awards and two Golden Globes, bonus features will include the behind-the-scenes featurettes “From Script to Screen” and “Hope in Gilead.”

Acclaimed Oscar-nominated “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” Bows February 27 from Fox

Golden Globe award-winning actress Frances McDormand delivers a stunningly powerful performance in the darkly comic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (DVD: $29.98; Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99; 4K: $39.99), available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on February 27. Hailed as one of the year’s best films, writer-director Martin McDonagh’s drama follows the story of a murdered girl’s defiant mother (McDormand) who boldly paints three local signs with a controversial message, igniting a furious battle with a volatile cop (Sam Rockwell) and the town’s revered chief of police (Woody Harrelson). Winner of four Golden Globes, and nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, bonus features include a “Crucify ‘Em” making-of featurette and McDonagh’s Oscar-winning 2004 short film “Six Shooter.”

PBS Distribution to Release Documentary on Activist Dolores Huerta on March 27

PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of Dolores (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99), slated for March 27. One of the most important yet least known activists of our time, Dolores Huerta was an equal partner in founding the first farm workers union with César Chávez. Tirelessly leading the fight for racial and labor justice, Huerta evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century—and continues the fight to this day, at age 87. With unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of 11, the film chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton, CA, to her early years with the United Farm Workers, her work with the headline-making grape boycott launched in 1965, and her role in the feminist movement of the ‘70s, as well as her ongoing fearless activism. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Hillary Clinton, and Angela Davis, Dolores serves up an intimate and inspiring portrait of this passionate champion of the oppressed, an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change.

“Rebels on Pointe” Doc Slated for February 13 from Icarus Films

Icarus Films has announced a February 13 home video release for Rebels on Pointe (DVD: $29.98). Exploring universal themes of identity, dreams, and family, Bobbi Jo Hart’s documentary celebrates the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The all-male drag ballet company was founded over 40 years ago in New York City on the heels of the Stonewall riots, and it boasts a passionate cult following around the world. Combining intimate behind-the-scenes access, rich archives and history, engaging character-driven stories, and dance performances shot in North America, Europe, and Japan, Rebels on Pointe captures a creative blend of gender-bending artistic expression, diversity, passion, and purpose. Bonus features include more than two hours of bonus footage, including outtakes and interviews.