On April 2, Cinema Libre will release the documentary Jihadists (DVD: $19.95), filmed in French, English, Arabic, and Bambara. Banned in France (released as “Salafistes”), co-directors Lemine Ould Salem and François Margolin’s Jihadists goes deep into the heart of the Salafi movement to reveal the inner workings of extremist Islam with unparalleled access to fundamentalist clerics of Sunni Islam who proselytize for a “purer” form of Islam–including jihad of the sword–in Mali, Tunisia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Theoretical interpretations are here juxtaposed against images and footage from recruitment videos to show the hardline application of sharia law. Inspiring the Oscar-nominated feature Timbuktu, this documentary paints a stark portrait of everyday life under jihadi rule.
On June 4, Criterion’s yearlong celebration of of releases commemorating Ingmar Bergman’s centennial draws to a close with a Blu-ray edition of the Swedish master’s chamber dramas exploring faith and alienation, A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman (Blu-ray: 3 discs, $99.95), which includes 1961’s Through a Glass Darkly and the 1963 films Winter Light and The Silence. Collaborating with the distinguished cinematographer Sven Nykvist, the series includes searing performances from Bergman’s cast of regulars including Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Max von Sydow. Slated for June 11 is the Blu-ray debut of George Stevens’ 1936 musical romance Swing Time (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), featuring legendary dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as, respectively, a feckless gambler and the shrewd dancing instructor in whom he more than meets his match, accompanied by beloved songs by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern, including the Oscar-winning classic “The Way You Look Tonight.” Slated for June 18 is French iconoclast auteur Bruno Dumont’s exploration of the human condition in his first two films, 1997’s La vie de Jésus and 1999’s L’humanité (DVD: $29.95 each; Blu-ray: $39.95 each). Coming on June 25 is a 4K restoration and Blu-ray debut of John Cameron Mitchell’s 2001 trailblazing queer rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), following Hedwig (Mitchell), who undergoes a traumatic personal transformation in order to emigrate to the U.S. and reinvents herself as an “internationally ignored” but divinely talented rock diva. Also slated for June 25 is Sergei Bondarchuk’s Oscar-winning 1966-67 epic War and Peace (DVD: 3 discs, $39.95; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $49.95), an awe-inspiring adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel, appearing in a major new restoration.
Kino Lorber has announced the release of Gospel of Eureka (DVD: $29.95), coming April 9. Narrated with homespun humor by Mx Justin Vivian Bond, filmmakers Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s lushly photographed documentary shines a spotlight on the town of Eureka Springs, AR, where seemingly contradictory factions intersect: Lee and Walter, out and proud husband-owners of a local gay bar they liken to a “hillbilly Studio 54,” talk about their deep-seated faith; a Christian T-shirt designer describes his love for his gay father; and everything comes together in a show-stopping mash-up of a spectacular passion play and raucous drag show.
Slated for April 2 is ¡Las Sandinistas! (DVD: $29.95), available from Kino Lorber. Directed by Jenny Murray, this documentary reveals the untold stories of Nicaraguan women warriors and social revolutionaries. Nicaragua’s 1979 Sandinista Revolution and the ensuing U.S.-backed Contra War are chronicled in this depiction of a magical moment in world history when thousands of female rebel fighters transformed society’s definition of womanhood and leadership. Today, as the current Sandinista government is erasing these women’s stories of heroism, social reform, and military accomplishments from history books, these same women are fighting to reclaim history: once again leading inspiring popular movements for equality and democracy.
On April 9, First Run Features is releasing the documentary Moynihan (DVD: $24.99). Intellectual and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was also a policy specialist, ambassador, and long-serving senator. In an age of rigid ideologies, he was a man who embraced the contradictions and complexity of public policy without ever despairing of the role of government in the lives of its citizens. Fifteen years after his death, as the nation sinks further into hyper-partisanship and politics has become dominated by the frenzy of social media, director Joseph Dorman’s documentary offers a timely profile of a towering figure in American politics.
Oscilloscope Laboratories is releasing Hal (DVD: $34.99, Blu-ray: $39.99) on April 2. Although Hal Ashby directed a remarkable string of widely admired classics throughout the 1970s, including Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, and Shampoo, he is often overlooked amid the crowd of luminaries from his generation. Director Amy Scott’s exuberant portrait combines rare archival materials, interviews, personal letters, and audio recordings to reveal a passionate, obsessive artist. Ashby was a Hollywood director who constantly clashed with Hollywood, but also a unique soul with an unprecedented insight into the human condition and an unmatched capacity for good, making films that carried an elusive blend of honesty, irreverence, humor, and humanity. Bonus features include audio commentary by Scott and producers Christine Beebe, Brian Morrow, Jonathan Lynch, and Lisa Janssen, as well as segments from “The Cutting Room Floor,” and a behind-the-scenes reel.
BBC Studios has recently released Dynasties (DVD: 2 discs, $29.98; Blu-ray: 4 discs, $49.99), which takes viewers deep into the lives of five of the world’s most celebrated and endangered animals: chimpanzee, Emperor penguin, lion, painted wolf, and tiger. BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit took a new approach on Dynasties by focusing on one specific family of each endangered species, and the team behind Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II spent over four years capturing authentic moments that even experts have not witnessed. With Sir David Attenborough’s powerful storytelling, viewers will witness how human civilization affects the very animals with whom they empathize. Bonus features include a “making-of” documentary, featuring interviews with the production crew and a behind-the-scenes look into each episode.
FilmRise is proud to announce the release of the full-length feature documentary Bachman (DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $24.95), slated for March 26. Paying homage to legendary rock-star and lead guitarist, the film notes that Randy Bachman accomplished a rare feat by having No. 1 singles with two bands: “American Woman” with The Guess Who and “Takin’ Care of Business” with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and ultimately earned more than 120 platinum, gold and silver records. Director John Barnard’s documentary takes viewers on a journey from his early days in Winnipeg, Canada, to his worldwide success, and includes rarely seen footage and photos plus documents stored at the National Archives in Ottawa. Also featuring interviews with family members and musicians including Neil Young, Paul Schaffer, Peter Frampton, and his bandmate Fred Turner, the film provides an introspective look at the musician and the man.
The Criterion Collection’s May slate kicks off May 7 with director William Wyler’s 1949 drama The Heiress (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), based on the hit stage adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square and featuring Olivia de Havilland in a heartbreaking Oscar-winning performance as the shy daughter of a wealthy New York doctor who begins to receive calls from a handsome spendthrift (Montgomery Clift). Coming May 14 is David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut, House of Games (Blu-ray: $39.95), a twisty thriller starring Lindsay Crouse as a bestselling author and therapist who wants to help a client by making restitution for the money he owes to a gambler (Joe Mantegna). Also arriving on May 14 is a 2K restoration of Michael Haneke’s notorious 1997 home-invasion nightmare Funny Games (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), chronicling the agony of a bourgeois family held captive at their vacation home by a pair of white-gloved young men. Slated for May 21 is Claire Denis’s richly observed 2017 French drama Let the Sunshine In (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), starring Juliette Binoche as a successful Paris painter who tumbles into relationships with all the wrong men. Coming May 28 is a new 4K restoration of David Lynch’s career-defining 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), a terrifying and darkly funny depiction of small-town life starring Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rosellini, and Dennis Hopper. Also arriving May 28 is the DVD and Blu-ray debut of Agnès Varda’s poignant 1977 feminist musical One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), following two old friends as they reunite at a demonstration and learn that each of their lives has been irrevocably changed by the women’s liberation movement.
On February 5, First Run Features is releasing the award-winning and crowd-pleasing documentary Hot to Trot (DVD: $24.95). Offering a deep-dive look inside the fascinating but little-known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, director Gail Freedman’s lively, poignant film follows an international cast of four magnetic men and women over several years, on and off the dance floor, as they journey to the quadrennial Gay Games. Along the way, dancing is revealed to be both a means of overcoming personal hardships—from drug addiction to familial rifts—and a joyous opportunity to merge passionate artistic expression with proud sexual identity.