The Criterion Collection’s December slate kicks off December 11 with Euzhan Palcy’s (Hollywood’s first black female director) 1989 film A Dry White Season (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), based on the courageous apartheid chronicle by André Brink that follows a white Johannesburg schoolteacher (Donald Sutherland) who remains blissfully incurious about the lives of his black countrymen until a wave of brutal repression comes crashing down on his gardener (Winston Ntshona). Also arriving on December 11 is filmmaker Samuel Fuller’s unconventional 1957 western Forty Guns (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), featuring silver screen legend Barbara Stanwyck as a rancher who commands a posse of cowboys and falls for a U.S. marshal (Barry Sullivan). Coming December 18 is a new 4K restoration of Julien Duvivier’s long-unavailable 1946 black-and-white thriller Panique (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), based on a novel by Georges Simenon that centers on eccentric, antisocial Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon), who feels drawn to a pretty young newcomer in town (Viviane Romance) and is framed for murder. Also slated for December 18 is the standalone Blu-ray 2K digital restoration of Ingmar Bergman’s piercing 1953 psychological drama Sawdust and Tinsel (Blu-ray: $39.95), an early breakthrough for the legendary Swedish filmmaker centering on a battle of the sexes between a turn-of-the-20th-century circus owner (Åke Grönberg) and his younger mistress (Harriet Andersson).
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of the Frontline documentary Separated: Children at the Border (DVD: $14.99), which is slated for October 9. What’s happened to the more than 2,000 families who were separated after crossing the U.S. border unlawfully in 2018? And how did immigration policy in America reach this point? Investigating the government’s handling of immigrant children who were separated from their parents after crossing into America prior to Trump’s reluctant executive order stopping the practice in June 2018, the film also traces what happened on immigration during the Obama years that some say helped lay the groundwork for what the Trump administration did next. With on-the-ground reporting from Central America and at the border, Separated: Children at the Border takes a close look at how the U.S.’s immigration policies involving children have played out over the years—and why, even for those families who have now been reunited, the scars remain.
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The true story behind one of the most iconic and talented performers of our time is told in Whitney (DVD: $19.98, Blu-ray: $24.99), slated for release on October 16 from Lionsgate. With seven consecutive U.S. no. 1 singles, and 200 million+ albums sold worldwide, Whitney Houston (1963-2012) was a music sensation who starred in several blockbuster movies before her brilliant career gave way to erratic behavior, scandals, and death at the age of 48. With the cooperation of the Estate of Whitney E. Houston, Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald unravels the story of her life and career in this production that features never-before-seen footage, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances, audio archives, and original interviews with the people who knew the Grammy and Emmy award-winner. A two-time nominee at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the documentary includes bonus features such as audio commentary with Macdonald and producer Simon Chinn, and a motion photo gallery.
Emmy-nominated documentary photographer and director Lauren Greenfield explores the heights of narcissism and greed within the global boom-bust economy in Generation Wealth (DVD: $19.98), slated for release on October 16 from Lionsgate. The opening film of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Generation Wealth captures a portrait of a materialistic, image-obsessed culture. Simultaneously a personal journey and historical essay, the multi-platform project—which also includes Greenfield’s 2017 same-titled book and a museum exhibition—bears witness to the corrupted American Dream, and the human costs of late-stage capitalism. Bonus features include photos by Greenfield.
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of The Amazing Human Body (DVD: $24.99), slated for September 25. Presented in partnership with the BBC, this new series explores the human body through the use of cutting-edge graphics, exploring the ingenious ways your body develops, adapts, and endures. Case studies from across the globe showcase the dazzling secret science of the human body, including a child prodigy in Phoenix, a chilling dip in an icy lake, and low-level torture techniques in a London laboratory. Set to premiere on PBS on September 19, the three-part series includes the episodes “Grow,” “Survive,” and “Learn.”
PBS Distribution has announced the release of The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99), coming September 25. Executive produced by Ken Burns, and directed by Burns, Erik Ewers, and Christopher Loren Ewers, the documentary tells the story of William Worrall Mayo, an English immigrant who, after traveling throughout the Midwest looking for a place to practice, settled with his family in rural Minnesota. Together with the Sisters of Saint Francis and his sons Will and Charlie, he laid the foundation for a medical center that now treats over a million patients every year from 50 states and 150 countries, while employing 64,000 in Rochester, MN and at campuses in Jacksonville, FL, and Scottsdale, AZ. Blending historical narrative with contemporary patient stories, this film offers a timely look at how one institution has met the changing demands of healthcare for 150 years—and what that can teach us about facing the challenges of patient care today. Narrated by Peter Coyote and featuring interviews with patients including John McCain and the Dalai Lama, The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science demonstrates the power of collaboration in medicine, the role of humanity in science, and the importance of hope in healing.
IFC has announced the release of That Summer (DVD: $24.98), slated for September 11. Three years before Albert and David Maysles’ landmark documentary Grey Gardens introduced the world to unforgettable mother and daughter (and Jackie O. relatives) Edith and Edie Beale and their decaying dream world on Long Island, renowned photographer Peter Beard chronicled life at their crumbling estate during the summer of 1972. In That Summer, director Göran Olsson assembles this long-lost footage—featuring glimpses of luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, and Truman Capote—into a one-of-a-kind family portrait bursting with the loving squabbles, quotable bon mots, and impromptu musical numbers that would make Big and Little Edie beloved cultural icons.
First Run Features will release Nana (DVD: $24.95) on September 18. Born in Poland, Maryla Michalowski-Dyamant survived Ravensbruck, Malchow, and Auschwitz, where she was the forced translator for the “Angel of Death,” Josef Mengele. Directed by her granddaughter Serena Dykman, Nana documents Serena’s journey with her mother Alice as they retrace the story of an Auschwitz survivor who spent her life fighting intolerance and publicly speaking about her survival to younger generations.
Viewers can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the real inspirations behind the beloved series in Harry Potter: A History of Magic (DVD: $14.98), slated for release on October 30 from BBC Worldwide Ltd.. Narrated by Imelda Staunton and featuring readings by other franchise actors including David Thewlis, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, Miriam Margoyles, and Mark Williams, the documentary visits the real-life magical history behind J.K. Rowling’s beloved classics and includes footage from the British Library’s exhibition in London. Featuring interviews with Rowling as she examines the most exciting items on display and talks for the first time about her own personal drawings and drafts featured in the exhibition, the film is being released in conjunction with the official Harry Potter touring exhibition.