April 22, 2020

Screen Time: Week of April 20

From Rachel Mason's 'Circus of Books,' which premieres April 22 on Netflix. Courtesy of Netflix

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.

Rachel Mason's Circus of Books, a project of IDA's Fiscal Sponsorship Program, premieres April 22 on Netflix. The film tells the story of the Los Angeles-based gay porn shop, Circus of Books, owned and operated by Mason's parents. The store served as the catalyst for LA's LGBT community for over 35 years, and the Masons themselves, a straight couple with three children, became one of the biggest distributors of hardcore gay porn in the United States. Circus of Books was the subject of the late Matt Holzman's final episode for the KCRW podcast The Document.

Last week, the world lost Joseph Feingold, the protagonist from Kahane Cooperman's 2016 Oscar-nominated doc short Joe's Violin. Feingold died from complications due to the coronavirus. In the film, Feingold, a Holocaust survivor and architect as well as a musician, forges a friendship with 12-year-old Bronx school girl Brianna Perez after he donates his cherished violin to her school. Watch Joe's Violin on The New Yorker's The Screening Room channel on YouTube.

In response to the cancellation of film festivals around the world and disruption in the lives and work of filmmakers, Eric Hynes, Damon Smith and Jeff Reichert of the Museum of the Moving Image filmed and edited ROOM H.264: Quarantine, April 2020 over the course of the last two weeks. Shot via Skype, it features those whose work was slated to screen at festivals like SXSW, CPH:DOX, Tribeca, First Look, and more. The documentary depicts a broad range of filmmakers, each sequestered in their own spaces in locations throughout North America, Europe, Africa and beyond, responding to a question first posed by Wim Wenders in his classic 1982 documentary experiment Room 666, and perhaps newly resonant today: "Is cinema becoming a dead language—an art form which is already in decline?" ROOM H.264: Quarantine, April 2020 is available on the Museum of the Moving Image's Vimeo site through May 3.

FILMS, INTERRUPTED, a showcase in the Women Make Movies (WMM) Virtual Film Festival, runs April 6-26, 2020 and features new WMM films that had festival and public screenings canceled due to COVID-19 social distancing. Each film will stream for a limited window and is available to watch for free by anyone who signs up.

Coronavirus Pandemic, a special report premiering April 21 on PBS' FRONTLINE, investigates the US response to the coronavirus pandemic—from Washington State, where the first known case of COVID-19 in America was identified, to Washington D.C. Produced by Miles O'Brien and Kate McMahon. 

Climate Change: The Facts, premiering April 22 (Earth Day) on PBS, brings together leading climate scientists who explain what might happen if global warming increases 1.5 degrees. Experts examine the consequences of rising temperatures on ice sheets, fragile ecosystems, developing communities and extreme weather events. Personal accounts of California wildfires, extreme coastal flooding in Louisiana and increasing temperatures in Australia paint vivid pictures of these devastating effects. A BBC Studios co-production with IWC Media. Serena Davis is the series producer and director.

Spike Jonze's Beastie Boys Story, premiering April 24 on Apple TV, is culled from theatrical performances from the surviving members of the Beastie Boys, Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz. The wry hip-hop legends relate, through monologues and a potpourri of music videos, clips, home movies and animation, their 30-year history of artistry, fame and friendship