April 27, 2021

Screen Time: Week of April 26, 2021

Chadwick Boseman, subject of the documentary 'Chadwick Boseman: A Portrait of an Artist." From 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.' Photo: David Lee. Courtesy of Netflix

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

Although he did not capture the Best Actor Oscar for his final role, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Chadwick Boseman made his mark in his short, incandescent life as one of the finest actors of his generation. Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist, streaming on Netflix through May 17, captures scenes from his meteoric career, as well as testimonials from some of the artists who worked with him:  Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, George C. Wolfe, Branford Marsalis, Phylicia Rashad and more testify to his artistry and commitment to his craft.

Now streaming on Apple Tv, iTunes and Amazon through First Run Features, Unmarked, from Brad Bennett and Chris Haley, explores the efforts to restore and preserve vast numbers of African-American gravesites and burial grounds in the South. These sites represent thousands of untold stories and hundreds of years of buried history.

Now streaming on Netflix, Searching for Sheela, directed by Shakun Batra, catches up with Ma Anand Sheela, the notorious former Rajneesh commune spokesperson who captivated fans of the hit series Wild Wild Country. Here, Sheela returns to her native India after decades of exile that included a three-year prison term and a subsequent reconstitution as the owner/operator of two assisted living facilities in Switzerland.

Launching May 3 on PBS, the tenth season of, Pacific Heartbeat, presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications and PBS Hawai’i, is an anthology series that provides viewers a glimpse of the real Pacific—its people, cultures, languages, music and contemporary issues. From revealing exposés to intimate personal stories, the series features a diverse array of programs that will draw viewers into the heart and soul of Pacific Island culture.

Premiering May 3 on American Masters, Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir, James Redford’s final film, profiles the groundbreaking writer, born to Chinese immigrants in Oakland. Her bestselling work, including The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter and a host of others, has made her a global icon for Asian Americans.

Now available through May 6 on metrograph.com, Sisters with Transistors, directed by Lisa Rovner and narrated by multimedia artist Laurie Anderson, celebrates the iconic women who pioneered electronic music, including theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore; Dr. Who theme composer and master of tape manipulation Delia Derbyshire; Daphne Oram, one of the founders of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; Éliane Radigue, known for her work in musique concrète, tape feedback techniques and meditative compositions; sound artist Maryanne Amacher, known for using psychoacoustic phenomena in which the ears themselves produce audible sound; and many more.

Premiering online April 30 via The Coda Collection, What Drives Us, from legendary Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, is a testament to the musician’s life and specifically the rock ‘n’ roll rite of passage of touring in a van to destinations unknown. With wild stories and poignant insights from the likes of Ringo Starr, St. Vincent, The Edge, Annie Clark, Steven Tyler, Exene Cervenka and many more, viewers come away with a renewed appreciation for dreaming without a net.

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