January 7, 2019

Screen Time: Week of January 7

From  Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling’s "My Country No More." Courtesy of Joshua Hammerling
Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.

Premiering January 7 on Independent Lens and streaming here, Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling’s My Country No More takes viewers to Trenton, North Dakota, a quiet, tight-knit farm town that underwent a radical transformation during the oil boom years between 2011 and 2016. With billions of dollars to be gained, small towns like Trenton became overwhelmed by an influx of workers from across the country and by the repurposing of countless acres of farmland for industrial development.

Streaming on IFCFilms.com and now available on DVD, Rachel Dretzin’s Far from the Tree takes an intimate look at families raising children society deems “abnormal”: a mother and son determined to show the world that his Down syndrome does not define him; a couple learning to communicate with their bright but nonverbal autistic son; a young woman dealing with what it means to be the only little person in her family; and parents whose deep love for their son persists even after he has committed an unspeakable crime. Tracing their joys, challenges, tragedies, and triumphs, Far From the Tree invites viewers to rethink what it means to be a “normal family.”

Streaming on MUBI through January 21, Tamra Davis’ Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child profiles the iconic American artist whose meteoric rise in the 1980s New York downtown art scene--where hip-hop, punk and graffiti art collided and coalesced--mirrored his tragic fall, when his struggles to manage fame and fortune culminated in a heroin overdose at age 27.

Now streaming on Fandor, Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol, the basis for the current feature Welcome to Marwen, profiles artist Mark Hogancamp, who transformed his recovery from a near-fatal beating outside a bar into a world of his own creation: Marwencol, a World War II-era town populated by dolls representing his friends and foes as well as a bevy of imaginary characters. This fascinating documentary won two Independent Spirit Awards and helped Malmberg earn the IDA Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award in 2010.

Premiering January 9 on NOVA, Einstein’s Quantum Riddle examines the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, in which two subatomic particles mirror changes in each other instantaneously over any distance. Such a phenomenon could purportedly revolutionize technology from computers to cryptography.