Skip to main content

Screen Time: Week of May 14

By Tom White

From Alexandra Dean's 'Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,' which premieres May 18 on 'American Masters.'

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

Premiering this week on Starz and Starz On Demand, Paige Goldberg Tolmach's What Haunts Us investigates the story of the 1979 class of Porter Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina. Within the last 35 years, six of the graduating class of 49 boys have died by suicide. Tolmach herself, a graduate of Porter Guad School, takes a deep dive into her past in order to uncover the surprising truth and finally release the ghosts that haunt her hometown to this day.

In Random Acts of Legacy, premiering this week on PBS World, filmmaker Ali Kazimi finds a rare cache of 16mm home movies spanning from 1936 to 1951 and deftly crafts a story which unfolds with the vintage footage of a family archive. Kazimi learns the work was made by Silas Henry Fung. It reveals a creative and enterprising Chinese American household in middle America during the Depression years. 

It's been months since Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema. The result, This Is Not a Film, which Panahi's associates famously smuggled out of Iran to premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, comes to Mubi on May 16.

Premiering May 18 on PBS' American Masters, Alexandra Dean's Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story unveils the technological genius behind one of the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and '40s. The star of Zeigfeld Girl and Samson and Delilah also helped revolutionize modern communication by perfecting a secure radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes during World War II and overall. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story brings to light the story of an unusual and accomplished woman, spurned as too beautiful to be smart, but a role model to this day.