Screen Time: Week of May 20
Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.
Premiering May 20 on Independent Lens, Wrestle, from Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer, follows four members of the wrestling team at Huntsville, Alabama’s J.O. Johnson High School—long listed as one of Alabama’s failing schools. The four teammates face everyday challenges that transcend the wrestling mat—and their journey to the state championship. As their tough-love coach grapples with his own past while wading into the complexities of race, class and privilege, the teammates push each other to be accountable to both the team and themselves.
Now streaming on OVID.TV, The Grace Lee Project follows filmmaker Grace Lee as she tracks down an intriguing cross-section of other Grace Lees—including the fiery social activist Grace Lee Boggs; the rebel Grace Lee, who tried to burn down her high school; and the Silicon Valley teenager Grace Lee, who spends evenings doing homework, playing piano, and painting graphic pictures of death and destruction. With wit and charm, The Grace Lee Project challenges the cultural investments made in the idea of Grace Lee, all the while sending her a love letter.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel, Kirsten Johnson’s IDA Documentary Award-winning Cameraperson spans her 25-year career as a documentary cinematographer with a stunning tapestry of footage that explores the relationship between image-makers and their subjects and the tension between the objectivity and the intervention of the camera. Part documentary, part autobiography, part ethical inquiry, Cameraperson takes a personal journey and thoughtful examination of one’s artistic career.
Streaming on Mubi, in collaboration with Film at Lincoln Center’s acclaimed Art of the Real showcase, While We Are Here, from Brazilian filmmakers Clarissa Campolina and Luis Pretti, takes its inspiration from the epistolary style of Chris Marker and Chantal Akerman, as two lives cross in New York City—Lamis a Lebanese woman and a new arrival, and Wilson, a Brazilian man who has lived in the city for ten years. We never see the pair on screen, but their relationship is captured in the poetic Arabic and Portuguese narration.
Now available on Amazon Prime is IDA member Christina Linhardt’s 2014 doc short Guantanamo Circus, which follows a hardy troupe of circus performers—cleared by the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security and the Pentagon—as they take their act to “Gitmo,” one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
In 1997, U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexico border as part of the War on Drugs shot and killed Esequiel Hernández Jr. Mistaken for a drug runner, the 18-year-old was, in fact, a US citizen tending his family's goats with a .22 rifle. He became the first American killed by U.S. military forces on native soil since the 1970 Kent State shootings. The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández explores Hernandez's tragic death and its torturous aftermath. His parents and friends, the Marines on patrol, and investigators discuss the dangers of militarizing the border and the death of one young man. The film streams through May 26 as part of POV's online curation series, POV Playlist.