Patrol directed by Camilo de Castro, Brad Allgood

The Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) revealed the documentary films that have been officially confirmed to screen at the 46th edition of the festival returning to Marin County October 5-15, 2023.

Early confirmed Documentaries with Local Connections include:

The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane (US, documentary feature, dir. Maureen Gosling) Celebrates the life of singer Barbara Dane, a woman whose stellar voice supported justice movements in the Bay Area and beyond for decades, garnering an impressive FBI file along the way. Deeply respected by fellow luminaries in folk, blues, and jazz, Dane built a far reaching legacy with music, activism, and love. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere

The Disappearance of Shere Hite (US, documentary feature, dir. Nicole Newnham) Shere Hite’s 1976 bestselling book, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the most private experiences of thousands of anonymous survey respondents. Her findings rocked the American establishment and presaged current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy. So how did Shere Hite disappear?

A Double Life (US, documentary feature, dir. Catherine Masud) Catherine Masud’s documentary unravels the mystery of Stephen Bingham, a civil rights activist lawyer and political fugitive, and his alleged involvement in a 1971 San Quentin prison rebellion that left six people dead.

Farming While Black (US, documentary feature, dir. Mark Decena) In 1910, Black farmers owned 14 percent of all American farmland. Over the intervening decades, that number fell to two percent, the result of racism, discrimination, and dispossession. Director Mark Decena adapts Leah Penniman’s 2018 book into a visually eloquent documentary that chronicles Penniman and two other Black farmers’ efforts to reclaim their agricultural heritage.

I Am Hope (US, documentary feature, dir. ShakaJamal) Through fly-on-the-wall footage and insightful interviews, director ShakaJamal chronicles the effort to create a first-of-its-kind yoga and mindfulness program for Oakland Unified School District middle schools. Through a challenging school year, students are engaged in a range of mindfulness activities that transform them from mindful learners to mindful leaders. – Bay Area Premiere

Mùsica! (US, documentary feature, dirs. Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman) Since 2011, US musicians and artisans have traveled to Cuba as volunteers to gift badly needed supplies and help repair instruments in that isolated nation. Bay Area documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s latest celebrates not just this collaborative effort, but the rich sonic traditions and budding young performers it helps sustain.

The Pigeon Tunnel (US, documentary feature, dir. Errol Morris) Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris pulls back the curtain on the storied life and career of former British spy David Cornwell — better known as John le Carré, author of such classic espionage novels as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the Cold War leading into present day, the film spans six decades as le Carré delivers his final and most candid interview, punctuated with rare archival footage and dramatized vignettes. The Pigeon Tunnel is a deeply human and engaging exploration of le Carré’s extraordinary journey and the paper-thin membrane between fact and fiction.

The Right to Read (US, documentary feature, dir. Jenny Mackenzie) Executive produced by LeVar Burton, Emmy winner Jenny Mackenzie’s inspiring documentary introduces us to two families, a Bay Area activist, and an Oakland teacher, all taking action to reverse the disturbing trend of plummeting literacy — and give our children a brighter future full of appreciation for the written word. – Bay Area Premiere

Water for Life (US, documentary feature, dir. Will Parrinello) Bay Area documentarian Will Parrinello (The New Environmentalists: From Accura to Elethera Island, MVFF 2022) captures the efforts of three environmental defenders in Chile, El Salvador, and Honduras, all fighting for clean water. Facing down powerful global corporations and their government backers, the trio persists, despite the danger, the costs nearly always exacted in blood. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – California Premiere

Additional early confirmed Documentaries include:

Adrift (US, documentary feature, dir. Rory Kennedy) Veteran filmmaker Rory Kennedy launches a welcome intervention into the ongoing global refugee crisis. Adopting personal and historical perspectives as well as testimonies from experts and relevant stakeholders, Adrift is a passionate and evidence-driven appeal for compassion and respect for the rights of refugees. In English, Rohingya, Russian, & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere

Another Body (United Kingdom/US, documentary feature, dirs. Sophie Compton, Reubyn Hamlyn) Directors Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn follow a college student’s search for answers and justice after she discovers deepfake pornography of herself circulating online.Through a combination of candid video diaries, synthetic media, and 2D and 3D animation, the film takes viewers on a journey through online and offline worlds, highlighting the devastating impact of deepfakes on the individual. – West Coast Premiere

Demon Mineral (US, documentary feature, dir. Hadley Austin) A penetrating look at the effects of radiation poisoning on Navajo land after decades of uranium mining, Hadley Austin’s fascinating documentary uses well-sourced data, coupled with archival and on-the-ground footage, to paint a devastating portrait of bureaucratic inaction and its long term impact on human life. In Spoken Navajo with English Subtitles & Spoken English with Navajo Subtitles – US Premiere

Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 (US, documentary feature, dir. Jay Schlossberg) Broadcasting from “high atop the Triangle Towers” near Washington, DC the legendary & beloved WHFS was more than just a local radio station – it was a keystone, and center point, for the music and culture of the era. Hear from local, national and international musicians, the ‘HFS deejays, record label veterans, journalists, historians, fans and more as they reflect on a time when the music united a tribe who spoke out via the radio waves about war, equality and a time of great social, cultural and political upheaval. – California Premiere

Invisible Nation (US, documentary feature, dir. Vanessa Hope) With unprecedented access to Taiwan’s sitting head of state, director Vanessa Hope investigates the election and tenure of Tsai Ing-wen, the first female president of Taiwan. Thorough, incisive, and bristling with tension, Invisible Nation is a living account of Tsai’s tightrope walk as she balances the hopes and dreams of her nation between the colossal geopolitical forces of the U.S. and China. Hope’s restrained observational style captures Tsai at work in her country’s vibrant democracy at home, while seeking full international recognition of Taiwan’s right to exist. At a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated the ever-present threat of authoritarian aggression, Invisible Nation brings punctual focus to the struggle of Taiwan as it fights for autonomy and freedom from fear. In English & Chinese with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere

One With The Whale (United Kingdom/US, documentary feature, dirs. Pete Chelkowski, Jim Wickens) Hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the residents of St. Lawrence, a tiny island in the Bering Sea. So, when Chris Apassingok becomes the youngest person to ever harpoon a whale for his Alaskan village, his mother proudly shares the news on Facebook. To her surprise, thousands of keyboard activists brutally attack Chris without fully understanding the scope of his accomplishment. One with the Whale is a heartwarming yet thrilling story of one family’s struggle to rebuild their shattered identities and regain a new foothold in both the ancient and modern world.

Patrol (Nicaragua, documentary feature, dirs. Camilo de Castro, Brad Allgood) Illegal cattle ranching poses an existential threat to Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions in Central America. This stirring documentary follows the Rama-Kriol peoples — the rainforest’s rightful stewards — as they gather evidence against the ranchers in hopes of saving this precious ecosystem before it’s too late. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – California Premiere

Periodical (US, documentary feature, dir. Lina Lyte Plioplyte) An eye-opening documentary that examines science, politics, and mystery of the menstrual cycle, through the experiences of doctors, athletes, movie stars, journalists, activists, and everyday people. – Bay Area Premiere

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