After following menswear designer Ozwald Boateng around for twelve years, you’d think that at the very least Varon Bonicos might have a good bit of fashion gossip to share with us. Sadly not. A slightly stuffy, rose-tinted documentary about an evidently talented man; though its grounding is in clothing creation it never quite manages to cut to the chase.
“If we were in another state,” mutters one of Cyril Tuschi’s interviewees, “I could be a lot more open with you”. And therein lies the problem. A vital but ultimately frustrating documentary about one of Russia’s most controversial oligarchs, Khodorkovsky does its best to shed light on the mind-meltingly shady dealings between Vladimir Putin and the man who went from being one of the richest businessmen in the world to a Siberian prisoner. The constant political road-blocks can’t help but take their toll on the feature’s punch, but it’s fascinating stuff all the same.
A jaw-lockingly sinister look at the side of modelling never really explored by Tyra Banks Co, Girl Model is a sparse but affecting documentary about the under-age beauty business, its victims and its beneficiaries. Director David Redmon does well to keep quiet, leaving it to his subjects to sketch out an deeply worrying world of exploitation and sexualisation.
The British Guide to Showing Off offers a behind-the-scenes look at Miss Alternative World, a pageant that began 40 years ago as a drag contest and has since morphed into an extravaganza of living art. The film follows the show’s creator Andrew Logan as he creates his 2009 show. With guest spots from Ruby Wax, Zandra Rhodes and about three hundred men in drag, be warned: this is the documentary that will make you want to run away with the circus all over again.
We Were Here takes a reflective look at the AIDS virus during the eighties and nineties in the San Francisco gay community. Gracefully melding the devastation of the epidemic with the inspiring reaction from the community that struggled to accept its enormity, We Were Here is deeply moving, utterly inspiring and completely unmissable.
Since 1982 the state of Texas has executed 473 people, and is currently holding 334 people on death row. While California has the highest death row population in the US, it’s Texas that has the highest rate of execution – and it’s here that legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog travelled to make his mesmerising documentary, Into The Abyss.
Upon its release in 1972, On Any Sunday, a low-budget documentary about the lives of motorcycle racers, immediately generated interest (perhaps largely due to the participation of Steve McQueen) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Now due to be re-released on DVD on the 12th of September, it’s our job to see how the documentary stands up against the test of time. And also Steve McQueen is in it. Did we mention Steve McQueen is in it?