Deidre Fishel's new PBS documentary Women in Blue, on the Independent Lens series, focuses on four women who worked for the Minneapolis Police Department. It begins 3 years ago and ends with the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Kirsten Johnson's new Netflix documentary, Dick Johnson Is Dead, tells the story of moving her dad out of his home in Seattle and into her apartment in New York. It also enacts her father's death from imagined accidents, like getting hit in the head by a falling air conditioner or tripping on a crack in the sidewalk.
Johnson has worked as a cinematographer for over 50 documentaries, and has directed seven movies, including Cameraperson and the short film The Above. She says her father laughed when she pitched the idea to him.
TV critic David Bianculli says the new documentary series Five Came Back, based on the book of the same name, "leaves you hungry to seek out more (films) from the briefest documentary short to the subsequent Oscar-winning postwar features.
The late James Baldwin was one of the most influential African-American writers to emerge during the civil rights era. During the late 1950s and 1960s, he traveled through the South and addressed racial issues head on. Though Baldwin died in 1987 before that book could be written, the new Oscar-nominated documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, draws on his notes for the book, as well as from other of Baldwin's writings.
In August 1966, a student and former Marine ascended to the top of the tower that housed the University of Texas' main library and began shooting at people below. He killed 14 people on the campus and wounded 31 more. Hours earlier, Charles Whitman had killed his wife and mother in their homes. He was eventually shot to death by police. A 15th victim died in 2001, from injuries sustained in the attack. Now the new documentary Tower re-creates that 96-minute-long massacre in an original way, using archival film and new interviews with an animated portrayal of the events.
Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new documentary, Ballets Russes, just out on DVD. It tells the story of ballet after the death of Sergei Diaghilev, who founded and ran the company until 1929.
As New Orleans' levees buckled, Kimberly Rivers Roberts turned her video camera on marooned friends, relatives and neighbors. Roberts' footage has been adapted into a powerful documentary that is as much about America as it is about the deadly storm.