DEADLINE WEEK AKA 7 Days of Documentaries


Artwork by Chloe Leeson

It is a well-known fact that I am a professional in leaving absolutely everything to the last minute; buying gifts, packing for holidays, getting ready, and academic work is never EVER an exception to that rule. So imagine my joy at returning to university after christmas and realising I have one week to hand in two projects, one of which I’m about 1/3 done with and the other one, a mere two sketchbook pages. Me being me didn’t think ‘oh wow I should really get my head down and make some good of this horrible situation and try not to get kicked out’, but instead ‘how the fuck am I going to accommodate for films this week?’ (Already being about 1 1/2 months behind on my 365 challenge). It was in this moment that I decided to watch documentaries all week, they were informative, fun and I didn’t have to keep my eyes on the screen all the time to get the jist of what was going on, it even helped me get on with my studies. So here’s the lowdown of what I watched during this stressful, stressful week.

1Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

I love skateboarding, I wish I could skateboard and it is my no.1 regret in life that I can’t. Lords of Dogtown is my 3rd favourite movie ever and since then I’ve been seeking out docs and movies to watch around the subject. Bones Brigade is about the skating team that original Z-Boy Stacy Peralta and George Powell created in 1978, that rose to fame in the 80’s, paving the way for big names such as Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen. The film charters their ups and downs as a team and well as the rises and falls in the world of skating, its acceptance and popularity. Whether you’re into skating or not there is no doubt that this film’s so educational and inspiring, I actually cried quite a bit. It’s motivating stuff for anybody who wants to pursue their goals. 4/5


2Mortified Nation

Mortified Nation asks a group of now-adults to get up on stage and read from their teenage journals in kind of a stand-up comedy setting. As you can imagine it’s absolutely hilarious. It’s also completely heartfelt and relatable. There are people discovering their sexualities, wondering why so-and-so doesn’t like them, fallings out with friends and parents and one guy who really, really wanted to start a metal band. Its brilliant hearing the complex worlds and musings of people in their teens, and the embarrassment that comes with revealing how horrible/funny/idiotic/horny etc. the adults speaking were back in the day. I would totally be up for participating if it’s still running in 10 years because I’ve got some pretty cringey source material from years 8-10. 4/5


3Waiting for Lightning

Danny Way is a professional skateboarder (please don’t sigh, there’s 3 more skating docs in this list) who is known for doing crazy stunts and being a huge participant in the X Games. Always wanting to go one step ahead of his self, the insane fella decided he was going to jump The Great Wall of China. Yes, you heard correct. The entire documentary focuses around the story of his career, cut in with preparations for this big jump. I couldn’t help but feel inspired by someone who always strives to do better than he has done previously, it’s a great mantra to have in everything, not just the world of skating. The doc finishes up with the eventful day at The Great Wall which is sure to have your heart in your mouth. 4/5


4Meeting People is Easy

Radiohead are one of my favourite bands. They are also one of the only bands that I can actually listen to when studying and not get distracted, after a quick ‘Radiohead documentary’ search I found this one. It isn’t a ‘the road to stardom’ film but one of a band on tour. But it also isn’t a tour documentary. Blurring the lines between interview snippets and live footage it deals with the members of Radiohead’s collective shyness and how they deal with the press and their often stupid questions. Sadly it did drag at times and I really would’ve loved to see one about how they came to fame 3/5



5I’m Still Here

Over the past few months I’ve developed a bit of a thing for Joaquin Phoenix and proceeded to add his filmography to my very, very long list. I spotted ‘Im Still Here’ as a bit of an anomaly, a documentary about Joaquin’s rap career? How had I never heard of this? It turns out the film is a fake. Casey Affleck and Joaquin were in cahoots to create a mockumentary to document Joaquin’s fall from Hollywood and rise to the top of the rap game, yo. It’s a funny affair and you can’t help but giggle at his attempts to rope in P.Diddy and his iconic interviews sporting that HUGE beard. 3/5



6The Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most common and notorious suicide place in the world and for an entire year, this documentary crew filmed the bridge from two locations, capturing the many attempted and successful suicides of those 12 months. Combining their footage with interviews with parents and friends of the deceased it makes for a saddening watch but I couldn’t help but feel somewhat detached from the film due to the film-makers never attempting to help the individuals, case after case the film felt less and less real to me but I was particularly taken by the story of one man who decided he didn’t want to die seconds after he let go and managed to survive. It isn’t one for the faint-hearted and certainly not recommended viewing for anyone who feels that subject hits close to home. 3/5



Every town has its urban legends, right? But what if your urban legend actually turned out to be real? That’s what Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman discovered after returning to their hometown. Their town was home to a home for the mentall ill, there was media scandals regarding mis-treatment of patients and the disappearance of a number of children. Urban legend put this down to some form of Boogeyman but as the years go on all signs point to a real person. As the legend of Cropsey becomes more and more real shocking footage of the care home and interviews with parents of the missing children make for a truly chilling watch. 3/5



1Jesus Camp

American is a pretty extreme place, their attitudes towards practicing Christianity often even more so. This particular Evangelical summer camp for kids ran by Becky Fischer is incredible. Incredibly freaky. Kids are filmed crying and raising their arms to the sky, convulsing and begging their God for forgiveness. The film features budding preachers and parents completely supporting of this controlling and condemning regime. These children are very young and impressionable and a testament to just how far religious fanatics can go. 5/5




2D.O.P.E (Death or Prison Eventually)

Wanting to see a bit more of Jay Adams I stuck this short 1 hour doc on on a bit of a whim. Essentially an anti-drug campaign, D.O.P.E tackles the issue of drug and alcohol abuse within the skating community when people become big stars and deal with fame and excess. I hadn’t expected it to be so hard on the anti-drug message and would have loved some more background info on each case presented, and for them to ease off on the slightly Christian slant it fell towards in the end. 2/5




3The Invisible War

I am completely anti-war so had always been quite reluctant to watch this, now I’m incredibly glad I did. At no point does The Invisible War glorify warfare, it instead focuses solely on the rape and abuse epidemic women in the US military face. Shocking and with a no-holds bared approach, a handful of brave women come forward to tell their story. Varying from the Army to the Navy and differing in ranks, it speaks volumes regarding the scale and tragedy of this problem. 5/5 




4The Queen of Versailles

Starting out as a lavish look into the extremes of The American Dream, The Queen of Versailles focuses on a family creating a mansion inspired by Versailles (to be the largest square foot piece of housing in the US). Because of the crashing economy the film soon turns into a rags to riches tale as the families empire crashes around them. Despite their lavish lifestyle the family are relatively normal, compassionate and stick together through the harder times. The end result of the film probably being a much more achievable idea of The American Dream as opposed to flash and excess. 3/5 




Undoubtedly the most talked about documentary of the past few years, Blackfish uncovers the horrors, mistreatment and history of Seaworld and its killer whales. Displayed as willing and eager participants, the whales play for the audience but sinister goings on lurk behind the scenes as trainers begin to have ‘accidents’ in and around the pool. Its a shocking uncovering of a corporation cover-up of the mistreatment of some of the largest creatures on earth who should not be controlled by man. 5/5




220,000 Days on Earth

I can’t say I’ve ever really bothered with Nick Cave but after hearing about this docs BAFTA nomination I thought I’d check it out. It’s an odd little film and seems very dull in premise; Nick Cage’s 20,000th day on earth. Although the idea is bland, Nick’s narration is beautiful, an incredibly wise man he muses on life in its purest forms, also discussing his methods of recording his day to day life, such as an intricate diary detailing every days weather. A must watch for his fans but also a decent viewing for anyone feeling a bit philosophical. 3/5




3The Cove

Another marine life doc, I initially thought The Cove was just going to be a pretty movie about the sea. The reality is much more graphic. In the fishing town of Taiji, Japan, Dolphins are being herded and slaughtered en mass for their meat. Richard O’Barry, a man trying to preserve Dolphins in the wild, takes a team to Taiji in secret and uses hidden cameras to record ad investigate the gruesome goings on, much to the annoyance and suspicion of the local fishermen. The film documents his attempts to expose the goings on in Taiji to the rest of the world. The footage is shocking and the sea of red is an image that will not leave my mind for a long time. 3/5



4Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi

I had never heard of Christian Hosoi prior to this viewing but wow, what a life! How his story is not more well known than Tony Hawk’s is beyond me. Christian rose to fame in the 80’s and was head to head with Haw at nearly every competition. Tony had the tricks but Christian had natural flow and height. Tony was gangly and thin, Christian a stylish guy with gorgeous hair. The contrasts were endless. Christian had it all until his stardom lead him down the path of drink and drugs, this film documents his rise and fall and eventual turn to Christianity. It’s brilliant, exciting and a great view of skating at its highest and lowest. 4/5



5Life Itself

Anybody reading this will probably have heard of Roger Ebert, he is after all the most well known and celebrated film critic of all time. The film was made was Ebert was in the hospital getting over throat cancer and the removal of his lower jaw. The 2 hours deals with Rogers personal life just before his death, his physical disability and everything before that, his first newspaper articles, winning the Pulitzer Prize and his long running TV show alongside Gene Siskel. Ebert was a man of many words, some positive, some negative, some hilarious, but what never lacks is heart, something that’s bursting at the seams of Life Itself. 5/5



6After Porn Ends

I would say I stand very much on the side of ‘anti-porn’ within the feminist debate and this is what I was hoping for with After Porn Ends, but the film seems seriously undecided on its stance. Ex porn-stars sit down in front of the camera and tell us about their life prior, during and after porn and how it has potentially changed the course of their life now. Some exclaim that they love it, that its a great thing to fall back on for money, and others that it has ruined their life, leading to name changes and failed relationships. Its an interesting watch no doubt, but I would have preferred the makers to have taken a much more decided stance. 2/5 



7Touching the Void

In 1985 two climbers attempted a feat never achieved, the west side of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Alps. After one of them slips and shatters bones in his leg, they begin a more perilous descent as the other lowers him 300m at a time. The man with the broken leg, Joe, is left dangling over a crevasse, his partner Simon doing the unthinkable and cutting the rope that binds them. Miraculously, Joe survives the descent back to camp in a story that rings right to the core of human nature; the need to survive. 3/5




8Kidnapped for Christ

Another example of extreme Christianity, film-maker Kate Logan, a Christian herself, is given access to a camp that deals in behaviour modification on young teens. Kate receives a quick reality check when all is not sunshine and rainbows. She hears the stories of children who were snatched away in the dead of night (with fully consenting parents). The teens are desperate to get out and send messages to their friends, detailing where they are. They also explain about the camps methods; behaviour levels, chores and practices all done in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. Its a very shocking view and a brave project for Kate to continue with, fetching the perpetrators to justice is a sickeningly sweet success. 3/5


9The Union: The Business of getting high

Everyone loves a good drug documentary. Pro-drugs, anti-drugs, whatever your stance, there’s always something to learn and this film exploring the marijuana market in British Columbia is definitely eye-opening. Raking in about $7 Billion annually, the uses of marijuana are endless, smoking for recreation, medicinal and a huge variety of hemp products being the most noted. In an industry that makes more profit off being illegal and tax-free its incredible to see just how many people will put their lives on the lines for the money they make off getting people high. Plenty of wicked facts and stats to tell your mates in this one too. 3/5 



by Chloe Leeson

CHLOEChloe Leeson is 19 and from the north of England (the proper north). She believes Harmony Korine is the future and is pretty sure she coined the term ‘selfie central’. She doesn’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain but she does like Ezra Miller & Dane DeHaan a whole lot. Her favourite films are The Beach, Lords of Dogtown and Into the Wild. But DON’T talk to her about Paranormal Activity. She rants @kawaiigoff.

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