The official combat painter died in 1942 when his plane went down. Now his inspiring life story is the subject of a major documentary
The letter was dated 30 August 1942 and posted from Iceland. Eric Ravilious, one of the official war artists, wrote to his wife, Tirzah (“Tush”), of “an unbelievable lunch of caviar, paté and cheese”. He then described the island’s lunar-like craters before ending: “Would you like a pair of gloves, sealskin with fur on the back? Draw around your hand on writing paper so I can get the size. Goodbye darling. Hope you feel well again.”
The letter is read out by his one surviving child, Anne Ullmann, in Eric Ravilious: Drawn To War, which goes on general release – a rarity for an art film – on 1 July. His “Goodbye darling” was tragically apposite as, three days later, Ravilious’s plane went down over the sea. The letter reached his wife after his death.
In Leave No Trace, survivors speak about what they endured under the Boy Scouts of America, leading to the biggest sexual abuse settlement in history
For John Humphrey, childhood used to mean having fun in the backyard of his home in New Jersey. “We had a rule that we couldn’t go any farther than the bell or the sound of my mother’s whistle,” he recalls. “I was always digging and playing.”
Then Humphrey went to a school that offered a Boy Scout programme. “I just loved the outdoors and this particular troop camped 12 months a year. It didn’t matter – winter, snow, ice, hot – I loved that part of it.”
Inspired by a 1960s Italian potholing expedition, Michelangelo Frammartino’s almost wordless film is spellbinding
Having slept solidly through Il Buco, Michelangelo Frammartino’s long-awaited follow-up to the glorious Le Quattro Volte, on my first viewing attempt, I knew already that the film was at the more serene and lyrical end of the arthouse spectrum. What I hadn’t expected, having rewatched with fresher eyes, was quite how compelling this near dialogue-free meditation on overlapping cycles of life would turn out to be.
Loosely inspired by a 1961 caving expedition to Calabria by a group of young speleologists, it’s an arrestingly beautiful work. It finds a pure visual poetry in the way the mossy light of the mountain dusk is echoed by the velvety sage tones of the lichen-covered cave mouth; the way the ancient geological etching on the face of a cow herder evokes the weathered land that he walks each day.
This no-frills documentary features gripping tributes to the plane and lost pals from surviving airmen, now in their 90s
Part oral history, part archive, this is a thoroughly researched account of the role of the Lancaster bomber in the second world war. It’s solid, no frills film-making, but that’s entirely appropriate given the sobering stories recounted by surviving members of Bomber Command, now in their 90s. The men pay tribute to the plane that proved to be a game-changer in Britain’s war.
But they also recall instances in which nearly 100 Lancasters were lost in a single night. “That’s 672 empty chairs at breakfast,” says one former airman. It’s a poignant image; but so too is the estimate of 25,000 lives lost in the bombing of Dresden, and the stain left on the consciences of the men who dropped the bombs.
Harsh sentencing in the US has led to many economically deprived young men receiving hard-to-contest life sentences but in new documentary Since I Been Down, hope awaits
At 1.30pm on Friday 8 July, Kimonti Carter will learn whether he must spend the rest of his life in prison – or if American justice allows for the possibility of redemption.
Carter was riding in a car with fellow gang members in 1997. One told him to shoot at a car in the next lane, mistakenly believing that it belonged to a rival gang. Carter fired several shots, killing Corey Pittman and injuring two other passengers.
Aya, a Syrian teenager in Denmark, is threatened with deportation to a place she cannot remember. Denmark has begun trying to send back refugees from Damascus, claiming the city is now safe under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. Aya’s brothers are allowed to stay, since if they returned they would have to join the military. We join Aya at her graduation surrounded by her schoolmates, teachers, friends and family who are rallying around her as she fights to stay
In compelling new film Hold Your Fire, a siege that pitted black robbers against white US police led to an unlikely outcome
Films about hostage situations rarely play out like Hold Your Fire, where both the captives and captors don’t die.
Stefan Forbes’s riveting documentary revisits a real life 47-hour standoff in Brooklyn following a botched sporting goods store robbery; the kind that makes you wonder why they never made a movie about that before. In January 1973, four Black men led by Shu’aib Raheem were planning to steal guns from John and Al’s Sporting Goods in Bed-Stuy and were pitted into a loaded and intense confrontation with an overwhelmingly white police force that brought barricades, snipers and a tank.
The 1996 TV movie is possibly the Time Lord’s most controversial on-screen outing. A heart-warming new documentary follows its writer, as he visits conventions full of the die-hards who’ve criticised him for decades
“I’ve written lots of things that I’ve happily forgotten about, or that have been remembered fondly,” says Matthew Jacobs. “But the Doctor Who TV movie is very much like a tattoo that just won’t go away.”
What is it like to make one sizeable contribution to a much–loved franchise – and then everybody hates it? And, two decades later, to turn up to a fan convention for the very first time, only to find fans still want to tell you to your face how much they hated it? That is the premise of what turns out to be a surprisingly uplifting new documentary about fandom and family called Doctor Who Am I from Jacobs and Vanessa Yuille.
Austin Butler shakes his stuff as Elvis, Cronenberg gets creepy, Claire Denis takes on colonial agony and Hirokazu Kore-eda unwraps his first Korean-language film
Baz Luhrmann brings his trademark truckload of spangly glamour and sugar-rush showbiz to the story of Elvis Presley with Austin Butler as the King and Tom Hanks as his manipulative manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Australian director’s biopic about the singing legend to be unveiled at Cannes film festival next week
What do you get if you cross an Australian ballroom dancing teacher with the owner of a little cinema? Genetically speaking, the answer comes in the flamboyant shape of Baz Luhrmann, the music-loving director of Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge!, who learned to tango with his mother and watched films on the screen his father owned in the tiny town of Herons Creek.
Born Mark Anthony Luhrmann in Sydney in 1962, he is already the creator of a handful of exuberant popular hits, and is now telling the story of Elvis Presley, one of the most vivid – not to say lurid – of all real-life narratives. His biopic, Elvis, which stars 30-year-old Austin Butler in the lead role and Tom Hanks as the singer’s calculating manager, Colonel Tom Parker, has its world premiere on 25 May at the Cannes film festival.
The festival’s first full program since 2019 includes a new fantasy from Del Kathryn Barton, an eight-part First Nations anthology, and a doco filmed in VR
After a couple of hairy years for the Sydney film festival – delayed in 2021 after an online-only instalment in 2020 – things look to be more or less back to normal, with the event running from 8 to 19 June, and offering its first full program since 2019.
As per usual the programmers have left no cinematic stone unturned, scouring the globe for filmic delights. Here are 10 films to check out at this year’s festival.
An intimate new documentary explores the difficult life of one of Australia’s most brilliant songwriters, whose unexpected death stunned the industry
Jonathan Alley first met David McComb in 1994, interviewing him on Alley’s long-running Triple R radio program.
McComb had been lead singer and guitarist of 1980s band the Triffids, who broke up in 1989, and now McComb was plugging a new solo album, Love of Will. But the record company hadn’t sent it to the station yet – and the musician turned up 45 minutes late.
Mohammed Sawwaf and Michael Winterbottom’s documentary takes a deeply personal approach to the young lives lost in May’s bombings
For 11 days in May 2021, Gaza was bombed by Israel. There were numerous fatalities, but this documentary, co-directed by Gaza-based film-maker Mohammed Sawwaf and Michael Winterbottom, focuses solely on the children who lost their lives. It’s direct and unvarnished in approach: against a subtle, sombre score by Max Richter, a narration by Kate Winslet lists the dead and sketches details of their lives: a two-year-old who loved cats; an aspiring astronaut. Survivors are assembled to pay tribute; empty beds filmed; possessions collected into makeshift shrines. The film also includes footage of the children’s lifeless bodies – a controversial decision that many viewers will find profoundly uncomfortable.
A new wave of documentaries about female musicians highlights their accomplishments in an industry that too often failed them
Cyndi Lauper is about to get the feature-length documentary treatment, with news that a film about the singer’s life is in production. It will be called Let the Canary Sing and is directed by Alison Ellwood.
Ellwood made the award-winning The Go-Go’s in 2020, which told the story of the LA rock band’s rise to the top and subsequent implosion. From the documentary about Janet Jackson earlier this year, to Sheryl, out in the US this weekend, about the long career of Sheryl Crow, more and more films are focusing on women’s careers in music and finally taking it seriously.
Simple life of Wilf Davies touched on people’s ‘yearning to disconnect’, says director of Heart Valley
A Guardian article about a Welsh shepherd who works alone on his farm, has never left his valley and eats the same meal every day has been turned into a short documentary film which will premiere at Tribeca film festival.
Heart Valley, directed by Christian Cargill, beat more than 7,000 submissions to secure its place in the competition. It follows a day in the life of Wilf Davies, who was the centre of an article by Kiran Sidhu in the Guardian last year.