Thursday 19 March, 2020
5 Of Bertha DocHouse’s Best Docs to Watch in Self-Isolation
This March, Bertha DocHouse had hoped to celebrate our 5th anniversary as the UK’s only cinema dedicated to documentaries. We’re immensely proud of having proven that you can run a successful cinema dedicated to showing non-fiction films four times a day, but sadly, due to the developments surrounding COVID-19, we have had to temporarily close our screen for the first time ever.
We haven’t given up, though, and we’re working around the clock to find digital ways to still connect you with our programme! So instead, we thought we’d celebrate with this glorious list of five of our favourite films from the last five years - all of which should be currently available to watch online!
For more updates on DocHouse’s plans to go digital, join their newsletter here.
1. The Look Of Silence / Joshua Oppenheimer / 2015 / 99mins
This documentary by filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, like its companion film The Act of Killing, examines the mass killings in Indonesia from 1965-66. The documentary centers around Adi, an optometrist who lives in close proximity to those who murdered his brother. Adi’s breaking of the silence leads him to do something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother, asking them to accept responsibility for their actions.
With the beautiful backdrop of the Indonesian landscape, see how Oppenheimer revisits its dark history, this time telling the story from the victims’ perspective. Radically different to The Act of Killing, this doc is equally shocking and keenly observed, creating an intimate and profoundly moving piece of non-fiction filmmaking.
You can watch The Look of Silence on ITunes and Google Play.
2. Notes On Blindness / Peter Middleton & James Spinney / 2016 / 90mins
After losing sight, John Hull knew that if he did not try to understand blindness it would destroy him. In 1983 he began keeping an audio diary. Over three years John recorded over sixteen hours of material to document his perception of the world after losing his sight. Note on Blindness is a unique testimony of rebirth and renewal through the excavation of personal memories, moments and locations from his recollections.
Filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney craft a documentary of breathtaking vision and innovation, visually capturing the internal nature of blindness. This groundbreaking approach to filmmaking is guided by the power and rich imagery of Joh’s account, his diaries becoming the essence of the film, intertwined with recordings of his wife and children. The film is a beautiful and thought-provoking account of blindness, exploring John’s personal experience with losing his sight, through to his acceptance of the condition as a ‘gift from God’ “not a gift that I want, but a gift nonetheless. The question is, not why have I got it, but what am I going to do with it.”
Once you've watched this online, be sure to return to watch our Q&A with the directors.
You can Watch Notes on Blindness on Netflix and The BFI Player.
3. OJ: Made In America / Ezra Edelman / 2016 / 7hr 47mins
The five-part feature length documentary series and winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary, chronicles the rise and fall of OJ Simpson. Ezra Edelman’s eight-hour doc contained little new evidence about the case, instead is an exploration of America itself. Delving into Simpson’s life and career Eldelman spent two years working on this gripping documentary series, not knowing what kind of footage he’d find, who would talk to him, or whether viewers would even want to revisit the scandal of the 1990s.
OJ: Made in America received critical acclaim and became the last of its type to be nominated and win an Oscar after a new Academy rule banned any “multi-part or limited series” from being elidge for documentary categories. The documentary examines celebrity and race through the life of Simpson, from his football career and his celebrity status within American culture, to his murder trial.
This series is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
4. The Other Side Of Everything / Mila Turajic / 2017 / 104mins
In Belgrade, an apartment is divided in two by a door, which has been permanently locked for over 70 years.The argument, which was divided on the order of Yugoslavia’s then commnunist government, is where director Mila Turajic’s mother was born, and where filmmaker Mila grew up herself. Mila’s mother, Srbijanka Turajic, who was a prominent political activist and leading player in the revolution still lives in just one half of the apartment.
As Mila begins an intimate conversation with her mother, the political fault line running through home reveals a house and a country haunted by history. The chronicle of a family in Serbia turns into a searing portrait of an activist in times of turmoil, raising the question of how each generation will fight for their future.
Once you've seen this documentary online, be sure to watch our recorded Q&A with the director.
You can watch The Other Side of Everything on Amazon Prime.
5. Under The Wire / Chris Martin / 2018 / 93mins
On 13 February 2012, war-correspondent Marie Colvi and photographer Paul Conroy entered war-ravaged Syria. Their aim was to cover the plight of Syrian civilians trapped in Homs, a city under siege and relentless military attack from the Syrian army. Only one of them returned. Based on Conroy’s book, ‘Under The Wire’, this documentary is a gripping account of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Told through footage from the scene, clips from live television and recent accounts, this is the story of Paul and Marie’s fateful mission, and the horrors of the Syrian war that they bore witness to.
Once you've seen this film online, be sure to watch our Q&A with the director.
You can watch Under The Wire on ITunes.
For more updates on Bertha DocHouse’s plans to boldly go into a digital world (including watch parties, WhatsApp Socials, and a creative competition in response to the theme of self-isolation) be sure to join their newsletter here.