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Friday 3 May, 2019

May at Bertha DocHouse features an impressive line-up of trail-blazing and radical figures. Opening on May 3rd we have Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, a personal film about Merata Mita, the first Maori woman to make a feature film. The documentary is composed of brilliant archives and interviews put together by her son. The first screening will be attended by London’s Maori Cultural Group, who have contacted us to arrange an introductory prayer before the film. Also opening on Friday we have the run of Irene’s Ghost, following the sold-out Q&A on Tuesday night - coincidentally another film by a son doing detective work to tell his mother’s story.

We have a short run of Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things starting on May 6th – Veteran British documentary filmmaker Leslie Woodhead gives us access to never-before-seen archives, in this intimate account of the incredibly innovative musician.

May 10th welcomes two more legends on screen – Amazing Grace is completion of Sydney Pollack’s observational footage from 1972 of Aretha Franklin recording her bestselling album by the same name in an L.A. Baptist Church. The lost treasure has finally surfaced, and the sonic brilliance is breath-taking. On Sunday 12th May we’ll be hosting a very special event before the screening -  The London International Gospel Choir will be performing – this is not to be missed!

We also have Searching for Ingmar Bergman, in which director Margarethe Von Trotta builds a rich tapestry of the filmmaker’s legacy that bubbles with anecdotes and insight into the breadth of his influence.

On May 15th we have a special UK premiere of Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein followed by a director Q&A. Harold Feinstein’s photography spans six decades and celebrates the diversity his native city, New York. His striking images serve as a love letter to the Big Apple and its people. The film is screening in partnership with the exhibition of his work at 180 The Strand 14th – 19th May

From Friday 17th May we have docs about the elusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante and her work (and fans!) in Ferrante Fever and a 9-year-old Norwegian boy’s-eye view in the shape of The Arctic Camels. Torarin is over the moon when his parents get a couple of camels to join them in Hammerfest, the North most city in the world; but things get complicated when they try to incorporate Mongolian training methods into their way of life.

On Thursday 23rd May we have a special preview Q&A screening of XY Chelsea, which will be heading to Sheffield Doc/Fest shortly after our run. After leaking secret documents onto WikiLeaks about the American presence and brutality in Iraq, Private Manning was sentenced to life imprisonment. Receiving an unexpected clemency, Chelsea Manning adjusts to her newfound freedom. The theatrical run begins on Friday 24th May, alongside a surreal BFI London Film Festival hit – John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection. It’s the early ‘80s and hot-headed tennis champion John McEnroe’s presence dominates the Roland Garros court. Director Julian Faraut considers McEnroe’s relationship with the camera, and the relationship between tennis and cinema. Playful and enigmatic, the documentary probes layers of reality and intangible forces at work, and is an entertaining portrait of McEnroe’s technique and temper at the peak of his game.

This month’s Sunday Session film is De Chaque Instant – or Each and Every Moment. Director of the brilliant Etre et Avoir Nicholas Philibert explores how young students learn to cope with people in their most vulnerable moments, in this tender insight into the bumpy road of nurse-training.

Our final film of the month is the excellent, Bertha-funded Freedom Fields. The film captures an all-female football team in post-revolution Libya fighting against oppressive, violent attitudes towards women with the hope of competing in an international football tournament. Their team is met with disapproval and endless obstacles thrown from the Libyan football federation. This tense, passionate film, is a love letter to sisterhood and the perfect warm-up for the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in June. We are currently organising a Q&A with director Naziha Arebi for Saturday 2nd June.

Image of Aretha Franklin performing at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in 1972. An image from the documentary Amazing Grace.