Miriam Makeba is an artist, a symbol, and a woman in the fractured documentary Mama Africa, but never all three at once. Mika Kaurismäki toggles between these roles in his 2011 biography of the South African singer and civil rights activist.
Holy Air isn’t entirely satirical, but the bone-dry wit is breathtaking. Pilgrims to Nazareth seek the lightness of spiritual transcendence, and Shady Srour contrasts them with residents weighed down by everyday catastrophes and paralyzing fears.
The small tobacco farm in East Bend, North Carolina where Angus MacLachlan filmed the lean, elegiac drama Abundant Acreage Available is a vision of bygone rural life, a contained microcosm where hard work and self-reliance could sustain a family for generations.
In Spanish director Cesc Gay’s unsentimental weepie Truman, the passage of time becomes pliable. Tomás (Javier Cámara) arrives in Madrid with a deadline: four days to convince his oldest friend Julián (Ricardo Darín) to resume treatment for the lung cancer that’s spread throughout his body.
Gay Dillingham’s introductory biography of psychologists-turned-philosophers Timothy Leary and Ram Dass finds its subjects revealing themselves while considering their signature mottos.