Polly Draper achieves a delicate balance in Stella’s Last Weekend, blending real-life family dynamics with a fictional narrative to create an achingly funny exploration of loss. This showcase for her sons Nat and Alex Wolff is a far cry from The Naked Brothers Band, the boisterous Nickelodeon series she created.
Shine could easily be called The Salsa Kings Dance With Pride and Love. Anthony Nardolillo devotes a sizable chunk of his first film to dance numbers, and there’s an infectious joy to these scenes, more about the characters than does the creaky melodrama that frames them.
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.
The atmosphere of mourning in Deepak Rauniyar’s wistful White Sun isn’t just the result of the sudden death of the revered former leader of a remote mountain village. Nepal, as the remaining elders once knew it, died when the monarchy was overthrown after a decade of civil war.
Sidemen: Long Road to Glory hits the familiar notes of Standing in the Shadows of Motown and 20 Feet from Stardom, documentaries focused on unappreciated musicians (like session players and background singers) who’ve made important contributions to pop history.