DocuWeek is truly one of the great perks of living in L.A. On Friday at the ArcLight, Week 2 of the International Documentary Assn.'s showcase begins, with a new round of films heading into their Oscar qualifying run. A few of my favorites: "My Perestroika," Robin Hessman's remarkably candid look inside life in Russia as seen through the eyes of five friends. It begins with their childhood days and follows them through the collapse of the Soviet Union during their teenage years and the reality of their world today. The film is full of surprises, their frustrations not unlike our own. Then, filmmakers Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen journey through Finnish saunas in "Steam of Life." Ordinary men bare their bodies, yes, but more important, their hearts and minds in this mesmerizing film. Finally, the heart-tugging "Louder Than a Bomb," Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's uplifting look at the power of a poetry slam to transform the lives of Chicago teens.
— Betsy Sharkey