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March 2, 2014 | By Tracy Brown
"The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life," directed by Malcolm Clarke, won the Oscar for documentary short on Sunday. The documentary follows Alice Herz-Sommer, the pianist and oldest known Holocaust survivor who was 109 years old at the time of filming. When she was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp with her 6-year-old son, music is what saved her life and sanity. She performed more than 100 concerts inside the concentration camp. Herz-Sommer died one week ago . Clarke's previous Academy Award nominations include the documentary feature "Prisoner of Paradise" in 2002 and the documentary short "You Don't Have to Die," which won the Oscar in 1988.
April 3, 2014 | By Hugo Martín
Amid ongoing controversy over its killer whale shows, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. reported a 13% drop in attendance for the first three months of the year. The attendance numbers were included in a notice to the Securities and Exchange Commission that SeaWorld was buying 1.75 million of its own shares from private equity firm Blackstone Group. The notice said attendance for the quarter that ended March 31 dropped to about 3.05 million visitors from 3.5 million in the same period in 2013.
April 30, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
HBO is backing a new four-hour documentary on Frank Sinatra being touted as “the definitive portrait of our era's greatest performer. " The miniseries will be directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney. The untitled film is a collaboration between the newly formed Alcon Television Group and Frank Sinatra Enterprises, with Sinatra's daughter Nancy credited as one of the executive producers along with Oscar-winner Frank Marshall, Alcon Television President Sharon Hall and Alcon co-founders and co-CEO Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove.
March 28, 2014 | By Howard Blume
David Koff, a filmmaker and union activist whose investigation of a campus construction project profoundly changed the Los Angeles school system, has died. He was 74. He committed suicide March 6 in Hastings, N.Y., his family said. Koff was the indefatigable researcher who, in the 1990s, took on the Belmont Learning Complex, turning it into a symbol of civic dysfunction as it became the nation's most expensive high school. Outside Los Angeles, Koff was best known as a talented documentary filmmaker who took uncompromising stands.
January 21, 2014 | By Greg Braxton
Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is having a TV renaissance. HBO last year premiered "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight," a docudrama centered on the legal battle in 1967 that erupted when the heavyweight champion and newly converted Muslim refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War and was stripped of his title. That film, directed by Stephen Frears, focused primarlily on the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the case. Ali is seen in a few film clips but is largely absent from the film. But the athlete is front and center in "The Trials of Muhammad Ail," a documentary that will premiere April 14 on PBS' "Independent Lens.
May 25, 2013 | By Daniel Miller
The Electric Daisy Carnival is getting the documentary treatment from a pair of filmmakers who were behind the recent Justin Bieber and Katy Perry concert movies. “EDC 2013: You Are the Headliner” is being directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of production company Magical Elves. The film will focus on next month's Electric Daisy festival in Las Vegas, a music event that is expected to draw 345,000 people.  Production company Haven Entertainment is making the movie in conjunction with Electric Daisy producer Insomniac Events. Los Angeles-based Insomniac puts on electronic dance music concerts at venues across Southern California and elsewhere. A 2010 iteration of the Electric Daisy rave drew as many as 200,000 to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
December 3, 2012 | By Glenn Whipp
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday its shortlist of 15 documentary feature finalists and, as always, the roll was as notable for its omissions as for its actual titles. Notably absent were such critically and commercially acclaimed docs as the Peter Jackson-produced West Memphis Three investigation, "West of Memphis," Sundance favorite "Queen of Versailles" and Monday's New York Film Critics Circle winner "The Central Park Five. " Another overlooked popular title,  "Paul Williams Still Alive," an in-depth look at the 1970s songwriter and the fickleness of fame, has also often been mentioned as a strong candidate in the original song category.
March 8, 2010
Documentary "The Cove" Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens After an unprecedented sweep through the guild awards for directing, producing, writing and editing, plus a host of critics' prizes, it was little surprise when "The Cove" was named best documentary feature. The film is an unapologetically activist look at the issue of dolphin fishing in Japan. Made with a structure that has been likened to a heist film, "The Cove" follows animal activist Richard O'Barry -- who once trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper" -- alongside a team of filmmakers as they attempt to document dolphin slaughter in the Japanese fishing village of Taiji.
August 15, 2011
"Senna," a documentary about Brazilian race-car driver Ayrton Senna, has gotten off to a speedy start at the box office. The film, which opened in one theater in Los Angeles and another in New York this past weekend, collected $66,075 for a solid per-theater average of $33,038, according to an estimate from distributor Producers Distribution Agency. "Senna" is the second release for the company founded by John Sloss' Cinetic Media last year when it distributed the Oscar-nominated documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop" from the street artist Banksy.
March 8, 2012 | By Michael A. Memoli
In a campaign thus far dominated by 30-second ads and debate sound bites, President Obama's reelection effort is taking a more expansive approach is it begins making its case to voters in earnest. Obama 2012 on Thursday released a two-minute trailer for what is ultimately set to be a 17-minute documentary that advisors say will "put into perspective" the challenges that the president has faced and the difficult choices he has made in an effort to put the American economy back on track.
March 17, 2014 | By Meredith Blake
The new documentary "Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert" uses the story of one 30-year-old single mother in Chattanooga, Tenn., to shed light on the struggles faced by the estimated 42 million American women living at or near the poverty level.  Gilbert, whose 10-year marriage fell apart when her husband developed a painkiller addiction, makes $9.49 an hour as a nursing assistant at an extended-care facility....
March 16, 2014 | By Robin Abcarian
The new documentary about Anita Hill opens with a close-up of a telephone and a bizarre voice mail message: "Good morning, Anita Hill. It's Ginni Thomas, and I just wanted to reach across the air waves, and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime, and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought, I certainly pray about this and hope one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK!
March 12, 2014 | By Tony Perry
Like many Americans of his generation, Kurt Chew-Een Lee was eager to fight in World War II. He left college at age 18 to enlist in the Marine Corps. Beyond a deeply felt patriotism, Lee had a personal motive: "I wanted to dispel the notion about the Chinese being meek, bland and obsequious," he told The Times in 2010. Rather than a combat billet, he was assigned as a language instructor in San Diego teaching Japanese. He was deeply disappointed but decided to remain in the Marine Corps after the war. He became an officer, one of the first Asian American officers in the Marine Corps.
March 12, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
If George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" did nothing else, it made possible the theatrical re-release of "The Rape of Europa," a splendid documentary that shows the true story behind the Nazi theft of European art and interviews some of the real-life Monuments Men who got it back. The film is packed with information and also tells a series of wonderful truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tales. "The Rape of Europa" even details the postwar fights about who owns which paintings that culminated in the sale of Gustav Klimt's gold portrait for a record $135 million.
March 6, 2014 | By Susan King
Kathie Lee Gifford looked like a deer caught in oncoming headlights when 89-year-old Broadway legend Elaine Stritch casually dropped an F-bomb on the "Today" show a few weeks back. Gifford shouldn't have been surprised. Stritch, who appeared on the morning show to chat about the documentary "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me," which opens in L.A. on Friday, has been a lively and outspoken force of nature throughout a career that has spanned more than 60 years. And she was equally unfiltered in a recent phone conversation.
March 6, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Formidable, indomitable, irascible: Pick your adjective, and it pretty much describes the force of nature who holds the stage in "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. " But what makes this documentary on the celebrated actress and singer especially involving is that watching it calls forth another, quite different selection of descriptors as well: vulnerable, insecure, even fragile. As directed by Chiemi Karasawa, "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me" is less an examination of the long career of the gifted performer with the big personality who first appeared on Broadway in 1944 than a snapshot of her as she approached her 87th birthday, still as much in love with performing as ever and wondering how long she can keep it up. PHOTOS: Behind the scenes of movies and TV The most engaging thing about the feisty Stritch, and what any film that spent time with her couldn't help but capture, is her candid sense of humor, her willingness to say anything as long as it is the truth.
October 11, 2011
MOVIES "Brand X" An artifact of 1960s counterculture and a forerunner to such programs as "Saturday Night Live" and "SCTV," this absurdist film parody of a TV show tackles the Vietnam War, sex, drugs, technology and more. The film is directed by Wynn Chamberlain and stars Frank Cavestani, Abbie Hoffman and Sam Shepard. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. 7 p.m. Free. (310) 443-7000. . "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" The first major museum exhibition to explore the life of former Beatle George Harrison, it provides an in-depth view of his creative life.
March 3, 2014 | By David Ng
"The Lady in Number 6," which on Sunday won the Academy Award for documentary short subject, tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the centenarian Holocaust survivor whose devotion to classical piano helped her survive a Nazi concentration camp. Herz-Sommer, who died just one week before the Oscar ceremony at the age of 110, performed concerts at the Terezin death camp and continued to play the piano the rest of her life despite health problems that made her unable to move some of her fingers.  In an interview, director Malcolm Clarke said that he was introduced to Herz-Sommer through pianist Caroline Stoessinger, who had written a book about her. The crew shot the documentary over a week-long period in Herz-Sommer's modest London apartment.  FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2014 "I initially resisted largely because I had made a documentary film, 'Prisoner of Paradise,' on the Holocaust," said Clarke.  "That film had taken two years to make and it was very rough to work on. I didn't want to put myself through that kind of draining psychological experience again.
March 3, 2014 | By Randy Lewis
On one level, it was no surprise that veteran record company executive Gil Friesen was drawn to the theme of "20 Feet From Stardom," the film about backup singers that won the Oscar for documentary feature Sunday night. Friesen, longtime president of A&M Records, was at a performance by Leonard Cohen in Las Vegas several years ago when he got the idea to explore the question of why support singers who, although tremendously talented, never became stars in their own right. There was a parallel in his own life: Friesen himself was a different breed than high-profile record label heads like Clive Davis, Berry Gordy and Ahmet Ertegun.
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