This year, the documentary field took a step up at SXSW. However, there still remains plenty of room for exciting storytellers to deliver their stories into a wide-open field. While the last few years have seen a strong presence of documentaries at the Florida Film Festival. The 2023 Florida Film Festival is no different. With so many different kinds of documentaries, as well as a well-curated section focused on music, there’s something for everyone.
An unusual brew led to a cottage industry. The rise of Lambic Beer in the past few years has become a not-so-surprising trend. As tastes for unique brews have created a Craft Beer resurgence, Lambic Beer has emerged as a specialty item. Three families have devoted themselves to saving this technique that harkens back to the 13th Century.
THE ELEPHANT 6 RECORDING CO.
2023 Florida Film Festival continues to showcase incredible documentaries from the world of music. The Elephant 6 Recording Co. kicks off our list of music-based docs with an examination of a unique scene. DIY music found a resurgence in the 1990s and grew out of cities like Athens, GA. For fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in Stereo, or Elf Power, this a must-watch experience.
Another excellent music documentary, Immediate Family shines a light on a unique band made up of session musicians. They finally began to build out their own catalog, but for decades, each man helped guide popular rock music. With testimonials from Phil Collins, James Taylor, Carole King, and many others, Immediate Family carries a sweet tune.
IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL
The Indigo Girls blew the doors off adult contemporary in the 1990s, and continue to show their influence as activists. Director Alexandria Bombach paints a brilliant portrait of the two women who changed the musical landscape. As open LGBTQ+ performers and activists for indigenous rights, It’s Only Life After All takes its subject’s causes seriously. Digging into the pressures this created for both Amy Ray and Emily Saliersis, Bombach crafts one of the most insightful documentaries of 2023.
Judy Blume Forever
The iconic author helped change the way women discuss sex and maturity. Judy Blume‘s influence as an honest storyteller continues to grow today. Her novels, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Forever, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing continue to resonate with teens. Director Davina Pardo previously picked up Jury Awards at the 2017 Florida Film Fest.
Roller derby needs to be revived nationwide as more than a niche sport. Until it is, Minnesota Mean will have to do. Director Dawn Mikkelson embeds with a roller derby team for a year, watching the ups and downs of being on the team. Featuring dozens of interviews from those actively playing, Minnesota Mean will deliver the adrenaline shot you’re looking for.
OUT THERE: A NATIONAL PARKS STORY
The beauty of America’s National Parks can never be underestimated. However, sometimes it takes one big trip to change the way you view the priceless experiences they provide. Director Brendan Hall jumps in a car with his best friend and traveled nearly 10,000 miles during the Centennial of the parks. Filled with beautiful images, Out There takes a step up when it goes behind the scenes to understand those who run these majestic parks.
Oftentimes, racism is disguised by cities through gaslighting techniques. However, its rare that the divides become literal the way Palm Springs, CA built up the walls to divide. The iconic city, known as a celebrity escape from Los Angeles, has long hidden its black community through a “natural” wall of trees. This process of segregation has long harmed the community living in the neighborhood while also sinking property values for black owners while other neighborhoods boomed to create generational wealth. Directors Sara Newens and Mina T. Son examine the phenomenon firsthand.
They Called Him Mostly Harmless
You Were My First Boyfriend – Opening Night
The definition of a hybrid documentary with high-end recreations, Directors Cecilia Aldarondo and Sarah Enid Hagey build a unique experience. Aldarondo reexamines her high school experience in Winter Park, Florida. Along the way, she remembers what it means to be a high school girl, longing for a romance worthy of the movies. The struggles are only made more complicated by high school politics, Aldarondo’s ethnic identity, and the power dynamics of relationships.
THE ZOMBIES: HUNG UP ON A DREAM
The classic hippie-era band, The Zombies, rarely get mentioned in the same sentence as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Yet songs like “She’s Not There,” “Summertime,” and “Time of the Season” became anthems of the 1960s. Following their sixty-year career, The Zombies: Hung Up on a Dream dives into the near misses that prevented the band from achieving superstardom.