Doctober series: Annual film festival returns

by Brent Cole

Now in its eighth year, the Pickford Film Center’s Doctober series has become a must see for documentary fans. Covering different subject matters, from elderly LGBT (Gen Silent) to an MLB pitcher throwing a no-hitter while on acid (No No: A Dockumentary) to musicians recording on a 1930s Presto direct-to-disc recorder (The 78 Project), there is something for everyone. Below are previews of the music oriented documentaries as well as another thrown in for good measure.

The 78 Project: With the 78 Project, director Alex Steyemark crossed America, recording musicians in their hometowns using a 1930s Presto direct-to-disc recorder. Utilizing one microphone, one blank record and allowing one three-minute take, the 78 Project crossed genres and styles – from folk singers to punk rockers, gospel and cajun singers. Artists include The Revered John Wilkins, Victoria Williams, John Doe, Ella Mae Bowen, Sea of Bees and many more. Along with the musicians are historians, technicians and craftsmen from every aspect of field recording. It’s intimate, beautiful and extraordinary. The film shows Saturday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. See the78project.com.

This Ain’t No Mouse Music: While not necessarily a household name, Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records have been at the root of music since 1960. Producing records that would influence the likes of Rolling Stones among others, Strachwitz has recorded and released the blues, Cajun, crazy country, Tex-Mex, New Orleans R & B and everything in the corners. He’s travel to plantations, prisons, roadhouses, whorehouses, churches, and bayou juke joints, recording the sounds that would revolutionize popular music. This is his story. The film shows Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. See nomousemusic.com.

Finding Fela: Having created the musical movement, Afrobeat, the story behind Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life is one great importance to his native Nigeria. Through his music as well his social and political prominence, Fela worked tirelessly to battle the dictatorship of the Nigerian government during the 1970s and 1980s. The film shows Sunday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. See findingfela.com.

Lady Be Good: Instrumental in Jazz: Focusing on the contributions of American women instrumentalists in jazz, Lady Be Good covers 50 years beginning in the early 1920 and follows the development and extent of the all-woman jazz groups. With interviews that range from Peggy Gilbert, Jane Sager and Quincy Jones, and rare photos, unseen film and television footage, and scarce recordings paint a previously untold story of women in jazz. The film shows Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2:15 p.m. See kaydray.com.

Take Me to the River: In this feature film, the inter-generational and inter-racial musical influences of Memphis in the face of massive segregation and discrimination is examined and celebrated. Multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians come together for this epic film. Features Terrence Howard, Snoop Dogg, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite and many more. The film shows Tuesday, Oct. 14. at 6:30 p.m. See takemetotheriver.livingfilm.com.

Sound and Chaos: Having recorded some of the most influential bands in music over the last 30 years (including Sonic Youth, Swans, Herbie Hancock, Brian Eno and the Dresden Dolls), Martin Bisi finds himself in the position of being squeezed out due to gentrification. Hear his story of keeping the studio alive while the world around him changes. The film shows Sunday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. See www.soundandchaosfilm.com.

Strictly Sacred: The Story of Girl Trouble: WAY back in 1983, before the Pacific Northwest music scene was on the map, a little band from Tacoma called Girl Trouble got together for some punk rock. They played their first show in 1984 and soon signed to K Records releasing subsequent music on Sub Pop as well as other independent labels. Along with the U-men, Girl Trouble brought garage rock back to Pacific Northwest. Their story is rich with Pacific Northwest history and damn awesome music. The film shows Sunday, Oct. 19 at 4:15 p.m. with Director Q+A to follow. See facebook.com/StrictlySacred/timeline.

No No: A Dockumentary: On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of only 276 no-hitters in the 136 years of baseball history. Only Dock did it while high on LSD. Called the “Muhammad Ali of Baseball,” over his 12 year career, Dock was colorful, flamboyant and, on that fateful June day, very high. But this isn’t a story just about the day when he did the impossible, No No goes into Dock’s battle with alcohol and amphetamine addiction which eventually led him to become a drug and alcohol counselor. Dock Ellis’s feat is the thing of legends. The film shows Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m. with an encore screening Monday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. See www.nonoadockumentary.com.

Published in the October 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine