Ten years after the inaugural season of the Port Jefferson Documentary Series, the fall 2015 season is gearing up to be one of the most exciting yet, with documentaries covering intriguing topics from the Silk Road to the brutality of the Khmer Rouge. The series takes a globe-trotting journey from Cambodia to Russia to Mexico and Afghanistan as speakers offer insightful commentary.
Seven documentary films will be shown over the course of seven weeks at Theatre Three (412 Main St, Port Jefferson) and the Charles B. Wang Center at SUNY Stony Brook. Films start at 6 or 7 p.m. and tickets are $7 per person. Here is a preview of the Fall 2015 lineup.
Deep Web (Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., Theatre Three) is about Ross William Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the Silk Road, the online black market for buying and selling illegal drugs. The 31-year-old entrepreneur was convicted earlier this year of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics. Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison. But, Deep Web isn’t just about Ulbricht, it’s about the battle between online freedom and control of the web, a battle that has become increasingly tumultuous. Director Alex Winter, well known for playing Bill in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure will also be on hand as a speaker.
Very Semi-Serious (Sept. 28 at 7 p.m., Theatre Three) takes a behind the scenes look at the iconic cartoons scattered in the pages of the New Yorker. The film introduces cartooning legends like award winning cartoonist George Booth, who will be on hand as a speaker to discuss the film. Very Semi-Serious is not only an offbeat look at humor, but also a meditation on art and the brilliance behind the single panel.
Cartel Land (Oct. 5 at 7 p.m., Theatre Three) arrives as the Mexican government continues its search for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and politicians turn their attention to the country’s southern border. Cartel Land provides an on-the-ground account of the current state of the Mexican drug cartel with accounts from both sides of the border. One is from a Mexican doctor leading a citizen’s uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel and the other is from an American veteran leading a small paramilitary group in Arizona’s “Cocaine Alley.”
The Russian Woodpecker (Oct. 12 at 7 p.m., Theatre Three) was the winner of the World Documentary Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film follows Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich and his attempt to unveil the truth behind Chernobyl, a disaster that he believes was an elaborate government cover-up designed to mask a failed 8 billion ruble radio antennae known as the “Russian Woodpecker.” Director Chad Gracia will be there to talk about Woodpecker, a film that was originally planned as a 5-minute piece to be published on YouTube for his friends and family.
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., Theatre Three) is director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s portrait of one of the powerful women in the art world. Guggenheim, heiress and eccentric was as complex, abstract and avant-garde as the work she collected. Not only did she mingle with Picasso, Dali and Kandinsky, Guggenheim also had trysts, affairs and marriages with famous artists including Beckett, Ernst, Pollack, Duchamp and others. Producers David Koh and Dan Braun will be on hand to discuss the film.
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., Wang Center) is produced, directed, written, and edited by Oscar-nominated, and triple Sundance Award-winning filmmaker, Arthur Dong. It tells the story of Dr. Ngor who escaped the Cambodian genocide perpetrated by the vicious Khmer Rouge and later recreated his experiences for an Academy Award winning performance in The Killing Fields. The 1985 film is used as a springboard for the documentary which includes an adaptation of Ngor’s dramatic autobiography. Dr. Ngor’s niece, Sophie Ngor Demetri, who escaped from Cambodia with her uncle and Wayne Ngor, who narrates the film, will speak following the viewing.
Love Marriage in Kabul (Nov. 2 at 6 p.m., Wang Center) tells the story of Abdul, an orphan saved by Mahboba Rawi who, after her son died, founded Mahboba’s Promise, a nonprofit dedicated to the orphans and widows of Afghanistan. Now a grown man, Abdul has fallen in love with Fatemeh, the girl next door. But, courtship and marriage isn’t so simple in Kabul, and Rawi must navigate the traditions and customs of her country to keep the young lovers together. Producer Pat Fiske and director Amin Palangi will discuss the film with the audience via Skype.