While many Focus films deliver powerful emotional truths, some do so while also being true themselves. Two upcoming documentaries present remarkable portraits of men whose achievements speak to the spirit of our times. In Pope Francis—A Man of His Word—in theaters May 18—legendary filmmaker Wim Wenders documents the pontiff as he travels the world, spreading his hope for mankind as he talks directly and humbly to people from all walks of life. In Won’t You Be My Neighbor?—in theaters June 8—Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville returns to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to rediscover the profound mission of Fred Rogers, the cardigan-wearing educator who inspired generations of children to believe in themselves. When it showed at the Sundance Film Festival, the film provided “a profoundly emotional experience,” reports The Wrap, “because the story of a kind man in an often unkind era carries with it richness and poignancy.”
Over the years, Focus has presented a range of documentaries, each exploring a unique part of the human experience. From Hollywood legends to adorable babies, from injured soldiers to ecstatic ravers, these films capture the full rich tapestry of life.
The Kid Stays in the Picture | Print the legend
In 1999 when filmmakers Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen were asked to make the documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, on legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans, they jumped at the chance. It “sounded like Sunset Boulevard” Morgan told IndieWire. Joining forces with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who had the rights to Evans’ life and his page-turning memoir The Kids Stays in the Picture, Burstein and Morgen crafted a film in which Evans' famous maxim, ''There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth,'' would resonate. Moving from Evans’ time as a character actor to his role greenlighting seventies classics like The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby, and Chinatown, the documentary, which Roger Ebert calls "one of the most honest films ever made about Hollywood,” presents the unruly imagination of a legendary mythmaker.
The Ground Truth | The real world
A year into the Iraq War, Patricia Foulkrod was so moved by an article about the lack of body armor for the troops that she grabbed her camera and started interviewing injured soldiers. The Ground Truth “is not about the right or the left or the blue or the red,” Foulkrod explained to IndieWire. “It is about the fact that 430,000 soldiers have already been released by the military…and they need help that we are not providing.” Focus acquired the film at Sundance where screenings of it were bringing audiences to tears and standing ovations. For Variety, “The substance of the movie is potent, and so powerfully presented by those who have fought and are still fighting a controversial war, that the message of The Ground Truth cannot be dismissed.”
Babies | The facts of life
In 2005, when producer Alain Chabat proposed making a quickly cut, music-driven film about babies to Thomas Balmès, the acclaimed filmmaker hated the idea. But Balmès loved babies. Narrowing down his subjects to four families from Namibia, the United States, Japan, and Mongolia, Balmès set off on a two-year odyssey of painstakingly capturing the formative first year during which infants magically become people. “For a newborn baby everything is a great adventure,” Balmès told The New York Times. Audiences joined this cinematic adventure when Babies opened on Mother’s Day in 2010. While many documentaries expose the world’s terrifying realities, Babies uncovers a different universal truth. “Babies just might restore your faith in our perplexing, peculiar and stubbornly lovable species,” exclaims The New York Times.
Under The Electric Sky | A fantasy come true
Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’ Under the Electric Sky transports its audience into the pulsating, hypnotic world of the Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day festival for lovers of electronic dance music (EDM) in Las Vegas. Looking past the dizzying carnival of lights, costumes, and giant floating octopuses, the filmmakers discover what makes the event real and unique by seeing it through the eyes of five different participants. “We had been thinking for a long time that EDM and that culture presented a really interesting opportunity from a storytelling perspective to create a movie that was experiential, that felt like you were there,” explains Cutforth. “Under The Electric Sky hits those glorious high notes,” exclaims We Got This Covered, adding, “isn’t it nice to get lost in a euphoric, loving state every once and a while?”