From the courts at Compton to the Queen of Versailles
Before they were tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams were little girls with cornrows playing on the public courts of Compton, an inner city suburb in Los Angeles.
The Bermuda Documentary Film Festival will premiere ‘Venus and Serena’ next week US media have reported the film is getting no ‘love’ from the sporty sisters.
The pair recently withdrew their support of it, upset at how their father Richard Williams was portrayed.
Produced by an Oscar-winning team, the documentary gives a rare glimpse into the lives of the tennis stars during a challenging professional and personal period. It also explores how Mr Williams tried to control his daughters’ success and tells about the children he had out of wedlock.
‘Venus and Serena’ is one 11 films to screen at the festival, which runs next Thursday through Sunday.
‘Beware of Mr Baker’, ‘The Education of Auma Obama’, ‘The World Before Her’, ‘The Imposter’, ‘Bitter Seeds’, ‘We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists’, ‘Italy: Love it or Leave It’ and ‘London: The Modern Babylon’ are also on offer to film enthusiasts.
Sundance award winners ‘The Queen of Versailles’, which depicts the fall of a billionaire couple after the economic crisis, and ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’, the story of an outspoken Chinese artist who has been censored, beat up and held in a secret detention centre, will open the festival.
Bermuda Docs has been increased by a day in its seventh year to meet the public demand for hard-hitting and insightful documentaries. All films will screen in the TradeWinds Auditorium at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
Filmmakers Maiken Baird and Michelle Major pursued the Williams sisters for nearly four years before work on the documentary started in January 2011. They were granted intimate access to the Williams sisters and their family and collected more than 450 hours of footage.
Festival director Duncan Hall said: “‘Venus and Serena’ takes us inside the lives of the Williams sisters during a year when debilitating injuries and a life-threatening illness threatened to take them out of the game. It chronicles their rise from the public courts of Compton, California to the very top of the tennis world.”
‘Beware of Mr Baker’ tells the hilarious and harrowing story of drummer Ginger Baker, who many consider the inventor of rock drumming. Tracked down in South Africa, where he lives with his 29-year-old internet bride and 39 polo ponies, Mr Baker is desperate for cash and paying for a life of excess.
The film shows his triumphant return to the stage a 30-date sold-out European tour. It also includes interviews with his ex-wives, children and fellow musicians including Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Stewart Copeland and Carlos Santana.
‘The Education of Auma Obama’ paints an intimate portrait of US President Barack Obama’s charismatic and inspirational older half-sister.
A teacher in Kenya, Auma is following in the footsteps of their politically-minded father, Barack Sr, working to inspire the future generation of socially-engaged activists.
‘The World Before Her’, Tribeca film festival award winner, is about the choices and contradictions facing women in modern day India.
‘The Imposter’ won the Grand Jury Prize at the Miami International Film Festival. A riveting true story, it has the twists and turns of a thriller. The film chronicles the disappearance of a 13-year-old boy from San Antonio, Texas in 1994 and his discovery, years later, in a village in southern Spain.
When an investigator starts asking questions about the boy’s accent and appearance, the tale takes an even stranger turn.
‘Bitterseeds’, by director Micha Peled, explains why 250,000 farmers in India have committed suicide over the past 16 years. The farmers buy into Monsanto’s genetically-engineered seeds for cotton, but are left shamed when the crops don’t yield and they can’t pay back loans.
‘We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists’ is about the radical collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age.
‘Italy: Love it or Leave It’ is a playful and often funny film that sees Italian filmmakers Luca Ragazzi and Gustav Hofer travel their country in a vintage Fiat Uno.
‘London: The Modern Babylon’ is a swooning love letter to one of the world’s greatest cities by legendary director Julien Temple.
Bermuda Docs tickets are available at www.bdatix.bm or All Wrapped Up in the Washington Mall and Fabulous Fashions in the Heron Bay Plaza.
Trailers of all films can be viewed at www.bermudadocs.com.