Belcourt's Doctober Series Finds Reality is Stranger than Fiction

Oct 07 2016
Posted by: The Contributor
Belcourt's Doctober Series Finds Reality is Stranger than Fiction

By: Joe Nolan

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words


October is a special time for movie lovers. I don’t watch horror cinema a lot, and I’d hesitate to call myself a “horror movie fan.” That said, when it turns crisp outside I start thinking about Halloween, and then I don’t want to watch any movies that don’t have at least one monster, maniac, mad scientist or murderous mystery in play. The Belcourt understands the morbid cravings of the cinephile once the leaves begin to turn, and I’ll be previewing its 12 Hours of Terror event in these pages very soon. 

But the theatre also knows that October movie screens are as perfectly suited to non-fiction as they are to fanged fantasies. Poised after the summer blockbusters, but before the holiday family films, October has long offered an ideal release slot for documentary movies that might go overlooked during other months, and the Belcourt takes advantage of this autumn flood of real life cinema, curating their annual selection of the season’s best during their Doctober event.

Books, movies, television, politics and people are featured in the thirteen films in this year’s series, which starts this Friday, Oct. 7 and runs through Oct. 25. The whole lineup looks as strong as any I can remember, and the Belcourt is offering a special price on five-pack tickets for the series. With that in mind, these are my “Five-Pack Picks” for Doctober at the Belcourt:


One of the worst books I’ve ever read is JT LeRoy’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. The short story collection’s ridiculously humiliating and violent tales involving a damaged wreck of a young mother and her horrifically abused child made the book a hip sensation, and LeRoy into a celebrity. I still feel my blood pressure rising remembering otherwise intelligent people praising that schlocker of a book. Imagine how happy in 2006 when the New York Times exposed JT LeRoy and the author’s books as an elaborate literary hoax. The new documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story peeks behind those headlines to tell the whole wild yarn of the author and “his” writings. Can you see me eating my popcorn?


In 2014 the ACLU issued a report stating: “Militarizing of policing encourages officers to adopt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of people they are supposed to serve as enemies.” The report was quoted in a petition to stop legislation that gave a million dollars to Nashville police for ballistic armor this past summer. Do Not Resist tells how our helpful officers in blue shirt sleeves became intimidators in black armor, illuminating one of the fundamental problems in our problematic criminal justice system.


I love it when movies point cameras back at themselves, and Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson is definitely the most meta offering at the Belcourt this October. Combining footage shot during her decades behind the lens as a documentary cinematographer, Johnson shows us boxing matches, war zones and family dinners in this illuminating exploration of the world we see when we see the world through a lens. This is a documentary that asks fundamental questions about cinema, about the truth that might be captured or revealed by moving images, and about the ethics of pointing a camera at someone or someplace.


I was flipping through television channels years ago when I saw Ingrid Bergman in a scene from Casablanca for the very first time: I literally caught my breath. Bergman is the movie star I think of when I think “movie star,” and I’m hoping that Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words will be as illuminating and revealing as Listen To Me Marlon. Actress Alicia Vikander narrates over Bergman’s letters, diaries and photographs here, but the highlights are the films within the film – 8mm and 16mm footage that Bergman shot herself during her rise to international superstardom, her tumultuous married life, and motherhood.


Tony Conrad wasn’t a household name when he passed away this April, but his death has audiences of the avant garde eagerly anticipating this new release about the life and work of the composer, educator and experimental film pioneer. I became aware of Conrad through reading William S. Burroughs, whose writings helped to inspire Conrad’s film The Flicker. This documentary is paired with a selection of Cornad’s early movies which will screen at one of the Belcourt’s Light and Sound machine events at Third Man Records on October 20.


For a complete Doctober schedule and tickets go to

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