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The Doc Days of Summer

The Doc Days of Summer (photo)

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Last year, “Young@Heart” caused ripples when it sold to Fox Searchlight to become the first distribution deal to emerge from the L.A. Film Festival, so perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the festival put documentaries front and center this year, even in a city where there’s no shortage of name actors that most other festivals would deploy to lure audiences. Instead, one of the more anticipated star attractions in Los Angeles was a talk with HBO documentary czar Sheila Nevins, who participated in a wide-ranging conversation with L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein about her career of mixing high class projects like the recent doc “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” with, well, “Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal,” which premiered at the festival hours after Nevins finished up. (The latest from “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, which follows Fleiss’s construction of “a stud farm” for women, actually went awry to the point that Nevins steps in to interview Fleiss.)

In fact, HBO was such a presence at the festival that when one audience member wanted to compliment “Trinidad,” the elegant history of the sex change capital of the world in Colorado, the woman said, “It felt like a narrative film. It felt like an HBO film.” And that might actually be selling it short. The directorial debut of Jay Hodges and PJ Raval, the latter of whom served as cinematographer on the recent Sundance winner “Trouble the Water,” is a film that creeps up on you, not unlike the realization that the women who have formed an unlikely community in the heart of frontier country were actually at one time men. As the film recounts, the town became a haven for transgenders when Dr. Stanley Biber pioneered the sex change operation and, since his passing in 2006, one of his patients, Dr. Marci Bowers, took charge of the local hospital where the operations now actually pay for the rest of the hospital’s services. Hodges and Raval arrive in town just in time to shoot the construction of Morning Glow, a recovery house that not only provides a dramatic arc for the story, but slyly demonstrates how post-ops are just like anyone else, in moments as simple as arguing over the proper trim for the doors of the house.

If “Trinidad” was about the struggle to fit in, “Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe” is about busting out, which is what I thought I wanted to do five minutes into director Harry Kim’s frenzied biography. Between the shaky camera work and Choe leading a chorus of Pygmy children in the Congo chanting “titties and ass,” there didn’t seem to be much hope for either my eyes or American diplomacy to be spared in this portrait of a Korean-American artist who rose from tagging tunnels in L.A. to getting paid millions by the likes of Scion and Nike for his unique and vibrant paintings. Amazingly, Kim is there from the beginning of Choe’s unusual career, catching the tagger as he stands on the roof of a car to create a series of whales on the side of the freeway in his early twenties, then capturing an older but not necessarily wiser Choe lamenting on how he’s sold out by doing graffiti for corporate presentations. The thrill may have subsided for Choe, who in one scene punches his own nose repeatedly to get the proper shade of crimson, yet watching him work, illegally or not, is invigorating. The film’s messy aesthetic seems all too true to the artist, who, if he didn’t insist on defying categorization, would be classified in parts as self-destructive, misogynistic, cynical and yes, immensely talented.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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