Like much of the media world, I’ve decided to check myself out for these latter weeks of August (so much so that I missed my Doc Soup deadline — my apologies to my POV minders!), heading out of New York City to the restful mountains of Vermont. As I always do when I come up here, I checked out what was playing at the local theaters, and was disappointed to see that there were absolutely no documentaries playing. I’m near the progressive town of Brattleboro, but my choices are between movies I’ve seen (The Wackness — yuck) or movies I don’t want to see (Mamma Mia! — no thanks). Keeping with my off-the-grid aspirations, I went old-school in my reporting and went to the one art house theater in town, The Latchis theater, but seeing that it was still morning, it was closed. I asked the guy working the desk at the neighboring establishment if Man on Wire or American Teen had come to town and he said that neither had. I dug deeper, and was able to get the breaking news from him that a “documentary about Mongolia” had played at the theater at some point recently. I hope he didn’t mean The Story of Weeping Camel. Disappointed, I headed over to the Blockbuster where I didn’t see a single doc on a shelf. (OK, there may have been some but I didn’t see them — I have to admit I was overwhelmed by all the Sarah Michelle Gellar and Brian Austin Green movies I’d never even heard of.)

So I went online to glean that the closest I am to a doc is Keene, New Hampshire, which is playing the Rolling Stones doc Shine a Light. What happened to the oversurplus of documentaries we’ve been talking about? Take a step out of a major city and everything goes dark? Man on Wire and American Teen are still playing in and near the 212 area code. I’m not naive — I know that the doc phenomenon has been a mostly urban one, but it’s interesting to see it for my own eyes. I guess the only big doc coming down the pike to stir things up is Bill Maher’s Religulous, which opens in early October (I’ve seen it and I’ll have much to say about it in a future post). Will it make a big splash? I actually think it will, enough so that I won’t be surprised if it’ll be playing at the Latchis.

Tom will be enjoying the rest of his vacation off-line. Watch for the next installment of Doc Soup in two weeks.

Published by

Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen