First… it's titled The Obama Effect, directed by Charles S. Dutton (he also stars it by the way), and co-stars Vanessa Bell CallowayKatt Williams, Megan Good, Wesley Jonathan and Glynn Turman.

Here's the official synopsis which I think it gives too much of the film away: 

A serious health scare ignites John Thomas, an insurance salesman in his 50’s (played by writer/director Charles S. Dutton) to take a closer look at his life. Motivated by a misguided obsession with getting Barack Obama elected, John takes an overwhelming involvement in the Presidential campaign. While John becomes obsessed with the ideal of change that Obama represents for Americans, he has in turn neglected to create positive change in his own life, particularly with regard to his health and familial relationships. John hides his health problems from his strong, yet supportive wife, Molly (Vanessa Bell Calloway), creating a strain on their marriage. John seeks the support of a Republican relative, MLK (Katt Williams), who initially starkly resists supporting a Democratic candidate. John’s son, Kalil (Wesley Jonathan), rebels against his father’s avid support of Obama by supporting the Republican candidate as well. John neglects to support his daughter, Tamika (Megan Good) at a crucial moment in her life, as she has recently fallen in love and become engaged to be married. John faces additional discord with his other son, Jamel, an up-and-coming boxer (Zab Judah), who gets mixed up with a shady manager, Slim (Glynn Turman), as he rises toward a professional boxing career. Joshua, John’s recently-paroled brother (C.J. Mack), also struggles as he attempts to find work in a tough economy and to maintain his new marriage. When Molly discovers that John has been hiding his health scares from her, she urges him to take positive action to improve his bad habits. John works to get back on the right path with his health and family as Obama soars to success in the campaign.

The film will be released exclusively through AMC theaters (likely the AMC Independent program) starting today Friday, on July 13th, 2012 in select markets including: Little Rock, Charlotte, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington DC, Orlando, Jackson, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Norfolk.

You can follow the on Twitter here – @theobamaeffect.

The trailer and official poster, follow:


Second… director Julia Ivanova's wonderful documentary Family Portrait in Black and White.  

An official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and winner of this year's Best Canadian Feature Film at the Hot Docs Film Festival, Family Portrait in Black and White opens today, Friday, July 13th in New York (AMC 25), with a national release to follow.

The story goes… 

In a Ukrainian village, big-hearted, formidable Olga Nenya single-handedly raises 23 foster children. Sixteen are the biracial offspring of visiting African students and Ukrainian women, who, living in a country of blue-eyed blondes that’s racked with endemic racism, often see no choice but to abandon their babies. Family Portrait in Black and White charts the rhythms of Olga’s hectic household, rife with rambunctious kids and goats. As diverse dramas unfold among the brood—a high-schooler struggling to transcend his plight through education, a boy longing to reunite with his Ugandan father, and a child courted for Italian adoption—Olga reveals herself to be loving and protective, but also narrow-minded and controlling. A product of communist ideology, she favors collective duty over individual freedom. It’s this philosophy that gives the orphans the rich sense of belonging they ache for, as well as cause for rebellion and distrust, in this lyrical, sometimes gut-wrenching tale about the meaning of “Mama,” “family,” and “nation.”

It's frustrating to watch (not in a negative way), because of its honesty. The filmmaker/camera doesn't judge its subjects; it lets them tell their story. Riveting viewing and recommended.

Trailer below:


And finally… also in release today, both theatrical and VOD, courtesy of Strand Releasing, is Ballplayer: Pelotero – a documentary film that provides a never before seen look inside the world of Major League Baseball (MLB) training camps in the Dominican Republic.

John Leguizamo narrates the tale, under the direction of Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon PaleyBoston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine executive produced.

Ballplayer: Pelotero was an official selection of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, and Portland International Film Festival.

I watched a screener of the film a few weeks ago, and reviewed it HERE. In short, I dug it, and think you will too.

Watch the trailer below (poster underneath):