Documentary Review: THE END OF AMERICA

Documentary Review: THE END OF AMERICA

Based on Naomi Wolf’s eponymous book, The End Of America presents the ten step blueprint that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms. It compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States in recent years. Directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, the documentary is convincing and alarming. It should be required viewing for anyone old enough to vote or join the army. Read my full review.

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Documentary Review: JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS (2007)

Documentary Review: JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS (2007)

Before director Jonathan Demme signed on to helm a documentary about Jimmy Carter, he negotiated two important points: he would have unlimited access to the former president and he would have final cut of the film. As a result, Demme has produced an unusually intimate, insightful and revealing tribute to an exceptional elder statesman who, now in his 80s, continues to work tirelessly for peace. Demme chose to make the structural spine of his Jimmy Carter tribute the former president’s nationwide tour to publicize his 21st book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, in which he lays out his controversial opinion regarding Israeli behavior towards the Palestinian people. Basically, while rebuking Palestinians for provocation and violence towards Israelis, the book effectively faults Israel for encircling Palestinian territories with walls that create ghetto-like imprisonment for the people who live in them. Read my review>>

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Movie Review – AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY

Movie Review – AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY

Author: The JT LeRoy Story delves into the curiously confusing story of Laura Albert, the controversial (and secret) creator of the literary figure known as Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy (aka JT LeRoy) and the writer of JT’s fan-gathering and cult-creating novels Sarah (2000) and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (2001). Read my review…

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Roger Donaldson Talks ‘Of Record’ Narratives: THE BANK JOB

Roger Donaldson Talks ‘Of Record’ Narratives: THE BANK JOB

Director Roger Donaldson’s The Bank Job (2008) is a truth-based narrative feature that raises interesting issues regarding film and the public record. The movie is based on a scandal-clad heist known as the “Walkie Talkie Robbery,” a daring caper that was front page news for four days. Then mention of it abruptly ceased. If we’re to believe the film, that was because the British government stifled coverage–because M5 had engineered the heist to recover sexually explicit photographs of Princess Margaret that Michael X, a political activist (and drug dealer), was using to blackmail authorities to not prosecute him. Case records are sealed for another 50 years. Is the film the real story or a construct?

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Margot Benacerraf on ARAYA, Documentaries and the Sun as a Protagonist

Margot Benacerraf on ARAYA, Documentaries and the Sun as a Protagonist

Milestone Films’ restoration of Margot Benacerraf’s Araya coincided with the 50th anniversary of the film’s premier at Cannes Film Festival, where it shared the International Critics Prize with Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Despite the win, Araya didn’t receive widespread distribution. Nevertheless, director Margot Benacerraf, now in her 80s, is a legendary figure in world cinema. Although she’s made few films, her work is compared to that of Robert Flaherty, Luchino Visconti and other master filmmakers.

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Olivia Cooke Talks ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, Roles for Women and Amy Winehouse (Exclusive, Uncut Audio Interview)

Olivia Cooke Talks ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, Roles for Women and Amy Winehouse (Exclusive, Uncut Audio Interview)

Olivia Cooke brings a vitality to the role of Rachel that is sure to touch youngsters who are coming of age — whether they’re in the grips of normal hormonal changes or life-threatening diseases. In this interview she speaks about women’s roles in cinema and the importance of not playing the victim or becoming reedits of roles written for men. Listen to the exclusive, uncut audio.

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Andrew Morgan on THE TRUE COST, Fast Fashion and Making Films That Matter (Exclusive, Unedited Audio Interview)

Andrew Morgan on THE TRUE COST, Fast Fashion and Making Films That Matter (Exclusive, Unedited Audio Interview)

In this exclusive and unedited audio interview, Andrew Morgan discusses his eye-opening documentary, The True Cost, about how ‘fast fashion’ – you know, those stylish little frocks that H&M and other branded purveyors sell by the millions for $9.99 each — impacts our global economy, shatters local cultures, causes political unrest and poses a serious threat to the environment. Surprise: H&M is just about on a par with Monsanto in its sacrifice of human well-being for the sake of profit. Read on and listen to the interview.

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Thomas Vinterberg on FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, Dogme and Feminism (Exclusive Audio Interview)

Thomas Vinterberg on FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, Dogme and Feminism (Exclusive Audio Interview)

In this exclusive audio interview, Vinterberg talks about FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, cinematic truth beyond dogme, feminism and the importance of devotion. Jennifer Merin interviews — while, due to YouTube’s odd posting protocols, birds fly across a lake, their caws, cries and comments silenced by a mute button. To listen to the interview, click here

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Carey Mulligan on Playing Strong Female Characters, Working with Women Directors and FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD — Exclusive Interview

Carey Mulligan discusses playing Bathsheba Everdene, the independent heroine in the new cinematic version of Thomas Hardy’s FAR FROM A MADDING CROWD, portraying classic female characters created by Hardy and Jane Austen, her female director wish list and what is today’s madding crowd. Watch the exclusive interview for more….

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Kirby Dick Talks About Filmmaking and Outrage

Kirby Dick Talks About Filmmaking and Outrage

Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick, known for tackling controversial and challenging subjects — such as the ‘outing’ of closeted gay politicians in Outrage (2009), exposing sexual abuse in the military in The Invisible War (2012), and ripping the lid off rape on college campuses in The Hunting Ground (2015) — thinks of each of his films as an ongoing experiment, an investigation of subject and form that he’s never satisfied with, never quite finished with. He is, it seems, incessantly indignant about the social issues represented in his films.

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Filmmaker Kirby Dick Outs Sexual Bias and Abuse

Filmmaker Kirby Dick Outs Sexual Bias and Abuse

In his documentaries, filmmaker Kirby Dick takes on tough issues related to sexual bias, violence and abuse. He challenges institutions, authorities and media those who would hide the outrageous statistics related to rape on college campuses nationwide and across the breadth of the US military establishment, and outs hidden bias towards homosexuality and bad behavior directed towards homosexuals. His incessant righteousness in filmmaking makes us want to know more about him. Hence, this profile. Read on…

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Ally Derks Talks About IDFA and Documentary Film Trends

Ally Derks Talks About IDFA and Documentary Film Trends

Ally Derks has been the director of IDFA, aka the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, for a quarter of a century, and has grown the annual event into the documentary film industry’s preeminent showcase, not only offering filmmakers opportunity to pitch projects and make distribution deals for their finished films, but providing an extraordinary program of socially relevant films for documentary watchers from around the globe. In the documentaries realm, what Derks thinks matters. Read on…

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Kathryn Bigelow’s PSA for Saving Elephants

Kathryn Bigelow’s PSA for Saving Elephants

Filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow has directed her enormous talents to address a huge issue. Bigelow has made an effective and affecting three-minute PSA to support the cause of saving elephants in Sub-Sahan Africa, where poachers are slaughtering entire herds of the wonderful creatures for their ivory tusks — although international trade in ivory is universally illegal. Entitled Last Days, the PSA premieres at New York Film Festival on September 27 at Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at NYC’s Lincoln Center.

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Sharon Greytak and ARCHAEOLOGY OF A WOMAN

Sharon Greytak and ARCHAEOLOGY OF A WOMAN

During our chat about Archeology of A Women, indie filmmaker Sharon Greytak brought up the idea that films can ‘out’ social issues, secrets and taboos. That idea intrigues and appeals to me. I find that most of the films I find most interesting — be narratives of a dramatic or documentary nature — do actually ‘out’ issues, either by introducing them to public awareness or exploring them in such a way that audiences are forced to reevaluate, rethink what they know about them. Archeology of A Woman is, in fact, such a film.

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Roger Donaldson’s Take On Reality – An Interview About Truth-Based Narratives

Roger Donaldson’s Take On Reality – An Interview About Truth-Based Narratives

Narrative features about true events always raise questions about authenticity in film. With many truth based narratives, available news stories and other documents about the actual events may help audiences to separate the film’s fiction from fact, and to know where characters have been added or axed to enhance the story, the caper, the thrill – the entertainment value. Roger Donaldson — who’s directed documentaries and truth-based narratives, as well as films of pure fiction (such as The November Man, currently in theaters) – takes the ‘of record’ aspect of his work seriously. My interview with Donaldson focused on the truth-based The Bank Job (2008) and how the story was researched and interpreted.

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Kristy Puchko comments on SEX TAPE

Kristy Puchko comments on SEX TAPE

Critic Kristy Puchko disagrees with other cinema commentators who’ve seen SEX TAPES, the mainstream Hollywood rom com starring Cameron Diaz, as fatuous, spurious, exploitative humdrum. Puchko see the film as an interesting and relevant commentary on modern-day relationships, our expectations about them and how they evolve. She argues her point convincingly. Read her review…

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Attention Cinema Citizens: Call for Contributions!

Attention Cinema Citizens: Call for Contributions!

Do you feel strongly about issues that are raised in narrative or documentary movies, and the way in which issues are represented? Express your opinions on the Cinema Citizen blog! Cinema Citizen’s OTHER VOICES category is intended to carry your opinions, along with those of filmmakers, cinema advocates, activists and audience members. The section contains interviews, articles by guest authors and your contributions — all adding up to a healthy consideration of the connection between cinema and current social and political concerns. Join the discussion!

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Steve James Talks Empathy in Documentary Making

Steve James Talks Empathy in Documentary Making

Documentary filmmaker Steve James discusses the fundamentals of his approach to filmmaking, including his belief that one of the most essential qualities a filmmaker can bring to documentaries is empathy towards the film’s subjects. plus compassion for their plights and long-term commitment to telling their stories from their perspectives. That often makes it difficult for him to separate from his subjects when the film is complete.

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Park Chan Wook Masterclass @ Jerusalem Film Festival

Park Chan Wook Masterclass @ Jerusalem Film Festival

When an air raid alarm sounds during Park Chan Wook’s Masterclass at the 31st Jerusalem Film Festival (July 10-20, 2014), half the audience reluctantly but obediently leaves the room to seek shelter. Park sits tight, and those who remain with him hear the philosophy-student-turned-filmmaker quietly comment, “Korea and Israel are the only two nations in the world where you are discussing moviemaking in one room while a rocket is targeted at the room next door.”

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The European Documentary Network, an Overview

The European Documentary Network, an Overview

Founded in 1996, the European Documentary Network (EDN) is dedicated to enhancing opportunity for documentary filmmakers by stimulating cooperation and networking, and spreading knowledge within the documentary sector about financing and distribution. The independent nonprofit organization currently has more than 1000 members representing documentary communities in more than 60 countries. EDN is an invaluable resource. Read more…

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WE LOVE IMPUNITY – Nick Fraser on THE ACT OF KILLING

WE LOVE IMPUNITY – Nick Fraser on THE ACT OF KILLING

By my own, not quite reliable reckoning, I’ve been asked to show The Act of Killing on the BBC at least five times. I have some difficulty in responding to its many admirers – not because my responses are hard to explain but because they appear so out of tune with the prevailing chorus of praise. And I have watched the film repeatedly. After a film-maker whose views I respect told me I should see the film on a big screen, I did so. But I found that I was put off not just by being told by the film-makers that I would find the experience upsetting, but by the ritual odour of self-approbation I could sense among members of the audience.

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Jennifer Baichwal Talks About Collaborating with Edward Burtynsky

Before she was approached to make a documentary about the work of Edward Burtynsky, filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal had known of and followed the landscape photographer’s work for years. The collaboration between the two visual artists resulted in the widely acclaimed Manufactured Landscapes, distributed by Zeitgeist Films, and lead to a second collaboration, Watermark, which is currently on the festival circuit. This interview focuses primarily on the making of Manufactured Landscapes, one of my favorite documentaries.

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About Cinema Citizen

Welcome to Cinema Citizen! Our aim is to provoke though […]

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Lars von Trier Talks About America and Cinema Style – Jennifer Merin interviews

Lars von Trier Talks About America and Cinema Style – Jennifer Merin interviews

Lars von Trier’s gutsy films have always stirred passionate debate, and his set of Nymph()maniacs continue to attract a lot of pros and as many cons. Much of the controversy has to do with von Trier’s attitude towards and portrayal of women. However, discussion about von Trier’s work has not always focused on misogyny. Read on…

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