THE BEACHES OF AGNES (LES PLAGES D’AGNES) – Documentary Review

THE BEACHES OF AGNES (LES PLAGES D’AGNES) – Documentary Review

In The Beaches of Agnes (Les Plages d’Agnes), the legendary French filmmaker (who directed the narrative Cleo From Nine to Five and documentary The Gleaners, among other classics) revisits her childhood, presents footage of her young womanhood and tells of the start of her career as a photographer and cinematographer, of her eventual marriage to French New Wave director Jacques Demy and motherhood, and brings us up to the present. Mme Varda is 80 years old as this film releases theatrically in the U.S. in July, 2009, and she’s still going strong. Very strong.

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Last Train Home (2009) – Documentary Retroview

Last Train Home (2009) – Documentary Retroview

In what filmmaker Lixin Fan characterizes as the world’s largest human migration, some 130-million Chinese migrant workers leave their work-a-day lives in China’s cities to travel to their homes in the impoverished countryside to celebrate the New Year with their families. To show us their arduous and frustrating journey and reveal the impact their long-term absence has on their families, the filmmaker follows Chen Suqin and her husband Zhang Changhua, as they return from their factory jobs in Guangzhou to their family home, a rural farm, where they reunite with their two children, who’ve been left in the care of Chen’s mother.

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GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR (2011) — Documentary Retroview

GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR (2011) — Documentary Retroview

Part courtroom drama, part political thriller and part war movie, Granito: How to Nail A Dictator is one of the most compelling. gripping and inspiring documentaries of the year to date. Watching you film, you feel that you’re privy to an insider’s experience in furthering the fight for human rights and justice.

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Movie Review: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Movie Review: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Luc Besson’s classic femme-centric scifi actioner is being re-released in theaters to mark the film’s 20th anniversary. Concurrently, SONY is preparing a special edition Blu-ray/DVD, which will be available in July 2917. As the new version of Wonder Woman is about to blockbust her way into into women’s psyches, it’s the perfect time for The Fifth Element to appear again on the big screen and re-establish her place among our galaxy of superstar cinematic female heroines.

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Movie Review: PARIS CAN WAIT

Movie Review: PARIS CAN WAIT

Paris Can Wait is a rich repast for Francophiles and foodies, and women who are hungry for more romance in their marriages. Writer/director Eleanor Coppola delivers her first feature at age 81 — a remarkable and inspiring achievement, especially since she does it so deliciously. Replete with with elegant character development, a superb cast and stunning cinematography, Paris Can Wait is a delightfully satisfying escape into a lifestyle that is for most of the world’s women pure fantasy. Take time to savor it.

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PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (2011) — RetroView by Jennifer Merin

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (2011) — RetroView by Jennifer Merin

All The News That’s Fit To Print? The New York Times continues to be the nation’s newspaper of record, although news gathering and publishing are undergoing rapid transformations, and the New York Times has had to cut its staff for economic reasons. The film looks at how the New York Times is handling the rise of new media, and considers what will become of the newspaper in the future.

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Documentary Review: WARTORN 1861-2010

Documentary Review: WARTORN 1861-2010

Soldiers returning from combat experience severe depression, sleep disorders and other symptoms collectively known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Wartorn presents the history of the effects of war on combat veterans from the time of the U.S. Civil War — when doctors called it hysteria, melancholia and insanity — the to the present. None of the soldiers who appear in the film lack fortitude. They simply cannot cope with what they’ve experienced in war. And, they tell you exactly what that is. And, their accounts are seconded by those of their immediate families, who are also deeply effected by the condition of their beloved husbands, sons, brothers and fathers. Read my review…

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Documentary Review: RESTREPO

Documentary Review:  RESTREPO

Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger follow a platoon of U.S. soldiers, the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during their 15-month deployment to Afghanistan’s remote Korengal Valley. Without comment or personal intervention, the filmmakers show what it’s like to be at war. The soldiers are in constant danger, under extreme stress and always fearful. Filmmakers who follow soldiers into combat are also in danger. Tim Heatherington was subsequently killed while filming in the Middle East. Read my review….

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Documentary Review: THE TILLMAN STORY

Documentary Review: THE TILLMAN STORY

Director Amir Bar Lev incorporates archival footage and photos gleaned from the Tillman family, the NFL and news media sources with on-camera interviews with family members, friends and fellow soldiers who witnessed Tillman’s death, to present a comprehensive, compelling and truthful narrative covering Pat Tillman’s extraordinary life and lasting legacy. The documentary affords viewers the joyful experience of getting to an American hero. But be advised, The Tillman Story is not a light-hearted fan-pandering biopic. Read my review…

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Documentaries About the Holocaust and World War II

Documentaries About the Holocaust and World War II

As official records and personal stories about the Holocaust continue to come to light, documentaries serve as a vehicle for making them known to the public. There are documentaries that chronicle circumstances of horror and unfathomable human cruelty, of life in the ghettos and survival in the concentration camps. Others tell stories of Jewish resistance, of extraordinary courage and inspiration, of individuals who defied the Nazis and expresses their humanity through music and art. These documentaries are keeping knowledge of the holocaust alive, and will hopefully prevent a repeat of this devastating period in human history. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of excellent documentaries that present important holocaust stories — stories that must be remembered.

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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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‘Paradise Lost Trilogy, The Complete West Memphis Three Case,’ on DVD

‘Paradise Lost Trilogy, The Complete West Memphis Three Case,’ on DVD

If the ongoing, well-publicized West Memphis Three murder case eluded you, it is a harrowing example of injustice that was covered intensively by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky in their trilogy of documentaries, “Paradise Lost,” now available on DVD. The justice defying ordeal for three West Memphis, Arkansas, teenagers began back in 1994, following the grizzly murder of three eight-year old boys in their hometown. Profiled as ‘Satan worshipers,’ the three highschoolers were picked up, arrested, tried and convicted of the gruesome crime, with what were highly questionable — and now proved wrongful — procedures and evidence.

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NORDISK PANORAMA Names New Director

NORDISK PANORAMA Names New Director

Søren Steen Poulsen has been appointed managing director of Nordisk Panorama, the premiere festival and marketplace for documentaries and shorts produced and/or co-produced in the Scandinavian countries of Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Poulsen joins the Nordisk Panorama team on May 1, replacing Katrine Kiilgaard, who leaves the organization at the end of March, after having run it successfully for 15 years.

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8th Annual Salem Film Fest Announces Outstanding Doc-Only Program

8th Annual Salem Film Fest Announces Outstanding Doc-Only Program

The 8th annual all-documentary Salem Film Fest (March 5-12, 2015) will have its largest line-up ever – 38 films by filmmakers representing 10 different countries telling stories from around the world. Twenty-nine of these films will be making their North American, US, East Coast, New England or Massachusetts premiere. Spread out over eight days with screenings at both CinemaSalem and the Peabody Essex Museum, the festival kicks off with the thoughtprovoking STRAY DOG, about Vietnam veteran and biker Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, which is directed by Oscar nominated director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)

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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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New Stats on Women in Film Show Cinema is Still A Man’s World

It should come as no surprise to anyone whose been paying attention — even marginally — to 2014′s crop of films and the film industry’s record of production that there is no such thing as gender equality of opportunity in Hollywood, or in any other segment of the moviemaking business.

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Advocacy for THE CASE AGAINST 8 – Movie Review

Advocacy for THE CASE AGAINST 8 – Movie Review

The Case Against 8 chronicles activists’s efforts to overturn California’s Prop 8, the civil rights-squashing ban on same sex marriage. Filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White’ behind-the-scenes access shows how civil rights activists from both sides of the aisle — most notably the ultra-conservative GW Bush backer Ted Olson and strongly liberal Al Gore backer David Boies, and their respective law partners – joined forces to fight legislation putting individuals’ rights, as guaranteed by the US Constitution, under the decision-making control of the government.

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Now’s the Time To Establish Your Documentary Viewing Club

There is a constant complaint among documentary fans: “We can’t find the film we want to watch at our local theater. And,no matter how often we request the manager to program documentaries, we can’t get the films we want to see on the schedule.” That, unfortunately, is the reality of current film distribution. The situation may change in the future, but at present very few documentaries get wide theatrical releases — even though nonfiction film has constantly growing fan base. It’s frustrating for filmmakers, too. There is a remedy. Read on…

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Movie Review: LAST WILL AND EMBEZZLEMENT

Movie Review: LAST WILL AND EMBEZZLEMENT

There’s a pressing need to protect the elderly against economic abuse, which is more prevalent than anyone would like to admit. Predators are blatantly taking advantage of senior citizens who’ve lost their capacity to responsibly handle their financial affairs, and getting away with it. The specific scenario may differ from incident to incident, but basically the scams are quite similar and follow specific patterns. This heartbreaking cautionary documentary traces cases and alerts viewers to specific dangers. Read on…and pay attention!

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CUTIE AND THE BOXER – Movie Review

CUTIE AND THE BOXER – Movie Review

Filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling follows the daily routines of Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara, Japanese fine artists who moved to New York during the 1960s, got married in 1979, and have been living and working together in their crowded loft in Dumbo (that’s an artsy part of Brooklyn, for those who don’t know the ins and outs of New York neighborhoods)for the past 27 years. They’re a couple of strong individuals. They’re both dedicated to making art, and their interests sometimes clash. Read on…

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Movie Review: THE INVISIBLE WAR

Movie Review: THE INVISIBLE WAR

Filmmaker Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War presents staggering evidence of the frequent incidence of the rape of soldiers — men and women, but mostly women — in the U.S. military, and exposes the systematic cover-up of reported rape and sexual harassment incidents and the ongoing victim persecution by U. S. military authorities. While authorities claim to have and administer a zero tolerance policy and the military acknowledges awareness of the complaints that have been filed, there is continued incidence of rape and sexual abuse throughout the military establishment. Read on…

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