DEAR SANTA – Review by Kristen Page-Kirby

You probably won’t cry through ALL of Dear Santa, but expect your eyes to be a little leaky through most of it. The documentary Dear Santa follows the stories of the 2019 version of Operation Santa, a charity begun in 1912 that matches children (and some adults) who have written letters to Santa with donors. Writer and director Dana Nachman follows a few of Santa’s “elves,” including an elementary school’s student government, a postmaster in a small Arizona town and a former Operation Santa recipient.

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COLLECTIVE – Review by Diane Carson

Shocking, ruthless corruption plagues health care and businesses from top to bottom in Bucharest, Romania, as meticulously detailed in director Alexander Nanau’s documentary Collective. The title comes from the nightclub Colectiv that burned October 30, 2015, twenty-seven killed on site when the band Goodbye to Gravity’s pyrotechnic display, horrifyingly captured on cell phone, ignited the club’s back wall and ceiling.

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PRINCESS OF THE ROW – Review by Carol Cling

Life is hardly a fairy tale for even the most fortunate among us. Alisha is far from the most fortunate among us. Memorably embodied by young Tayler Buck, Alisha — who prefers to be called “Princess” — is the 12-year-old at the heart of Princess of the Row, a heart-tugging drama that sometimes tugs too hard.

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THE GRIZZLIES – Review by Diane Carson

The Grizzlies travels to the Inuit Kugluktuk for an inspirational story. Director Miranda de Pencier establishes historical context through 1920s and 30s sixteen millimeter footage shot by her grandfather in the Canadian Arctic. Now, in the twenty-first century, this area has the highest suicide rate in North America. And flying into remote Kugluktuk to complete community service requirements is recent university graduate Russ Sheppard.

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RUN – Review by Susan Granger

After Netflix’s Ratched, Sarah Paulson has become TV’s malevolent angel-of-mercy. In this new thriller, she plays a possessively controlling mother suffering from Munchausen syndrome-by-proxy. That’s a mental health issue – a form of child abuse -in which a warped caregiver causes an illness to a person under her care – like a child with a disability.

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MANGROVE – Review by Diane Carson

British director Steve McQueen’s truth-based Mangrove, set in west London’s Notting Hill area beginning in 1968, imaintains disconcerting relevance today with racism on full display. Prevalent, brutal police prejudice sparks repeated, illegal and destructive raids and appalling harassment of restaurant-owner Frank Crichlow.

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LUXOR – Review by Nikki Baughan

Andrea Riseborough gives a luminescent performance in Zeina Durra’s contemplative, hypnotic Luxor, her talent and poise radiating through the suppressed trauma that leaves her character, Hana, seemingly teetering on the edge of complete breakdown. A medic and aid worker, Hana is in the Egyptian city of Luxor on a much-needed break between assignments, desperately trying to drown out the horrors she has witnessed by immersing herself in the beauty of this spiritual, historical city.

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MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE – Review by Diane Carson

Markie Ann Wenzel is a courageous and, for a significant period of time, conflicted individual for several reasons fully and frankly on display in director Matt Kliegman’s documentary Markie in Milwaukee. Beginning May 13, 2013, on Milwaukee’s South Side, Markie Ann faces a monumental decision. Born a man, will he continue his transition to becoming a woman.

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LUXOR – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

London-born Arab writer-director Zeina Durra’s Luxor is sort of a meditative throwback to the ‘60s era of art-house cinema when movies were allowed to not always fill in the plot blanks for audiences. That opened the door for viewers to insert their assumptions as to what is going on with the main character. In this case that would be Hana (never-not-watchable Andrea Riseborough).

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