AWARE: GLIMPSES OF CONSCIOUSNESS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The documentary Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness is a heady experience – dare I say spiritual? – that stirs feelings of awe and wonder, humility and connection. In exploring how six people examine and probe just what consciousness is, the film creates a contemplative openness that words alone might find hard to describe. It’s a remarkable film.

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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY IN THE WORLD – Review by Diane Carson

Directors Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri’s documentary tantalizingly titled The Most Beautiful Boy in the World prompts several questions. First and most specifically, who played the alluring Tadzio, that boy, in Italian director Luchino Visconti’s 1971 adaptation of Thomas Mann’s 1912 novel Death in Venice? Second, given the global idolizing he activated, what career followed and who is he today?

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BURNING (TIFF 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Burning is an immersive, awful, essential watch, and the urgency with which filmmaker Eve Orner seeks to alert us of just how close we are to the edge of global disaster is intoxicating; climate change and its nightmarish effects are no longer a matter for debate, Orner argues. That reality is here already.

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LITTLE GIRL – Review by Leslie Combemale

If people who are less understanding of trans rights see this film, it has the potential to shift belief and possibly reverse a lot of outdated laws. That would be a gift and blessing to kids finding challenges now, but even more future kids who won’t have to struggle needlessly as they grow. Of course the film is subjective, as it aims to change a lot of hearts, and attempts to do so through experience rather than statistics, but if the definition of great art is that it elicits compassion and understanding, Little Girl qualifies.

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IN BALANCHINE’S CLASSROOM – Review by Carol Cling

Nobody lives forever. But they can live on, through the work they leave behind — and the people dedicated to continuing the quest. That’s certainly the case with legendary choreographer George Balanchine, whose life and legacy inspire Connie Hochman’s documentary In Balanchine’s Classroom.

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STORM LAKE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Art Cullen made a name for himself and the Storm Lake Times when he won a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for exposing dark money among local county officials involved in corporate agriculture.Sadly, a stat shown during the doc reveals that one in four newspapers have shut down over the last 15 years in the U.S. More and more in a time when some news outlets engage in spreading harmful lies, we need such homespun honesty in order to simply survive these days. When a newspaper is local in scope, it lives and breathes along with its customers and has a duty to serve them.

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THE BIG SCARY “S” WORD – Review by Lois Alter Mark

The problem with many must-see documentaries is that the people who really must see them probably won’t. So I’m hoping that “those people” (I’m talking to you, Fox News viewers) will head to the theater to see The Big Scary “S” Word, thinking the “S” stands for “sex” or something, and they’ll end up getting a lesson in – of all things – socialism.

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FAYA DAYI – Review by Leslie Combemale

The feature debut of Mexican Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Bashir, Faya Dayi immerses its audience in a visually rich, hypnotic world that feels as hallucinogenic, languid, and euphoric as a drug trip. Centered in rural Ethiopia, the documentary transcends traditional storytelling as it relays the hopes and challenges of Ethiopians trapped working in the Khat trade. The name of the film means “giving birth to wellness”, and is part of a hymnal chant that farmers in Harar chant while they’re harvesting.

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THE CONSERVATION GAME – Review by Lois Alter Mark

The Conservation Game is heartbreaking but riveting, thanks to Michael Webber’s superb direction that keeps you on the edge of your seat as the heroic animal advocates persist despite death threats from the villains they’re chasing. The documentary is sobering and eye-opening and, once you see and understand what big cats and other wild animals go through in captivity, you can never pretend you don’t know.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 27, 2021: LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD

In a social media world full of misinformation and over-filtered influencers, it’s always refreshing to encounter a creator who’s genuine, whose passion is about what they do, rather than just getting people to smash the subscribe button. That description perfectly fits accomplished domino-toppler Lily Hevesh, the subject of Jeremy Workman’s charming documentary Lily Topples the World. Ambitious but understated, focused but unassuming, Lily has earned success through an all-too-rare combination of talent and authenticity.

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