MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 5, 2019 – BLOWIN’ UP

motw logo 1-35Stephanie Wang-Breal’s calmly compassionate fly-on-the-wall documentary Blowin’ Up takes viewers inside a unique courtroom in Queens. Run by Judge Toko Serita, the court is the first of its kind to approach prostitution in a way that encourages solving problems rather than compounding them. Counseling and training take the place of shaming and judgment.

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VERY YOUNG GIRLS – Review by Jennifer Merin

Documentaries like Born Into Brothels and Highway Courtesans have made us keenly aware of the evils of child prostitution. Very Young Girls, directed by David Schisgall, Nina Alvarez and Priya Swaminathan, brings the story home by following several New York City tween and teenage girls who’ve become prostitutes, and who are trying to cope with the consequences and redirect their lives.

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BLOWIN’ UP – Review by Loren King

Stephanie Wang-Breal’s powerful and timely film shines a light on the rare workings of a legal system that exists to help, not punish; to advocate, not to judge; and to genuinely find a way to change the bleak lives of the mostly young, marginalized women including trans women who survive by doing sex work in the massage parlors and on the streets of Queens.

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BLOWIN’ UP – Review by Jennifer Merin

Blowin’ Up, is a beautifully crafted documentary that combines intimate on camera interviews with well-positioned fly on the wall observances to deliver a well-researched, convincing deliberation about the prostitution of young women, a crucial issue that concerns women of all ages. This must see film should be seen as a double bill with Very Young Girls.

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BLOWIN’ UP – Review by Cate Marquis

Stephanie Wang-Breal uses an unobtrusive fly-on-the-wall approach, with no narration and few interviews. Mostly, we just see the court and the people around it doing their good work, but we also follow a few individual stories. The court room footage proves surprisingly involving and even gripping at times. We come to care about these young women who have fallen into this life, often out of economic need and now have no way to escape, as well as the people with the court and non-profit striving to open that door for them.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 21, 2019: THE BRINK

It’s no exaggeration to say that Steve Bannon quickly became one of the most reviled figures in Donald Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 election and the early days of Trump’s presidency. Cagey and clever, Bannon never seemed to make a move that wasn’t completely calculated. So you have to wonder what his motivation was to allow filmmaker Alison Klayman and her cameras into his life to film The Brink, an intimate documentary that follows Bannon from 2017 through the historic 2018 midterm elections.

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Ai Weiwei Never Sorry – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Alison Klayman’s documentary profiles the artist, and provides background on his work from the time he left China during the 1970s to study in New York City and became part of the city’s downtown art scene, to the establishment of his home studio in China, his contribution to the architectural design of the stadium used for the Chinese Olympics, and his very well-attended art installation at London’s Tate Gallery.

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JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE – Review by Jennifer Merin

If you consider the study of history to be a route towards informed interpretation of the present, Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People is essential and timely viewing. The film is an investigative biodoc about the legendary publisher who changed the face and flow of modern journalism, and rewrote the rule book on using newspapers — the prime media outlet during his life time — to influence the political, social and economic milieu at the heart of the American Dream.

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WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY – Review by Loren King

What a perfect title for this heart-wrenching and necessary film. Who Will Write Our History written and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, not only brings to light a vital historical event but resonates across space and time about what it means to bear witness.

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