Documentary Review: ASK DR. Ruth

Documentary Review: ASK DR. Ruth

Ryan White’s Ask Dr. Ruth is a thoroughly charming and entertaining biodoc about Dr. Ruth Westheimer, America’s famously beloved sex therapist. She has been a public figure for decades, but her personal story is actually full of surprises.

Read More

Gloria In Her Own Words (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Gloria In Her Own Words (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Peter Kunhardt’s profile of and tribute to Gloria Steinem, the famous founder of Ms. Magazine and a leading proponent of women’s equal rights, uses interviews with Steinhem, Bella Abzug and others to chronicle the career of the woman who has been the public face of feminism for decades.

Read More

The First Saturday in May – Documentary Review (2007)

The First Saturday in May  – Documentary Review (2007)

Directors John and Brad Hennegan follow six trainers as they put their amazing and beautiful thoroughbred horses–including the fabulous and tragic Barbaro–through the paces leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the annual race that takes place on the first Saturday of May. Think of this documentary as a cross between Seabiscuit and The Horse Whisperer, but it’s a true story told with actual footage.

Read More

Wild Horse, Wild Ride – Documentary Review

Wild Horse, Wild Ride – Documentary Review

It may sound like a reality TV show, but it’s an annual event that has become a way of life for devoted participants. And, it’s the subject of this documentary film: The Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge. The premise is simple: place 100 wild mustang horses in the hands of 100 capable trainers and give the trainers 100 days to tame the mustangs, teach them a series of tricks and perform with them as a horse and trainer team in a competitive horse show.

Read More

Ebertfest 2019: A Glorious Celebration of Cinema

Ebertfest 2019: A Glorious Celebration of Cinema

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, aka Ebertfest, is unique in its pure and glorious celebration of cinema. The annual four-day program, which just completed its 21st edition, consists of but a dozen films, making Ebertfest quite compact, as film festivals go. But, this joyful movie event has enormous heart. It emanates influence and inspires empathy far beyond Champaign, Illinois, the college community in which it has found its soulmate.

Read More

BUCK – Documentary Review

BUCK – Documentary Review

Buck, referring to Buck Brannaman, is all About The Original Horse Whisperer. Gentle, calm and kind, Buck Brannaman can, it seems, tame any horse, and the creatures who ride them. The cowboy who is known as the ‘original horse whisperer,’ travels around the USA to various ranches, giving horse owners workshops about how to handle their steeds, especially those that have a will of their own and insist upon expressing it.

Read More

BLOWIN’ UP – Documentary Review

BLOWIN’ UP – Documentary Review

Filmmaker Stephanie Wang Breal’s latest documentary, Blowin’Up, takes us into New York City’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court in Queens, where Judge Toko Serita has presided over cases against young prostitutes since the pilot court program began in 2004.

Read More

VERY YOUNG GIRLS – Documentary Retroview

VERY YOUNG GIRLS – Documentary Retroview

The trafficking of children is a worldwide crime, but 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.

Read More

Movie Review: ROLL RED ROLL

Movie Review: ROLL RED ROLL

This documentary is deeply disturbing. And it’s focused only on one notorious case. Unfortunately, news media reports cases like the Steubenville rape all too frequently. To boost awareness of rape culture and its consequences to individual women and girls and their communities, Roll Red Roll should be mandatory viewing for teens, parents and educators nationwide.

Read More

Movie Review: 3 FACES

Movie Review:  3 FACES

3 Faces is particularly engaging in the expositive way it reveals how women of all ages. various ettnic groups and different social classes cope with the same hardships and dehumanization they all must endure in Iran under the country’s male-dominated culture. Director Jafar Panahi, obviously in sympathy with the oppressed, captures all the troubling nuances of the women’s daily life and the subtle support they give to each other. 3 Faces isn’t playing in Iran, but it is touring the world. You should see it.

Read More

THIS IS NOT A FILM (2011) – Documentary Retroview

THIS IS NOT A FILM  (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Jafar Panahi Panahi shot This Is Not A Film in his Tehran apartment, while he was under house arrest. Although he could be put back in jail at any time, he defied his sentence by making This Is Not A Film, using digital cameras, including an iPhone, to document his daily life.

Read More

JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE – Documentary Review

JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE – Documentary Review

If you see the study of history as a route to informed interpretation of the present, Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People is essential and timely viewing. The film is an investigative biopic 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. Most people know Pulitzer primarily for the coveted journalism award presented in his name, but this fascinating and powerful American influencer has an extraordinary life story and the release of this thoroughly researched documentary is timely indeed.

Read More

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN (2008) – Documentary Retroview

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN (2008) – Documentary Retroview

In The Business of Being Born, director Abby Epstein and producer Ricki Lake focus our attention on the issue of childbearing practices in the United States in much the same way Michael Moore highlighted the American health care system in Sicko. Both Epstein and Lake play dramatic roles in investigating the way in which the medical establishment deals with birthing and showing midwifery as a viable alternative for women who wish to avoid invasive procedures. This is a subject of interest and concern to us all–whether or not childbearing happens to be on our personal agenda.

Read More

Women Make Movies initiates the #WontBeErased Screen In

Women Make Movies initiates the #WontBeErased Screen In

The Trump administration’s determination to define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, would eradicate federal recognition and civil rights protections of approximately 1.4 million transgender Americans. In response and as a counter measure, Women Make Movies has initiated the #WontBeErased Screen In, an online streaming program of enlightening LGBTQ films, curated to honor and celelbrate our trans, intersex and gender non-conforming family, friends and colleagues. This collection, essential for fostering the work of diversity, inclusion and tolerance, is streaming for free for two weeks, beginning today.

Read More

Documentaries on the 2018 Awards Circuit – Critics Choice Documentary Awards

Documentaries on the 2018 Awards Circuit – Critics Choice Documentary Awards

The official announcement of nonfiction nominees for the Third Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA) kicks off this year’s race for nonfic recognition, and what a race it is. Throughout the year, documentary production and distribution have soared, making 2018 the year of trending nonfiction.

Read More

Preview: Margaret Mead Film Festival 2018

Preview: Margaret Mead Film Festival 2018

Honoring the legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead, this year’s festival focuses on the theme “Resilience in Motion, documenting stories that celebrate individuals who are breaking new ground or breaking free despite challenging circumstances and sparking provocative conversations­—whether they’re about battling voter suppression in Cumberland County, North Carolina, or Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram struggling to regain normalcy after their release from captivity, or transgender women in Tonga creating safe spaces for self-expression.

Read More

Review: I AM NOT A WITCH

Review:  I AM NOT A WITCH

Masterfully bewitching storytelling, a superb performances by first-time actor Maggie Mulubwa and a fine ensemble cast, exquisite cinematography that reveals nuanced emotions in close ups and captures broad sweeps of the arid landscape, and outstanding editing skills that balance satire and serious social commentary have brought <em>I Am Not A Witch</em> into contention for Oscar gold as the UK’s submission for best foreign film. Rungano Nyoni’s cinematic style is unique and fascinating. <em>I Am Not A Witch</em> is a must see. And, it warrants a second watch, as well.

Read More

Fork Films Picks 16 Documentaries for Funding

Fork Films Picks 16 Documentaries for Funding

Abigail Disney’s Fork Films is dividng $625,000 in grants among 16 new documentaries that align with the company’s dedication to promoting peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice. All are directed and or produced by women. Selected from 500 applicants, the chosen films address topics ranging from refugee and immigration stories, to incarceration, civil rights, disability rights and media depictions of transgender people, as well as other timely topics. The unprecedented number of applications indicates growing demand for nonfiction storytelling in this turbulent time. Fork Films is committed to supporting voices not prioritized in mainstream media, and has given out nearly $5,000,000 in grant and investments to more than 100 documentaries to date.

Read More

Documentary Distribution 101: The Film Festival Effect

Documentary Distribution 101: The Film Festival Effect

Developing audiences for documentaries can be a daunting task. Successful documentary distribution depends on audience demand, on convincing audiences that they want to purchase a ticket for a nonfiction film rather than for a narrative feature, even the weekly blockbuster with the title hat has been inked indelibly on their psyche by big budget, aggressive and effective marketing. How does film festival exposure help documentaries to gain audience, and does a documentary’s success on the festival circuit translate into wider distribution?

Read More

PLAYER HATING: A LOVE STORY (2012) — Documentary Retroview

PLAYER HATING: A LOVE STORY (2012) — Documentary Retroview

In Player Hating: A Love Story, filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West follows Jasun Wardlaw, the talented hip hop recording artist known as Half-a-Mill, as he and his crew of ‘thugs’ prepare to release his first big record album. Half-a-Mill is hoping that the album will be the kind of success that will catapult him out of Brooklyn, New York’s crime-riddled Atlantic Housing Project, where he’s faced tough — no, make that dire — living conditions since his childhood. He’s deeply in need of some form of relief. And so are his family and friends. In fact, so is the whole neighborhood.

Read More

DARK MONEY — Documentary Review

DARK MONEY — Documentary Review

Kimberly Reed’s well-researched and compelling documentary is an explosive expose about the tremendous threat the influence of concealed corporate funding of political campaigns poses to the democratic process and the legitimacy of our elections. Dark Money is a political thriller, a cautionary tale that shows how independent candidates for public office are targeted and defeated by special interest groups hiding behind nonprofit organizations that are funded by wealthy and influential individuals and/or corporations — the Koch brothers, for example — who are basically buying elections and gaining the control necessary to guide the making future laws and to determine policies of the United States regarding everything from land use to diplomacy and alliances with foreign nations.

Read More

PRODIGAL SONS — Documentary Retroview

PRODIGAL SONS — Documentary Retroview

In Prodigal Sons, transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed documents her return to the rural Montana town where she grew up — as Paul McKerrow, the local high school football star and the younger brother of Marc McKerrow, the emotionally disturbed adopted son of Paul’s birth parents. Kimberly, who’s had a sex change operation since she last saw her family and high school peers, is comfortable in her new identity, but faces the difficult dual challenge of revisiting high school cohorts and a sibling whose jealousies about her bloodline and high school popularity have often erupted into actual violence.

Read More

KING CORN (2007) — Documentary Retroview

KING CORN (2007) — Documentary Retroview

If you believe you are what you eat, you’ll no doubt be shocked to learn that you’re mostly corn. Aaron Woolf’s documentary reveals that most Americans eat mostly food products derived from or containing corn. In King Corn, Woolf follows young eco-activists Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis–who met and became investigative cohorts while undergrads at Yale–as they plant and harvest an acre’s worth of corn, and then to trace their crop as it is processed into the food products that nurture the increasingly obese and unhealthy–and always hungry–American population.

Read More

COLONY (2009) – Documentary Review

COLONY (2009) – Documentary Review

Beekeepers haul their wooden bee hive boxes across the US, providing an essential service to farmers who rely on honey bees to pollinate their crops. However the entire enterprise and way of life is now threatened by a mysterious phenomenon called ‘bee colony collapse disorder,’ marked by the death and disappearance of millions of bees. By following several beekeepers as they struggle to sustain their colonies and way of life, and presenting close up views of activity within the hives, Colony provides a fascinating overview of an essential yet endangered element of agricultural production.

Read More

MORE THAN HONEY (2013) – Documentary Review

MORE THAN HONEY (2013) – Documentary Review

More Than Honey is a phenomenally well-researched and thorough study of bees and their complex influence on human civilization, and an in depth investigation of the honeybee colony collapse disorder, a current crisis that some experts say threatens the extinction of honeybees, which would have a potentially devastating impact on human civilization. Without honeybees and their effective cross pollination of plants, there would be no crops, no harvest, nothing for humans or other species to eat.

Read More