IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY FROM THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (2011) – Documentary Review

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY FROM THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (2011) – Documentary Review

In presenting the story of Daniel McGowan, the former Earth Liberation Front (ELF) environmental activist who’s been sentenced to life imprisonment for environmental terrorism or, more specifically, for arson committed against northwest US lumber companies and national parks, filmmakers Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman raise questions and stir public debate about the definition of terrorism, especially in the post-9/11 security environment. The documentary is now streaming on OVID.tv.

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The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (2011) – Documentary Review

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (2011) – Documentary Review

Performing around the world and on New Zealand television, the Topp Twins are a hilarious sister act who’ve been embraced by a vast variety of fans. Leanne Pooley’s delightful documentary profile of Lynda and Jools entertains while giving biographical background and information about their current lives, as well as side-splitting clips of their performances.

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Wish Me Away: The Chely Wright Story (2012) – Documentary Retroview

Wish Me Away: The Chely Wright Story (2012) – Documentary Retroview

Watching movies for Pride Month? Remember to include Wish Me Away. Nashville music star Chely Wright, adored by millions of conservation country and western fans, lived much of her public life and career as a lie — until she decided to match up her public and professional persona with her inner truth. Chely is gay, and she decided that she had to come out.

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THE PROPOSAL – Documentary Review

THE PROPOSAL – Documentary Review

Filmmaker and artist Jill Magid became personally committed to unveiling the the legacy of legendary Mexican architect Luis Barragan (1902-1988), whose entire work record and artifacts — diaries, blueprints, photos of everything, personal memorabilia and other belongings, and copyrights — had been purchased by a powerful and wealthy Swiss conglomerate, Vitra, and were entirely withheld from public access.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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QUEEN OF THE SUN: THE ENDANGERED WORLD OF BEES (2010) — Documentary Review

QUEEN OF THE SUN: THE ENDANGERED WORLD OF BEES  (2010) — Documentary Review

Queen of the Sun is an in depth study about bees and their importance to Earth’s sustainability. It delves into the history of beekeeping and investigates the causes, implications and impending impact of the colony collapse disorder, which is currently reaching epidemic proportions.

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BIGGER STRONGER FASTER (2008) – Documentary Retroview

BIGGER STRONGER FASTER (2008) – Documentary Retroview

Chris Bell uses his personal story as a platform for consideration of doping in America. The film shows that famous hunks like Hulk Hogan, Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were dopers, and shows that the use of steroids is not only addictive, but also dangerous to both health and reputation.

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