THE BATTLE FOR MARJAH (2011) – Documentary Retroview

THE BATTLE FOR MARJAH (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Chronicling the Afghanistan War’s Largest Operation To Date Journalist Ben Anderson spent two months embedded with U.S. Marines as they fought the in the largest (to date) offensive in the Afghanistan War. Called Operation Moshtarak, the strategy called for capture of Marjah, a small town with a large Taliban population. The film is Anderson’s chronicle […]

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HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2011) – Documentary Retroview

HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Returning from War When Sgt. Nathan Harris was deployed to Afghanistan with his fellow Marines in Echo Company, he was a gung ho grunt who was secure in his belief that he and his mates could and would bring liberty to the Afghan people. They were accompanied by photojournalist Danfung Dennis, who was embedded with […]

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ARMADILLO (2010) – Documentary Retroview

ARMADILLO (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Becoming Part of the War Culture Documentary filmmaker Janus Metz, following young Danish soldiers on their first tour of duty in Afghanistan, chronicles the platoon’s experiences from the time of their testosterone-driven pre-deployment celebrations and sad goodbyes with family and friends who have obvious concerns about their safety, to their first terrifying shoot out with […]

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SOLDIERS OF CONSCIENCE (2009) – Documentary Retroview

SOLDIERS OF CONSCIENCE (2009) – Documentary Retroview

American Soldiers Who Say Killing is Wrong Soldiers of Conscience profiles eight American soldiers, four of whom believe that killing is wrong and refuse to kill, and four of whom believe that killing in times and under the conditions of warfare is necessary and acceptable. This well-balanced documentary shows that most combat personnel grapple with […]

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WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM (2011) – Documentary Retroview

WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Where Soldiers Come From begins and ends in a rural Michigan town, but it could be about any American community where youngsters who’re graduating from high school and preparing themselves for adulthood must make decisions about what their next steps should be. Many who aren’t on the academic path join the National Guard because it […]

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Garbo: The Spy – Movie Review – 2009

Garbo: The Spy – Movie Review – 2009

This wonderfully entertaining and educating documentary is a real life spy thriller that profiles the mystery man, a double agent during World War II, who who changed the course of history. He was the most important, successful and daring spy of his day, an unidentified legend in his own time, the only one to receive distinguished service honors from both the British and Germans.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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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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THE YELLOW BIRDS — Movie Review

THE YELLOW BIRDS — Movie Review

This powerful drama shatters notions that going to war makes heroes of ordinary men. Neither Bartle (Alden Ehrenreich), age 21, nor Murph (Tye Sheridan), who is barely 18, have any idea about what they want to do with their lives, so they join the military. They meet in basic training, and bond as brothers, determined to get through the military drill together. Their conmection is strengthened when Bartle meets Murph’s doting and very anxious mom (Jennifer Aniston), at an on base family dinner before the two deploy to Iraq, where they quickly learn that war is not a video game.

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A LEAF OF FAITH — Documentary Review

A LEAF OF FAITH — Documentary Review

Filmmaker Chris Bell, pursuing ongoing concerns about drug issues that plague athletes and the general public, focuses on the crippling and death dealing addiction to opioid painkillers. Having reached epidemic proportions, opioids — ranging from heroin addiction and overdose to abuse of synthetic opioids to withdraw from heroin addition and the use of prescription of addictive opoids to relieve chronic pain — are currently among the top causes of death in the U.S. In A Leap of Faith, Bell introduces and investigates a possible solution — the use of Kratom as an alternative.

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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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HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD — Documentary Review

HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD — Documentary Review

Filmmaker Rudiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood is a compilation documentary that uses clips from films produced during the Nazi regime to show how the movies were used to indoctrinate the masses and influence their behavior. Subtitled German Cinema in the Age of Propaganda: 1933-45, the film is more analysis than homage, presenting a fascinating profile of the Nazi period of German history that creates positive stereotypes and presents mythic illusions about current and historic events.

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DREAMS OF A LIFE (2012) — Documentary Retroview

DREAMS OF A LIFE (2012) — Documentary Retroview

Dreams of a Life is the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a 40-something woman whose decomposed corpse was discovered in a North London bedsit in 2003, but only when and because authorities broke in to evict her for nonpayment of rent. She’d been dead for three years and nobody had missed her, nobody had asked after her, nobody had noticed the mail piling up at the door.

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THE BEACHES OF AGNES (LES PLAGES D’AGNES) – Documentary Review

THE BEACHES OF AGNES (LES PLAGES D’AGNES) – Documentary Review

In The Beaches of Agnes (Les Plages d’Agnes), the legendary French filmmaker (who directed the narrative Cleo From Nine to Five and documentary The Gleaners, among other classics) revisits her childhood, presents footage of her young womanhood and tells of the start of her career as a photographer and cinematographer, of her eventual marriage to French New Wave director Jacques Demy and motherhood, and brings us up to the present. Mme Varda is 80 years old as this film releases theatrically in the U.S. in July, 2009, and she’s still going strong. Very strong.

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Last Train Home (2009) – Documentary Retroview

Last Train Home (2009) – Documentary Retroview

In what filmmaker Lixin Fan characterizes as the world’s largest human migration, some 130-million Chinese migrant workers leave their work-a-day lives in China’s cities to travel to their homes in the impoverished countryside to celebrate the New Year with their families. To show us their arduous and frustrating journey and reveal the impact their long-term absence has on their families, the filmmaker follows Chen Suqin and her husband Zhang Changhua, as they return from their factory jobs in Guangzhou to their family home, a rural farm, where they reunite with their two children, who’ve been left in the care of Chen’s mother.

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GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR (2011) — Documentary Retroview

GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR (2011) — Documentary Retroview

Part courtroom drama, part political thriller and part war movie, Granito: How to Nail A Dictator is one of the most compelling. gripping and inspiring documentaries of the year to date. Watching you film, you feel that you’re privy to an insider’s experience in furthering the fight for human rights and justice.

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Movie Review: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Movie Review: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Luc Besson’s classic femme-centric scifi actioner is being re-released in theaters to mark the film’s 20th anniversary. Concurrently, SONY is preparing a special edition Blu-ray/DVD, which will be available in July 2917. As the new version of Wonder Woman is about to blockbust her way into into women’s psyches, it’s the perfect time for The Fifth Element to appear again on the big screen and re-establish her place among our galaxy of superstar cinematic female heroines.

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Movie Review: PARIS CAN WAIT

Movie Review: PARIS CAN WAIT

Paris Can Wait is a rich repast for Francophiles and foodies, and women who are hungry for more romance in their marriages. Writer/director Eleanor Coppola delivers her first feature at age 81 — a remarkable and inspiring achievement, especially since she does it so deliciously. Replete with with elegant character development, a superb cast and stunning cinematography, Paris Can Wait is a delightfully satisfying escape into a lifestyle that is for most of the world’s women pure fantasy. Take time to savor it.

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PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (2011) — RetroView by Jennifer Merin

PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES (2011) — RetroView by Jennifer Merin

All The News That’s Fit To Print? The New York Times continues to be the nation’s newspaper of record, although news gathering and publishing are undergoing rapid transformations, and the New York Times has had to cut its staff for economic reasons. The film looks at how the New York Times is handling the rise of new media, and considers what will become of the newspaper in the future.

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