SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD – Documentary Review

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD – Documentary Review

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is an intimate, enlightening feminist documentary from Estonian filmmaker Anna Hints. We are invited to observe a group of women who’ve come together to cleanse their bodies, minds and spirits by celebrating the ritual of a traditional Estonian sauna

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BEYOND UTOPIA – Documentary Review

BEYOND UTOPIA – Documentary Review

Beyond Utopia is Madeleine Gavin’s gripping documentary about North Koreans enduring the dangers of trying to escape their repressive country, risking their lives to reach Thailand, so they can eventually make their way to settlement in South Korea. We often hear reports of abusive and inhumane conditions in North Korea, bur rarely get an inside glimpse like the one provided by this galvanizing documentary. It it is very hard to watch, but it is essential viewing.

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INVISIBLE BEAUTY – Documentary Review

INVISIBLE BEAUTY – Documentary Review

Invisible Beauty is a thoroughly engaging autobiography documentary by and about Bethann Hardison, the Black fashion model, modeling agency owner and activist who challenged racist attitudes and practices in the fashion industry and changed ‘the look’ of runway shows, magazine spreads and other platforms for fashion marketing.

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JOYCE CAROL OATES: A BODY IN SERVICE OF MIND – Documentary Review

JOYCE CAROL OATES:  A BODY IN SERVICE OF MIND – Documentary Review

Filmmaker Stig Bjorkman. a longstanding friend of Joyce Carol Oates. gives us a respectful and intimate documentary that spends its hour and a half on current interviews with Oates, as well as clips from her past interviews with Dick Cavitt and other broadcast presenters and select readings from her writings that are voiced by Laura […]

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BELLA! – Documentary Review

BELLA! – Documentary Review

Bella! And, yes, be sure to include the exclamation point in the film’s title because the subject of Jeff L. Leiberman’s well researched and beautifully crafted documentary deserves emphatic punctuation.  Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was a champion of civil rights for women in every aspect of our lives. She was the feminist activist politician who fought fiercely to enact laws to establish and protect equity in the workplace, in government representation, in family matters — all of the women’s civil rights that we are now at such high risk of losing in our nation’s current regressive climate.

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LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Documentary Review

LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Documentary Review

Lakota Nation Vs. United States is a compelling advocacy documentary that chronicles the United States’ government’s ongoing land grab of Lakota territory in Northeastern Wyoming in violation of the Black Hills Treaty of 1868. At this moment in US history, when the Constitution — our government’s essential treaty with our nation’s citizens — is being challenged and our civil rights are being eroded, Lakota Nation Vs. United States is an effective cry for justice. It is an essential watch.

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GIRL MODEL (2012) – Documentary Review

GIRL MODEL (2012) – Documentary Review

The commonplace perception about modeling is that it is a glamorous career that pays extremely well and offers fabulous opportunities for travel to exotic destinations where you get to hang out with the world’s most beautiful people in the world’s best hotels, dining at the best restaurants and wearing fabulous clothing and accessories. With all that in the offering, the job has allure, to say the least. And, that’s especially true for girls who’ve grown up under difficult circumstances and are looking for a way to work their way towards a better life.

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USERS – Documentary Review

USERS – Documentary Review

Mexican-American filmmaker Natalia Almada’s documentary, Users, is a poetic and profoundly provocative delve into the complex intersection of nature and technology in human civilization, present and future. The film presents itself as 81-minute meditation on the ways in which our increasing dependence on technology will impact our future generations, and those who are being birthed […]

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HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD (2017) – Documentary Retroview

HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD (2017) – Documentary Retroview

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 […]

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Shakespeare High (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Shakespeare High (2011) – Documentary Retroview

In Southern California, a mixed demographic of high school drama student teams from several schools scattered across the areas diverse neighborhoods, prepare to compete in the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California Shakespeare Festival, held each April. Over the years since its inception, the annual Shakespeare competition has become just as popular as local and national sports events, and members of the participating schools’ drama groups are campus stars.

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Sweetgrass (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Sweetgrass (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor follow Montana sheep herders as they drive 3,000 sheep through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana during the summer of 2003. This challenging and dangerous journey was the final annual sheep drive along a trail that has been followed since the early 1900s. The documentary is cinema verite in its purest form. There is no use of voice over narration to tell the story, no graphics are used during the film to establish location or explain images. Sweetgrass is an exquisite example of what the directors call ‘visual antropology.’

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STORIES WE TELL (2012) – Documentary Retroview

STORIES WE TELL (2012) – Documentary Retroview

Acclaimed Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley documents her own search to find out the truth about her parentage, trying to track down the truth about whether the man she’s known as dad for her entire life is or is not her biological father.

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Waste Land (2010) – Documentary Review

Waste Land (2010) – Documentary Review

Acclaimed Brooklyn, NY-based artist Vik Muniz returns to his native country of Brazil, where he embarks upon a remarkable creative journey with a group of men and women who toil as catadores (garbage pickers) at Jardim Gramacho, a Rio de Janiero landfill.

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ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL (2009) – Documentary Retroview

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL (2009) – Documentary Retroview

Anvil Still Rocks! UTOPIA is releasing a newly restored version of Anvil! The Story of Anvil, filmmaker Sacha Gervasi’s 2009 documentary. The film is a real heavy metal rush!

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L’Amour Fou (2011) – Documentary Retroview

L’Amour Fou (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Yves Saint-Laurent was a talented and troubled man, and nobody knew him better than his longtime business partner and lover, Pierre Berge. Interviewed after Saint-Laurent’s death for L’Amour Fou, Berge tells all — about the brilliant and beloved designer’s reaction to fame and to failure, about his shyness and deep depressions, about his psychotic episodes and seeking seclusion

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FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK – Documentary Review

FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK – Documentary Review

Fanny: The Right to Rock is filmmaker Bobbi Jo Hart’s completely captivating documentary about the first all-girl hard rock band, Fanny, and how this sisterhood of talented and tenacious Filipina women musicians almost became the female equivalent of The Beatles.

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MEAT LOAF: IN SEARCH OF PARADISE (2007) – Documentary Retroview

MEAT LOAF: IN SEARCH OF PARADISE (2007) – Documentary Retroview

At age 59, legendary rocker Meat Loaf launched a worldwide tour to promote his new album, Bat Out Of Hell III, with new stagings of some of his most popular songs. This is the first time the iconic star had given a film crew access to his grueling artistic process.

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THE CONDUCTOR – Documentary Review

THE CONDUCTOR – Documentary Review

The Conductor is documentary filmmaker Bernadette Wegenstein’s joyful biodoc about Maestra Marin Alsop, the first female conductor to direct a major American symphony orchestra. Marin Alsop is currently the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well as chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Filmmaker Bernadette Wegenstein hails from Vienna, but now […]

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Documentary Retroview: Taxi To The Dark Side (2007)

Documentary Retroview: Taxi To The Dark Side (2007)

Alex Gibney’s new film, Taxi To The Dark Side, released on January 18, 2008, is a shocking expose about the American military’s use of torture to get confessions–not always truthful ones–from prisoners suspected of terrorism. Meet the prisoners and the perps.

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Documentary Retroview: SHADOW OF AFGHANISTAN 1959-2012 – (2006, 2012)bauman

Documentary Retroview: SHADOW OF AFGHANISTAN 1959-2012 –  (2006, 2012)bauman

There seems to be no end to the strife and anguish experienced by the people of Afghanistan during recent history. Except for a brief period of peace and democracy, the nation has been subjected to continuous foreign influence and invasions, civil war and discord that have maimed the Afghan people and threatened their culture

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Documentary Retroview: LIMELIGHT (2011)

Documentary Retroview: LIMELIGHT (2011)

The Rise and Demise of Peter Gatien Filmmaker Billy Corben’s glitzy documentary, Limelight, follows the rise and demise of New York club lord, Peter Gatien, who ruled the city’s nightlife during the 1980s, until his trend-setting establishments, including the eponymous Limelight, were shut down by officials who accused Gatien and his crew of employees of […]

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BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE – Documentary Review

BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE – Documentary Review

Bring Your Own Brigade is filmmaker Lucy Walker’s courageous and compelling documentary about an extremely hot topic: the ongoing inferno of wildfires in Southern California and elsewhere on the West Coast and, by extension, across the nation. Walker’s eye witness camera captures close up images of the uncontrolled fires cutting through affluent communities in wide paths of devastating destruction. She follows local residents who are fleeing their homes on car-congested bands of blacktop cutting through raging flames and she records up close and personal accounts of survivors whose property was miraculously spared and others who lost all of their worldly goods to the to the rampaging blaze.

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Movie Review: BLACKFISH (2013)

Movie Review: BLACKFISH (2013)

The blackfish referenced in this documentary’s title is named Tilikum. He was arguably the world’s best known killer whale, or orca, and he resided at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, where he’d been captive and on display at the theme park for more than two decades, and was regularly featured in SeaWorld’s animal shows at Shamu Stadium.

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CROPSEY (2009) – Documentary Retroview

CROPSEY (2009) – Documentary Retroview

Cropsey is an urban legend that haunted Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman while they were growing up in Staten Island, NY. In this documentary, the filmmakers return to their childhood environs to investigate the myth about the elusive boogeyman, wacko and supposed satanist who allegedly lived in the abandoned ruins of the notorious Willowbrook Mental Institution, which he used as a base for abducting and killing local children. Ultimately, the discovery of the body of a missing girl proved the legend to be true.

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REBEL HEARTS – Documentary Review

REBEL HEARTS – Documentary Review

Rebel Hearts is a compelling from-the-heart documentary that follows The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a sisterhood of devoted nuns who bravely stood up to the demeaning and oppressive patriarchy of the Catholic Church to fight for the right to be treated as equals, especially with regard to education and the expression of their credo through art, particularly the controversial graphics of Sister Mary Corita Kent.

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