Recommended Viewing January 2010
- Published: 17 January 2010
- Hits: 2045
Check out this month's selection of DVDs for smart, creative thinkers.
Director: Louie Psihoyos
The Cove begins in Taiji, Japan, where former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry has come to set things right after a long search for redemption. In the 1960s, it was O’Barry who captured and trained the 5 dolphins who played the title character in the international television sensation “Flipper.”
But his close relationship with those dolphins – the very dolphins who sparked a global fascination with trained sea mammals that continues to this day -- led O’Barry to a radical change of heart. One fateful day, a heartbroken Barry came to realize that these deeply sensitive, highly intelligent and self-aware creatures so beautifully adapted to life in the open ocean must never be subjected to human captivity again.
This mission has brought him to Taiji, a town that appears to be devoted to the wonders and mysteries of the sleek, playful dolphins and whales that swim off their coast.
But in a remote, glistening cove, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, lies a dark reality. It is here, under cover of night, that the fishermen of Taiji, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt. The nature of what they do is so chilling -- and the consequences are so dangerous to human health -- they will go to great lengths to halt anyone from seeing it.
Undeterred, O’Barry joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society to get to the truth of what’s really going on in the cove and why it matters to everyone in the world.
With the local Chief of Police hot on their trail and strong-arm fishermen keeping tabs on them, they will recruit an “Ocean's Eleven”-style team of underwater sound and camera experts, special effects artists, marine explorers, adrenaline junkies and world-class free divers who will carry out an undercover operation to photograph the off-limits cove, while playing a cloak-and-dagger game with those who would have them jailed.
The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery that adds up to an urgent plea for hope.
With One Voice
Director: Forest Way
Details: With One Voice Documentary
In this landmark documentary, mystics from the world’s great spiritual traditions share their vision of the reality that transcends all religious differences.
Not only do they address life’s questions with eloquent, moving, and often humorous candor, but they offer answers…answers ancient and new, simple and complex, and always provocative.
The interviews weave masterfully through subjects that range from the causes of war to the ultimate purpose of life. They probe both ancient quandaries and contemporary dilemmas.
The mystics share their personal experiences, their universal understanding of mysticism and the practices we can all use to attain deeper awareness.
Through their words and their compelling presence, the audience receives a remarkably thorough and inspiring glimpse into spiritual reality and the unique potential of the twenty-first century.
Two Angry Moms
Director: Amy Kalafa
Details: Two Angry Moms
Amy Kalafa was stewing for years, packing her kids lunches from home and trying to get her community to pay attention to what kids are eating in school. When news of a national child health crisis began making headlines, Amy, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, decided to take the fight to film. Two Angry Moms is Amy's quest to learn what she and other parents need to know and do to get better food in their kids' schools.
Susan Rubin had been trying for a decade to work with her district on improving school food, earning herself a reputation as a rabble-rouser with a "macrobiotic agenda" (NOT!). She's even been banned from her children's' school cafeteria! In the meantime, legions of kids continue to make a daily lunch out of neon green slushies, greasy fries and supersize cookies, imperiling not only their long-term health but also their ability to learn.
Exasperated, Susan decided to reach beyond her school district, and founded Better School Food, her own grassroots organization.
Part exposé, part "how-to", Amy chronicles the efforts of Susan and other leaders in the fledgling better school food movement as they take on the system nationwide. From Chefs Alice Waters and Ann Cooper reinventing school food in Berkley California to Chef Tony Geraci's student designed meals in New Hampshire, Amy discovers programs that connect the cafeteria with the classroom and connect our kids with the earth.
Over the course of a school year, we see Susan's coalition drive dramatic changes in one Westchester, NY school district.
Two Angry Moms shows not only on what is wrong with school food; it offers strategies for overcoming roadblocks and getting healthy, good tasting, real food into school cafeterias. The movie explores the roles the federal government, corporate interests, school administration and parents play in feeding our country's school kids.
See what happens when fed-up moms start a grass-roots revolution!
The Cats of Mirikitani
Director: Linda Hattendorf
Details: The Cats of Mirikitani
Make art not war" is Jimmy Mirikitani's motto. This 85-year-old Japanese American artist was born in Sacramento and raised in Hiroshima, but by 2001 he is living on the streets of New York with the twin towers of the World Trade Center still ominously anchoring the horizon behind him.
What begins as a simple verite portrait of one homeless man will become a rare document of daily life in New York in the months leading up to 9/11. How deeply these two stories will be intertwined cannot yet be imagined. This is the story of losing "home" on many levels.
How did Mirikitani end up on the streets? The answer is in his art. As tourists and shoppers hurry past, he sits alone on a windy corner in Soho drawing whimsical cats, bleak internment camps, and the angry red flames of the atomic bomb. When a neighboring filmmaker stops to ask about Mirikitani's art, a friendship begins that will change both their lives. In sunshine, rain, and snow, she returns again and again to document his drawings, trying to decipher the stories behind them.
The tales spill out in a jumble -- childhood picnics in Hiroshima, ancient samurai ancestors, lost American citizenship, Jackson Pollock, Pearl Harbor, thousands of Americans imprisoned in WWII desert camps, a boy who loved cats... As winter warms to spring and summer, she begins to piece together the puzzle of Mirikitani's past. One thing is clear from his prolific sidewalk displays: he has survived terrible traumas and is determined to make his history visible through his art.
September 11 thrusts Mirikitani once again into a world at war and challenges the filmmaker to move from witness to advocate. In the chaos following the collapse of the World Trade Center, she finds herself unable to passively photograph this elderly man coughing in the toxic smoke, and invites him into her small apartment. In this uncharted landscape, the two navigate the maze of social welfare, seek out family and friends, and research Jimmy's painful past -- finding eerie parallels to events unfolding around them in the present.
Discovering that Jimmy is related to Janice Mirikitani, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, is the first in a series of small miracles along the road to recovery.
Jimmy's story comes full circle when he travels back to the West Coast to reconnect with a community of former internees at a healing pilgrimage to the site of his internment camp Tule Lake, and to see the sister he was separated from half a century ago.
Blending beauty and humor with tragedy and loss, The Cats of Mirikitani is an intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing power of art. A heart-warming affirmation of humanity that will appeal to all lovers of peace, art, and cats.
At the Edge of the World
Director: Dan Stone
Dist: Eagle Entertainment
What are you willing to risk your life for? For 46 volunteers from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on two ships determined to shut down an illegal whaling fleet in Antarctic waters, the consequences are very real.
At the Edge of the World puts you in the middle of the action as the international crew unleashes an arsenal of bizarre & brilliant tactics in this uniquely beautiful & deadly corner of the world.
With one ship unable to chase down the whaling fleet, with their second ship unsafe in Antarctic ice conditions and with no country willing to support their efforts, the situation becomes increasingly desperate - but against all odds, a once-in-a-lifetime David vs. Goliath adventure unfolds.
Do you know of an inspiring or political or feminist or quirky DVD that encourage social justice or change? We are keen to promote DVDs from across the world, particularly non-fiction documentaries. If you're a documentary film-maker or have suggestions for any recent (within a year) DVDs that fit the bill, please email Katrina Fox at: editor [at] thescavenger [dotnet]. suggestions.