Recommended Viewing: March 2010
- Published: 16 March 2010
- Hits: 2177
Check out this month's selection of DVDs for smart, creative thinkers.
Director: Andrew Neel
Portrait painter Alice Neel (1900-1984) was a self-described collector of souls who recorded her sitters on canvas through six decades of the 20th century, among them Andy Warhol, Bella Abzug, Allen Ginsberg and Annie Sprinkle.
Neel always sought the "authentic," moving from Greenwhich Village to Spanish Harlem just as the Village was
gaining reputation in the art scene.
She sacrificed almost everything for her art, delving so far into the psyches of her sitters she would almost lose herself. Yet Neel was also a dedicated mother, raising two sons in the bohemian world she inhabited.
Filmmaker Andrew Neel, Alice Neel’s grandson, puts together the pieces of the painter's life using intimate one-on-one interviews with Neel’s surviving family and personal archival video.
The documentary explores the artist’s tumultuous biography and the legacy of Alice Neel’s determination to paint her era.
Director: Bertrand Norman
This film follows the destinies of five female dancers of the Kirov Ballet in Saint Petersburg. Their lives weave together to tell the story of the Russian Ballerina of our time, from her beginnings as a child in dance school to the peak of her glory on the world stages.
Ballerina. Fascinating, enthralling, shrouded in mystery. Hers is a rare art. Her craft as demanding as an athlete. Her dancing life as brief as a butterfly. All to a vision of fragile beauty. A vision of what it is to be a woman.
And Russia, land of absolutes, of the cult of beauty, of immensities and of nostalgia where that feminine ideal is celebrated and held dear. Russia is par excellence the land of the Ballerina.
In this intimate gaze at the lives, the courage, the disappointments and triumphs of these women, this film unveils the vitality and uniqueness of the Russian Ballerina today.
We come to understand her lasting allure as we begin the 21st century. Ballerina, as old as Russian history, as new as today.
Director: Don McBrearty
Based on a true story, an indigenous local tribe adopts Luna, a young stray whale, when they identify it as embodying the spirit of their late chief.
When the government decides to transport Luna hundreds of miles overland in an attempt to reunite him with his pod, the tribe fights to protect their whale in a battle that pits political power against spiritual strength.
The tribe's young, new chief Mike Maquinna (Adam Beach) finds himself embroiled in a storm that tests his abilities to lead the tribe and maintain their ancient spiritual beliefs in a modern world.
New World Order
Directors: Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer
Available from Info Wars
New World Order is a documentary about conspiracy theorists. The film is a behind the scenes look at the underground anti-globalist movement.
This growing movement targets the annual Bilderberg conference, and the 9/11 attacks as focal points in the alleged global conspiracy.
Alex Jones, a celebrity radio host, and underground cult hero, is the main character of the film. The film chronicles Alex (of Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly), and four other conspiracy theorists, on their ceaseless quests to expose the 'massive global conspiracy' that they believe threatens the future of humanity.
Director: Kevin P Miller
Available from Info Wars
In the 1990s, Kevin P. Miller began producing documentaries about the great social issues of our time. His film The Promised Land both won international accolades and helped raise $500,000 in donations to benefit the homeless, proving to Miller that documentary films could affect social change.
He went on to produce The War Within, a film about race relations and Let Truth Be The Bias, which tackled the loss of civil liberties and featued a guns-drawn raid at the clinic of a revered holistic doctor.
In 2005, Miller produced We Become Silent, a film about Codex Alimentarius and "free trade," which was narrated by British actress Dame Judi Dench.
With his new film, Generation RX, Miller investigates collusion between pharmaceutical manufacturers and their regulatory watchdogs at the FDA, and also questions whether we have forced millions of children onto pharmaceutical drugs for commercial rather than scientific reasons.
"It began when I saw a video of people testifying before the FDA in 1991 about Prozac," he said. "I was so moved by their personal stories, moved to tears, really. But apparently the FDA was not. It was then that I knew that someday I would produce a film like Generation RX."
Crude: The Real Price of Oil
Director: Jo Berlinger
Available from First Run Features
Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet.
The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures.
Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.
The landmark case takes place in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador, pitting 30,000 indigenous and colonial rainforest dwellers against the U.S. oil giant Chevron. The plaintiffs claim that Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – spent three decades systematically contaminating one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, poisoning the water, air and land.
The plaintiffs allege that the pollution has created a “death zone” in an area the size of the Rhode Island, resulting in increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and a multiplicity of other health ailments.
They further allege that the oil operations in the region contributed to the destruction of indigenous peoples and irrevocably impacted their traditional way of life. Chevron vociferously fights the claims, charging that the case is a complete fabrication, perpetrated by “environmental con men” who are seeking to line their pockets with the company’s billions.
The case takes place not just in a courtroom, but in a series of field inspections at the alleged contamination sites, with the judge and attorneys for both sides trudging through the jungle to litigate. And the battleground has expanded far beyond the legal process.
The cameras rolled as the conflict raged in and out of court, and the case drew attention from an array of celebrities, politicians and journalists, and landed on the cover of Vanity Fair. Some of the film’s subjects sparked further controversy as they won a CNN “Hero” award and the Goldman Award, the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Shooting in dozens of locations on three continents and in multiple languages, Berlinger and his crew gained extraordinary access to players on all sides of the legal fight and beyond, capturing the drama as it unfolded while the case grew from a little-known legal story to an international cause célèbre.
Crude is a ground-level view of one of the most extraordinary legal dramas of our time, one that has the potential of forever changing the way international business is conducted. While the environmental impact of the consumption of fossil fuels has been increasingly documented in recent years, Crude focuses on the human cost of our addiction to oil and the increasingly difficult task of holding a major corporation accountable for its past deeds.
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.
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