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Back You are here: Home Reviews DVDs Recommended Viewing: May 2011

Recommended Viewing: May 2011

DVDgenericCheck out this month's selection of DVDs for creative thinkers.







15 May 2011

Sync or Swim
Director: Cheryl Furjanic
Garden Thieves Pictures. Available from
Sync or Swim

Sync_or_SwimDive into the world of elite synchronized swimming as dedicated young women compete for spots on the U.S. Synchronized Swimming team and train relentlessly in pursuit of an Olympic medal.

Sync or Swim profiles hard-working athletes on a moving journey to fulfill their Olympic dreams. Day after day, these 9 swimmers hone their skills and perfect the split-second timing of their precisely choreographed routines in preparation to face their Olympic competitors.

In the midst of their training, they must pull together to support a teammate who attempts to recover from an unthinkable tragedy.

Juxtaposing scenes that are intense and emotional, uplifting and mesmerizing, humorous and heart breaking, Sync or Swim offers a candid, intimate look at this misunderstood sport that is so much more than sequins and smiles.


Square Grouper: Godfathers of Ganja
Director: Bill Corbin
Mongrel Media. Available from

Godfathers_GanjaIts title taken from the slang term for bales of marijuana that were jettisoned from South Florida boats and airplanes throughout the 1970s and '80s, this documentary from Cocaine Cowboys director Billy Corbin details three remarkable stories about the marijuana trade, and the folks who risked everything to keep America green.

With 5,000 miles of coastland neighboring both the Caribbean and Latin America, Florida was the perfect place to smuggle pot into the U.S. But in order to stay out of prison, these laid back smugglers would need to maintain a low profile.

As the stories of the Black Tuna Gang, the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, and the desperate fishermen of Everglades City unfold, viewers are shown a side of the marijuana trade that most folks only read about in newspapers.


Pushing the Elephant
Directors: Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel
Available from
Arts Engine

Pushing_ElephantIn the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation’s search for peace.

Now, Rose is confronted with teaching one of her most recalcitrant students how to forgive—Nangabire, the daughter who remained behind.

When war came to Rose’s village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her ten children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Over a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the US where they must face the past and build a new future.

We follow Rose and Nangabire over the course of a year as they make up for lost time. Rose struggles to find balance in her life as a mother of ten and a full-time advocate for refugees and peace.  Her work takes her around the world from speaking at the White House to addressing the UNHCR in Geneva to convening a grassroots meeting of refugees in Burundi.

Meanwhile Nangabire, now 17, must adapt to America and discover how she fits into the sprawling Mapendo family. As mother and daughter get to know one another, they must come to terms with a painful past, and define what it means to be a survivor, a woman, a refugee and an American.

This intimate family portrait unfolding against the wider drama of war tackles the long-term and often hidden effects of conflict on women and families, particularly those in traditional societies—financial despair, susceptibility to rape, and social ostracism.

Pushing The Elephant captures one of the most important stories of our age, a time when genocidal violence is challenged by the moral fortitude and grace of one woman’s mission for peace.

Radical Act
Director: Tex Clark
Available from
Radical Act

Radical_ActRadical Act is a documentary on women in rock. Made in 1995 the film screened at Outfest in Los Angeles and appeared in 1999 as part of Miranda July’s “Break My Chainletter” collection.

Filmmaker Tex Clark documented some of the bands she liked – particularly those making queer, feminist punk music, including Bikini Kill and Toshi Reagon.

The film is both a celebration of some of these female rockers and how they came to be that way, as well as snapshot of a specific time in political history. Each woman addresses how politicization of sexual and gender identity has impacted their life and work.

Desert Flower
Director: Sherry Horman

Desert_FlowerAdapted from Waris Dirie's bestselling autobiography, Desert Flower recounts the incredible story of how an African nomad overcame considerable odds and unspeakable traumas to become an international modeling sensation.

The inspiring story of an extraordinary, proud and brave woman, Dirie's story is a modern fairy tale which oscillates between dazzling glamour and archaic rituals.

Full of vitality, humour, emotional depth and enormous compassion, Desert Flower simultaneously offers a gripping plea to stop the terrible and inhuman tradition of female genital mutilation.

Director: Andrew Nisker
Green Planet Films

GarbageWith his first son just born, filmmaker Andrew Nisker is very concerned with the state of our planet. As the average household level of consumption rises, so does the astronomical amount of waste we collectively create.

Are we turning the earth into one giant garbage can?

Determined to understand the damage we are doing, Nisker enlists the average urban family, the McDonalds, to keep every scrap of garbage that they produce for three months in their increasingly smelly garage.

From organic waste to dirty diapers, from plastic bottles to Christmas wrapping, the McDonald's discover that for every action there is a reaction that affects them and the entire planet.

DVDs selected by Katrina Fox, Editor-in Chief.

For details of where to send review copies, click on the Contact menu.


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