Recommended Viewing: August/September 2011
- Published: 13 August 2011
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Check out this month's selection of DVDs for creative thinkers.
Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam
Director: Omar Majeed
Available from Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam
Three years in the making, this feature documentary follows the progression of the Muslim Punk scene: from its imaginary inception in a novel written by a white-convert named Michael Muhammad Knight to a full-blown, real-life scene of Muslim punk bands and their fans.
When he was 17, Michael Knight left his mother’s home in Rochester to study Islam at a Pakistani madrassa. It was his first act of rebellion – against his abusive, schizophrenic, white-supremacist father.
Years later, burned out on the demands of religious dogma, Mike rebelled once more – by penning a Muslim Punk manifesto called The Taqwacores.
His work of fiction struck a chord with young Muslims around the world and before long, real-life Taqwacore bands were creating a scene.
This film follows Michael and his band of Muslim punks as they journey across the U.S. and Pakistan, transforming their worlds, their religion and themselves through the spirit of Taqwacore.
Director: Joel Tauber
Available from Green Planet Films
A beautiful and forlorn tree, stuck in the middle of a giant parking lot. Hit by cars, and starved for water and oxygen. Drawn to the tree and outraged by the indignities that it endures, Joel Tauber devotes himself to improving the tree’s life.
Passionately narrated by Tauber and peppered with interviews by experts in a variety of disciplines, Sick-Amour is a highly unusual documentary. It examines the tree in a multi-faceted manner, offering it as a microcosm of the plight of urban trees and of forgotten individuals.
Simultaneously, the film is a love story between Joel and the tree.
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
Director: Yony Leyser
Alongside his Beat contemporaries, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs was one of the first writers to break the boundaries of 20th century literature. Addressing queer and drug culture in the 1950s, his novel Naked Lunch became one of the most recognized and respected of contemporary literary works, and has influenced generations of artists.
This intimate documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.
Featuring never-before-seen archival footage of Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with colleagues and confidants including John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sonic Youth, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, and David Cronenberg, William S. Burroughs: A Man Within is a probing, yet loving look at the man whose works at once savaged conservative ideals, spawned countercultural movements, and reconfigured 20th century culture.
The film is narrated by Peter Weller, with a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Director: Marshall Curry
Available from Amazon (30 August)
In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by federal agents in a nationwide sweep of environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front – a group the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.”
Charged with burning down two timber facilities years earlier, McGowan faced life in prison for his actions.
Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, If a Tree Falls tells the dramatic story of Daniel McGowan and the ELF.
And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.
Behind the Burly Q
Director: Leslie Zemeckis
First Run Features
Burlesque was one of America’s most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century.
Gaudy, bawdy and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week.
And yet the legacy of burlesque is often vilified and misunderstood, and left out of the history books.
By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.
In Their Own Words: British Novelists
This is the story of the British novel in the 20th century told by those who know it best – the authors themselves. Plundering the BBC archive, In Their Own Words reveals Britain’s greatest novelists talking candidly about their life and work.
The full extent of this resource is surprising: it takes us from late Victorian writers like GK Chesteron, HG Wells and EM Forster through to Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter and Martin Amis.
It includes the only recording of Virginia Woolf in existence, as well as surprising set-pieces: We see former teacher William Golding with the pupils who inspired Lord of the Flies; JG Ballard, author of Crash, celebrating the beauty of the motorcar; Doris Lessing putting Home Secretary Rab Butler in his place during a televised debate about the atom bomb.
Dr Delia Da Sousa Correa, Senior Lecturer in Literature and Academic Consultant to the series, said: “Hearing writers ‘in their own words’ over five decades brought home to me extremely vividly just what a tremendous range of different voices can be heard in the twentieth-century British novel, and how much those voices have changed.
“The series provides fascinating insights into what mattered to writers about the times in which they lived. Those 50 years saw a shift from colonial to postcolonial narratives and witnessed the greater inclusion of the voices of women, of the working classes and of the environment, all of urgent interest today.”
DVDs selected by Katrina Fox, Editor-in Chief.
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