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By Bryan Newbury
November 7, 2006

In this midterm election season it is heartening to consider what country, and world, we might be looking at were it not for the 2000 Presidential Election. Watching The Party’s Over sustains those “what-ifs” while displaying just how we got to 2004. It is difficult to gauge just how apropos the filmmakers thought this title would be in 2004 and beyond, but judging from this fact-heavy documentary one is led to suspect that there is a bit of a wink behind it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman narrates the film and acts as tour guide to American politics circa 2000. It would be hard to imagine a better person for the role, as Hoffman admits he isn’t, or at least wasn’t, very politically engaged. This is a great benefit to the film. In today’s market there seems to be an echo of what the news media refers to as “balance.” For example, when someone does a film critical of Wal-Mart, the retort comes in the form of another film which is sympathetic to it. Leaving aside the facts, the reaction seems to be that one is equal to the other. Both sides are told, one from each slant.

Of the many documentaries of a political nature this reviewer has watched in the course of the last six years, none have exhibited less bias or more balance than The Party’s Over. It could serve as a companion volume to a number of films made in the aughts. It pairs well with the Moore Canon. Hoffman examines the issue of fear as control, much like Moore in Bowling for Columbine. Only Hoffman gets the quotes at a gun show from N.R.A. meetings. It would appear that the far right and far left in America understand precisely what kind of game is being played. The disconnect lies in the perceived culprits and solutions. Read the rest of this entry »


DVD Releases November 7, 2006

WordplayReview – Purchase at – “Wordplay” starts the story of the New York Times crossword puzzle, and the current and historical creative forces behind it. But as it dances across the story, filling it in as one of its devotees might across the puzzles, it reveals an entire amazing world behind its practice, creation, and history, from the annual crossword convention in Stamford to the breadth of individuals who enjoy it daily.

The Passing Show: The Life & Music of Ronnie LaneReviewPurchase at Amazon.comFilm Web Site – This brilliant musical documentary tells the story of Ronnie Lane from his heyday with first the Small Faces and then the Faces, through the sixties and seventies, his experiments with a rural life and the touring musical circus that he dubbed The Passing Show. Finally it charts his latter days once he developed Multiple Sclerosis. Featuring numerous musical clips and interviews with family, friends and colleagues including Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones, Glyn Johns, Henry McCullough, Joe Ely and many more.

The Blood of My BrothersReviewPurchase at – The Blood of My Brother shows the war in Iraq from the perspective of an Iraqi family grieving the loss of a son who was killed by an American patrol as he stood guard at a mosque. The subtle dynamic between grief and rage is eloquently explored by director Andrew Berends, while he extends the scope of the doc to encompass the burgeoning culture of militancy found among young Iraqi men. From the family weeping at the gravesite to the Battle of Najaf, The Blood of My Brother gets closer to the troubles in Iraq than the embedded media ever could.

Death Before DishonorReviewPurchase at – When put in a position were one is either going to jail or selling out his friends and colleagues, the outcome naturally lends itself to self protection.  The mafia is perhaps best known for a code that attempted to prevent snitching.  But today this philosophy of keeping silent is now seen in the urban “Stop Snitching” movement.  Death Before Dishonor gets the takes of today’s leading hip-hop figures on the subject.

Live Tonight Sold Out - ReviewPurchase at – Originally conceived by Kurt Cobain, LIVE! TONIGHT! SOLD OUT! is a video document of Nirvana’s rise from a scruffy trio from the Pacific Northwest into one of the most iconic and important bands in the history of rock music.

LoudquietloudReviewPurchase at – When college rock darlings the Pixies broke up in 1992, their fans were shocked and dismayed. When they reunited in 2004, those same fans and legions of new listeners were ecstatic and filled with high hopes. loudQUIETloud follows the rehearsals and the warm up shows for the full-fledged, sold out reunion tour. It also catalogs, in the cinema verite style of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Look Back”, the less glamorous side of the touring band lifestyle, getting as close to this enigmatic act as anyone is ever likely to get. LoudQUIETloud captures the Pixies, their families and their fans in what seems to be a once in a lifetime chance at rock n roll redemption.

The Who: The Vegas JobReviewPurchase at


LOS ANGELES — The Rev. Ted Haggard has been fired amid allegations of gay sex and drug use, but the evangelical leader can still be seen at the height of his powers – preaching to thousands and condemning homosexuality – in the documentary “Jesus Camp.”

In one scene of the film, which follows a group of children as they develop evangelical Christian beliefs, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady visit Haggard’s 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. He tells the vast audience, “We don’t have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It’s written in the Bible.”

Then Haggard looks into the camera and says kiddingly: “I think I know what you did last night,” drawing laughs from the crowd. “If you send me a thousand dollars, I won’t tell your wife.”

Later, another joke for the filmmakers: “If you use any of this, I’ll sue you.”

Full AP story by Christy Lemire


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By Bryan Newbury
November 5, 2006
“All politics is local.”

Should you wish to disprove Tip O’Neill’s famous advice, which actually dates back to Finley Dunne, you needn’t look further than Anytown, USA.

Ostensibly it captures the most local of political races: that of the mayoral in Bogota, New Jersey. Bogota is typical of small town America demographically, culturally and politically. The main concerns of the citizens, depending upon whom you ask, are either taxes or services. One maverick answered this type of question by stating he’d like lower taxes and better schools and roads. We wonder why the best and brightest stay out of politics.

That truism still has legs. At the outset, citizens of Bogota are seen up in arms about budget cuts which threaten the school. Schools are always high on the list for potential voters, but the problem goes even deeper in Bogota: it could kill the football team! Read the rest of this entry »


With U.S. elections being held on Tuesday of this week, the site is featuring two new reviews by Bryan Newbury of election focused documentaries.

Monday – Anytown, USA
Tuesday – The Party’s Over

Also check out Ronnie Lankford’s review of the classic The War Room.


WIN Johnny Cash – At San Quentin: Legacy Edition CD/DVD package by reviewing documentary films on this site.

After nearly four decades, their full-length, unedited hour-and-a-half concert is now officially available over-the-counter, as Johnny Cash – At San Quentin: Legacy Edition, a deluxe three-disc display book box set package (arrives in stores November 14th on Columbia/Legacy). The one-hour DVD documentary film, produced by England’s Granada TV, chronicled the event with numerous performances as well as graphic one-on-one interviews with prison guards and inmates discussing their experiences behind bars. The package also includes three CDs with over 31 tracks.

Columbia/Legacy and Documentary Films .Net are offering one copy of this set to our readers. The set will be given to the reader who has posted the most reviews in our new documentary film review database in the month of November.

All decisions by Documentary Films .Net editors are final on the results. Previous winners are not eligable to win again for six months.

Click here to start sharing your knowledge by reviewing some films.


Are you wanting to make a documentary, but are stuck on how to get started? Or are you in the middle of a project and have gotten lost in the story? Perhaps you are finished with your film, but you don’t know how to market, distribute or publicize it – especially on a limited budget. If this is the case, or you have some other block to getting your film made, then you should take The Documentary Film Makers Course.

Proctored by Andrew Zinnes and Genevieve Jolliffe the co-authors of The Documentary Film Makers Handbook and the best selling The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook series. Andrew and Genevieve are also working filmmakers whose projects have been seen on MTV, PBS, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 UK. Read the rest of this entry »


By Bryan Newbury
November 4, 2006

At least there’s Keith Olbermann.

Though certain reviewers have called comparisons to the antiwar movement during the Nixon administration to that of today’s tumult, one would need blinders fitted for a thoroughbred to avoid obvious parallels. The U.S. vs. John Lennon begins with an archetypal image of the scene in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A concert is being held for jailed MC5 manager and marijuana legalization activist John Sinclair. Sinclair’s offense? Offering two joints to an undercover agent. His sentence? Ten years maximum security.

Enter a cast of fellow musicians and activists. At center stage is John Lennon, armed with National Resophonic guitar and his wife Yoko. We are to find out that the simple act of singing on Sinclair’s behalf coincided with the Michigan Supreme Court summarily overturning the conviction they’d recently upheld. Maybe there’s something to this whole rock ‘n roll thing.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon follows this scene with a bit of exposition. Much of it isn’t altogether necessary to fans of Lennon. For that matter, fans of popular culture in the second half of the twentieth century. It does, however, serve to build the foundation for a narrative pacing that is commendable in documentary filmmaking. Read the rest of this entry »


Entry Deadline is November 15th for Special 10th Anniversary Festival

SONOMA, Calif. (November 1, 2006)The Sonoma Valley Film Festival announced today that it is currently accepting film entries in an array of categories, to play at its exciting 10th anniversary event, which will take place April 11 – 15, 2007. Final deadline for film submissions is November 15, 2006. All submissions to the 2007 Sonoma Valley Film Festival must be submitted online at, which also features submission rules, fees and eligibility information. Detailed Festival information is also available at .

Set in the heart of California’s historic and lush Wine Country, named one of America’s “Top Ten Best Vacation Film Festivals,” and called a “Cinematic magic carpet ride” by IFC News, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival prides itself on providing every filmmaker unique opportunities to mingle with breakthrough artists and industry leaders in one of the most intimate, unpretentious and indulgent settings in the world.

Sponsored by Entertainment Weekly magazine, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival offers all of the excitement, press exposure and stars of larger festivals without the hectic atmosphere or distracting handlers. With unique opportunities for personal and relaxed face-time with key industry players, Sonoma has become a unique and seductive venue for launching independent films, as well as a hot zone for some of the best independent films of the year. Nearly one third of the feature films playing at last year’s Festival received theatrical release and national distribution deals.

To recognize outstanding achievements in filmmaking, films selected for competition have the chance to win over $10,000 in cash and prizes for prestigious jury and audience awards. Prize packages, which continue to be enhanced and enriched, will grow as the Festival approaches. Sonoma presents over 75 independent films annually, including feature length narratives, documentaries, shorts, and student films. This year will also feature a special animation category.

Filmmakers are the ultimate VIPs in Sonoma, indulging in Sonoma’s trademark “Cinema Epicuria” experience, with gourmet food and wine tastings before every film screening, curated by the world’s only film festival sommelier. Each year, filmmakers are also treated to a dazzling schedule, including insider winery excursions, private luncheons, and a totally unique hospitality program that welcomes guests to stay in the most lovely and luxurious private homes in town.

Sonoma plays host to VIP receptions, filmmaker panels, an awards program, and special tributes to cinematic legends. World-class film programming, paired with the best of Wine Country cuisine in a stunning natural setting, make this an incomparably rich experience on the international festival circuit.

Industry stars who have participated in the Sonoma Valley Film Festival include Alexander Payne, Bruce Willis, Danny Glover, Blythe Danner, Jon Favreau, Mark Romanek, Jena Malone, Agnieska Holland, Tony Shalhoub, Francis Ford Coppola and Robin Williams, among others.

For more information, visit .

By in News

He is one of the world’s most revered film directors, and they are probably the world’s biggest band. Martin Scorsese is now going to give the same treatment to the Rolling Stones that he has given to Bob Dylan, and a host of acclaimed Hollywood movies before that.

This week Scorsese began filming the band for a documentary movie due out in cinemas next year, and the director has surrounded himself with some of the industry’s best names in cinematography, documentary film-making and camerawork.

The Stones are on the New York leg of their Bigger Bang world tour, and were filmed at one their smallest venues, the art deco Beacon Theatre, by Scorsese last night and on Sunday night. Footage from the concerts is expected form the main part of the film, along with behind-the-scenes moments, interviews and historical footage of the band.

How the finished product will turn out, probably only Scorsese, 64, really knows. Nobody connected to the project will yet talk about it publicly.

The Guardian full article