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One of our writers are has been working on an informative social media blog, that we wanted to point you to if you have an interesting in social media.  The site is and it also features a social media podcast that offers news and interviews.

As a note to our long time fans of the Documentary Films. Net site.  We are working to get more reviews and information on the site.  If you have ideas for content or format changes, let us know.  We want to provide relevant information, but outside time constraints on our writers and editors has had much of the content come to a stop, and we apologize for that.


In the 1940s, The Walt Disney Company began to make full-length documentaries featuring nature as its subject. These films were billed under the title of Disney True-Life Adventures, and they won several Academy Awards for the studio.

Now, 60 years later, Disney is heading back to nature for a new series of films called DisneyNature films. Last year, the first of these films was released on Earth Day 2009, and that movie was Earth. Though the movie has been out on DVD for a while, I decided to finally sit down and watch it.

Earth opens with a stunning view of our planet from outer space. This first shot sets the scene for the rest of the movie, which is truly huge in scope. The movie chronicles everything from the thrilling chase of a caribou by a wolf, crane migration in the Himalayas and a slow-motion great white shark attack.

But the three main creatures the filmmakers follow in Earth are a family of humpback whales, a polar bear father on the quest for food and a herd of elephants making a long migration. Each story is told with surprising care and accompanied with stunning footage.

The man leading us on our journey is none other than the voice of Mufassa himself, James Earl Jones. Scenes of the African landscape are particularly moving when accompanied by Jones’ voice, but maybe that’s just the nostalgia of my Lion King days.

Some scenes in Earth might look familiar to viewers. The same filmmaking team behind the BBC/Discovery Channel series Planet Earth created the movie, so naturally some of the footage is similar. Regardless, the stories and scenes displayed in Earth are amazing.

One of the true highlights of the movie is the musical score from George Fenton, who also crafted the music for the Planet Earth series. His music is epic, and it definitely brought out the music geek in me. The soundtrack was an instant addition to my Wish List on iTunes.

Though the film is captivating, it does have its flaws. It seems that Disney was so intent on keeping this movie squeaky-clean and family friendly that it shows almost none of the harsh realities of the animal kingdom. Each time an animal gets ready to pounce on its prey, the camera conveniently cuts away. More graphic images have probably been seen in an issue of National Geographic Kids. This movie is about as G-rated as you can get.

Minor flaws aside, Earth is a great movie for anyone looking for an informative documentary, or even just a flat-out entertaining adventure. I wanted even more after it ended.

DisneyNature is giving its audiences just that with one new documentary film each year. Oceans was released last month on Earth Day and the film African Cats will hit theaters Earth Day 2011. Other future movies include The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, Hidden Beauty: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth and Chimpanzee.


This year’s 16 films were selected from 862 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.

Bhutto (Directors: Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O’Hara; Screenwriter: Johnny O’Hara)—A riveting journey through the life and work of recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani prime minister and a polarizing figure in the Muslim world. World Premiere

CASINO JACK & The United States of Money (Director: Alex Gibney)—A probing investigation into the lies, greed and corruption surrounding D.C. super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cronies. World Premiere

Family Affair (Director: Chico Colvard)—An uncompromising documentary that examines resilience, survival and the capacity to accommodate a parent’s past crimes in order to satisfy the longing for family. World Premiere

Freedom Riders (Director: Stanley Nelson)—The story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called the Freedom Riders who in 1961 creatively challenged segregation in the American South. World Premiere
Gas Land (Director: Josh Fox)—A cross-country odyssey uncovers toxic streams, dying livestock, flammable sinks and weakening health among rural citizens on the front lines of the natural gas drilling craze. World Premiere

I’m Pat _______ Tillman (Director: Amir Bar-Lev)—The story of professional football star and decorated U.S. soldier Pat Tillman, whose family takes on the U.S. government when their beloved son dies in a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan in 2004. World Premiere

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (Director: Tamra Davis)—The story of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work defined, electrified and challenged an era, and whose untimely death at age 27 has made him a cultural icon. World Premiere

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (Directors: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg)—A rare, brutally honest glimpse into the comedic process and private dramas of legendary comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers as she fights tooth and nail to keep her American dream alive. World Premiere

Lucky (Director: Jeffrey Blitz)—The story of what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot.
World Premiere

My Perestroika (Director: Robin Hessman)—Intimately tracking the lives of five Muscovites who came of age just as the USSR collapsed and are adjusting to their post-Soviet reality, My Perestroika maps the contours of a nation in profound transition. World Premiere

The Oath (Director: Laura Poitras)— Filmed in Yemen, The Oath tells the story of two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a course of events that led them to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo, and the U.S. Supreme Court. World Premiere

Restrepo (Directors: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington)—Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan’s most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban. World Premiere

A Small Act (Director: Jennifer Arnold)—A young Kenyan’s life changes dramatically when his education is sponsored by a Swedish stranger. Years later, he founds his own scholarship program to replicate the kindness he once received. World Premiere
Smash His Camera (Director: Leon Gast)—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sued him, and Marlon Brando broke his jaw. The story of notorious, reviled paparazzo Ron Galella opens a Pandora’s Box of issues from right to privacy, freedom of the press and the ever-growing vortex of celebrity worship. World Premiere

12th & Delaware (Directors: Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing)—The abortion battle continues to rage in unexpected ways on an unassuming corner in America. World Premiere

Waiting for Superman (Director: Davis Guggenheim)—Waiting for Superman examines the crisis of public education in the United States through multiple interlocking stories—from a handful of students and their families whose futures hang in the balance, to the educators and reformers trying to find real and lasting solutions within a dysfunctional system. World Premiere


The IFC has a great opportunity for individuals with documentaries ideas.  If you have a good concept for a documentary and want to get funding for it or get it seen by decision makers, you need to check out the IFC The Back to Basics Documentary Challenge.

You are only required to submit three minutes of video with your idea for the film, but the deadline is fast approaching (August 3, 2008), so you need to get organized quickly.

IFC is looking for a short documentary or a documentary trailer. It must be a non-fiction with the subject matter of your choosing. Please note, for this contest, IFC is only accepting documentary concepts. Film submissions will be judged on the filmmakers ability to portray their unique point of view with their chosen subject matter as well as the film’s overall creative and technical production merits.

Two cash prizes are being offered: 1st prize is $7500, Runner-up prize is $2500.

To get signed up and upload submissions, visit 

Documentary Films .Net receives emails frequently from individuals with ideas for a film, but no idea how to take the next step.  This is the next step.  Use your video to pitch the idea you have always had.

Go to the IFC challenge webiste here  Opportunities to just pitch ideas are very limited.  This challenge is your opportunity.


By Joshua Davis
June 15, 2008

The scene is high school students looking unusually confident and serious.  Young people any instructor would be happy to have in a classroom setting.  Some jargon is used, but most viewers will see nothing out of the ordinary.  Then the speeches begin, and all hell breaks lose.  These kids are speaking at speeds so fast that very little is understood.  If you were in the room with them, you would have little reason to stay longer than a few minutes.  Something must be wrong.  Are the judges going to leave the room in disgust? Certainly this can not be normal; did these kids take an overdose of an often prescribed drug to address ADD?   Weird. Alien. Pointless. Why?

This is the opening of the movie Resolved. Up until this point it would seem obvious that debates should be easy to film.  In national politics, they are often televised and have served as a way to document key parts of political history.  But after jolting the viewer with the opening, the narrator explains that the highest level of high school policy debate started to take a turn in the 1960s to what is called “spread” (SPeed-READing).  Spread involves speaking rapidly in order to get out as many arguments as possible.  One debater started speaking faster and others just kept increasing their pace until nearly all debaters at the highest level were speaking at a rate of 300 to 400 words-per-minute.  The speed at which the debaters speak does not make for comfortable observation.  The film explains that since spread became the norm, only those who have participated in or coached debate can now effectively follow the debates.

Despite this potentially barrier, the filmmakers were still able to create a compelling film that is well balanced between explaining the competition that is debate and how the lives of the debaters affect their approach to the activity and its potentially exclusive nature.  
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Bryan Newbury
June 11, 2008

Just a day after clinching the Democratic nomination for the presidency, Senator Barack Obama received helpful words from his erstwhile (so Democrats hope) adversary, Senator Hillary Clinton. It was at an AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention, where she assured the audience that Obama would be a friend to Israel. The elephant sitting at table three could have pointed out that this goes without saying. In the United States, support for Israel is a requirement, whether running for state senate, the House of Representatives, or county clerk, let alone president.

It is understood by anyone who even casually follows politics, yet it retains elephant in the room status. This is one of the many “whys” regarding the influence of the Israel lobby, one that – like most of the others – will likely never be discussed in our media, and certainly not in our legislature. 

Dutch public broadcaster VPRO presents a balanced and knowledgeable look at the question, and it is vexing to contemplate why our PBS avoids the issue. As with so many things dealing with Israel or the Jewish Diaspora, it is tricky footing for any commentator. The dual nature of the Jewish people, that Janus face of perseverance and victimhood, opens any interrogation to a host of charges, along with observations that can tread easily into the realm of conspiracy theory. The deftest minds of the ages have fallen prey, and the current state of affairs hardly makes it any easier. Thus, the host of “whys,” such as: Why does the United States give more money to Israel than any other nation, though it is a comparatively wealthy nation state?; Why do we consistently veto any United Nations resolution that is infinitesimally critical of Israeli policy or action?; Why is it that the truism, as stated by Eric Hobsbawm, that “(t)he default position of any state is to pursue its interests,” seems to belie our relationship to this small Near Eastern nation?; fall into a dead zone of inquiry here. 

It would be simple to dismiss these questions, and others, as the stuff of conspiracy theory… as wild-eyed Anti-Semitic claptrap… were it not for the fact that a documentary such as this is virtually impossible to make or distribute in the United States. The findings and opinions contained therein would be rightly condemned as Illuminatiesque soothsaying, were it not for the palpable intimidation and atmosphere of silence cultivated by allies of the Israel lobby, the same kind of silencing that serves as primordial breeding ground for over-reaches and conspiracies. The only cure for hatred and darkness, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, is love and light.

Just why these tactics are employed, in academia, international affairs, and even domestic issues, isn’t addressed directly by the film, nor is it the subject. In quite objective fashion, The Israel Lobby chooses to poke the elephant by pointing out that these tactics do exist, and that the aforementioned groups are subject to the sort of chilling effect that they portend.
–Read the rest of this entry »


A Reaction, by Bryan Newbury
June 2, 2008

You might have seen a satirical Onion video this February about Diebold accidentally leaking the 2008 general election results. You might have laughed. You might have stopped to consider the likelihood of this fake news piece being, in many ways, more efficacious than hours of election coverage on mainstream networks. The laughter might have subsided when the realization hit.

For those of you who did indeed experience that, Uncounted will serve as a thought-provoking sermon to a convert. For those of you that might have, but haven’t seen it as yet, click the link. We’ll wait.

All right. Now, for everyone left outside of groups A and B (which one can only suppose fall into the ostrich camp, the third congressional district of Oklahoma, or the mainstream media), the film should serve as a wake-up call. It’s tough out there, but you’ve been hitting the snooze button for about a decade. While you were sleeping, we might have lost our democracy.

Uncounted, much like Hacking Democracy, is information dense and utterly shocking, if a bit uneven in strictly aesthetic terms. In the course of a short 81 minutes, David Earnhardt addresses the principle issues driving successful election fraud. We start, naturally, in Ohio, circa 2004. One can almost feel the tingling, as the ghosts of strongmen and box stuffers throughout the ages, from Chicago to New Orleans and beyond, simultaneously quiver with admiration and kick themselves with envy while witnessing the myriad of methods used to attain scandalous levels of voter disenfranchisement. Uncounted illustrates the oppressively long lines, the purging of voter rolls, the undervotes (more on this to follow), and, of course, the voting machines. This reviewer can relate on the latter only through the words of the eternal Viv Savage: “Quite exciting, this computer magic.”
–Read the rest of this entry »


The Documentary Films .Net site has never been casually used to help raise funds for charity.  However in the last year members of our staff have have had the pleasure of meeting a great couple who are both dealing with cancer while raising their young son.  At the moment, neither of their cancers are life threatening, but they and millions of others struggle with cancer’s affects every day.  Both are involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event, so the publishers of the site felt it would be an event worthy of bringing to the attention of our readers.

Josh Davis, this site’s publisher will be walking at the Lawrence, Kansas Relay For Life held at the Free State High School track.  The event will be held overnight starting in the evening on June 13th.  Teammates will be walking throughout the night to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer.

If you are interested in donating, you can do it online via credit card directly to the American Cancer Society.  Donations can be accompanied by a note honoring someone you know who has been touched by cancer.

A link to my event webpage is provided below.

Any donation no matter how small is appreciated.


By Phillip A. Pell
May 21, 2008

It’s fashionable to add “the Musical” to the end of things these days.
From “Cannibal: the Musical” to “My Hammer, My Friend: the Musical” the
tag line is intended to convey a snide, ironic sneer about the subject
matter; a blase disregard for what otherwise could be considered a
subject ill-suited to the frivolous treatment musical theater normally
conveys.  From the title alone it would be very easy to write off
“Autism: the Musical” as just another offensive example in this same,
tired vein.  This hasty rush to judgment could not be farther from the

The film starts out with a set of statistics from the Centers for
Disease Control.  In 1980 fewer than 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed
with autism.  Now it’s 1 in 150.  The filmmakers apparently want to lead
the viewer to the conclusion that autism is on the rise at more than
epidemic proportions however it is just as easy to draw the conclusion
that we’re getting better at understanding who is autistic and
diagnosing disorders farther up the autism spectrum.  Watching the film
you’ll probably recognize the mannerisms of “that weird kid” you avoided
or bullied in grade school.  You just wrote him off as a spaz or a nerd.
You probably gave him a wedgie or kicked him down the stairs.  From the
first frames of this film it’s hard to avoid the realization that this
is a film less about a bunch of autistic kids making a musical than it
is a less-than-subtle indictment of society, schools, medical
institutions, parents and you personally.  The autistic kids are a red
herring; an obvious attention-grabber that sets you up for the kick to
the gut realizations that come later.
–Read the rest of this entry »


By  Bryan Newbury
April 28, 2008

A person’s views on the death penalty don’t just change. They evolve. When someone takes the time to investigate the process and the punishment, the only intelligent conclusion he can arrive at is that capital punishment is a barbaric miscarriage of justice. This seems to be the case At the Death House Door puts forward, and it would be difficult to argue to the contrary.

Most who maintain a fervently anti-death penalty stance have a Road to Damascus moment in which the act of a state killing in order to discourage killing unravels before them. For some, it was the case of Roger Keith Coleman of Grundy, Virginia. In 1992, Coleman became a cause célébre. All the pieces seemed to fall into place. Here was a coal miner who seemed to have had to complete a decathlonesque performance en route to the rape and murder of his sister-in-law. Key evidence seemed to point to at least a shadow of a doubt. Governor Wilder was up for reelection, and seemed to be hearing none of the case.

The same year saw the execution of Ricky Ray Rector. Though the evidence of his guilt wasn’t in question, the issue of trying, convicting and executing a man who was essentially retarded shone a light on the craven political advantage in vengeance and blood lust. Governor Bill Clinton took the time to return to Arkansas, mid-campaign, in order to make sure the execution transpired. 
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Umut Newbury
April 22, 2008

On the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, an entire generation of Americans born after the introduction of this much-mocked and undervalued holiday/celebration/day of pondering can now be affectionately referred to as the “Children of the Corn.”

Anyone who pays the slightest attention to the ingredient lists of most of the food items sold at the conventional grocery stores across this country would know this, except the American consumer seems to do very little research while buying things that go directly into her body. This is why we need more investigative reporting and more documentary films on the subject of food. This is why King Corn, directed by Aaron Woolf, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, is important viewing for the average American consumer.

In King Corn, Woolf, Cheney (we hope of no relation the Cheneys of Wyoming) and Ellis spell out in very basic terms, what has gone so wrong with American agriculture and its direct product, American food. They present their hardest evidence first: Ellis and Cheney have their strands of hair analyzed at the University of Virginia. The result: the carbon in their bodies originated from corn. The two Ivy League grads seem shocked and appalled. They run to the grocery store and start reading labels of their favorite food products such as Twinkies and apple juice. They find out the obvious — most packaged foods in America contain some derivative of corn, whether it comes in the form of corn oil, the infamous and ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup or the mysterious xanthan gum. 

Instead of doing the East Coast elitist exposé composed of interviews with nutritional and agricultural talking heads (which does happen in small bits in the latter half of the 90 minutes), the directors take a softer, more personal approach to the controversial subject.

Ellis and Cheney, best friends from Yale, decide to move to Iowa for a year and grow corn to find out what happens with it. It’s not quite as extreme as the personal sacrifice of Morgan Spurlock with Supersize Me! or as abrasive (yet entertaining) as Michael Moore with his ambush interviews, but it’s an effort at least appreciated by the rural farm folk of Iowa (at first.)
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Bryan Newbury
January 21, 2008

The United States became a debtor nation in 1989. It was the first time the U.S. could be so classified since World War I. From that point to the present, the red ink has ebbed and flowed, but largely expanded to the point where some economists and social scientists are predicting the kind of flood we saw in New Orleans a few years back. Your family’s share of the national debt is a cozy $90,000 and growing. The Chinese are holding the note, and, as William Greider wrote in 2004, “[t]he poker game ends when one major player or another decides it has gotten the last dollar off the table and it’s time to go home. Creditor nations naturally have the upper hand, like any banker who can call the loan when he sees the borrower is hopelessly mired.” How did we get to this point?

Maxed Out doesn’t examine the foreign and economic policy big picture as much as it illustrates the situation through the credit problems of individual Americans. The parallels are unbearably odd, though the motivations and manipulations don’t correspond. As a debtor nation, we are seemingly going out of our way to leave ourselves vulnerable. As a matter of domestic policy, our leaders identify with the creditors (their American paymasters) leaving the working and middle class to the rapacious vultures of the banking and credit industry. Given this dichotomy, it would be nigh on impossible for the most skillful filmmaker to weave a coherent narrative connecting the debt crisis affecting Main Street Americans with the multi-trillion dollar deficit crunch of our government.
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Bryan Newbury
January 2, 2008

Near the end of January 2002, President Bush delivered a speech, and within it a line, that would shape the American psyche for some years to come. By declaring an “Axis of Evil,” the groundwork was laid for a public to be motivated by fear and hyperbole. Were it not for a number of brave people, make no mistake that the United States would be bombing Iran as this is written. Of course, the Iranians haven’t the capability – likely, they don’t have the desire – to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Even if they did, they would be unable to detonate the device anywhere near American soil, unless one counts the colony of Iraq. That hasn’t stopped us before.

As with most of the foreign policy posturing in the last six years, the exaggerations and bad faith declarations serve to obscure tangible threats to our republic and the world. One of the Axis members who has spent the last five years under the radar (insert physicality pun here) is the nation led by esteemed filmmaker, librettist and cargo jacket model Kim Jong Il.
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Umut Newbury
December 18, 2007

It is seven days from Christmas 2007 and that puts us one step closer to Shopocalypse according to Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.

No American shopper would want to be bothered by the true impact of her consuming behavior at this time of the year. Christmas is so instilled in our social existence in North America that even the most conscientious, eco-friendly and sustainable-living oriented folks out there want to make exemptions to please loved ones. No one wants to be the Grinch. Director Rob VanAlkemade’s documentary What Would Jesus Buy? is a sobering film about the lengths we all go to avoid being the Grinch and how we are hurling ourselves toward Shopocalypse because of our consumerism and over-consumption.
–Read the rest of this entry »



These films represent a broad section of new documentaries by American independent filmmakers. From examinations of the American political system and the country’s use of natural resources to explorations of cultural development and intimate portraits of legendary artists, these films represent a thematic and artistic variety. This year’s 16 films were selected from a record 953 submissions. Each film is a world premiere.

The films screening in Documentary Competition are:

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER (Director and Screenwriter: Edet Belzberg)—Uncle Sam really wants you! A compelling exploration of army recruitment in the United States told through the story of Louisiana Sergeant, First Class Clay Usie, one of the most successful recruiters in the history of the U.S. Army. World Premiere

AMERICAN TEEN (Director and Screenwriter: Nanette Burstein)— This irreverent cinema vérité chronicles four seniors at an Indiana high school and yields a surprising snapshot of Midwestern life. World Premiere

BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER* (Director: Christopher Bell; Screenwriters: Christopher Bell, Alexander Buono, Tamsin Rawady)—A filmmaker explores America’s win-at-all-cost culture by examining his two brothers’ steroids use…and his own. World Premiere

FIELDS OF FUEL (Director and Screenwriter: Josh Tickell)— America is addicted to oil and it is time for an intervention. Enter Josh Tickell, a man with a plan and a Veggie Van, who is taking on big oil, big government, and big soy to find solutions in places few people have looked. World Premiere

FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER (Director: Irena Salina)— Water is the very essence of life, sustaining every being on the planet. FLOW confronts the disturbing reality that our crucial resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause. World Premiere

GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON (Director: Alex Gibney)—Fueled by a raging libido, Wild Turkey, and superhuman doses of drugs, Thompson was a true “free lance,” goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity, and a steel-eyed conviction for writing wrongs. Focusing on the good doctor’s heyday, 1965 to 1975, the film includes clips of never-before-seen (nor heard) home movies, audiotapes, and passages from unpublished manuscripts. World Premiere

THE GREATEST SILENCE: RAPE IN THE CONGO (Director and Screenwriter: Lisa F. Jackson)— Jackson travels to remote villages in the war zones of the Congo to meet rape survivors, providing a piercing, intimate look into the struggle of their lives. World Premiere

I.O.U.S.A. (Director: Patrick Creadon)—Few are aware that America may be on the brink of a financial meltdown. I.O.U.S.A. explores the country’s shocking current fiscal condition and ways to avoid a national economic disaster. World Premiere

NERAKHOON (THE BETRAYAL) (Director: Ellen Kuras; Co-Director: Thavisouk Phrasavath; Screenwriters: Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath)— The epic story of a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the chaos of the secret air war waged by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Kuras has spent the last 23 years chronicling the family’s extraordinary journey in this deeply personal, poetic, and emotional film. World Premiere

THE ORDER OF MYTHS (Director: Margaret Brown) — In 2007 Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras is celebrated…and complicated. Following a cast of characters, parades, and parties across an enduring color line, we see that beneath the surface of pageantry lies something else altogether. World Premiere

PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE (Director and Screenwriter: Steven Sebring)— An intimate portrait of music icon Patti Smith that mirrors the essence of the artist herself. World Premiere

ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED (Director: Marina Zenovich; Screenwriters: Marina Zenovich, Joe Bini, P.G. Morgan)— Marina Zenovich’s new documentary examines the public scandal and private tragedy which led to legendary director Roman Polanski’s sudden flight from the United States. World Premiere

SECRECY (Directors: Peter Galison, Robb Moss)— Amidst the American hunger for instantaneous news and up-to-date “facts,” this unflinching film uncovers the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. World Premiere

SLINGSHOT HIP HOP (Director: Jackie Reem Salloum)—The voice of a new generation rocks and rhymes as Palestinian rappers form alternative voices of resistance within the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. World Premiere

TRACES OF THE TRADE: A STORY FROM THE DEEP NORTH (Director: Katrina Browne; C0-Directors: Alla Kovgan, Jude Ray; Screenwriters: Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan)—History finally gets rewritten as descendants of the largest slave-trading family in early America face their past, and present, as they explore their violent heritage across oceans and continents. World Premiere

TROUBLE THE WATER (Directors: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal)— An aspiring rap artist and her streetwise husband, armed with a video camera, show what survival is all about when they are trapped in New Orleans by deadly floodwaters, and seize a chance for a new beginning. World Premiere


By Eddie Glenn
November 12, 2006

It’s not hard to understand why some viewers of “Okie Noodling” might think it more akin to reality TV than film documentation.

Every time I watch director Bradley Beesley’s 2001 documentary in the company of non-Okies, I hear comments like, “This can’t be real!,” and “There’s no way!” Of course, I have to forgive their skepticism, because what they’re watching really doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would grown men stick their hands under ledges and rocks in murky water, wriggle their fingers to entice an already-paranoid catfish, wait for that special moment when the fish clamps down on said fingers/bait, grab a handful of fish innards, and pull?

There are, after all, much less painful methods of catching a catfish. But noodlers, as simple as they may appear to some viewers of this film, aren’t completely stupid. They know about Zebco, Trilene, stinkbait, trotlines, and all that other paraphernalia used by their less adventurous catfish-catching brethren. They just don’t give a flying rat’s ass about that stuff.

They’re not mere fishermen.

They’re noodlers, and the two are no more similar than professional bull-riders and the kids on the mechanical pony out in front of Wal-Mart.

(There’s an Okie analogy for ya.)

Noodling, or hand-fishing, is prohibited in most states. But in Oklahoma (where my grandfather and great-uncles kept the family fed during the Great Depression on noodled catfish) it’s a legal means of landing only one species of catfish – the channel cat. Noodling season usually coincides with the month of June, but it can spill over into July if the weather’s a little off. That’s when the female catfish have laid their eggs, taken a well-deserved post-partum vacation, and left the fellas to guard the eggs. Then along come the fingers of a noodler, threatening the spawn-shack, and the fight is on. The catfish attacks, and both parties to the contention attempt to pull one another into less-than-hospitable environs. The process, as the videography in Beesley’s film illustrates very well, is downright atavistic, with lots of heavy breathing, grunting, occasional yelling, and, of course, splashing. The language, the glimpses of noodlers’ everyday lives, and the interviews of Okie non-noodlers (the comments by the significant others of noodlers is absolutely priceless! I was laughing so hard, I had to go back over it a couple of times), make “Okie Noodling” a documentary of culture as much as sport.

The denouement of the film – the first-ever Okie noodling competition – is downright heartbreaking, as these heavily accented, beer-swilling, red-necked, fish-baby-killing good ol’ boys (but they’re kin, and I still love ‘em!) actually show a vulnerable side that anyone, noodler or no, who’s ever dived down deep and come up short can understand.

Little pockets of folk culture like the noodling scene of southern Oklahoma exist all over the United States, but they rarely get fair treatment by film documentarians. Beesley’s “Okie Noodling” presents the sport — as bare, basic, and honest as its participants — without any judgment, and offers up a great soundtrack by fellow-Okies the Flaming Lips to boot. The interview of Lips lead signer Wayne Coyne on the DVD version is a must-see, as his explanation of the inspiration for the tunes will leave one wondering, “Just how sexual can wrestling with a catfish really be?”


PromisesPromises, an award-winning documentary directed by B. Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro and Carlos Bolado, is not a film about answers to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it means to pry open a way for peace by encouraging understanding, dialogue, and personal friendship between individuals whose lives are variously shaped and shattered by the situation.

Significantly, in this powerful and inspiring film the most promising candidates for reconciliation are children aged nine to 12 years. This focus on children largely creates the film’s artistic charm and ideological challenges.
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Umut Newbury
June 8, 2007

The mega-corporation, Monsanto, probably does not ring a bell in the minds of most American consumers. But it happens to be one of the main producers of the Vietnam Era’s infamous Agent Orange; the creator of farm and lawn pesticide Roundup; maker of cow growth hormone rBGH; and now the owner of more than 90 percent of all genetically engineered seed in the U.S. as well as some 11,000-plus genetically engineered seed patents across the globe.

The controversy over genetically engineered seeds and subsequently food, has been going on for quite some time and gets very little coverage in the mainstream media. So, what is an informed, concerned citizen to do to alert her fellow eaters? Deborah Koons Garcia, writer and director (also the wife of the late Jerry Garcia) decided to explore the whole issue in an 88-minute documentary titled, The Future of Food.
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Fox News: ” Filmmaker Michael Moore’s brilliant and uplifting new documentary, “Sicko,” deals with the failings of the U.S. health care system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.”

Hollywood Elsewhere: “I have to say that I went into this documentary with limited expectations, but I came out teary-eyed.””It’s not just an eye-opener, in short, but a movie that opens your emotional pores.”
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The work of Adelaide-based artist-filmmakers Dan Monceaux and Emma Sterling continues to shine beyond their expectations. Having traveled the world and reached a projected audience in comfortable excess of 10000, their short experimental documentary ‘A Shift in Perception’ is now enjoying its online premiere at the Con-Can Film Festival, based in Japan.

The prestigious event, now in its fourth year, saw the film selected as one of only twenty films selected worldwide from a field of over eight hundred. Having previously won awards in Mexico, Canada, the USA and Australia, the support of its already broad audience gives it a strong chance of making the festival’s Grand Final and major prize round. The film explores blindness through the senses and words of three South Australian women.

“When you’re packing and posting out copies of your work to festivals, it’s always a pleasant surprise to hear you’ve been selected.” says Monceaux, 26 of Leabrook. “The timing for our online debut couldn’t have been better though. We’ve had a good run of screenings since last November, and online media from the Super8 community and the documentary one have been very supportive of our efforts, offering oodles of encouragement.”

The film has recently piqued the interest of a Canadian distributor who has expressed interested in reviewing the film for distribution in the USA and Canada, and Emma and Dan are enthusiastic about their young business having an impact abroad.

“When Danimations began I was working freelance with illustration, photography and graphic design jobs. Most of that work was for advertising and small business. Finding personal stories in our community and sharing them with the world as documentary films is a far more satisfying process, and is beginning to look like a sustainable business. The success of our first short documentary has attracted the interest of several more established collaborators and the future looks bright.”

Working out of their home in Leabrook and building their industry network via the internet, Danimations has also recently entered the international Citizen Super8 project. A collaborative filmmaking enterprise initiated by a group of film makers from as far a field as Iran, Uganda and the UK, each filmmaker’s brief is to explore an aspect of local and global citizenship with their own short documentary shot on Super8 film. The Danimations inclusion which will commence production shortly, will peep into the world of a man who rebuilt a life as an artist after a fateful brain injury. Monceaux’s debut ‘A Shift in Perception’ can be seen online at until July 17th, or in person at the Sydney International Film Festival, Sydney, Australia in June.


“My mother was my entire life. I had no father to speak of and she and I were so close it was difficult to tell where one of us ended and the other began. But we were always running from her demons, both real and imagined. All the while it was my job to love and protect her as much as I could, but it was never enough. When I was 19 she threatened to kill me and I had to leave. I was gone for five years. Manhattan, Kansas is the story of our reunion.”

– Tara Wray

15 minute clip from the film


By David Loftus
May 6, 2007

When the screening ended, the crowd leapt to its feet to applaud and cheer the subject of the newly-completed (or rather, nearly-completed) documentary. Characteristically, but good-naturedly, he shouted: “Stop! Stop! I’ll only say something that’ll alienate you later!”

On Thursday, April 19, “Dreams with Sharp Teeth,” a new film by the producers of Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man,” received its first public screening at the Writers Guild Theatre in Los Angeles.
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The Documentary Film Makers Course taught by the authors of The Documentary Film Makers Handbook has set another date – May 12-13, 2007. Learn how to get your doc made from a practical standpoint as we discuss story, legal, funding, production, post, sales and distribution. Special guest Aline Allegra from Current TV will be on hand to discuss acquisitions. Go to to register for the course.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT for all members. $50 off with coupon code DOCDISCOUNT. That’s $249, instead of the usual $299. Hope to see you there.