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When: February 14-21, 2007
Where: Missoula, Montana
What:The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opens Thursday, February 15 at Missoula’s Wilma Theatre for the first of seven consecutive days and nights of world-class documentary cinema. The fourth annual event boasts 100 films from 32 countries, including 30 world and North American premieres. In addition to screenings, the festival includes panel discussions, Q&A sessions with dozens of filmmakers, as well as VIP events, receptions and parties.  Since its 2004 debut, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has grown into an internationally-recognized venue for showcasing  innovative, contemporary, and classic works of documentary film.


Raised in the Athens Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Cle “Bone” Sloan was four years old when his father died, and 12 when he became a member of the Bloods. Now an inactive member of the notorious gang, Sloan looks back at the history of black gangs in his city and makes a powerful call for change in modern gang culture with his insightful documentary, BASTARDS OF THE PARTY.

Acclaimed feature film director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) produces along with Sloan, who also directs.

Haunted by his involvement in the Bloods’ pervasive culture of violence, Sloan wanted to explore where it all began. In researching the subject, he discovered that the roots of black gangs were nurtured within a distinct political landscape. BASTARDS OF THE PARTY traces the development of black gangs in Los Angeles from the late 1940s, through the charged atmosphere of the ’60s and ’70s, to the breakdown of community in the ’80s and ’90s, and the brief truce between the Crips and Bloods that followed the Rodney King riots in 1992. Among the gangs that figure in the story are the Spook- hunters, Farmers, Slauscons, Businessmen and Gladiators.

The documentary features interviews with past and current gang members from the Bloods and Crips; LA historian Mike Davis, whose book “City of Quartz” sparked Sloan’s own project; former FBI agent Wes Swearingen; and Geronimo Pratt, the former Black Panther Party minister of defense, among others.
–Read the rest of this entry »


UPI – February 6, 2007 – The death of James Brown, director Spike Lee said, forced him to rethink the documentary he was shooting on the Augusta, Ga.-raised soul icon’s life. 

To fill in some information gaps, Lee and producer Brian Grazer have been consulting Brown’s longtime friend, the Rev. Al Sharpton, to ensure accuracy in their portrayal of Brown and learn more personal details about the singer, said. 

Lee also pushed up production on the film, which chronicles Brown’s life from his early childhood in Atlanta to his meteoric rise to worldwide fame. 

Unlike the Johnny Cash biopic, “Walk The Line,” in which Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon did their own singing when depicting Johnny Cash and June Carter, the singing voice of whoever portrays Brown will not be heard in the film, Lee said. 

“Whoever we have is going to be lip-syncing,” Lee said. “We’re not trying to impersonate (Brown). We want to give the essence of the man and how he shaped the time.”


DVD Releases January 30, 2007

Say Amen, SomebodyReviewPurchase at – The first-ever DVD release for this legendary documentary film that explores the lives and music of the pioneers of modern Gospel music. Features Willie Mae Ford Smith, Thomas A. Dorsey, The Barrett Sisters and The O’Neal Twins. Includes bonus 15-song audio CD and deluxe “hymn book” packaging with essays, lyrics and rare photos. Bonus features include newly recorded director’s commentary, photo essay and theatrical trailer.

Land of Look BehindReviewPurchase at – This feature film, made for $9200 (including kidnapping ransom paid to the crew’s Castro-backed captors), is the finest non-fiction film to be found on the subject of Rastafarianism and reggae, and a monument in the history of documentary filmmaking. First-time director Alan Greenberg, a Werner Herzog protege, has invented an amalgam of dramatic and field technique with breathtaking results–the master documentarian Herzog, in fact, has called “Land of Look Behind” the documentary film that has influenced him more than any other over the last 20 years. The images and characters are unforgettable, the reggae performances by Gregory Issaacs and Lui Lepki genuinely hypnotic, the original non-reggae scoring sublime. Winner of the Chicago International Film Festival’s Gold Hugo Award. An essential film for any serious filmgoer, filmmaker, musician, musicologist and anthropologist, as well as for fans of reggae and pop culture. Do not miss this film. — Amazon Reviewer

The Doctor, the Tornado, and the Kentucky KidReviewPurchase at – The Doctor, the Tornado, and the Kentucky Kid: The Sequel to “Faster” (Ultimate Collector’s Edition) (2006)the electrifying follow-up to Mark Neale’s 2004 MotoGP smash hit FASTER. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, the movie tells the story of the biggest motorcycle race in American history, the 2005 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, California. It’s a tale of extraordinary characters chasing a dream in the face of real danger, under unimaginable pressure, with no margin for error. For lovers of maximum adrenaline action, this is the pure, unadulterated, 100% genuine article.


Sundance Documentary Prizes

Grand Jury – Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)

World Cinema – Enemies of Happiness

Audience Award – Hear and Now

Director – War/Dance

Documentary Special - No End in Sight

Editing – Nanking

World Cinema Special – Hot House


FLYING: CONFESSONS OF A FREE WOMAN – [Sundance Channel]IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON – [ThinkFilms (North American rights excluding TV, 2 million)]


BANISHED (Director: Marco Williams) — This story of three U.S. towns which, in the early 20th century, forced their entire African American populations to leave, explores what — if anything — can be done to repair past racial injustice. World premiere.

CHASING GHOSTS  (Director: Lincoln Ruchti) — The 1982 Video Game World Champions share their philosophies on joysticks, groupies and life. World premiere.

CRAZY LOVE (Director: Dan Klores) [Magnolia (North America excluding TV, mid six figures)] — An unsettling true story about an obsessive relationship between a married man and a beautiful, single 20-year-old woman, which began in 1957 and continues today. World premiere.

EVERYTHING’S COOL (Directors: Judith Helfand, Daniel B. Gold) — A group of self-appointed global warming messengers are on a high stakes quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to move to an alternative energy economy. World premiere.

FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO (Director: Daniel Karslake) — Grounded by the stories of five conservative Christian families, the film explores how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to support its agenda of stigmatizing the gay community and eroding the separation between church and state. World premiere.

GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB (Director: Rory Kennedy) [HBO] — This inside look at the abuses that occurred at the infamous Iraqi prison in the fall of 2003 uses direct, personal narratives of perpetrators, witnesses, and victims to probe the effects of the abuses on all involved. World premiere.

GIRL 27 (Director: David Stenn) — When underage dancer Patricia Douglas is raped at a wild MGM stag party in 1937, she makes headlines and legal history, and then disappears. GIRL 27 follows author-screenwriter David Stenn as he investigates one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals. World premiere.

HEAR AND NOW (Director: Irene Taylor Brodsky) — Filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky tells a deeply personal story about her deaf parents, and their radical decision — after 65 years of silence — to undergo cochlear implant surgery, a complex procedure that could give them the ability to hear. World premiere.

MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET) (Director: Jason Kohn) — In Brazil, known as one of the world’s most corrupt and violent countries, MANDA BALA follows a politician who uses a frog farm to steal billions of dollars, a wealthy businessman who spends a small fortune bulletproofing his cars, and a plastic surgeon who reconstructs the ears of mutilated kidnapping victims. World premiere.

MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (Director: Amir Bar-Lev) [Sony Pictures Classic (Worldwide rights 1.85M?), A&E (Limited North American TV)] — A 4-year-old girl whose paintings are compared to Kandinsky, Pollock and even Picasso, has sold $300,000 dollars worth of paintings. Is she a genius of abstract expressionism, a tiny charlatan, or an exploited child whose parents have sold her out for the glare of the media and the lure of the almighty dollar? World premiere.

NANKING (Director: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman) [Fortissimo (Undisclosed amount)] — A powerful and haunting depiction of the atrocities suffered by the Chinese at the hands of the invading Japanese army during “The Rape of Nanking”, one of the most tragic events of WWII. While more than 200,000 Chinese were murdered and ten of thousands raped, a handful of Westerners performed extraordinary acts of heroism, saving over 250,000 lives in the midst of the horror. World premiere.

NO END IN SIGHT (Director: Charles Ferguson) — A comprehensive examination of the Bush Administration’s conduct of the Iraq war and occupation. Featuring first-time interviews with key participants, the film creates a startlingly clear reconstruction of key decisions that led to the current state of affairs in this war-torn country. World premiere.

PROTAGONIST (Director: Jessica Yu) [IFC (theatrical), Netflix Red Envelope (video) low to mid six figures] — PROTAGONIST explores the organic relationship between human life and Euripidean dramatic structure by weaving together the stories of four men — a German terrorist, a bank robber, an “ex-gay” evangelist, and a martial arts student. World premiere.

WAR DANCE (Director: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine) — Devastated by the long civil war in Uganda, three young girls and their school in the Patongo refugee camp find hope as they make a historic journey to compete in their country’s national music and dance festival. World premiere.

WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN: THE DESTRUCTION OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI (Director: Steven Okazaki) — WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN offers a visceral, topical and moving portrait of the human cost of atomic warfare. World premiere.

ZOO (Director: Robinson Devor) — A humanizing look at the life and bizarre death of a seemingly normal Seattle family man who met his untimely end after an unusual encounter with a horse. World premiere.


I am posting this message on behalf of Northern Illinois
University and the Reality Bytes Student Documentary
Film Festival. The festival is currently in its
seventh year under the directorship of Dr. Laura
Vazquez and is continuing to grow. The event prides
itself on being open only to students and being
affordable with only a $20 entry fee.

The submission deadline for students is February 15,
2007 and the documentaries must be under 30 minutes
length. Any style or genre of documentary will be
accepted. Application forms can be viewed and printed
as a PDF file on the official website

The screening event will be held on March 23, 2007 and
cash prizes will be awarded. The best of festival
winner will receive $200 and Avid video editing
software, second place will receive $150 and third
place will receive $100.

Submission details for students are
included on the website and below.

Thank you,

Mark Pietrowski
Public Relations Director
E-mail –

Submission details: Each entry must include a copy of
the student’s ID card and must be accompanied by an
entry form and check.

All video submitted to the festival must be in NTSC
format. Submissions must be accompanied by a 1/2″ VHS
copy (or DVD) of the video. Festival winners will be
notified in advance of the final screening at which
time a DV tape can be submitted.

Send entries to:
Northern Illinois University
Department of Communication
c/o Dr. Laura Vazquez
Watson Hall 213
DeKalb, IL 60115


Documentary FeatureDeliver Us From Evil, An Inconvenient Truth, Iraq in Fragments, Jesus Camp, My Country, My Country.

Documentary (short subject)The Blood of Yingzhou District, Recycled Life, Rehearsing a Dream, Two Hands.


DVD Releases January 23, 2006

Jesus CampReviewPurchase at – The feverish spectacle of a summer camp for evangelical Christian kids is the focus of Jesus Camp, a fascinating if sometimes alarming documentary. (Shortly after its release, the movie gained a new notoriety when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who appears near the end of the film, resigned his post amid a male prostitute’s allegations of drug use and sexual misconduct.) For most of the film, we follow a charismatic teacher, Becky Fischer, as she trains young soldiers in “God’s Army” at a camp in North Dakota. Some of the kids emerge as likable and bright, and eager to continue their work as pint-sized preachers; elsewhere, the visions of children speaking in tongues and falling to the floor in ecstasy are more troubling. Even more arresting is the vision of a generation of children home-schooled to believe that the Bible is science, or Fischer’s certainty that America’s flawed system of democracy will someday be replaced by a theocracy. (In one scene, a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush is presented to the children, who react by laying their hands on the figure as though in a religious procession.)

This Films Is Not Yet RatedReviewPurchase at – As it turns out, Kirby Dick’s eye-opening documentary isn’t rated. When he submitted it to the Motion Picture Association of America, they slapped it with an NC-17 (though he had always intended to release it unrated). This is fitting since he sheds much-needed light on the inner workings of a secretive organization that wields great power over the movies the public gets to see (since most mainstream media won’t touch the dreaded NC-17). It’s just as well since This Film Is Not Yet Rated focuses on the more controversial films of the past three decades. Aside from the stories of filmmakers who have tussled with the MPAA, Dick hires a private investigator to determine who sits on the board, since this information isn’t in the public domain. With her assistance, he solves the mystery. Directors include Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Mary Harron (American Psycho), and Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry). Though frequently humorous, This Film Is Not Yet Rated should be required viewing for serious film fans, because the MPAA doesn’t just affect what gets seen–but what gets made.

Cocaine CowboysReviewPurchase at – In the 1980s, ruthless Colombian cocaine barons invaded Miami with a brand of violence unseen in this country since Prohibition-era Chicago – and it put the city on the map. “Cocaine Cowboys” is the true story of how Miami became the drug, murder and cash capital of the United States, told by the people who made it all happen.


By Mary Milliken
Sunday, January 21, 2007; 4:24 PM

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) – Documentary filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival thrive on eager audiences and the support of sages like festival founder Robert Redford.

But down in the real world after the high-altitude soiree ends, directors of even the best documentaries find it hard to keep breathing as commercial distribution opportunities are few and far between.

Sundance is the top U.S. gathering spot for movies made outside Hollywood, and for more than 20 years, it has championed the nonfiction genre. Redford’s main message to documentary makers this year was: don’t despair, “docs” will remain at the heart of Sundance, regardless of their market success.

To make that point, organizers chose for their opening-night film last week the documentary “Chicago 10,” about the trial of anti-war activists after the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

“By opening the festival with this film, we really are making a statement about the importance of documentaries,” Redford said at a news conference.

“Chicago 10″ director Brett Morgen, who mixed original animation with archival television footage, glowed in the aura of Redford.

“He is an icon for me as a documentary filmmaker for what he has done for my generation,” Morgen said.

Sundance 2007, which ends January 28, has 16 U.S.-made documentaries and 16 foreign docs competing for awards in two separate categories.

Among the U.S. entries are two about the war in Iraq, “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” and “No End in Sight,” and one about homosexuality in religion, “For the Bible Tells Me So.” One quirky entry is “Crazy Love” about a tragic romance played out in New York tabloids 50 years ago.

Foreign entries include Britain’s “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten,” about the front man of 1970s punk band The Clash, and Mexico’s “Bajo Juarez, the city devouring its daughters,” about crimes against women on the U.S. border.

Read full article from Reuters at


After a seven-part Chronicle series in late 2005 and publicity about an upcoming documentary showing half a dozen death leaps from the bridge, the district’s board of directors decided last spring to study a barrier to prevent suicides. It was the eighth time authorities had considered installing such a deterrent.

“When you look at the numbers from 2006, there was a big leap in activity — both successful and attempted (suicides) went up significantly. The first spike in activity that we saw came on the heels of Eric Steel’s film premiering in San Francisco,” Currie  [spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District], said.

Steel’s documentary, “The Bridge,” premiered locally in April. In May, four people jumped to their deaths and another 11 tried to commit suicide, Currie said.

Normally, no more than two people succeed per month, and an average of four others attempt to jump, according to Chronicle research and the bridge’s own statistics.

Full San Fransico Chronicle Article



By Nicole Sperling and Gregg Goldstein

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) – Magnolia Pictures has nailed a deal for North American rights to “Crazy Love,” a happily-ever-after documentary about a spurned lover and the woman he married years after he hired thugs to blind her.

In the first theatrical deal of the Sundance Film Festival, which began Thursday, Magnolia bought domestic rights Saturday for mid-six figures.

Director Dan Klores, a New York publicist, said he remembered reading contemporary reports about Linda and Burt Pugach: In 1959, the jealous attorney had lye thrown in Linda’s face because he thought he was losing her to another man. But it wasn’t until Klores read a New York Times story about the couple who got married as soon as Burt was released in 1974 that he decided to pursue the project. The Pugaches traveled to Sundance to help promote the picture.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Persons on Republican mailing lists this week received an appeal for funds from Dick Morris, President Bill Clinton’s political strategist in 1995-1996, asking for a contribution between $25 and $100 or more to finance a critical film documentary of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Signing the letter as “Former Clinton Adviser,” Morris wrote: “If you liked how the Swift Boat Veterans turned the tide against John Kerry, you understand how a top Clinton aide can turn the tables and stop a Clinton-style liberal from becoming the next president of the United States.”

Morris’s appeal was made through The Presidential Coalition, run by conservative activist Dave Bossie. The letter described Morris as dedicated to electing presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Since 1996, Morris has been an author, columnist and television commentator.

From Robert Novak at TownHall


PARK CITY, Utah — The talking heads in some documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival are not just real people recollecting real events.

Some are actors, recruited by the directors to help put human faces and voices to events lost in time, for which the filmmakers would have had to rely on static old photographs or artist sketches accompanied by narration to relate a story for which no video record exists.

The opening-night film Thursday at the 11-day festival, “Chicago 10,” uses a voice cast including Nick Nolte, Roy Scheider, Mark Ruffalo, Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber and Hank Azaria for clever animated sequences that recreate the bedlam of the trial of anti-war demonstrators accused of inciting violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

“Nanking,” a study of the brutal Japanese occupation of the Chinese city in 1937, employs powerful performances by Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and others reciting from letters, journals and other accounts of people who lived through the invasion.

“Strange Culture” features Tilda Swinton, Thomas Jay Ryan and other actors in dramatized segments of events that led to the arrest of a University of Buffalo professor on suspicion of bioterrorism.

“Chicago 10″ director Brett Morgen had endless archival footage of street protests and defendants such as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman discussing the events in public. What he lacked was a way to incorporate the trial, until he came across a comment from Rubin that the courtroom saga was a cartoon show.

Read the full AP story.


The time is here for the International Documentary Challenge (IDC). The IDCvvis a timed filmmaking competition developed by KDHX Community Media and sponsored by Hot Docs, SILVERDOCS, the International Documentary Association, the Documentary Organisation of Canada and the creators of the 48 Hour Film Project.

The Premise: Filmmaking teams from around the globe have just over 5 days to make a short non-fiction film (4-8 min.) Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, this year’s Presenting Partner, will host the theatrical premiere of the finalists and an awards ceremony in April. A traveling showcase of the winners will play festivals and film series across the world, a DVD will be released, and television distribution will be pursued. The IDC takes place this March 1-5, 2007. You can read more about the event and register here:


Director Ben Hopkins talks with Documentary Films .Net’s Tom Hamilton about his most recent film – an account of the Pamir Kirghiz tribe and their journey from nomadic pastoralism to settlement in Turkey.

Tom Hamilton. You have a background as a fiction film maker. What led you to make an ethnographic film?

Ben Hopkins. At the end of the last decade I made two fiction films very quickly one after another, and imagined, rather stupidly… in my youth… that this would be how it was always going to be. So I had made two feature fiction films before my thirtieth birthday and then immediately my career kind of collapsed! The market place changed and the British government film funding situation changed at around the same time, making it much more difficult for British art film makers to find funding. I struggled on for a few more years and moved my base to Berlin rather than London because it was easier to make films there.

Meanwhile, I got an offer from Hans Geissendörfer, who was the executive producer on my second fiction film The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, to make a film with him about cluster bombs and unexploded ordnance. I came up with a proposal to film in Afghanistan, which was then the last place where cluster bombs had been used, with Laos being the first.

This became a 42 minute documentary called ‘Footprints’, which Hans and I eventually sold to Storyville at the BBC. Nick Fraser, the Executive Producer at Storyville, saw it and loved it and invited me in to ask what I wanted to do next as a documentary and I pitched the idea of the Pamir Kirghiz film. I knew about them because I’d met an Afghan academic who was helping me with the translation of the Pashtun dialogue in Footprints. He told me the about this tribe and I immediately thought that it was an incredible story that would make a really good film.

T. And the BBC then got behind it?

B. Nick said he didn’t normally do “tribe films”, as he called them, but because it was me he was willing to give it go. Eventually we found a way to get an invitation to go to Ulu Pamir to meet the tribe and when I got there I was struck by their sense of humour and how funny they were… not that I mean they were funny all the time or anything! Because the last film had been so sombre and depressing I was quite happy to run with this humorous nature.

T. Was that a conscious thing, to show their humorous side in this documentary?

B. My default mode, if you like, is humour – occasionally I do something serious but normally I like to be funny if possible. As the tribe were funny I wasn’t cutting against the grain there, so yes I was grateful that they had a good sense of humour. 

T. Why do you think ethnographic film has in the past lacked that comic aspect of people’s lives? 

B. It’s probably a spill over from academia, which in general is not exactly humorous. I know that well, coming from a family of academics. My father was one of those rare things, a humorous historian, and he found it often frustrating to work in that world, that tends towards dryness, and tends towards puffing-up its self-importance by making it difficult for the non-cognoscenti to understand. 

So I think a lot of anthropological filmmaking started from an academic base. It was first and foremost a record, a field recording of a way of life – a document more than a work of cinema.   My film is maybe the opposite as I am a film-maker and not an anthropologist or an ethnographer – it’s a film first, and an ethnographic document second.
–Read the rest of this entry »


Associated Press
Sun Jan 14, 7:00 AM ET

Desperate for tickets to see your favorite stars at their Sundance Film Festival premiere? EBay may be the answer — or not.

Sundance officials say they are scanning the online auction site and cracking down on ticket sales. Reselling tickets online is prohibited.

The festival gives locals a shot at purchasing tickets before they go on sale nationally. More than 2,460 Utah residents were selected at random for a chance to buy up to 20 tickets each at the locals-only sale last weekend.

Two tickets to the first screening of “Waitress,” staring Keri Russell, sold for $385 on Saturday afternoon. About half an hour later, a second pair of “Waitress” tickets went for $255.

Sundance officials warn that tickets resold online can be remotely deactivated before the film’s showing.

“We’ve contacted those sellers and informed them of our policy and what actions we are taking,” said Patrick Hubley, festival spokesman. “I wouldn’t advise people to buy tickets off of eBay or any other site,” except for the official Sundance site, he said.

It appeared some of the 293 entries under a search for “Sundance tickets” on Saturday were trying to get around the prohibition. Several sellers were giving away “free” tickets with the “purchase” of festival venue instructions or a film guide, which are given to ticket holders.

Several venue instructions and film guides were selling for around $80 Saturday afternoon. A film guide with two “free” tickets to “Waitress” was going for $227 in an auction ending Sunday afternoon.

The Sundance Film Festival begins Thursday and runs through Jan. 28, with film screenings in Park City, Ogden, Sundance and Salt Lake City.


For $1.99 each starting January 21.  In the past a large number of shorts were available on the Sundance Festival web site for free after the festival was over.  So whether this is a step forward or back is in question.


By Bryan Newbury
January 9, 2007

“(E)ach candidate behaved well in the hope of being judged worthy of election. However, this system was disastrous when the city had become corrupt. For then it was not the most virtuous but the most powerful who stood for election, and the weak, even if virtuous, were too frightened to run for office.”

–Niccolo Machiavelli.
Attention filmmakers: if you desire a hit, or at least critical accolades, you could do worse than throwing a dart at a map of New Jersey and filming local elections. After seeing both Anytown, U.S.A. and Street Fight, it is hard to imagine many documentary buffs who aren’t itching for another volume to comprise a New Jersey electoral trilogy. Street Fight isn’t quite as compelling as Anytown, yet its excellence is tough to dispute.

Actually, much of Marshall Curry’s film Street Fight borders on what could best be termed “accidental excellence.” Not that Curry isn’t a gifted filmmaker with an eye for gripping political drama. Not that this feeling permeates viewing the film. It is only upon reflection that one thinks to himself, “He seems to have stumbled into it.”

In a way he has, which is not to be judgmental, because there are scores of solid documentaries whose creation and execution seem to be guided by stars. Curry came to Newark originally to set up a literacy program. Like much of Newark, Curry was once a fan of the eccentric and gifted mayor Sharpe James. As the film unfolds, the dark side of Mr. James becomes increasingly disturbing.

Street Fight is more a profile of attractive upstart Cory Booker, a 32-year-old one-term city councilman. The battle between Booker and James is unlike most in American politics. Both are African-American (unless you take the view of Mr. James, who states or implies at various times that Booker is a white Jew on the Klan payroll) and both are Democrats… unless, well, you know. In spite of those on-paper similarities, the two could scarcely be more different. Booker was raised in a suburb, went to Stanford and then to Yale Law, has a casual charm and a genuine altruism. There are a number of parallels one could draw between Booker and Barack Obama. As Curry describes on the film’s website, Booker was getting the “first black President” talk even while his political career was nascent.
–Read the rest of this entry »


Super 8 film blog, OnSuper8, has a brief review and a interesting interview with documentary filmmaker Dan Monceaux. His A Shift in Perception documentary short is getting a great reception at film festivals and will be reviewed on this site in the coming weeks. Documentary Films .Net is fortunate to have Dan as a frequent contributor to our forum.

Read the interview at OnSuper8.


Documentary DVD Releases January 9, 2007

Street FightReviewPurchase – The Academy Award-nominated “Street Fight” covers the turbulent campaign of Cory Booker, a 32-year old Rhodes Scholar/Yale Law graduate running for mayor of Newark, N.J. against Sharpe James, the four-term incumbent twice his age. Fresh from winning awards at the SilverDocs, HotDocs and Tribeca film festivals, “Street Fight” is this year’s political thriller.

Martin Luther King: Man of Peace in a Time of WarReviewPurchase – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most important and inspirational figures in U.S. – and World – History. He spoke of peace at a time when there was great conflict between black and white America, divisiveness within the civil rights movement itself, and an undeclared war in Vietnam that seemed to divide everyone. In addition to rare, archival footage, King: Man Of Peace In A Time Of War features exclusive interviews with such notables as the Rev. Jesse Jackson (who marched alongside Dr. King); retired general and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell (who reflects on how far the civil rights movement has come); and legendary journalist Howard K. Smith (who introduced Dr. King to Richard Nixon); amongst others including Congressman Charles Rangel, Quincy Jones, Hugh Hefner and Laurence Fishburne, plus controversial commentary from Malcolm X. Most remarkable of all is the ultra-rare appearance of Dr. King himself on a 1967 Mike Douglas Show speaking eloquently about civil rights, especially the issue of black participation in the Vietnam War.

I Trust You To Kill MeReviewPurchase – Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit TV show “24” takes his indie record label act, Rocco DeLuca & the Burden on the road for their first international tour. From Los Angeles to Europe, this highly personal journey chronicles a rock band & their less than qualified road manager, Kiefer Sutherland, and the hopes, successes and disappointments of a band trying to get their music to their audience.


By Bryan Newbury
January 1, 2007

Disarm gives the viewer some indicators that it is what we might refer to as an “activist” film. The primary image associated with it are Afghan children standing in front of a wall… one of what used to be four… with the title stenciled in black spray paint. The score is provided by Brendan Canty of Fugazi. That spray paint stencil is used as the title image in the opening credits, with participants from the affected nations painting it on walls, tanks and other iconic images of war and waste. This presentation gives the title itself a character more of demand than display.

This judgment is soon rebuffed by the work presented. Disarm takes us to the hot spots of antipersonnel mining, and subsequent de-mining, and does so with impressively athletic pace. We begin at the Myanmar-Thai border. As an official explains, the use of cameras in the area is illegal. Given the reputation of the government in Myanmar, one senses that the footage we see was gained at some peril.

From there, they set off to Sarajevo. The scenes from Bosnia and Herzegovina do best to illustrate a key point Wareham and Liu are driving at. Namely, that the horrific irony of the practice of mining is that though it serves a limited military purpose, which few fighters would choose to do without, the people who fall prey to the devices are overwhelmingly civilian and usually come across the mines in peace time. In Bosnia and Afghanistan alike, the de-mining is done best by men who laid the things in the first place. One Bosnian soldier reflects upon the inevitability of digging up some he has set.

The second key point, which Disarm succeeds in making, is that the subject of land mines seems to deter from the principle point of the argument: the victims. As scenes from Kabul and Colombia show, even if the nations of the world had the will to eradicate the munitions from the face of the earth, there would still be an overwhelming need to assist those already afflicted by them.
–Read the rest of this entry »


By Roger A. Davis
December 30, 2006

Do you do crossword puzzles every day?
If the answer is yes, you must see the documentary,

Will Shortz, crossword editor of the New York Times
Would know the dictionary meaning of “rimes”
Also, 21 across; Nuremberg concern:  w a r c r i m e s

His daily puzzle is the cream of the crop
Bill Clinton, Indigo Girls and Ken Burns share this passion
To fill in the squares, 4 down; current clothes:  f a s h i o n

Shortz founded the American Crossword Tournament
It is WORDPLAY’s central theme
Stamford, Conn., who will fulfill their being “The Champ” dream?

There is an underlying story of puzzle construction
That is very interesting, kind of like basic instruction
13 across; first stage of kidnapping:  a b d u c t i o n

I recommend this movie to my readership
Comedian Jon Stewart is in it, he didn’t even need one blip
Did you know, Jon proposed to Tracey with Will’s NYT puzzle tip?

As a fan of crosswords, word scrambles and cryptoquips
WORDPLAY rekindled my interest to do puzzles
Here is one for you, 10 down, Toto restraint for lip(s)


Visit Eden Prairie Prose for more poems by Roger A. Davis.

Review Wordplay for yourself.

Purchase Wordplay.


Great art being made.  Modest Mouse is an indie music success story.  This 1997 film captures the band as they were finishing their The Lonesome Crowded West album.  The album further established a fan base that would lead to commercial and critical success that conutinues even today.  Included in the documentary are shots of the band goofing off, listening to their tracks, and in concert.  Interspersed are akward but authentic interviews with musicians, label folks, scenesters, and the band itself.  In the end the whole thing works.  You see their energy. Recommended.

Watch the film.


Byron Hurt takes pains to say that he is a fan of hip-hop, but over time, says Mr. Hurt, a 36-year-old filmmaker, dreadlocks hanging below his shoulders, “I began to become very conflicted about the music I love.”

A new documentary by Mr. Hurt, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” questions the violence, degradation of women and homophobia in much of rap music.

Scheduled to go on the air in February as part of the PBS series Independent Lens, the documentary is being shown now at high schools, colleges and Boy’s Clubs, and in other forums, as part of an unusual public campaign sponsored by the Independent Television Service, which is based in San Francisco and helped finance the film.

The intended audiences include young fans, hip-hop artists and music industry executives — black and white — who profit from music and videos that glorify swagger and luxury, portray women as sex objects, and imply, critics say, that education and hard work are for suckers and sissies.

What concerns Mr. Hurt and many black scholars is the domination of the hip-hop market by more violent and sexually demeaning songs and videos — an ascendancy, the critics say, that has coincided with the growth of the white audience for rap and the growing role of large corporations in marketing the music. (more . . .)