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mueck.jpgRon Mueck, a hyperrealist sculptor, recently opened a new exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum.  For several years his shows have been accompanied by a 25 minute documentary that shows some of his work and his process.  That documentary is now available online and worth checking out.  After viewing it, if you are within traveling distance from his current show, you will likely be going.


Brooklyn Museum Exhibit Page


By Bryan Newbury
November 20, 2006

There was a time, not too distant in this nation’s history, that to be accused of profiteering was tantamount to a treason charge. In fact, Harry Truman said as much. One gets the feeling that if he could resurrect Truman and F.D.R. for a screening of Robert Greenwald’s Iraq for Sale the reaction would be something just short of seeing Rosemary Clooney on stage in hiphuggers and a bustier.

War profiteering is as time-honored as the act of killing itself; however, just like appearing in public in a Vicodin haze and a state of undress, there used to be something clandestine and scandalous about the enterprise. As this film illustrates, the act of profiteering has become essentially official state policy.

Greenwald takes on the usual suspects. We begin with Blackwater’s private security team. Everyone remembers seeing the grisly scene of 13 April 2004 in Fallujah where four American citizens were burned, mutilated and strung up. The most jarring realization at the time seemed to be that these weren’t American military, but civilians. Actually, these men occupied the gray area of the mercenary. Not a state charge, exactly, but certainly not a water treatment worker or an architect. As it happens, Blackwater funds a sort of private army in Iraq. The four who lost their lives that day were doing security detail for Mr. Bremer.

A reoccurring theme is set with the story of two of these men, told by grieving families. The money paid to private contractors to outsource military duties at an egregious premium is the primary motivation for said companies’ employees to be in Iraq in the first place. While we feel sympathy for the losses of the families seen throughout the film, it is hard to ignore the fact that the employees of KBR, CACI and Blackwater are there for a huge payday as well. Irrespective of this, there is a case to be made that with such hefty resources it is the duty of these companies to use some reason in deployment of hired guns and truck drivers. The beef of the families is by and large that the private contractors in Iraq cut corners to increase profits. Couldn’t call it unexpected that when an entity whose primary goal is increased profit is charged with the business of state, the invisible hand of the market chops off the occasional head.

The numbers and actions of the companies profiled in Iraq for Sale make quite a case for the bereaved. Crisis communications expert Chris Lehane describes in detail what public relations moves Blackwater made after the Fallujah incident. No matter what a person thinks about the men and women seeking a small part of the fortune and the risks they take, it is difficult not to look for new and better curse words for these folks. Combine that with the 600% growth the company has enjoyed and the fact that the U.S. government awarded them with a $73 million contract from FEMA for Katrina “relief” and the question of just who is running the government becomes increasingly salient.
–Read the rest of this entry »


Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 79th Academy Awards®. Eighty-one pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order:

“Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?”
“Deliver Us from Evil”
“The Ground Truth”
“An Inconvenient Truth”
“Iraq in Fragments”
“Jesus Camp”
“Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple”
“My Country, My Country”
“Shut Up & Sing”
“Sisters in Law”
“Storm of Emotions”
“The Trials of Darryl Hunt”
“An Unreasonable Man”
“The War Tapes”

The Documentary Branch screening committee viewed the eligible documentaries in a preliminary round of screenings. Documentary Branch members will now select the five 2006 nominees from among the 15 titles on the shortlist.

Nominations for the 79th Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2007, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2006 will be presented on Sunday, February 25, 2007, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network at 5 p.m. PST, beginning with a half-hour arrival segment.


Thank you to Phil from our forum for finding this.


DVD Releases November 21, 2006

An Inconvenient TruthReviewPurchase at – Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. “Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message,” said Guggenheim. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. “It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely,” said Gore.

ThinRead our review by Umut NewburyReview for yourselfPurchase at – Lauren Greenfield’s debut as a documentary filmmaker is not for the faint of heart. In the United States, we have come to believe that the food we are eating is making us fat, which it is. The majority of American adults are clinically overweight or obese (more than 63 percent according to 2005 studies).  However, there are also five million people who suffer from eating disorders that keep them too thin. Greenfield opens the film with a little known and shocking truth: one in seven anorexic women will die from complications caused by their disease.  She takes us on a dark journey inside the Renfrew Center, one of a handful of treatment centers in the nation for women who suffer from anorexia or bulimia, most often both.

Andy Warhol: A Documentary FilmReviewPurchase at – “He was the most American of artists and the most artistic of Americans,” one man later said – “so American in fact that he is almost invisible to us.” ANDY WARHOL – a riveting and often deeply moving film portrait of the most famous and famously controversial artist of the second half of the twentieth century – is the first to explore the complete spectrum of Warhol’s astonishing artistic output, stretching across five decades from the late 1940’s to his untimely death in 1987. Combining powerful on-camera interviews and rare still and motion picture footage, it is also the first to put Warhol himself – his humble family background and formative experiences in Pittsburgh, and his crucial apprenticeship as a commercial artist in New York – back into the presentation of his life.

Saint of 9/11: True Sotry of Father Mychal Judge – ReviewPurchase at – In an enduring photograph of 9/11, a team of rescue workers carry a Franciscan priest’s body from the World Trade Center. The world came to know Father Mychal Judge, in death as a symbol of courage and sacrifice. Saint of 9/11 represents the turbulent, restless, spiritual and remarkable journey of Father Mychal. Compassionate champion of the needy and forgotten, and a beloved New York City Fire Department Chaplain, he was a humble priest who wrestled with his own private demons while touching others in powerful and miraculous ways. Saint of 9/11 weaves interviews with friends, colleagues, congregants and archival footage with Mychal’s words and shows the full humanity of a special life interrupted. Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen. Features interviews with famed author Malachy McCourt and former New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

Been Rich All My LifeReviewPurchase at


By Bryan Newbury
November 14, 2006

Do not be alarmed. That sound you heard at the coffee shop this morning was United States documentary buffs praising the celluloid gods in for the manna they’d received from their rental clerk.

Michael Apted’s latest installment of the Up series has hit the street after an excruciating wait. For the film fan, it is something akin to having a class reunion, Thanksgiving Dinner and a letter from a distant relative all at the same time. The opening sequence from 1964’s World in Action feature takes us back to the point we became aware of this groundbreaking work. Since Seven & Fourteen, Apted’s septennial look into the lives of English men and women from across the class and geographical spectrum has surpassed simply groundbreaking and been catapulted into the legendary realm. An argument could be made that it stands alone atop Olympus in the world of documentary filmmaking.

As Apted has admitted on many occasions, the Up series started off with some preconceptions of the class system in Britain that turn out to be far more nuanced than anyone had thought. Rather than serving as a document for the rigid class system, over the years the Ups have displayed striking exceptions to it. Beyond that, it has chronicled the new face of London to some degree, as well as the ever unchanging Dales and Scottish countryside.
–Read the rest of this entry »


Borat is a force at the U.S. box office.  This past weekend in its second week of release it remained on top with weekend ticket sales of 29 million, following up its opening weekend of 26 million when it was on just over 800 screens.

“Documentary”, “documentary to be shown outside the US”, and “foreign documentary” all are terms that keep coming up when participates describe how the Borat was portrayed to them when they signed releases and when the being in the film was pitched to them.

For the few who don’t know, Borat is a character played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen who represents himself as a Kazakhstan journalist, naive to US culture.  In order to set up his interviews, he and his production crew often represent themselves as a news crew or in most cases documentary filmmakers. 

The foreign angle has a number of individuals in the film upset.  They are not helping out a struggling documentary filmmaker, but rather are prominently featured in a film that is a US number one box office phenomenon.

According to ABC news, the couple who owned the Four Seasons Kosher Bed & Breakfast were told, “the documentary was commissioned by the Kazakhstan Department of Tourism”.

At least two groups of participates have begun the process of suing the Borat production in order to attempt to collect a great appearance fee for being part of the movie.

With increased doubt about whether a filmmaker is truthful or even genuine in approaching potential subjects for a film, filmmakers are likely to find it tougher to get individuals to agree to appear in their films.


When: February 1-2, 2007
Where: Barcelona, Spain
What:  24 projects will be selected for pitching sessions before 14 commissioning editors from the international TV scene. Those who took part in the last DocsBarcelona Pitching Forum gave the event very high ratings. In fact, 80% of the pitchers surveyed affirmed that the forum was a good investment, and 40% received funding for their projects from the attending commissioning editors.  Deadline to submit projects is 4 December 2006.


This post isn’t going to of interest to most people and maybe isn’t even documentary related enough to be on the site, but it is of interest to me and involves a great work of art.

The Wire, a HBO series in its fourth year, is among the best shows on TV, maybe the best ever.  The shows key elements are the interplay between drug dealers and the police, but it goes so far beyond that to explore the balance of power and life that exist in Baltimore and more broadly life in general. 

The show is worth viewing, but if you are already a fan then you would likely enjoy a discussion of the current season that has been going on between Steve James the director of Hoop Dreams and Alex Kotlowitz a writer. 

Of particular interest to anyone, whether they have seen the series or not, is the exchange between the two of them on whether a writer, filmmaker, artist can or should be covering a culture to which are not a part of.  In this a white director and a white writer share their thoughts.  Kotlowitz addresses it first; James continues.

The series is part of Slate’s TV Club. (Found via Listen Missy)


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


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.


Happy film productions are all alike; every unhappy film production is unhappy… well, it is unhappy in almost always the same way.

In Hearts of Darkness the angst, agony and ecstasy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now receives a masterful dissection. That it doesn’t descend into parody for one minute is an accomplishment of Herculean proportions.

Coppola had originally intended upon shooting Apocalypse with George Lucas during the Vietnam Conflict. Screen writer John Milius wanted to stage the thing in Vietnam. Studios wouldn’t go near it for obvious reasons, and Coppola had to settle for making The Godfather I and II.

By 1976 he had parlayed that success into American Zoetrope and developed enough clout to make the epic.

Hearts is full of ghosts. The first is that of Joseph Conrad.

Conrad can have a funny influence on people. His books caused this reviewer (an ardent pacifist) to join The United States Navy. He inspired both Orson Welles and Francis Ford Coppola to tackle “Heart of Darkness.” Challenged would be closer. Should the Necronomiconesque qualities of the dour Pole be doubted, consider the Unabomber.

Welles must have felt the chill in the room. Before rolling a frame, Welles was looking at twice his allotted budget, butting heads with the studio and lost his screenwriting partner. No mention is made as to whether Coppola sought out Welles when beginning an adaptation of the same novel in a different war, but his shadow looms in any event. It is a substantial coincidence that after Welles’s aborted Heart of Darkness he went on to make Citizen Kane. Considering that Welles and Coppola respectively released what many consider to be the Number 1 and 2 films in the history of cinema, the idea of an odd type of curse is pervasive. “You may try,” we find Conrad taunting, “and for your efforts you will be rewarded. But I will be damned if you make the thing.”

Coppola is obviously cognizant of the connection. While we watch the priceless footage shot by his wife Eleanor, the feeling that he is willing the thing to be a fiasco is omnipresent. It is hard not to speculate as to whether Coppola wanted a failed production. He certainly played his hand into it. Negotiating a deal with Ferdinand Marcos whereby Philippine helicopters were leased with the caveat that they could be taken back at a moment’s notice should they need to be used for counterinsurgency. Giving his lead actor the sack and hiring on Martin Sheen, at the time something of a loose cannon. Casting the temperamental Brando as Kurtz and advancing him $1 million. (Why not just shoot the moon and have Orson play him?) It doesn’t require an undue amount of cynicism to postulate that the fruition of the film was the real failure in Coppola’s mind. As tapes of his conversations indicate, Coppola was motivated by something much larger than just a movie. With each outburst it seems that he’s aiming not so much for “Heart of Darkness” as “Dead Souls,” “The Anathemata” or Orson Welles’s Don Quixote. Though completed works make legends, those testaments to a creative genius delving so deeply into a work that he loses himself entirely make myths. 
–Read the rest of this entry »


Cable network Turner Classic Movies is currently developing a brand new, 90-minute documentary on the career of Steven Spielberg entitled, simply enough, “Spielberg on Spielberg.”

Spielberg associate Richard Schickel (who directed the Spielberg-produced documentary “Shooting War” in 2000) will be producing the feature doc that according to trade publication Variety will feature an “extensive interview with the director supplemented with clips of his movies.”

Schickel interviewed Spielberg in 2005 for two very separate projects including last summer’s TCM sci-fi documentary “Watch the Skies,” and Time’s cover story “Spielberg Takes on Terror” on the film “Munich.”



On November 14, 2006 at 9pm EST, HBO is presenting Thin an intimate look into the lives of four women suffering from an eating disorder.

HBO Films and Documentary Films .Net are offering two autographed copies of the accompening book Thin to our readers.  The book is a photojournalistic showcase for the woman in the story and includes photos from author/filmmaker.  Greenfield has been named one of the 25 most influential photographers by American Photo Magazine.

One autographed book will be given to the reader who has the most posts in our forum in the month of October.  The other book to the reader who has posted the most reviews in our new documentary film review database in October.  Click here to see the current top reviewers.

Thin takes director Lauren Greenfield (author of the critically acclaimed book Girl Culture) along the various stages of recovery and downfall through group therapy sessions, mealtimes, weigh-ins and heated arguments.

Thank you to HBO and Deep Focus for making this possible.

All decisions by Documentary Films .Net editors are final on the results.   Be sure to check out this film and contribute to our new sections.


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During the feverish days following the attack, Congress established a billion- dollar compensation fund, and grieving wives became overnight millionaires.

No one could have known that for many of them, the money would destroy their lives once again, attracting jealousy, resentful relatives and making them even more depressed. Some would become squandering, spendaholic widows, their payouts fuelling addictions which could not replace the husbands they had lost. Others would become embroiled in legal battles with their families, their lives eaten up by bitterness.

Click here for the Daily Mail article.


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When: October, 2006
Where: Samos, Greece
What: Festival includes general documentary films screenings along with unique themes each year.


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