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TOPIC: Politics & Government

Meet Your Guides to the Shady Global Arms Trade of Shadow World

Shadow World is in many senses an epic film, that (as Ian McQuaid wrote in The Ransom Note) “draws together a sordid tale of corruption, violence, and greed that sprawls across decades and continents… the documentary covers the full, hideous spectrum of half a century of arms manufacturing.” The “superbly edited, angry documentary about the global arms trade” … READ MORE

12 Documentaries About the Vietnam War on the American Homefront

On Sunday, September 17th, PBS will debut the latest project from Ken Burns and his frequent collaborator Lynn Novick: the ten-part, 18-hour series The Vietnam War. Just like Burns and Novick’s previous films The War (about WWII) and Prohibition (about American culture in the 1920s), the new documentary combines a broader historical overview with compelling … READ MORE

Memorial Day: Docs That Capture the Human Experience of War

There is no shortage of documentaries on war. The subject fascinates us as history, as sociology, and as drama. Some documentaries chronicle history in great detail, some grapple with the issues and forces behind the conflicts, and some flat-out propagandize. But very few of those documentaries actually engage with the human experience. So for Memorial … READ MORE

Filmmakers Capture a Troubled Veteran’s Farm Life

Farmer/Veteran was made by a trio of talented young filmmakers: Alix Blair documented the lives of women in southwestern Uganda for her Master’s work at Duke University; Jeremy Lange has been a photographer and cinematographer whose past film and video work includes the Peabody Award-winning television show A Chef’s Life and the documentary film Private Violence; … READ MORE

Teachers Beat the “Macho Culture” in Prisons through Art Programs

In the early 2000s, Hollywood invested in the urban fairy tale where a teacher is called into the principal’s office of a school in a low-income, broken part of town and is requested to help “build character and morale.” (Think Samuel L. Jackson in Coach Carter, Antonio Banderas in Take the Lead and Hilary Swank … READ MORE

Ben Lear Shows Reality and Human Face of Juvenile Justice System

They Call Us Monsters is Ben Lear’s first film as director, but he’s not new to the business. Yes, Ben is the son of trailblazing TV producer-writer Norman Lear of All in the Family and Good Times fame (and you can read more about their relationship and how proud they are of each other in this … READ MORE

Canadian Filmmaker Explores American Prison System’s Long Reach

Canadian filmmaker Brett Story was recently awarded the inaugural New Visions Award from Canada’s DOC Institute, who wrote of her, “Watching Story’s socially engaged but visually driven work provides ample evidence that she was an obvious choice for the award, given to an emerging professional filmmaker who demonstrates a keen artistic sensibility and potential to lead … READ MORE

A Drone by Any Other Name: The Different Kinds of Drones

Drones are at the center of the new Independent Lens film National Bird (which premieres on PBS Monday, May 1 at 10; check local listings), though the documentary puts a very human face behind military drone operations, focusing on the post-traumatic stress stemming from participating in remote warfare. But for a word that comes up so often … READ MORE

Meet the Trailblazers of Documentary Activism

We think of the cinema of activism in documentary filmmaking as a relatively modern phenomenon, something first awakened in the 1960s and 1970s and popularized by the likes of Michael Moore and Laura Poitras and Alex Gibney. But the success films like Bowling for Columbine (2002) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006), both Oscar winners and box-office … READ MORE