Nine Great Documentaries About Women Activists

As Women’s History Month continues, we’re shining the spotlight on women activists who faced down injustice, pioneered paths for other women and girls, or have fought heroically trying to save the world. Although the women on this list focused on different arenas, in the end they’re all inevitably linked. As feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote … READ MORE

Principal Vonda Viland and 10 of the Most Unforgettable “Bad Kids”

The following is by Vonda Viland, principal of Black Rock Continuation High School in Yucca Valley in California’s Mojave Desert, and subject of the documentary The Bad Kids. Viland’s tireless work to help at-risk teenagers find their way to graduation is reflected both in the film and in the fact that Black Rock High School was recently … 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

10 Great Animated Documentaries

Keith Maitland’s animated documentary TOWER has left critics and awards-voting bodies alike flummoxed as to how best to categorize it. This is a visionary work, no doubt, that uses voice-actors and vintage audio to reconstruct what happened back in 1966 when a sniper shot dozens of people on the campus of University of Texas. The rotoscopic … READ MORE

TOWER Playlist: 1966 Music Soundscape

Pure and simple, 1966 was considered by many critics as one of the greatest years for popular music ever [see the Guardian’s “Was 1966 pop music greatest’s year?” and the LA Times‘ “1966 Could be Rock’s Most Revolutionary Year“]. The AV Club’s Steven Hyden on why 1966 was his favorite year for music: “I chose … READ MORE

Paying Homage to UT Tower Mass Shooting Victims with Life Affirming Animation

Craig Staggs is the lead animator for the little animation studio that could, Minnow Mountain, based in Austin, Texas, also the home base of filmmaker Keith Maitland. Staggs’ company did the brilliantly layered animation for Maitland’s film TOWER. Of that film which tells the story of the heroes and victims who were on the University of … READ MORE

Reformed Racists: Is There Life After Hate for Former White Supremacists?

Accidental Courtesy portrays African American musician Daryl Davis’s attempt to change white supremacists by gradually shattering their prejudices with his friendship. It’s a complicated, risky, and controversial pursuit, but Davis has succeeded in convincing numerous men to abandon their hatred to become reformed racists. One of Daryl’s former white supremacist friends is Scott Shepherd, seen in the film, who was … READ MORE

Filmmakers Tell Story of William Trotter’s Fight Against Racist Silent Blockbuster

Birth of a Movement, based on Dick Lehr’s book, captures the backdrop to a prescient clash between human rights, freedom of speech, and a changing media landscape — that happened in 1915. It is essentially the story of legendary film director D.W. Griffith, whose technically groundbreaking but inarguably racist silent film blockbuster Birth of a Nation was … READ MORE