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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

More Than Rain Man: Autism Portrayals on Screen

For a long time, the Oscar-winning 1988 drama Rain Man wasn’t just the best-known representation of autism on film, it was a lot of people’s only frame of reference for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in general. But over the past decade or so, as more and more kids have been diagnosed as on the spectrum, … READ MORE

Nine Movies about the Power of Cinema

In Ilinca Calugareanu’s documentary Chuck Norris vs. Communism [premiering Monday, Jan. 4 on PBS; check local listings], a handful of Romanians who endured the Cold War reminisce about congregating surreptitiously in cramped apartments to watch American action films on illegal VCRs. Some parts of the experience they recall fondly: like the camaraderie of movie nights, … READ MORE

Cinema Verite: The Movement of Truth

This piece is part of an ongoing Independent Lens series exploring documentary film history. Check out the previous entry, Silent Real-Life Adventure Films, and stay tuned for more installments. The birth of documentary filmmaking is the birth of cinema. The very first films were documents of people, places, and events, whether scientific studies or the moving … READ MORE

Early Silent Documentaries: Real-Life Adventure Cinema

This piece is part of an ongoing Independent Lens series exploring documentary film history. Stay tuned for more installments. Since the dawn of cinema, cameras have been taken around the world to capture unique and exotic sights previously available to audiences only in still photographs. Motion picture pioneers the Lumiere brothers sent their cameras to get scenic … READ MORE