Tom Roston

Doc Soup: Politics and the Message of “The Principal Story”

Education is a hot-button issue, both politically and personally. But I still couldn’t believe the reaction to President Obama‘s Back-to-School speech two weeks ago. Right-wing zealots raging about how it should be boycotted? School districts in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin actually complying and boycotting the broadcast of the speech? The

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Doc Soup: Peering Into a Character’s Soul

When I watched this week’s POV program, The English Surgeon, I couldn’t help thinking about Ian McEwan‘s 2005 novel, Saturday. Both are about neurosurgeons, and they’re the best portrayals (Mel Brooks‘ Young Frankenstein doesn’t count) of those elite doctors that I’ve ever read or seen. It made me consider: how does a novel representation of

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Doc Soup: When Children Are the Subjects of Docs

I often get this conflicted feeling when I watch a documentary about children, like this week’s POV broadcast of Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go: I am immediately concerned that the subjects are being exploited in some way, since they’re not really able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be involved

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Doc Soup: Subject as Collaborator in “The Betrayal”

What if Robert Flaherty had given the Inuit named Allakariallak a credit as co-director of Nanook of the North? Or if Davis Guggenheim shared the bill with Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth? Would those films be regarded in a different light? We know that the collaboration between documentary filmmakers and their subjects is what

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Doc Soup: Oral History in “Life. Support. Music.”

Wow. Life. Support. Music. is quite a documentary. I think it’s hard not to be moved by this stirring story of a totally decent guy (and a great musician) who collapses onstage with a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. The man, Jason Crigler, and his family are sympathetic enough, and the narrative arc is intensely dramatic, but

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Doc Soup: Keeping Violence Off-Screen in “Beyond Hatred”

Truth in absence. That’s what I was thinking about while watching Beyond Hatred, POV’s stirring doc about the murder of a gay man by skinheads in France, which airs this week (check your local listings). There’s a very deliberate way this sad story is told. The fact that it’s in French, with subtitles, enhances the

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