Wednesday, October 28, 2015

ENG 102: Documentaries

Films and Resources:


"50+ Films About Women That Will Inspire Your Perspective on Social Change." Films for Action (April 4, 2015)

The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/UK/Sweden/Finland: Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012: 115 mins) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Sweden: Göran Olsson, 2011: 100 mins) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

The Captors (Season 2 of Serial from WBEZ Chicago: "In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home. President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier's parents at his side. Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory. Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation. Finally, in March, the military charged Bergdahl with two crimes, one of which carries the possibility of a life sentence. Through all of this, Bergdahl has been quiet. He hasn’t spoken to the press or done any interviews on TV. He’s been like a ghost at the center of a raucous fight. Now, in Season Two, we get to hear what he has to say. For this season, Sarah Koenig teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 to find out why one idiosyncratic guy decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still going on."]

Century of the Self (BBC: Adam Curtis, 4 pts 60 mins) ["To many in both business and government, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power is truly moved into the hands of the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How is the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interest?"]

Chan, Julia B. "Do Not Drink: The Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan." Reveal (Parts 1-3: 2016) ["The economically depressed city of Flint, Michigan, is making headlines across the country because there’s something in its water that shouldn’t be there. You may have heard about the problems in Flint: about how the tap water can be brownish, stinky, funny-tasting. After denying there was a problem for more than a year, state and city officials finally admitted it – there was too much lead in the water. On this hour of Reveal, you’re going to hear the whole story of how people in Flint went from trusting their tap water to fearing it. And thanks to Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith, who produced an incredible documentary called “Not Safe to Drink,” we dive right in."]

Citizenfour (USA/Germany/UK: Laura Poitras, 2014: 114 mins) ["In January 2013, film-maker Laura Poitras received an encrypted e-mail from a stranger who called himself Citizen Four. In it, he offered her inside information about illegal wiretapping practices of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Poitras had already been working for several years on a film about mass surveillance programs in the United States, and so in June 2013, she went to Hong Kong with her camera for the first meeting with the stranger, who identified himself as Edward Snowden. She was met there by investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian intelligence reporter Ewen MacAskill. Several other meetings followed. Citizenfour is based on the recordings from these meetings. What follows is the largest confirmations of mass surveillance using official documents themselves, the world has never seen…"]

Crips and Bloods: Made in America (USA: Stacey Peralta, 2008: 98 mins) ["...  this film examines the conditions that have led to decades of devastating gang violence among young African Americans growing up in South Los Angeles."] Available in the BCTC Library.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (USA/Japan/UK: Wendy Apple, 2004: 98 mins) ["Documentary about the art of film editing. Clips are shown from many groundbreaking films with innovative editing styles."]

Dirty Wars (USA/Afghanistan/Iraq/Kenya/Somalia/Yemen: Rick Rowley, 2013: 87 mins) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Exit Through the Gift Shop (UK/USA: Banksy, 2010: 87 mins) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Grizzly Man (USA: Werner Herzog, 2005: 103 mins)

Hearts and Minds (USA: Peter Davis, 1974: 112 mins)

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century (Metanoia Films: Scott Noble, 2010: 119 mins) ["Human Resources — Social Engineering in the 20th Century is about the rise of mechanistic philosophy and the exploitation of human beings under modern hierarchical systems. The film captures how humans are regarded as a resource by corporations–something to be exploited for pecuniary gain–by following the history of psychological experiments in behaviour modification, conditioning and mind control; applying the outcomes to modern day establishment experiments such as institutionalised education, military training, and social engineering by way of things like television…"]

Inside Job (USA: Charles Ferguson, 2010: 105 mins) ["... a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China."]  Available in the BCTC Library.]

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (USA: Brian Knappenberger, 2014: 105 mins) ["The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties."]

The Interrupters (USA: Steve James, 2011: 125 mins)

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (France: Michel Gondry, 2013: 88 mins)

Killing Us Softly, 4 (USA: Sut Jhally and Jean Kilbourne, 2010: 45 mins) ["Author and activist Jean Kilbourne analyses the depiction of women in advertising and media by decoding a large array of print and television ads. What is revealed is a torrent of stereotypes; sexist and misogynistic images and messages; laying bare a world of frighteningly thin women in positions of subservience; collectively, the restrictive code of femininity that works to undermine girls and women in the real world. By examining these messages, Killing Us Softly asks us to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, violence against women, popular culture, and contemporary politics."]

La Commune (Paris 1871) (France: Peter Watkins, 2000: 345 mins)

The Living Dead (BBC: Adam Curtis, 1995: three 60 minute episodes) ["The Living Dead: Three Films About the Power of the Past is a series of films that investigate the way that history and memory (both national and individual) have been manipulated and distorted by politicians and others for various means of control."]

Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal (USA: Stephen Vittoria, 2013: 120 mins)

Merchants of Cool (PBS: Barak Goodman and Douglas Rushkoff, 2001: 55 mins) ["They spend their days sifting through reams of market research data. They conduct endless surveys and focus groups. They comb the streets, the schools and the malls, hot on the trail of the “next big thing” that will snare the attention of their prey — a market segment worth an estimated $150 billion a year. They are the merchants of cool: creators and sellers of ‘popular culture’ who have made teenagers the hottest consumer demographic…"]

Night and Fog (France: Alain Resnais, 1955: 32 mins)

The Persuaders (PBS: Rachel Dretzin, Barak Goodman and Douglas Rushkoff, 2004: 90 mins) ["Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists (most of whom work for one of six giant companies) spend billions of dollars and millions of hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders. In The Persuaders, Douglas Rushkoff explores how the cultures of marketing and advertising have come to influence not only what Americans buy, but also how they view themselves and the world around them. The Persuaders draws on a range of experts and observers of the advertising/marketing world, to examine how, in the words of one on-camera commentator, “the principal of democracy yields to the practice of demography,” as highly customised messages are delivered to a smaller segment of the market…"]

The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (United Kingdom: Adam Curtis, 2004: 180 mins)

Psywar (Canada: Scott Noble, 2010: 99 mins) ["Psywar explores the history and evolution of propaganda along with the rise of ‘public relations’ with an emphasis on the relationship between war, propaganda and privilege… Contains interviews with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, Peter Phillips, John Stauber, Christopher Simpson."]

The Square (Egypt/USA: Jehane Noujaim, 2013: 104 mins)

Standard Operating Procedure (USA: Errol Morris, 2008: 116 mins)

Taxi to the Dark Side (USA: Alex Gibney, 2007: 106 mins)

The Thin Blue Line (USA: Errol Morris, 1988: 103 mins)

Triumph of the Will (Germany: Leni Riefenstahl, 1935: 110 mins)

The Unknown Known (USA: Errol Morris, 2013: 96 mins)

The Virtual Revolution (BBC: Aleks Krotoski, 2010: four 60 mins episodes) ["20 years on from the invention of the World Wide Web, The Virtual Revolution explores how the Internet is reshaping almost every aspect of our lives. But what is really going on behind this reshaping? The founding father of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, believed his invention would remain an open frontier that nobody could own, and that it would take power from the few and give it to the many. So how do these utopian claims stand today? Have the possibilities of the technology been constrained purposefully by corporations and distorted by government?"]

Waltz With Bashir (Israel/France/Germany/USA/Finland/Switzerland/Belgium/Australia: Ari Folman, 2008: 90 Mins)


"The 20 Best Documentaries of 2015." The Playlist (December 15, 2015)

Adam Curtis: Documentary Filmmaker/Journalist  Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Bailey, Jason. " Errol Morris’ ‘Unknown Known’: Donald Rumsfeld and the Limits of Self-Deception." Flavorwire (April 2, 2014)

Greene, Steve. "The Best Documentaries of 2015, According to the Criticwire Network." Indiewire (Last updated December 4, 2015)

Heineman, Matthew. "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare." Film School (October 4, 2012)

Jhally, Sut. "The Tough Guise 2." (Posted on Vimeo: 2013)

Jones, Kent, Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen.  "Top 5 Film Books / Kent Jones Interview (Hitchcock/Truffaut)." Filmspotting #565 (December 4, 2015)

Kilkenny, Katie. "Geeking Out to Hitchcock/Truffaut."  Los Angeles Review of Books (December 5, 2015)

O'Hehir, Andrew. "Errol Morris on Rumsfeld, the Truth and The Unknown Known.” Salon (April 2, 2014)

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