Meaningful Movies to Watch For
I have collected some of the documentary offerings from the Film Festival and Folklife Festival, both of which started last weekend in Seattle. Many of these will be travelling around the country this summer or can be rented. If they are not available where you live, there are ways to rent some of them long-distance or some will soon be available on-line. I also signed up to help organize both festivals next year, so if you hear of documentaries that should be aired, please send them along. It just seemed like a good thing to do.
Documentaries from the Folklife Festival:
In The Land of the Free (US)
Two Arab immigrants living in Seattle discuss their decisions to come to the United States and experss concerns that the freedoms that drew them here are diminishing.
Benaat Chicago: Growing Up Arab and Female in Chicago (US)
Arab-American teenage girls growing up on Chicago's South Side talk frankly about stereotypes and racism they face while expressing pride in their cultural heritage.
The Letter: An American Town and the "Somali Invasion" (US)
An insulated, predominantly white town becomes center of controversy when its Mayor sends an open letter to 1100 newly arrived Somali refugees informing them that the city's resources are strained and to please encourage other Somalies not to move there.
The Bride Market of Imilchil (Morocco)
For three days each September, men and women gthre in front of the Imilchil shrine to choose mates and marry in a nearby tent.
On Boys, Girls & the Veil (Egypt)
A young actor faces family pressure to marry. He is filmed on his daily rounds, during which he and his friends talk about work, marriage, gender politics and the hibab.
Beat of Distant Hearts (Algeria)
Sahawari refugees express their collective experiences through poetry, song and painting. These formerly nomadic artists struggle to keep their culture alive while fighting for independence in this last colony of Africa.
Folk Music of the Sahara (Libya)
The intoxicating folk music of North Central Africa comes alive in this visual feast. Entrancing rhythms and wailing vocal choruses punctuate scenes of stunningly dressed at celebrations.
Through A Thousand Children (US)
A Palestinian-American teenager reflects on his participation in a local chldren's peace project.
My Scarab (US)
In Arabic, "saraab" means "mirage", a metaphor often used for survival in the midst of war. An Itaqi political refugee seeks solace through painting and carving when confronted with his past and loss of hope.
Documentaries from the Film Festival:
Al Franken: God Spoke (USA)
Al Franken’s transformation from Saturday Night Live performer to leading voice of Air America, the nation’s only left-wing talk radio network, is explored in this hilarious, engrossing documentary, featuring such beltway big mouths as Michael Medved, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Moore
American Blackout (USA)
Filmmaker Ian Inaba uses the scandalous treatment of African American votes in the 2000 presidential election as a jumping off point for an exploration of how black political power has been systematically squelched in America.
Black Gold (UK)
From some of the most impoverished farms of an Ethiopian coffee growers' co-operative to the global marketplace, Black Gold scrutinizes the Fair Trade Coffee movement with an even hand and an eye for the facts.
Case of the Grinning Cat (France)
Chronicles the absurd, enlightening details within the unpredictable and passionate world of French political protest
The Chances of the World Changing (USA)
Writer Richard Ogust must move out of the Manhattan penthouse he shares with 1,200 turtles. Thirty truckloads later, he’s relocated his turtles to a warehouse in New Jersey while he sleeps in a nearby cornfield, dreaming of building an institute for extinct species
Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon (USA)
40 years ago, a lumber baron in Philomath, Oregon created a scholarship to provide all of the town’s high school graduates with college tuition. As the area’s high schools become more liberal, the scholarship’s conservative administrators threaten to withdraw funding.
Crossing the Bridge - The Sound of Istanbul (Germany)
Filmmaker Fatih Akin (Head-On) and musician Alexander Hacke explore the diverse musical landscape of Istanbul, finding everything from traditional Turkish music to modern hip hop and electronic music.
Dear Pyongyang (Japan)
Yang Yonghi has a volatile relationship with her parents, steadfast members of a diminishing, proudly pro-Communist faction of Koreans living in Japan.
The Giant Buddhas (Switzerland)
In 1991, the Taliban destroyed a pair of legendary Afghanistan statues. Stemming from that somber premise, Christian Frei’s documentary delves down some surprising avenue in its ruminations on terrorism and intolerance
Gitmo: The New Rules of War (Sweden)
Following the recent unexplained detention of one of their countrymen, a pair of Swedish filmmakers visits the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay.
King Leopold’s Ghost (USA)
This riveting exploration of the roots of colonial exploitation shows the ways in which King Leopold II of Belgium plundered the Congo in the 1800s, putting in place a system of slavery and tyranny that has shaped not just the Congo but the entire continent
Maquilapolis - City Of Factories (USA)
A searing anti-globalization documentary about the plight of the MAQUILADORAS—female workers in Tijiana’s multinational-owned assembly plants who are forced to deal with the hardships of environmental toxins, the abuse of labor rights, housing problems and women’s rights issues
Maria Bethânia: Music is Perfume (Switzerland)
An engaging portrait of Brazil’s feminist icon and first lady of song as she gracefully transitions from rock chick to mature chanteuse.
Maxed Out (USA)
At a time when both household and national debt is at an all-time high, MAXED OUT sheds light on the escalating dilemma of America’s “just charge it” attitude.
Mom’s Apple Pie: The Heart of the Lesbian Mother’s Custody Movement (USA)
Looks at Seattle-based Lesbian Mothers Defence Fund, founded in the early 1970s as a resource for mothers whose children were being legally removed from their care based solely on the fact that they were lesbians.
...More Than 1000 Words (Germany)
Award-winning Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren thrives on covering the occupied territories.
My Country, My Country (USA)
Counting up to the days before the 2005 Iraqi elections, the film paints an intimate portrait of the day-to-day life of Iraqis, focusing on the life of an Iraqi doctor.
The Play (Turkey)
In a remote Turkish village, nine peasant women put on a play based on their own histories.
Playing the News (USA)
Can a video game called KUMA WAR be a new way to engage people on current events, or is it an unethical marketing gimmick that seeks to profit from the Iraq war?
The Power of Nightmares; The Rise of the Politics of Fear (UK)
One of the most provocative political films of the past decade, Emerging Master Adam Curtis’ film essay traces the ideological basis of the “politics of fear” that dominates contemporary government
The Refugee All Stars (Guinea)
In the wake of a violent civil war in Sierra Leone, thousands fled to the neighboring Republic of Guinea. THE REFUGEE ALL STARS is the remarkable story of a group of musicians
Sentenced Home (USA)
After settling in Seattle in the ’80s, three Cambodian refugees were drawn into gang life and ultimately ended up in jail. In the wake of 9/11, Cambodia was pressured to change their policy against accepting deportees, so now these Cambodian Americans are faced with leaving their families and return
Small Town Gay Bar (USA)
In the Deep South, where homosexuals are often neither welcome nor tolerated, small communities have sprung up to form the only gay-friendly environments around.
Smiling in a Warzone (Denmark)
A young Danish idealist fires up her antique plane and heads to Afghanistan after reading about an Afghan girl’s desire to become a pilot
This Film is Not Yet Rated (USA)
Investigates the mysterious ratings board of the Motion Picture Association of America, asking why they feel the need to operate in secret, why big studios receive preferential treatment, why violence is judged less harshly than sex
The Trials of Darryl Hunt (USA)
In 1984, a black North Carolinian teenager was convicted of life in prison for the murder of a young white woman. What transpired over the next 19 years graphically illustrates the holes in the American Justice system.
Who Killed the Electric Car? (USA)
Launched in 1997, the EV-1 was one of the most efficient cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and required little maintenance. Six years later the line was scrapped. What happened?
The World According to Sesame Street (USA)
The innovative children’s show SESAME STREET has long reached beyond the boundaries of our nation. This new documentary shows the challenges in bringing it to such troubled areas as Bangladesh, Kosovo and South Africa,