FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 4-11
Tax Form Lies
Values and Interests
Sex and Security
WSF in Africa
Social Media Role
Cause of Fiscal Crisis
Gaza in Crisis
Zaps - 04/11
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Sundance Film Festival 2011 Brings on the Non-Fiction
Every year the Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah presents independent films from around the world. While some of these features often come with studio backing, the documentaries, for the most part, are more independent of the studio system. Often their subject matter is controversial. While Sundance 2011 had a couple of not-so-independent documentaries (e.g. Morgan Spurlock's The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), there were plenty of bold, important, nonfiction features.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – Told with an occasional Swedish bent, Göran Hugo Olsson's moving documentary uses rare archival footage of leading African American activists, artists and thinkers to reexamine the evolution of the Black Power Movement. As timeless as ever, the words of Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Angela Davis still hold considerable weight after all these years of struggle.
Crime After Crime – In 1983 Deborah Peagler was sentenced to 25 years for the murder of her abusive boyfriend. During her incarceration, a California law paved the way for two rookie attorneys to come to her aid. When they found evidence that could set her free, some powerful people in the Corrections Department did not care for being corrected and stuck to their guns. Purchased by the Oprah Winfrey Network during the festival, this documentary is an emotional roller coaster ride through the California court system.
Hot Coffee – Speaking of corrupt legal practices, Susan Saladoff uses the notorious McDonald's coffee lawsuit as the genesis for her tragic tale into the corporate takeover of the courts. A scalding documentary on tort reform, business-friendly judges, the public relations machine hired by corporations to demonize a victim, and the general ignorance of a public frequently up in arms about "frivolous" lawsuits, one should not be surprised that the machinations to damn this documentary are all ready to target Saladoff and the film upon release. Unfortunately, unlike many of the progressive documentaries at Sundance, this one does not seem to offer much hope.
The Interrupters – Speaking of hope, in the latest film by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), former gang members attempt to interrupt the violence in their Chicago territories by any peaceful means necessary. This violence includes things like: two brothers who want to kill each other, a teenager seething with anger, another ready for revenge. Gaining impressive access into the lives of his subjects, this 190-minute documentary is at once personal and epic.
Miss Representation – In her 85-minute documentary, writer/director Jennifer Siebel Newsom makes it clear that females, now more than ever, are objectified in mainstream media. She documents the ways that this is reaching and teaching a whole new generation of women that their value rests in the eyes of others. One of the damning results is that more girls are depressed. Not only are they depressed, girls are learning to compete against other girls—usually for some guy's attention. Fortunately, the documentary, which has been picked up for distribution, offers ways in which women, if they want to improve their lot in this country (as well as their daughters'), can start banding together and getting actively involved in politics.
Position Among the Stars – Winner of the Special Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2011, previous Sundance winner (Shape of the Moon, 2005) Leonard Retel Helmrich takes us into the Jakarta slums of Indonesia. Focusing on the Shamsuddin Family, Retel's "single shot cinema" continues his microcosmic illustrations of a country filled with corruption, riddled with addiction and conflicts between religions, an increasing disparity of wealth, and how one family copes with the modernization of a country. Amazingly insightful and made with remarkably unobtrusive filmmaking, the documentary is a perfect example of cinéma vérité.
Sing Your Song – Susanne Rostock's documentary is a glowing tribute to entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte. Inspired by the radical African American actor Paul Robeson and his experiences in a segregated country, Belafonte broke barriers in Hollywood the way he did in the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—sometimes bringing the two together toward significant social progress.
Women Art Revolution – In the 1960s, the feminist art movement exploded to confront the patriarchal tide that had swept America into the illegal invasion of Vietnam, young soldiers into early graves, and women into continued second class citizenship. From there, one of the most important art movements in American history has taken on new and challenging forms. Forty years in the making, writer-director-producer-editor Lynn Hershman Leeson (Strange Culture) shot hundreds of hours of interviews with artists, historians, curators, and critics who have made or supported the movement. This is top choice material about feminism, art, resistance, and women who are unapologetically non-submissive to a sexist society.
John Esther writes about culture and politics via cinema. His work has appeared in Z Magazine and numerous other publications.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.