Conservation as Documentary: ‘Virunga’

When I told three different friends that I’d seen Orlando van Einsiedel’s documentary, ‘Virunga’, their reactions were similar. They knew the film was about a park where gorillas live, but they didn’t know where in Africa the film was made or what the situation was in that country. I was with them before I saw…

‘Gideon’s Army’: Documenting the Justice System

Public defenders uphold the constitutional right of an accused citizen to have defense under the presumption of the court that they are innocent until proven guilty. They exist as the line between the for profit prison system and the constitution itself. The state’s defender (otherwise known as a prosecutor) seeks to prove guilt, which is…

Documentary Reflection: ‘The Square’

The most sinful behavior -if ever there was anything we could truly consider a “sin” about human nature- is that which grows outward like a weed from the belief of entitlement. Sometimes I think that the purpose of society for the last century or so has been to blanket communities under the belief that every…

Documentary: Framing Cultural Violence in ‘The Act of Killing’

‘The Act of Killing’ The way viewers react to Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary ‘The Act of Killing’ comes down to the way each viewer is able to expand their notion of the act of killing. In the liberal, privileged and mono-cultured West, we vaguely, yet virulently, understand murder (especially mass murder) as an unforgivable crime. Abstractly,…

‘20 Feet from Stardom’ Review

From the first moment, ’20 Feet from Stardom’ inhale-exhales devotion. Devotion to a group of mega-talented performers who held up (and still do) the music industry during the come one come all simultaneous golden eras of soul, rock n’ roll, blues, jazz, funk, r&b- decades of human soul blessed vocal support by extraordinary professionals trained…

Ideas of Searching in ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

The first mistake a movie-goer can make is to assume that the way the story they came to see is going to be told in the only way it could have been told. This is particularly true of documentaries, because they are about, before all else, information. Documentarians tell stories by organizing information in their own way, and as with any good…

The Clothes Come On: Documenting Butt Naked’s Redemption

  Re·demp·tion (noun) 1.an act of redeeming  or the state of being redeemed. 2. 3. 4.atonement for guilt.   General Butt Naked Murderer, sadist, cannibal, Liberian tribal leader, devil worshipper, religious advisor, criminal, father, husband, Christian, redeemer. To be redeemed, one must be devoted to deliverance from the sins they have committed, so as to keep them forever in the past. Joshua Milton Blahyi is better known…

Elena Beloff’s Zaritsas: Russian Women in New York

Zaritsas: Russian Women in New York Elena Beloff is a Russian woman who loves living in New York. She came to the city ten years ago as a student and has since found parallel fields as a healer (she is a certified and practicing hypnotist) and filmmaker. In 2010, she debuted a film about Russian women in New York, one…