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Do Documentaries Really Matter?

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After the intense (and enjoyable) experience of sitting through at least 15 documentary feature films over 4 days at the just concluded AFI-Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, the question organically arose: do documentaries really matter? As someone who trained in documentary filmmaking techniques (and who made a few, best to be forgotten non-fiction nothings) and an admirer of the stamina, grit and determination of the documentary filmmaker, my answer appeared more hopeful than det...

Human Rights Watch Film Festival Seeks "Accountability and Justice"

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Last July, the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch put out a hefty report drawn from its prior two decades of watching dogs in some 20 countries. Called Selling Justice Short, the dossier showed why accountability was a good thing for peace and, if nothing else, could help heal victims by acknowledging their anguish. I didn't read it – nor likely did you – but the Human Rights Watch Film Festival supplies some visual Cliff's Notes. This year it gives witness to human rights violations ...

Documentaries At The Crossroads

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  by Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor As SILVERDOCS, the nation's most prominent documentary film festival, begins to hit its stride, it is worth mentioning that the documentary film has not had the charmed life at the box office as we saw earlier in the decade. While not every film can hope to reach the stratosphere of FAHRENHEIT 911 (which had a record-shattering $120 million international box office gross in 2004), the recent crop of documentaries coming to theaters ...

The Fog Of The Iraq War

 Friday, September 7--------September is a month of decision for the US policy in Iraq. Next week, General Petraeus, the head army honcho supervising the "surge" of additional troops on the ground in Iraq, will make his long awaited report to the US Congress about the state of the War. As has been noted in newspapers and on television programs both in the US and around the world, the patience of the American people is at its breaking point, and politicians from both the opposition and...

Michael Moore's "Sicko" Reactions

Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" opened Saturday in Cannes and reactions are mixed, often based on the viewer's home country. The film adresses how the United States' health care system works, and why this world power of a country has such a bad one.  It shows the birth of the sytem starting with President Nixon, and a large part of the film is devoted to describing how the US Congress passed a law that essentially makes it so this system- one that makes it impossib...

The Costly Price of the Iraq War

Saturday, June 17----As the US Congress debated this week on the future of the war in Iraq, four documentaries presented at the SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival provide a more in-depth understanding of the cost of this bloody conflict to the American economy, the American morale and America’s standing in the world. While the Bush Administration offers platitudes of bringing Western style democracy to the Middle East, the true politics of that region are “petro politics...

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