Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

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[There's a special place in my heart today for this concept, paying dues -- a lot of dues.  You see I've been at this writing game for many a moon.  More specifically: fiction writing, screenwriting and the like.  Today I received an offer from a publisher for my new sci-fi action thriller novel.  It may not be out for another year, but it is a turning point.  Them's a lot of dues paid. -JG]

 

A video essay on gaining expertise, and the death of patience in the modern age.

Part Two

Part One

Satan’s Origin Story

Posted: April 12, 2014 in -
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The first appearances of the big bad one in religious mumbo jumbo.  This is where you got your warped ideas about good and evil…

 

A modern Faustian tale: Hell of a Deal.

 

 

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The children of Chernobyl… forever

These authors will donate the royalties of their works as a contribution to allow the publication of a DvD-book which tells the story of the Chernobyl accident and its consequences. This book, written collectively, will be the basis for aHUMANITARIAN OPERATION for the benefit of children exposed to radiations and living in contaminated areas.We would like you to share our committment by making a DONATION-SUBSCRIPTION to CHERNOBYL FOREVER.”

 

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The Human Cost of Electronics

 

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The controversy over the film is addressed, and the film defended by Indonesian film student Christine Phang, whose parents lived through the genocide.

THE ACT OF KILLING: MY FAMILY LIVED THROUGH IT

Everyone seems to ignore US / western support for these mass murderers.  That leaves a gaping hole in the history and in the understandings of the masses.   After 1959 the US gave $64 million in military funding to buy their way into the Indonesian military.  The US has a dedicated department of dirty tricks assigned to every single nation on earth.  It has since the early 1950s.   Every so-called “revolution” and every coup seems to have US covert actions and funding involved somewhere along the line.  This is OLD news, not new.  It should be common knowledge to everyone on this planet, as the practice is so widespread and consistent.

 

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In my last Musical Sunday collection I included a song, “Hey Man Nice Shot” that I don’t believe actually reflects reality.  So, to set the record straight, or perhaps to muddy the waters further, I need to talk about Kurt and Courtney.

This is not a biopic.  This is not a fan film.  This is an accusation of murder.

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Courtney Love hired a private detective to find out why Kurt was missing, and she chose Tom Grant from the phone book.

Tom Grant is convinced that Cobain was murdered.  This documentary names the murderer.*  It was in all likelihood a conspiracy, and the motive was a big pile of money.  The world, however, tells a different story about Cobain, the story that was far easier to believe.

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This brave documentary opened my eyes as to what the medium could do.  It could dig harder and challenge the whole world’s beliefs.  Pretty strong stuff, and the full film is available streaming free now on Snag.

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Here’s the trailer:

* The film version on Snag Films appears to have cut the revelation of the identity of the alleged murderer.  This information comes from El Duce, Eldon Hoke, who mentions, “Alan” and stops short there.  El Duce winds up hit by a train the following week.

UPDATE

There is an alleged “Hoax” which Tom Grant disputes concerning a character named “Allen Wrench,” who claims to have been the killer.  Wrench has some crime scene details wrong.  However, there is a possibility that this Allen may be involved somehow, but not the actual trigger man.  The naming by Eldon Hoke, who just happened to not notice an oncoming train shortly afterward, suggests foul play.

This is Tom Grant’s take.

 

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The Square: Documenting Egypt’s revolution

by Eric Wahlberg

The Square, a documentary about Egypt’s January 2011 uprising, provides glimpses of most of the players but gives short shrift to the Muslim Brotherhood, the main player that was then targeted by the deep state headed by the military.

The Square, the Academy Award-nominated Egyptian-American documentary film by Jehane Noujaim, depicts events in Egypt from January 2011 focusing on Tahrir Square. It is neither “Egyptian” nor “American” in any meaningful sense, as the Egyptian “government” has banned it, Noujaim’s mother is American, and she was raised more in Kuwait, has lived in Boston since 1990, and as such is far from typically American in outlook.

Furthermore, she financed and produced the film independently, raising funds from kickstarter.com, where supporters around the world can pledge funds to help finance such projects, and it premiered on Netflix, again for worldwide distribution (except, of course, Egypt). It is very much a film of the new international age, where nationalism is less and less meaningful, where forces of both repression and resistance are increasingly international.

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Given these handicaps/advantages, Noujaim has produced a remarkable documentary, which will surely stand as the most powerful and riveting expose of what lay behind the immediate upheavals that began in 2011 and which will continue into the foreseeable future in Egypt.

This is not to say that it is objective, since that is impossible anyway, as any journalism, any writing, any film inevitably reflects the standpoint of the author. So it is no surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood, though unavoidably prominent throughout the film (at least as a specter), is given short shrift. Or that the secular youth dominate the film and are portrayed as the main force and the most appealing protagonists of the revolution.

What astounds the viewer, whether secular or Islamic, is the military and police violence against the people, both Muslims and Christians. It is too easy to forget their overwhelming responsibility for the post-revolutionary violence—in league, of course, with the old guard and the openly criminal elements in Egyptian society.

By highlighting some of the worst episodes of violence in the past three years and winning prominence for her film, Noujaim has done a great service. She has made it impossible for thinking people to ignore the military’s bloody past and present actions. The film uses actual footage of security force atrocities to document the unceasing and unapologetic recourse to murder and torture by the military and police.

Interspersed with these horrible scenes are interviews with senior military figures, one of whom smugly admits that the so-called revolution was actually carried out by the military itself to prevent Mubarak from passing on the presidency to his son Jamal, and that when it is time, it will be cut short. His prophetic words were echoed by worried revolutionaries, who were constantly looking over their shoulders, expecting a coup, and in the end—unbelievably and to their shame—actually calling for one.

This plot was well-known even before the events of January–Feburary 2011. But the revolution seemed to take events out of the military’s control. Suddenly the military was faced with a mass uprising, not so easy to quell as they thought. How would it rein in these powerful forces that it had unleashed—to put the genie back in the bottle? Egyptians quickly matured politically, demanding genuine elections and, as soon became clear, an Islamic government. What was the poor military to do?

Here, The Square pleads “Not my job!” sticking to its human interest angle. Fair enough. We can fill in the blanks: in addition to its ongoing episodic violence, intended to intimidate everyone, the military hobbled Islamic activists at every step, disbanding the elected parliament and stripping the president of his powers, in hopes that they could cow them into accepting a subservient role in the new order.

When it became clear to all—Islamic groups, Christians, old guard, secuarlists—that Islamic groups were ready and able to chart a new course for Egypt based on the Quran, the military’s only weapon was … weapons. Up the violence! Kill, torture, terrorize, and then, when Egyptians of all stripes were pleading for “security”, take control. Very clever.

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This clear scenario is only hinted at by The Square. Most of the film’s protagonists spout the nonsense that the Brotherhood was in a cynical pact with the military, and the only Brotherhood actor featured in the film is Magdy Ashour, a dissident within the Brotherhood who disobeys his higher-ups defiantly at crucial moments, even disowning the Brotherhood at one point. No legitimate Brotherhood spokesman articulates the views held by most members—that the MB was pursuing a more patient, realistic, and less confrontational path to civilian democracy.

The film was originally released in January 2012 and immediately won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary at the Sundance film festival and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. With the July 2013 coup, Noujaim returned to Tahrir to update the film, swallowing the secularist line about “the largest demonstration in history” precipitating the coup and actually celebrating the coup (through the joy of the film’s actors — excluding Ashour). The film ends with the naive secular hero, ex-street kid Ahmed Hassan, phoning Ashour, traumatized, tortured and in prison, to wish him well and say there is nothing personal in their disagreement over the coup. Crocodile tears.

Noujaim, as channeled by Ahmed and the other main protagonist, British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdallah, while not happy with the coup in retrospect, rationalizes it as a step toward their goal of a nice, secular democratic Egypt, a lovely fantasy, which the cynical military and the Brotherhood both know to be a false goal.

The Pinochet of Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, overthrew the legitimate government headed by President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, ordered the slaughter of thousands, and has since been promoted to Field Marshal by his quisling interim President Adly Mansour. El-Sisi has never actually commanded troops in any “war,” except the war against his own people, making the title ludicrous. Yes, Pinochet became president of Chile and continued his reign of terror for 17 years, but he was eventually arrested and is remembered now as a cruel and unjust tyrant, not Chile’s savior. Read your history, Sisi.

Noujain did not make this logical conclusion, though we, the viewers, can. Like all cultural artifacts, The Square is a product of its environment, its maker, and demands an intelligent viewing. It is to be recommended as a surprisingly honest depiction of events. The fact that it raises the ire of just about everyone shows that it is not pulling any punches. Only the secular socialists can enthusiastically commend it, but then that is Noujain’s milieu. We can at least be thankful to her for providing a precious compilation of historic footage, interspersed with “the human stories of specific individuals caught up in the revolt”, but especially for revealing the military monster eating away at the heart of the revolution.

“This film is sort of a love letter to those ideas that were put forth at the start of the revolution. Some may say that what is happening now is a tragedy, but it is still an open-ended story.” With the deletion of “some may say that,” Noujain has the pulse of Egypt’s revolution. Good luck to Noujain at the Oscars.

A version of this appeared at Crescent International

 

 

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Nick Fraser writes in The Guardian:

So let me be as upfront as I can. I dislike the aesthetic or moral premise of The Act of Killing.

…I’d feel the same if film-makers had gone to rural Argentina in the 1950s, rounding up a bunch of ageing Nazis and getting them to make a film entitled “We Love Killing Jews”.

What’s not in the film:

The American Embassy in Jakarta supplied the Indonesian military with lists of up to 5,000 suspected Communists.[24] Although some PKI branches organised resistance and reprisal killings, most went passively to their deaths.[25] Not all victims were PKI members. Often the label “PKI” was used to include anyone to the left of the Indonesian National Party (PNI).[26] In other cases victims were suspected or simply alleged Communists.[10]

… Bradley Simpson, Director of the Indonesia/East Timor Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, claims that “the United States was directly involved to the extent that they provided the Indonesian Armed Forces with assistance that they introduced to help facilitate the mass killings,” which included the CIA providing small arms from Thailand, and the US government providing monetary assistance and limited amounts of communications equipment, medicine and a range of other items, including shoes and uniforms, to the Indonesian military.

-Wikipedia

www.indiewire.com

Blood in the Face

Yay for ignorant racism.

“We’re more Nazi than the Nazis.”

 

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“People get rich complaining about this shit.  Complaining is a respected industry.”

This is a mockumentary about the fashion industry, that’s rather edgy in its black comedy.  (A different film of the same title was released in 1999.)  A new top fashion model endures the depravity of the business, but not so well it turns out.  She dies right in the middle of her biggest photo shoot.

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With her death the centerpiece of the film, the nutty and exploitative cast of characters are confronted about what they do and why.  This is not a well-loved film, and yet it was far more interesting in concept than the Robert Altman fashion industry film Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter).

Many issues are touched upon, including the nature of for-profit documentaries themselves.  Everyone has an angle to play, especially when the dead model is used to sell clothes, post-mortem.  Turns out that supermodels are worth more dead than alive.

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The blitzkrieg of artsy bullshit and rationalization which follows calls into question not just these industries, but the consumers who are ultimately responsible for them.  That includes the movie audience.  It’s discomforting by design, intended to disturb.  That’s probably why it remains under the radar…

 

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‘This is for fighting. This is for fun’: Stanley Kubrick directs ‘Full Metal Jacket’