Tag Archives | Documentaries

Does Making Films Help Make Change?

President Obama on The Daily Show closeThere has been a major shift in media culture as most TV networks have abandoned long-form information programming. In these times, with Twitter playing a big part in disseminating news, TV has to be punchy, quick and visual. The age of media mergers has seen showbiz merging with news biz, and soundbites have become shorter as the newscast story count rises.

Significantly, the best TV criticism of these trends in the US appears in a nightly program on the Comedy Central channel. But ultimately, there is nothing funny about the way a media system – intended to bolster a democratic discourse – contributes to its decline.

News is increasingly becoming more about the image than the information – an approach to “coverage” that is at its core tabloid in its sensibilities, often intended for a memorable emotional impact that will boost media ratings and revenues. The race for “breaking news” is breaking our ability to understand the context of events.… Read the rest

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PBS: Independent Lens: ‘Seeking Asian Female’

Debbie Lum’s ‘Seeking Asian Female’ follows the surprising romance of Steven and Sandy — an aging white man obsessed with marrying any Asian woman and the young Chinese bride he finds on the internet. Debbie, a Chinese American filmmaker, documents and narrates with healthy doses of humor and reflection, from the early stages of Steven’s search for an Asian bride, through the moment Sandy sets foot in America for the first time, to a year into their precarious union. Global migration, Chinese-American relations and the perennial battle of the sexes, weigh in on the fate of marriage in this eccentric love story.
This version of ‘Seeking Asian Female’ was edited for time allowed. You can purchase the full 90 minute film here.

Watch Seeking Asian Female on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

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Psychedemia

On the 70th anniversary of the first intentional LSD trip, a compelling new documentary film about the academic study of psychedelic drugs is released.

Psychedemia was the first academic conference funded by an American university to explicitly focus on the risks and benefits of psychedelic experience. Ph.D’s, M.D.’s, M.A’s, graduate students and lay folk from all walks of life convened at the University of Pennsylvania over the 27th-30th of September 2012 to present new research addressing the historical and potential influences of psychedelics on knowledge production, health, and creativity. The four day event brought together scientists, artists, journalists, historians and philosophers from more than 10 countries for an Ivy League convocation unprecedented not only in view of its controversial subject matter, but in its unparalleled inter-disciplinary scope.

Directed and Edited by two-time Emmy Award winner Vann K. Weller and Drew Knight, the documentary is being dedicated to the Public Domain to be freely used for any purpose as an intellectual and cultural artifact – broadcast directly through YouTube.… Read the rest

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Sate Your Documentary Addiction

I’m overburdened with media! I’ve a pile of books to read, news to collate, new music to parse and podcasts to digest. My Netflix queue overfloweth. And if I ever get time to devour something in my free time, sadly, it usually isn’t the pure escapism of fiction. I think I’ve been reading non-fiction and watching documentaries for so long, my brain is now wired to be impatient with what should be delicious candy.

My problem is that I continue to welcome all recommendations from friends, co-workers, DJs, online sources, journalists and Disinfonauts. But I am thankful that the terse and listographic nature of the internet, as well as the myriad of sources for content organization, have actually streamlined this process. A digital native, I irrationally worry that I’ll be missing some current event or corner of the world’s many subcultures.

I’ll die before I give up on trying to subsume it all into my subconscious!… Read the rest

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A True Story About a False Prophet: Kumaré

What happens when a thoroughly secular second-generation Indian-American decide to grow his hair and beard long, put on a robe and beads and present himself to spiritually lost Westerners as a Guru? Vikram Gandhi decided to find out. The results are funny, but more than a little heartbreaking. Arizona New Agers flock to his side, finding profundity in his every word and asking few to no questions about where the young spiritual teacher "Kumaré" they idolized came from and where he was taking them. Their insistence on interpreting his message of "illusion" as metaphor ultimately blinds them to the truth that he is telling them: He's a fake, and that they don't need a guru at all. You can find Kumaré on Netflix Instant and a variety of other video streaming services now. Learn more about the film here.
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A Triple Bill of Deception

Via orwellwasright.
Sometimes you watch something with a premise so implausible, so outrageous it has to be true. Some things remind you of the reality of the human condition: our willingness to accept and live lies; the ease with which we can be deceived and manipulated even when everything points to a con. It is hard to say whether this psychological trait is a product of gullibility and stupidity. Perhaps it is neither - perhaps it says more about our readiness to accept things at face value based on the assumption that people are basically decent and wouldn't tell such obvious lies. More than a few people have found out the hard way the naïveté of this outlook, as the documentaries The Imposter and Catfish and the film based on a true story Compliance clearly show. The Imposter is a textbook example of such a premise that, were it a work of fiction, you'd probably switch it off for being too far-fetched. Three years after the disappearance of 13 year old Texan Nicholas, he is found alive half way around the world in Spain. He tells a story of kidnap and torture and is returned to his family in the States, who appear to be oblivious to the increasing number of glaring inconsistencies with the son who disappeared and the teenager before them sporting stubble, a different appearance and a European accent. Their unquestioning acceptance of this rather obvious imposter is as notable as the audacity of the con itself.
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Four Documentaries on Cannabis: the basics, the economics, the history, and the benefits

via chycho

A lot of documentaries have been produced on cannabis over the last few years and I have no doubt that many more will most likely be produced in the future, especially now that the battle to end prohibition has kicked into high gear.

The focus of these documentaries varies vastly, and it’s sometimes hard to know beforehand if what you are about to watch will satisfy your curiosity. There are overlaps between the works, understandably so since the central theme of all of them is cannabis, however, the ones that do standout are the ones that emphasize certain details of the story. Four of these documentaries are embedded below.

In the first we address some of the basic issues at hand by taking a tour with a very pleasant and delightful young man. The second is about the business of getting high, centered on the marijuana trade industry in British Columbia, Canada.… Read the rest

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‘The Union: The Business Behind Getting High’

In advance of my DisinfoCast interview with Adam Scorgie, I'd like to share his well-known documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High with our readers. Scorgie and company were kind enough to upload the full version to YouTube. Many of you may have seen this, but if not, get ready for an infuriating but enlightening look at the hypocrisy and ineffectiveness of the United States' continuing prohibition against marijuana.
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