The infamous street artist Banksy premiered Exit Through The Gift Shop at Sundance last night, which was part of Sundance's "Secret Spotlight" series. In short, we enjoyed it, but there's a lot to say about it this movie, so check back later for our review. The title itself refers to Disneyland and Disney World's engineered design of having guests exit attractions right through the gift shop, so as to better serve all of their merchandising needs. Banksy, whose real identity is an extremely well-kept secret, may or may not have been at the screening last night (how would we even know?), but he did send a letter which Sundance Director of Programming John Cooper read aloud to the audience. Read on for the full text of the mysterious letter, keep your eyes peeled for our reviews ... and for more mysterious street art to appear.
Tag Archives | Documentary
It's a new week, a new year, and some, erroneously believe a new decade. What's not new is the stranglehold the banks have on our economy, quietly stashing billions for more bonuses, while still restricting the flow of credit. Bad loans have been supplanted by no loans. Writers on the left continue to go after one bankster — the one we love to hate: Goldman Sachs, which has become the poster child for profiteering and even serving bad coffee in their cafeterias. Most ignore the rest of the avaricious industry which is still volatile with big pockets of insolvency and dependence of government bailout funds. While the media has recently focused on the terror threat posed in Detroit, the terrifying reality in Detroit is generally ignored. The Associated Press reports...
Few who saw the documentary Food Inc. will forget the scene involving Beef Products Inc., a South Dakota company that makes a widely used hamburger filler product. No other industrial-meat company allowed director Robert Kenner to enter the shop floor with his cameras. In sharp contrast, a Beef Products executive invited the Food Inc. crew to record his company’s inner workings. The man is clearly proud of his company’s product. “We think we can lessen the incidence of E. Coli 0157:H7,” he says. The scene, a clip of which appears above, features the Beef Products executive talking over a scene straight out of Chaplin’s Modern Times: a vast network of steaming tubes, with people in protective gear and face masks wandering about fussing with dials. Evidently, scraps of cow flesh, swept up from slaugtterhouse floors and pulverized into a kind of paste, are moving through the tubes, subjected to a lashings of ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria.The scene ends with those heavily protected workers carefully packing uniform flesh-colored blocks into boxes. “This is our finished product,” the executive declares. He then claims that the product ends up in 70 percent of hamburgers served in the U.S. “In five years we’ll be in 100 percent,” he predicts.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.”
– Political economist Frederic Bastiat, The Law (1850)
“I used to think of Wall Street as a financial center.
I now think of it as a crime scene.”
– Filmmaker Danny Schechter, Plunder (2009)
I am an old-fashioned “follow-the-money” journalist. As I’m writing this, most economists have learned to downplay fear and panic and up-play the “resilience” of the market. It’s a belief that all we need is confidence and then, all will be right with the world. Sadly, journalism has gone along with this charade by first denying the crisis and then avoiding investigating its architects and beneficiaries.
Three years ago, by choosing to be an “investigative” journalist, I made the film In Debt We Trust, with the idea in mind that I was examining “America before the Bubble bursts” (the subtitle of that film).… Read the rest
In the Los Angeles Times:
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It may not have the dramatic sweep of “Inherit the Wind,” but a local court case involving a documentary film that addresses the origins of life on Earth has bigwigs in the museum world talking.
The California Science Center, located in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park, has been sued for allegedly canceling an October screening of a documentary that criticizes Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
A group called the American Freedom Alliance has sued the L.A. museum, claiming that the center violated both the 1st Amendment and a contract to rent the museum’s Imax theater when it nixed the screening of “Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record.”
The AFA, which sued the museum in L.A. Superior Court, is seeking punitive damages and compensation for financial losses, as well as a legal declaration from the court that the science center violated the United States Constitution and cannot refuse the AFA the right to rent its facilities for future events.
The film investigates the life of legendary beat author and American icon, William S. Burroughs. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century. William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This extremely personal documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.
Now that the comics industry has overtaken film, its outstanding writers are starting to step up to the biopic bar. Subversive brainiac Grant Morrison is up next, with a dedicated documentary due in time for next year’s Comic-Con International. “He has an uncanny ability to tell stories that are both accessible and progressively avant-garde,” explained indie director Patrick Meaney, whose untitled Grant Morrison documentary, previewed in the exclusive clips above and below, will analyze the writer’s storied run for Marvel and DC Comics on standout titles like The Invisibles, X-Men and Final Crisis as well as more esoteric series like The Filth and Flex Mentallo. The relative obscurity of the latter two may not last long, as Hollywood roots around for comic books to follow those from Alan Moore and Frank Miller into cinematic life. “Most ‘civilians’ that I talk to about the project still don’t know who Grant Morrison is,” Meaney told Wired.com, “but Moore is definitely a name they recognize, as is Frank Miller. I feel like we could soon be seeing a bunch of Morrison film projects in the not-too-distant future.” (Read More: Wired)
Why is it that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences always makes such boring choices for its Oscar nominations? The procedure is a little different for documentary films, where they first come up with a ‘shortlist.’ Needless to say, as a distributor of documentaries Disinformation would have suggested some other films, such as Robert Greenwald’s timely and compelling Rethink Afghanistan and two personal favorites of mine, Anvil: The Story of Anvil and We Live In Public. Please place your alternative lists in the comments section below. Here’s the story from Variety:
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced the 15 docus shortlisted for the documentary feature Oscar. The Academy said 89 films had originally qualified for the selection.
Several titles that have already had successful theatrical runs were on the list, including “The Cove,” directed by Louie Psihoyos; “Food, Inc.,” directed by Robert Kenner; “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” directed by Matt Tyrnauer; and “Every Little Step,” directed by James D.
It’s amazing that at least six years into the golden era of advocacy documentary filmmaking, a major newspaper with a thriving arts and culture section should feel the need to ask this question, but apparently there are some journalists and filmmakers who think any documentary film that does not try to be ‘objective’ somehow fails to deserve to even be categorized as ‘documentary.’
As the distributor of over fifty documentary films (can you believe that?!? Disinformation has been busy since our first DVD release in 2004…), here at The Disinformation Company we feel that the advocacy films we release are disseminating information and opinion to counter the mainstream and establishment views on the issues at hand (usually our filmmakers are reacting against a government or corporate whitewash). The advent of cheap video cameras and editing software has made it possible for some very bad docs to be made (believe me, we see a lot of them), but they’re still documentaries.… Read the rest