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A Kalahari Family
Director: John Marshall
Encapsulating over fifty years of Namibian history in stunning visual imagery and first hand storytelling, A Kalahari Family is a five-part series representing a lifetime of research and personal engagement with the Ju/'hoansi (Bushmen) of Nyae Nyae by the acclaimed filmmaker John Marshall.
Jury Award - Athens Film Festival.
Director: José Padilha
In June 2000, Sandro di Nascimento, a disenfranchised young man who had survived a harsh and brutal childhhood in the favelas of Rio, boarded a bus on route 174 and took its passengers hostage.
José Padilha's multi-award winning documentary traces two parallel and equally devastating stories. The dramatic hijacking as it unfolded witnessed by 35 million Brazilian television viewers, and the even more tragic story of Sandro, who in his youth survived one of the most dreadful instances of urban violence in Brazil.
Best Documentary - Sao Paulo Film Festival.
Grand Coral and Best Documentary - Havana International Film Festival.
Capturing The Friedmans
Director: Andrew Jarecki
The Friedmans are a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class American family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking crimes. Caught up in the hysteria and with their Great Neck community in uproar, the family undergoes a media onslaught.
The film follows their story - from the public’s perspective and through unique footage of the family in crisis, shot contemporaneously by family members inside the Friedman house.
Winner Grand Jury Prize - Sundance Film Festival.
Director: Yoav Shamir
Three million Palestinians live in the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Scattered throughout the region are dozens of checkpoints where the paths of Israeli soldiers and Palestinians continually converge. This extraordinary documentary looks at the destructive impact of enforced boundaries on both societies.
Best Feature - International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Since Vietnam, war has been transmitted by television into living rooms and what is perceived there can have a powerful impact on public support for military engagements. Jehane Noujaim's startlingly courageous Control Room provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq war, courtesy of Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news broadcaster. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian casualties, the station showed the world everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.
In Noujaim's film, Al Jazeera is portrayed as the home base of dedicated journalists, whose passion for truth and open information are easily the equal of their American counterparts.
Grand Jury Prize - Full Frame Documentary Festival.
FIPRESCI Award - Best Documentary - Sydney Film Festival.
Sami Saif and Phie Ambo
Abandoned by his father at a young age, Arab-Danish filmmaker Sami Saif embarks on an epic personal search for answers. Assisted by his girlfriend Phie Ambo, Sami documents the gripping and tense process of finding his father in the face of fear, insecurity and doubt.
Using his camera as the most important witness in his search, Sami exposes both humour and heartfelt emotion during gut-wrenching telephone calls and meditation on his personal life. Eventually tracking down members of his family in Yemen, his inspiring search reveals that the most basic and universal need for attachment, familiarity and common bonds can be found in even the most foreign of lands.
Best Documentary - International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Directors: Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh
Ever since the capture and killing of Che Guevara in 1967, Ciro Bustos, Guevara’s former lieutenant has been held responsible. Now for the first time Bustos tells his side of the story. Imaginatively executed with the pace and drama of a spy thriller this is an investigative documentary par excellence.
Best Foreign Documentary - Havana International Film Festival.
First prize - International Documentary Film Festival, Brazil.
Sisters In Law
UK / Cameroon 2005 104 min subtitles
Dirs: Kim Longinotto & Florence Ayisi
With very little pomp or ceremony, and buckets of sensitive humanity, dispensing common sense justice, two women make an empowering difference to the people of Kumba, Cameroon.
C.I.C.A.E. Award Cannes Film Festival 2005
The Trials of Henry Kissinger
Directors: Eugene Jarecki and Alex Gibney
This documentary examines the political machinations of the most famous and influential US diplomat in history, Henry Kissinger – Nobel Peace Prize recipient – now accused of war crimes. This thought provoking film is methodical in weighing up the evidence against this 20th Century political icon. Historical facts, papers and footage are supported by extensive interviews placing him specifically in the hot seat regarding his influence on horrific events in Cambodia, Vietnam and Chile.
Terrifying in its implications the documentary questions the validity of the US currently claiming the moral high ground.
Amnesty International DOEN Award International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
To Live Is Better Than To Die
Director: Weijun Chen
In the 1990s, farmers in Henan Province, central China, were suddenly swept up in the fervour of making quick money by selling blood. Thousands of eager local peasants joined the rush. However, due to poor sanitary conditions, more than six out of ten were infected with HIV, as a random survey indicated.
This is a heartbreaking story from Wenlou, a small village in Central China where 60 percent of the villagers are infected with HIV. The director of this film, Weijun Chen, spent months in the village with farmer Ma Shengyi and his family.
Both he and his wife are infected with HIV from selling blood. Two of his three children are also infected.
Two Towns of Jasper
Directors: Whitney Dow and Marco Williams
On June 7, 1998, a sleepy east Texas town awoke to the news of a horrifying crime. James Byrd Jr, an African-American was viciously beaten, chained to a pick-up truck and dragged until his body disintegrated.
The filmmakers took to the streets during the murderers' trial, using segregated crews only to get the views of a town divided.
The resulting portrait in Two Towns of Jasper is an explicit account of the racial divide in America - a disturbing montage of contrasting realities that somehow inhabit the same place and time.
Official Selection - Sundance Film Festival.
Director Christian Frei
In one of the world’s countless crisis areas, surrounded by suffering, death, violence and chaos, photographer James Nachtwey searches for the picture he thinks he can publish. A film about a committed shy man who is considered one of the bravest and most important war photographers of our time – but hardly fits the cliché of the hard boiled war veteran.
Best Documentary Feature - Oscar Nominee.
Cuba: An African Odyssey
Dir: Jihan El-Tahri
France / Egypt 2007 120min
Chronicling an untold section of African history, this enthralling documentary plots the influence of Cuba in Africa’s political landscape. During the Cold War from 1961 to 1991, the US and USSR jockeyed over resources, authority and ideology on the African continent. Determined to halt the US influence and assist revolutionaries, Cuba played a pivotal role in the independence struggles, beginning with Che Guevara’s mission into Zaire to avenge the death of Lumumba and then Cuba’s support of Amilcar Cabril’s insurgence in Guinea-Bissau. It explores the escalation of military assistance to 300,000 Cuban troops in Angola, the battle of Cuito Cranavale, the demise of apartheid and South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, and seeks to explain why Fidel Castro was the very first person that Nelson Mandela visited on his release from Robben Island.
Awards: Olivier Masson Prize, Sunny Side of the Docs 2006; Best Director, Vue d’Afrique, Montreal 2007, Jury Mention, Fespaco 2007
VHS Kahloucha Tunisia 2006
Dir: Néjib Belkadhi
80 min subtitled
Seeking some laughter and scenes from home, a group of illegal Tunisian immigrants in Italy badger anyone with a TV so that they can view the latest film from cult filmmaker, writer, director, action hero Moncef Kahloucha.
Back home in Kazmet, a poor district of Sousse, Tunisia, the house painter Kahloucha is in the throes of making his next film: Tarzan of the Arabs. Using equal measures of madness and magic, Kahloucha draws heavily on the beneficence of the local populace, negotiates social boundaries and strains family ties in his determination to bring light relief to the residents of his poor neighbourhood.
Hilarious, energetic and touching, whilst portraying an unobserved view of Tunisian life, this unexpected joy aptly displays what you can achieve if you truly believe in what you are doing.
Dir: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott
and Joel Bakan
Canada 2004 video 145min
Dissecting the personality of corporations as a legal "Person" with penetrating precision, the directors of this thought-provoking documentary come up with irrefutable evidence that these "Persons" are, in fact, psychopaths. But, this is not the mass slating of single corporate entities (although many are cited) -it is an investigation into why the "body" corporate has such profound global political, commercial and psychological influence.
Cohesive, intelligent and well balanced, the film expresses the views of anti-corporate activists and meets the exploited, just as it invites the Corporations to pose their side of the argument. CEOs and corporate insiders account for their past and present misconduct in the name of the shareholders and profit motivation. But unfortunately, paralleled against damning evidence, their moral and responsible track-record as citizens is still out with the jury.
NFB Best Documentary Award - Calgary Film Festival