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Los Angeles Red Squad: The Communist Situation in California

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 28, 2013 9:39 AM
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Travis Wilkerson, one of the more radical and exciting nonfiction cinema essayists working today ("An Injury to One"), has a new feature-length documentary, "Los Angeles Red Squad: The Communist Situation in California," which is having its world premiere at the International Film Festival of Marseilles. I've been a big fan of Wilkerson's ever since "An Injury to One" blew my mind in 2003, having written about the film here and here. The new film, with a running time of 70 minutes, looks to follow in the aesthetic footsteps of "Injury to One," with a idiosyncratic mix of narration, history, and digitally manipulated archival images.

The Pros and Cons of Interactive Storytelling

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 25, 2013 8:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I am not a total convert, but I do see some benefits in the revolutionary new story spaces that go by various monikers, be it transmedia or multi-platform storytelling. That's my conclusion after delving into the new media world for this two-part investigative story for Indiewire: Part 1, "Transmedia is Sexy, But Who's Watching?" focused on several questions about audiences and the industry's interest in new media documentaries, while Part 2 "9 Tips for Interactive Media Producers" examines what makes a transmedia project successful.

"The New Black" and the Global Gay Rights Fight

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 19, 2013 1:53 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The American media likes to suggest that the gay marriage debate is just about over, and that civil rights for the LGBT community is basically a battle that has already been won. (The latest polls suggest that a slim majority of Americans, 51%, are in favor of gay marriage.) But tell that to black folks in many parts of America, or Africans in Uganda or Cameroon, and the reality is a far different and difficult story. In my Docutopia column this week, I examine several films that chronicle the experiences of gay and lesbian black Americans and African Americans.

Lefty Filmmakers Grapple with Left-Wing Backlash

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 12, 2013 1:28 PM
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  • 4 Comments
The left-wing sectarian debates fuming over Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks," well-assembled and dissected by Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com, is also taking place around "Pandora's Promise," Robert Stone's equally controversial and reasonably argued film about the benefits of nuclear power. Jeremy Scahill has also said he's receiving more hate-mail from liberals because of his criticisms of Obama in "Dirty Wars." Why so little love?

"Dirty Wars" Attacks Obama as Foreign Policy Debate Heats Up

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 5, 2013 9:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In a perfect world, one might believe that President Obama's recent foreign policy speeches, calling for an end to "America's perpetual wartime footing" and reopening the debate on the use of drones, came in response to the imminent release of Richard Rowley's timely doc "Dirty Wars," which is opening Friday and explicitly addresses these issues. Do documentaries have that much power? Probably not, but "Dirty Wars" couldn't have arrived at a better time.

The Politics of "World War Z": The "Democracy Now" of Zombiepocalypse Movies?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 4, 2013 4:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Why Indie Films Must Resist Hollywood

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 4, 2013 11:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Back in the year 2007, the independent film world was in the grips of its new-found ascendancy, with huge successes like "Juno," "No Country for Old Men," "Atonement," and 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine." Just prior to its imminent collapse in 2008, the sky didn't seem to be falling; on the contrary, for Indiewood, the sky seemed to be the limit. It was at that time that I wrote a piece called "Why Indie Films Must Resist Hollywood" (at FilmCatcher.com, long defunct, which I recently found again in the vaults of the Internet Archive's WayBackMachine). I wanted to re-post the story, not only to reiterate its message, but also to suggest how some of its argument may be outdated.

A Breakout Year for Black Film? Not Quite.

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 3, 2013 9:23 AM
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  • 7 Comments
After chronicling the struggles of black independent filmmakers to get their movies made recently, in stories for Filmmaker Magazine and this blog, I was surprised to read New York Times reporter Michael Cieply's overly upbeat take on what he calls a "substantial new wave" of African American themed films, which seems to me like an irresponsible and overly rosy characterization of the number of black films in the U.S. marketplace.

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