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Russian Film Critics Protest Iranian Film Week

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 30, 2012 8:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In Moscow, tomorrow night (October 1), several prominent Russian film critics will picket the opening night of a film series of Iranian movies, co-sponsored by Russian and Iranian Ministries of Culture. Five films will be shown. The guest of honor, according to a press release, is the infamous director Parviz Sheikh Tadi, whose film “The Saturday Hunter” has been criticized for its depiction of extreme radicalism in Judaism (which the film's producer had called “the Jewish Talibanism currently controlling the world.”) Just what the Middle East needs right now, huh?

Healthcare Docs Face Crowded Marketplace in Trying to Remedy the System

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 26, 2012 11:34 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If Iraqumentaries dominated the nonfiction form half a decade ago, and the global economic crisis has been the de rigueur topic of late, a new subject is currently coming into favor: the state of America’s healthcare system. This month alone, three documentaries are being released that touch on the dire state of the medical industry and Americans’ not-so-well-being, as I report in this week's Docutopia column: Bobby Sheehan’s Doctored, which opened in New York last week, Peter Nicks’s The Waiting Room, which opens today, and Susan Froemke and Matthew Heineman’s Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, which hits theaters next weekend.

Will the Success of "Obama's America" Translate to "Atlas Shrugged" Sequel?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 21, 2012 10:15 AM
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  • 9 Comments
If a bad documentary, full of conjecture and manipulation, attacking President Barack Obama, can make more than $30 million at the box office, does it mean that a bad narrative film attacking President Barack Obama's domestic policies--i.e. the second installment of the "Atlas Shrugged" trilogy--will be able to follow suit? If you remember, last year, the first adaptation of the Ayn Rand book was released with much media speculation surrounding it--I interviewed the producers for the Wall Street Journal Online--but then the film flamed out at the box office in its second weekend, dropping a considerable 47.8% even after adding 166 theaters.

Making the Past Urgent Again: David France's Thrilling "How to Survive A Plague"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 19, 2012 10:17 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For my latest Docutopia column at the SundanceNow blog, "You Are There: Docs in the Moment," I address the thrilling AIDS doc "How to Survive Plague," which provides an almost real-time chronicle of history as if it was unfolding at this very moment. The film, which opens theatrically this Friday, puts the viewer smack dab in the middle of the struggle to combat the AIDS virus in the 1980s. Using archival footage culled from some 700 hours of video, the movie presents an urgent, you-are-there account of those who worked within the advocacy group ACT UP.

What is the Legacy of Occupy: 1-Year Anniversary Brings New Protests and New Docs

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 17, 2012 2:51 PM
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  • 0 Comments
On the 1-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, hundreds of protesters converged today on New York City’s financial district, with dozens reportedly arrested by the NYPD. If OWS demonstrators continue to struggle in their fight for economic equality, they must also contend with the way they are represented in the history books and mainstream media that shape public opinion. For SnagFilms's Election Hub, I've posted a short blog post about the competing visions of the movement, from conservative director Stephen Bannon's anti-OWS doc "Occupy Unmasked" (which opens this Friday) to Kevin Breslin's more sympathetic view "#whilewewatch," which positions the group as a social media juggernaut and enlivening people's movement.

Can Political Films Lead to Outrage and Murder? Only if They're Provocations

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 13, 2012 4:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Political films are meant to outrage, galvanize and incite viewers to action. But something went horribly wrong on Tuesday when Islamic protests at the U.S. consulates in Egypt and Libya lead to the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three American staffers, reportedly based on a trailer of an anti-Muslim movie called "Innocence of Muslims." For SnagFilms' election blog, I offer my commentary on the still unfolding story about the movie that has been blamed for the mayhem.

My Top 8 at Toronto Fest 2012

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 13, 2012 11:47 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Because I was reviewing films for Screen Daily at Toronto, the films I saw were a diverse bunch, guided somewhat by my preferences, but also by the needs of an international trade magazine. Therefore, I caught one too many midnight movies (i.e. "Aftershock") and may have lost the opportunity to see some of the big-ticket premieres. Regretfully, I missed "Argo," which would have been a perfect movie to report on for ReelPolitik, and despite the best intentions of Ben Affleck, I am suspicious about its depictions of Iran's Islamic Revolution. But it'll have to wait until its release.

"Obama's America" Loses Box Office Momentum; But Watch Out for Rightwing Nonfiction Wave

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 3, 2012 3:15 PM
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  • 5 Comments
The rightwing agit-prop doc "2016: Obama's America," a movie so full of conjecture and hole-y logic it makes a Michael Moore movie look like the phone book, has finally reached its box-office peak over the Labor Day Weekend, declining 14% in ticket sales from the previous week's stellar box office. So far, the movie's domestic gross is still a widely impressive $20.2 million -- an astounding number for a movie that has been universally panned by critics (a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But, of course, neither the movie's quality, nor its accuracy, nor its racism, matters to ticket buyers. They just want to show their disaffection for the current President.

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