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Martin Scorsese, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Others call for Release of Behrouz Ghobadi

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 29, 2012 10:22 AM
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Amnesty International and other human rights organizations are putting the pressure on Iran to release the brother of exiled Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi. On November 4, 2012, Behrouz Ghobadi was arrested by plainclothes forces in Iran. Since then, he has had no contact with his family and has not been able to see an attorney. Iranian officials continue to withhold information about his whereabouts or the conditions in which he is being held. In a new petition started by Amnesty, several prominent filmmakers and actors have now joined the Ghobadi family in calling for Ghobadi's release, including directors Martin Scorsese, Paul Haggis, and Guillermo Arriaga, and actors James Franco and Liam Neeson.

The Top Ten Documentaries of 2012

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 28, 2012 3:04 PM
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Over at SundanceNow's Docutopia site, I've gone out on a limb with an early top ten list of the best nonfiction movies of the year. Because I think I've seen the rest of the year's prominent docs, I felt pretty confident that I could go forward with my selection. I also thought it was a good idea to post it before we all get sick of reading these things. As I wrote in the story, I think it's been a terrific year for documentaries. And I'm sure restricting the list to just ten is more a matter of convenience. Why not 20?

Filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi Continues Search for Missing Brother

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 27, 2012 2:20 PM
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Bahman Ghobadi, the prominent Iranian filmmaker known for such award-winning films as “A Time For Drunken Horses,” and “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” is currently in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Erbil, trying to find out what happened to his brother, Behrouz, who was arrested on November 4. The family has hired a lawyer, Ahmad Saeed Sheikhi, to represent Ghobadi. But the authorities have provided no information on his whereabouts or his legal status after 24 days of detention, according to a source close to the family.

"Gasland's" Josh Fox Unleashes "Occupy Sandy: A Human Response to the New Realities of Climate Change"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 27, 2012 9:35 AM
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Is Josh Fox the new Michael Moore? Or perhaps Brave New Films' Robert Greenwald is the better analogy. From fracking to climate change, the "Gasland" filmmaker is turning into a one-man agit-prop movie machine, unleashing short films to activate his nearly 10,000 Twitter followers and effect the debate on energy issues. This Wednesday, Fox will join Occupy Sandy Relief organizers, 350.0rg, The Other 98%, and The Illuminator for a secret premiere of his new short film “Occupy Sandy: A Human Response to the New Realities of Climate Change." According to its Facebook page, the film "viscerally shows the damage left behind by the storm, highlights the heroic grassroots efforts of Occupy activists, and draws the connections between the storm, climate change, and the reckless greed of the fossil fuel industry."

A Feminist Action Movie? With "Zero Dark Thirty," Bigelow Goes For Gender (not Geo) Politics

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 26, 2012 11:23 AM
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After months of speculation and undue politicization, the first reviews of "Zero Dark Thirty" are in, and Katheryn Bigelow's thriller is being hailed as another tense success following the filmmaker's previous Oscar-winner "The Hurt Locker." But like Bigelow's Iraq war suspenser, I am skeptical of the filmmaker's attempts to make "non-political" movies about highly political material. And like "The Hurt Locker," it seems to me that any film that follows testosterone-heavy American warriors into the thick of battle is going to play somewhat into conservative American myths about militarism, heroism and jingoism. But the films' first reviews suggest a curiously feminine counterpoint to all that male machismo with its focus on "Maya," a real-life CIA analyst who is at the heart of the story.

Israeli Occupation Doc "The Law In These Parts" Opens as Violence Escalates in Israel

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 15, 2012 2:48 PM
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While I'm sure no one is happy that war is about to break out in the Middle East after Israel's targeted assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari on Wednesday, the timing couldn't be more perfect for this week's Film Forum release of "The Law In These Parts," Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's sound attack on the Israeli legal system that has sanctioned the illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian peoples. As the UN Security Council meets in an emergency session and rockets fire from the Gaza Strip, killing Israelis in retaliation, Alexandrowicz's compelling documentary explores how we got into this mess in the first place.

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