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Eight Years Later, "Iraq in Fragments" Proves Just as Relevant

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 3, 2014 10:49 AM
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Is there a more prophetic documentary, or title, than James Longley’s visionary "Iraq in Fragments"? More than eight years since the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006, Longley’s impressionistic and visceral glimpse of life in Iraq has never felt more resonant. Over at Keyframe Daily, I wrote a story that reflects on the award-winning Sundance documentary, given the current divisions that are tearing apart Iraq.

Dinesh D'Souza's "America" Set to Spark, then Fizzle at Box Office

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 1, 2014 9:50 AM
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  • 34 Comments
In 2012, author-turned-filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza caught some kind of freakish right-wing lightning in a bottle when his debut documentary "2016: Obama's America" became the fourth highest-grossing documentary ever released in the U.S. It was a box-office victory championed by conservative commentators around the U.S., and has now spawned a sequel, titled "America: Imagine the World Without Her," which opened to solid numbers last weekend in Houston and Atlanta ($39,000 on three screens) and opens wider over the 4th of July holiday. But unlike "Obama's America," don't expect "America" to take the country by storm. With horrid reviews and an overbearing and dull first trailer, the new movie will likely fizzle quickly after an initial highly touted wide release. And if it doesn't, God help us.

Why Did it Take Three Years for Nadav Lapid's "Policeman" to Get Released?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 13, 2014 11:47 AM
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Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid's superb art-film thriller and incisive social critique "Policeman" is finally getting released in the U.S., three years after it won the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival. It's been called one of the strongest debut films on the world cinema stage. And Lapid's follow-up "The Kindergarten Teacher," which just premiered in Cannes, proves that Lapid is no one-hit wonder. He's an auteur-to-watch, with big ideas and aesthetic mastery to match. We can thank small distributor Corinth Releasing for picking up the film, but it will be the critics that will need to drive this micro-release.

Emergency Cinema: Syrian Docs Transcend the "Bang-Bang Shit" of the Mainstream Media

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 13, 2014 7:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"This isn’t just some 'bang bang shit' from Syria," said Human Rights Watch Film Festival Deputy Director Andrea Holley. It was the key defining line of my recent Indiewire article--the kind of declarative in-your-face statement meant to turn people's heads. Indeed, when 54,000 civilians have reportedly died in the conflict in Syria, it's about time people turn their heads.

Thailand Bans Screening of Orwell Film "1984"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 12, 2014 9:26 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Thailand's political unrest continues to get wrapped up with cinema. After the three-finger salute from "The Hunger Games" become a symbol of resistance among protestors, now a screening of Michael Radford's 1984 adaptation of the dystopian George Orwell classic has been cancelled in the Northern region of Changmai after police warned "it breached a ban on political gatherings,"

Friedkin's Anti-Capital Punishment Doc "The People vs. Paul Crump" Resonates, 50 Years Later

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 29, 2014 9:48 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Long before making "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," 27-year-old newbie director William Friedkin made "The People vs. Paul Crump," a 1962 gritty TV documentary noir that feels totally of its moment and ahead of its time, both in its content and style.

How Will Lionsgate Spin Upcoming Release by Convicted Filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 20, 2014 2:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Dinesh D'Souza may lay claim to the fourth-highest grossing documentary ever released in the U.S. ("2016: Obama's America"), but he also has another distinction for the record books: He's the first such documentary filmmaker to be convicted of breaking the law. The director pleaded guilty to one count of violating campaign finance laws, and could face 10-16 months behind bars.

Will Kathryn Bigelow's New Post-9/11 Project "True American" Draw Right-Wing Attacks?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 15, 2014 10:26 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Katheryn Bigelow's films have often provided a lightning rod for political debate on both sides of the spectrum. Both conservatives and liberals have attacked her films "The Hurt Locker" and "Zero Dark Thirty" for being both pro-war and anti-war, celebrating torture or condemning torture. I have related my own views on the subject, particularly with respect to "The Hurt Locker," but I wonder what the pundits will think of her recently announced new project, "The True American," an anti-death penalty, pro-immigrant story of rehabilitation and forgiveness?

It's the End of the World as We Know It and Don't Feel Fine

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 15, 2014 9:05 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Eight years after "The Inconvenient Truth" made "climate change" a household (though hotly contested) word, nature is out of whack. So what has pop culture done to help foist change and save the planet? Can filmmakers big and small, from Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla") to Jennifer Baichwal ("Watermark") keep the dialogue going? Or are our nation's leaders immune to the facts and prepared to plunge all of us into a future marked by environmental disasters that even Hollywood couldn't foresee?

American Provincialism and the Disappearance of Foreign Language Cinema

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 7, 2014 10:18 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The unsaid subtext in my recent Indiewire article "The Lonely Subtitle: Here's Why U.S. Audiences Are Abandoning Foreign-Language Films" has more to do with the American viewing audience than the industry shifts outlined in the story. Because I was writing a reported piece for a news outlet, I focused on the quantifiable: box office drops; the disappearance of foreign films on Netflix; the lack of other significant ancillary platforms. But what's also deeply worrisome, as Adam Tawfik notes in the comments section of the piece, is that "this sadly correlates to a larger sense of isolationism. America (and probably the rest of the world) is stuck in this mentality that their culture is the only worthwhile culture."

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