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Doug Liman's "Reckoning With Torture": Reconciling Americans' Complicity in War on Terror

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 16, 2012 9:12 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Since America's "War on Terror" has slipped from the headlines, our collective memory of the torture and atrocities committed by the U.S. has also seemed to subside. We've seen Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," Errol Morris's "Standard Operating Procedure," Michael Winterbottom's "The Road to Guantanamo" and Rory Kennedy's "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib," just to name a few. But was that enough to alleviate our collective guilt? Not really. With Doug Liman's new project "Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies From the 'War On Terror,'” Americans aren't watching the events unfold from the outside, but personally taking account of the atrocities by reading testimonials of torture from witnesses and victims.

OCCUPY THE CINEMAS Day of Action: March 2, 2012

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 15, 2012 1:19 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Hey you, film-lovers, filmmakers and film fans:   Are you ready to make a statement about the movies you want?   Are you ready to take a stand and tell the powers that be that you want a free Internet and more fair copyright provisions?   Are you ready to join the Occupy Movement and "reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations"?

Critics and Audiences: Do Your Homework on "Thin Ice"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 15, 2012 10:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The reviews are starting to come in on "Thin Ice," the Wisconsin-set comic crime caper that originally screened at Sundance under the name "The Convincer" and was then re-edited and re-scored without the participation of its director Jill Sprecher. And so far, it's only Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkpof who has duly noted in his review, "It’s uncertain whether director Jill Sprecher wants to call the film her own anymore."

Sarah Palin Propagandist Bannon Unveils New Anti-Obama Doc

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 10, 2012 10:14 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It was only a matter of time before documentary propagandists on the right would launch an anti-Obama screed. Watch out, folks, here we go: From the man who brought us the Sarah Palin hagiography "The Undefeated" comes a new film based on the forthcoming book: "The Corruption Chronicles, Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government," written by Tom Fitton, who is president of Judicial Watch, an organization that claims to be "nonpartisan." Yeah, if they're nonpartisan, so was Mao Zedong.

Can "Rampart" Lead Millennium into New Era?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 10, 2012 9:13 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Whenever a company I don't expect comes along and picks up a film that I admire -- say when Fox Searchlight acquired "Shame" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" last year or when some years back, Miramax picked up "In the Bedroom" or Fine Line took out "Dancer in the Dark," I get nervous. So it was when new distributor Millennium Entertainment announced that it had bought and would release Oren Moverman's tightly focused portrait in police misconduct and psychological turmoil "Rampart," starring Woody Harrelson as a corrupt cop. One of my favorite films from last year's Toronto International Film Festival, "Rampart" needs tender-loving care in the marketplace. Is Millennium up to the challenge?

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna Attacking Social Issues with Genre Fare

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 9, 2012 10:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A production announcement about a new English-language genre franchise coming from Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna's Mexico-based Canana Films caught my eye this morning for a number of reasons. While the use of genre--and horror, in particular--to attack contemporary social issues isn't new ("Night of the Living Dead" anyone?), I'm particularly intrigued by what's going on in Mexico right now, and Canana, specifically, as they also backed Gerardo Naranjo's narco-thriller "Miss Bala," which is really a thinly veiled scathing indictment of Mexico's culture of violence and superficiality.

"The Island President" Forced Out of Office at Gunpoint; Doc Filmmakers Respond to Unrest in Maldives

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 8, 2012 8:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The star of upcoming documentary favorite "The Island President," charismatic Maldives president and climate change crusaser Mohammed Nasheed, was forced to resign from office at gunpoint on Tuesday, according to an Op-Ed written by Nasheed that was published by the New York Times today. I spoke with Nasheed for the WSJ.com last year and found him to be an eloquent spokesperson for his people.

"Iron Sky" Space Nazis Land in Berlin; Crowd-Funding Giant Could Impact Indies

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 8, 2012 11:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Iron Sky," a Finnish sci-fi epic about Nazis who have been hiding out in the moon since WWII, is finally having its world premiere, at the Berlin Film Festival this Saturday, and according to the The Guardian newspaper, it's the second most popular selling film at the festival. While researching an article on crowdfunding a couple of years ago, I first stumbled upon "Iron Sky," and its successful efforts to generate fans and funders pre-release. So far, according to their website, they have received nearly 45,000 screening requests--lead by cities like Helsinki (913), Berlin (523) and Moscow (374), with the biggest U.S. interest expressed in Brooklyn (182).

From Sundance to Eastwood, Detroit as Emblem of America's Collapse (and Recovery?)

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 6, 2012 7:54 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Once you start looking, it's amazing how much media you can find being made these days about America's most beleagured city: Detroit. As a microcosm for the country's economic depression and collapsed manufacturing sector, it seems there's no better example than the Motor City. At Sundance, there were two films: "Detropia," Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing's impressionist look at the state as some kind of near-extinct relic of bygone prosperity, and "Searching for Sugar Man," a portrait of a forgotten musician, which includes glimpses of the city's industrial vistas and poverty-stricken areas. Together with Clint Eastwood's much ballyhooed Chrysler Superbowl ad (“They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together, now Motor City is fighting again"), Detroit is back on the media's map.

Will "A Separation" Oscar Win Hurt or Help Iranian Cinema?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 6, 2012 9:47 AM
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  • 3 Comments
It's practically a forgone conclusion that "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi's incisive examination of domestic and class struggle in Iran, will win the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the forthcoming Oscars. As I've mentioned before, the film reveals universal truths about fidelity and concealing it that transcends borders, and as of last weekend, I believe the movie became the top-grossing Iranian film in the U.S. ever (CORRECTION: Not yet, it's still got half-a-million to go to beat Majid Majidi's 2000 release "Color of Paradise"). It's a strong film, worthy of its screenplay nomination, as well, and by all measures, such success and accolades should be cause for celebration in the Iranian film industry. But it's not.

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