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"Informant": How Brandon Darby Went from Anarchist to F.B.I. Stool-pigeon

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 12, 2013 10:43 AM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the best political documentaries last year, "Better This World" examines the government's crackdowns on civil disobedience, the ubiquity of surveillance and the injustice of our justice system. One of the most compelling characters in that taut, tense story of two boyhood friends who go from political neophytes to would-be domestic terrorists, accused of planning violent acts at the 2008 G.O.P. Convention, was Brandon Darby, the anarchist activist turned F.B.I. informant who may have helped instigate the very crimes the young men were convicted of. In a worthy quasi-sequel to "Better this World," Jamie Meltzer's "Informant"--which opens in NYC this week--presents the story from Darby's perspective, offering his own personal, paranoid justifications for his actions.

Privacy is Dead, According to New Round of Nonfiction

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 11, 2013 10:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A recent "Daily Show" report on the N.S.A. PRISM scandal was titled "Good News! You're Not Paranoid," which seems like an apt tag-line for a number of recent documentaries, from Cullen Hoback’s Terms and Conditions May Apply, which opens in New York on Friday, to Ben Lewis’ Google and the World Brain and Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks. If everything we do is being tracked, recorded and filed for possible Pre-Crime indictments, what you going to do about it?

After PBS Controversy, "Citizen Koch" Filmmakers Turn to Kickstarter

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • July 9, 2013 10:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Citizen Koch,” the documentary film about Wisconsin politics and the Citizens United decision, is turning to Kickstarter to cover the costs of music licenses, footage licenses, editing costs and other fees associated with readying the film for distribution. Problems with the film's distribution on PBS first circulated after The New Yorker published a damning story that strongly suggested that rightwing billionaire David Koch, who was a member of the Board of Directors of WNET in New York and WGBH in Boston at the time, may have had something to do with PBS pulling the plug on the film's broadcast.

Why ITVS should be held accountable and "Citizen Koch" should be called "Citizen Corp"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 23, 2013 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
By not further commenting on its role to pull out of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's documentary "Citizen Koch," ITVS, the prominent independent documentary funding organization, is shooting itself in the foot—and potentially alienating filmmakers. When I reached out to ITVS for further comment on Jane Mayer's New Yorker story, which suggests that the film was suppressed because of conservative billionaire David Koch's support of PBS, they refused to comment further.

New Doc: Ex-Con Detectives Fight to Exonerate Wrongfully Convicted

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 29, 2013 11:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Jamie Meltzer, the director of "Informant," a recent favorite doc of mine which I called "a 'Fog of War' for the age of Occupy" about anarchist turned informant Brandon Darby, has a new project, looking for funds on Kickstarter, which seems worthy of our attention. Called "Freedom Fighters," the new doc focuses on a Dallas-based detective agency started by a group of exonerated men who have all spent decades in prison.

Race, Class and Warfare at Tribeca

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 25, 2013 10:33 AM
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  • 0 Comments
One of the most powerful new documentaries at this year's Tribeca, Dan Krauss’s well-crafted and compelling investigative expose "The Kill Team," hits all the right buttons: political injustice, moral outrage, and emotional catharsis. Of all the films I've previewed from this year's festival, Krauss's is one of the most important; for the purposes of political heft, "The Kill Team"--along with the upcoming release "Dirty Wars"--provides some of the most damning evidence of the atrocities and injustices of the U.S. military that we've seen on screen since America's War on Terror began.

"The Gatekeepers" and Israeli's Leftist Docu Wave

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • February 1, 2013 10:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Are Israel's acclaimed documentaries -- "The Gatekeepers" (which opens today in New York and L.A.), "5 Broken Cameras" and "The Law in These Parts" -- helping to swing public opinion in Israel to the left? That's the question I explore in my Docutopia column this week at SundanceNow. With the results of last Tuesday's election surprising many with the weaker-than-expected turnout for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there may be a shift towards the political center and a better chance for compromise with the Palestinians.

Leftwing Doc-Makers No Longer Easy On Obama

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 28, 2013 1:47 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Are progressive documentary filmmakers finished with giving Barack Obama a free pass?

For Late-term Abortion Doc "After Tiller," Sundance Increases Security

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 18, 2013 4:33 PM
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  • 3 Comments

With Oscar Nom, Will Palestinian Doc "5 Broken Cameras" Enter Mainstream Debate?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 10, 2013 11:08 AM
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  • 3 Comments
I've been advocating on behalf of "5 Broken Cameras," Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's engrossing and intimate doc chronicle of Burnat and his village's struggles for self-determination in Occupied Palestine, for nearly a year now. I first wrote about in March, then championed it again on my year-end lists, and am sincerely excited to see the film nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, just one day after it won the best doc prize from the Cinema Eye Honors. I don't think "5 Broken Cameras" will win an Academy Award, but will its nomination vaunt this important film into the wider cultural conversation?

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