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A Certain Tendency of the Documentary Cinema

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 9, 2012 8:15 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The celebrity-driven nonfiction film has become an unwelcome mainstray of the documentary form recently. Not only is Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth") directing commercials for none other than public persona #1 Barack Obama, but a whole slew of pop-docs are premiering at the Tribeca Film Fesival next month, with new films on Joseph Papp, musicians such as Queen and Tony Bennett, and sports figures such as the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield and the Met's R.A. Dickey. There's also star-studded docs on digital cinema ("Side by Side," featuring James Cameron, David Fincher, George Lucas, etc) and Morgan Spurlock's latest "Mansome" (with interviews with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, etc). And do I care? Not really.

"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.

Strong Sundance Docs Raise Specter of Racism in U.S. and Abroad

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • January 23, 2012 4:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
I haven't yet seen "Slavery by Another Name," a new documentary that's premiering in Sundance this week, but the title evokes a theme I've seen running through a number of docs at this year's festival: the prevalence of racism in the histories of America and other countries. While economic-themed docs drew headlines prior to the festival, strong nonfiction films such as "Searching for Sugar Man," "Under African Skies," "The House I Live In" and "The Law In These Parts" suggest darker, and more disturbing undercurrents about discrimination in societies--as well as, in some cases, the power to counteract it.

Will Sundance 2012 Docs Influence Debate on Poverty, Hunger, Economic Inequality?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 30, 2011 4:37 PM
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  • 2 Comments
With the announcement of the Sundance competition on Wednesday, the documentary program -- as usual -- is newsworthy: 16 nonfiction films representing some of the most respected filmmakers of the form. As with past Sundance docs, there is a real chance to influence the national discussion on important topics, ranging from American healthcare to nuclear power. I'll never forget trailing Al Gore through the snowy parking lot at the Library before the premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth" some years back. Docs can make a difference, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Sundance.

Palin Filmmaker Bannon Planning Doc on "Crony Capitalism"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 14, 2011 9:21 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Right-wing doc-maker Steven Bannon is apparently at it again. After his Sarah Palin doc "The Undefeated" stirred up talk everywhere about the former Alaska governor's popularity (or not) as a viable political contender, Real Clear Politics reports that Bannon is planning on making a new film based on Palin adviser Peter Schweizer's forthcoming book, "Throw Them All Out," which details allegations of ethically dubious insider trading and conflicts of interest among members of Congress.

Occupy Wall Street: The Movie; Will There Be a Definitive Film of the Movement?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 14, 2011 10:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
So far, Occupy Wall Street has inspired a dozen prominent filmmakers, from Haskell Wexler to Jonathan Demme to Jem Cohen, to document the rising protest movement. And a handful of Hollywood and indie films, produced after the rebellion's rise, from "Margin Call" to "Tower Heist," have capitalized on the coincidental timeliness of their stories. But is there a definitive #OWS movie out there? And what would it look like?

Herzog's Death Penalty Doc "Into the Abyss" Gets Rave Reviews

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 10, 2011 7:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Much has already been written about "Into the Abyss," Werner Herzog's humanistic gaze into the dark heart of capital punishment in a Texas town. But let me join in the chorus of effusive praise.

"Greedy Lying Bastards" Goes After Koch Bros, Fossil Fuel Industry

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • November 10, 2011 9:17 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The Political Monologue of the Year: Angela Davis

  • By anthony
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  • November 3, 2011 3:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Sexual Politics: As anti-gay marriage campaigns heat up, new doc goes behind the scenes

  • By anthony
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  • October 28, 2011 2:10 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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