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Is "12 Years A Slave" Too Brutal for Oscar?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • September 7, 2013 8:28 AM
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  • 1 Comment

"American Arab": Racism in the Post-9/11 Age

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 31, 2013 10:21 AM
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  • 0 Comments
From documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films comes the news that Usama Alshaibi's new documentary "American Arab" is nearing completion, readying for festival screenings in late 2013 and 2014, which could mean a Toronto premiere or a fall regional fest appearance. I got to know Alshaibi's work when I profiled him for the Creative Capital Foundation a few years back. His 2006 doc "Nice Bombs" offered a refreshing new perspective on Iraq War, allowing Westerners to sympathize with an Arab perspective in a much deeper way. "American Arab" promises to do the same.

Where are the second films from the directors of "Pariah" and "Medicine for Melancholy"?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 30, 2013 9:34 AM
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  • 3 Comments
hey are among the most lauded young filmmakers to come out of the independent movie scene, but Dee Rees, the director of "Pariah" (2011) and Barry Jenkins, who made "Medicine for Melancholy" (2008), have not made follow-up features. Why? The reasons are numerous--with even institutional racism a possibility--and while the two have multiple projects in development, the fact is: No second feature.

Will "Gatsby"'s Anti-Semitism Cost it Oscar Noms?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 14, 2013 9:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Movies with racist portrayals of African Americans haven't hurt their Oscar chances much--consider "Secretariat" or "Million Dollar Baby" or any number of well-meaning racially-charged movies that had problematic representations of African Americans ("The Help," "The Blind Side," "Crash," "Driving Miss Daisy"). But anti-Semitism is a different story. Remember the campaign against "A Beautiful Mind" because its character John Nash was an alleged anti-Semite?

All Tomorrow's Parties: "The Great Gatsby" Meet "Spring Breakers"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • May 12, 2013 9:11 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Within the span of a couple months, audiences and media have witnessed the debauched excess of the American Dream gone sour, of attractive young men and women imbibing themselves to delirium, violence and self-destruction. If there ever were a comment on the failed hopes and ideals of our current generation, "Spring Breakers" and "The Great Gatsby" – those strange fraternal twins of apocalyptic party cinema -- would not be it.

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.

"Black" Films Face Obstacles Abroad; Are Foreign Film Markets Still Racist?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • April 24, 2013 9:43 AM
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  • 2 Comments

The Post-Katrina Politics of "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • June 27, 2012 11:13 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Now that "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is far from the protective, progressive bubble of Sundance and venturing out into the wide, wide world of mainstream movie theaters this week, the fantastical movie is encountering increasing questions about what it says and shows about post-Katrina Louisiana. Though set in a fantastical bayou island called the Bathtub, director Benh Zeitlin has had to defend the film's underpinnings, about race, class and the displacement of the poor.

"Scenes of a Crime": Unjust Verdict Upheld as Doc Winner Hits Theaters

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • March 26, 2012 2:23 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Adrian Thomas, the man at the center of the award-winning documentary "Scenes of a Crime" (Filmmaker Magazine's Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, Grand Jury Prize Winner at Full Frame and DOC NYC), has not been granted an appeal, a state court has ruled, according to reports. The compelling documentary, which opens in New York on Friday, offers a strong case for Thomas' innocence and striking scientific evidence that suggests Thomas was wrongly convicted and a confession was coerced by police.

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.

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