Documentary

It’s Better to Jump (2013) Gina Angelone, Mouna Stewart, Documentary, History

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There is a centuries-old seawall in the ancient port of Akka, located on Israel’s northern coast. Today, Akka is a modern city inhabited by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Baha’i, but its history goes all the way back to rule of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Young people dare to stand atop the 40′ one-meter thick block structure and risk their fate by jumping into the roiling sea. This perilous tradition has continued for many generations, and has become a rite of passage for the children of Akka. “It’s Better to Jump” is about the ancient walled city of Akka as it undergoes harsh economic pressures and vast social change. The film focuses on the aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian inhabitants who call the Old City home.
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The Silent World / Le monde du silence (1956) Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Louis Malle, Frédéric Dumas, Albert Falco, Documentary

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Witness the birth of a new kind of documentary, as legendary diver, conservationist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau takes you deep beneath the waves to explore a wealth of life that was previously hidden from view. As much of the technology for shooting film underwater was developed by Cousteau’s team, this was the first time such amazing sights could be captured on film. The result, a Technicolor 1950s masterpiece, succeeds both in revealing an untouched world of beauty, life and drama, as well as evoking a sense of adventure, freedom and boundless possibility. Set on board and below the good ship Calypso during an exploratory expedition, this feature-length documentary was co-directed by Cousteau and Louis Malle, whose first film this was (Cousteau selected Malle for this assignment immediately upon the latter’s graduation from film school). Highlights include a shark attack on the carcass of a whale, and the discovery of a wrecked, sunken vessel. A window into the world beneath the sea as well as the colourful and nostalgic world of the 1950s, The Silent World was the start of an entire movement, and is now available on DVD as a vital part of any collection. This classic film is one of few to have won both the Academy Award (Best Documentary Feature) as well as the Palme D’Or in 1956.
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Once Upon A Forest / Il était une forêt (2013) Luc Jacquet, Francis Hallé, Michel Papineschi, Documentary

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From the creators of March of the Penguins and The Fox and the Child. Written and directed by Luc Jaquet, Once Upon a Forest invites the spectator into a never-before-seen world of natural wonder and staggering beauty. For the first time, we will be able to watch a rainforest growing before our eyes. Drawing on a vast fund of research and knowledge, Once Upon a Forest will lead viewers on a journey into the depths of the tropical jungle, into the very heart of life on earth. For years, Luc Jacquet has spellbound audiences worldwide with his intimate yet spectacular stories of the natural world. His encounter with pioneering botanist and ecologist Francis Hallé was to give birth to this extraordinary exploration of the prehistoric rainforests, the great green lungs of our planet. Once Upon a Forest offers this unique voyage into a completely untamed universe, a world of perfect balance in which each living thing – from the smallest to the largest – plays an essential role. The film will deliver a complete sensory immersion in the primeval splendour of one of nature’s richest mysteries, inviting the audience to enter, discover and marvel at a universe of untold treasures while joining its voice to the ever growing awareness of the need to preserve our world.
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12 O’Clock Boys (2013) Lotfy Nathan, Coco, Pug, Steven, Documentary, Biography, Crime

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Pug, a wisecracking 13 year old living on a dangerous Westside block, has one goal in mind: to join The Twelve O’Clock Boys; the notorious urban dirt-bike gang of Baltimore. Converging from all parts of the inner city, they invade the streets and clash with police, who are forbidden to chase the bikes for fear of endangering the public. When Pug’s older brother dies suddenly, he looks to the pack for mentorship, spurred by their dangerous lifestyle. Pug’s story is coupled with unprecedented, action-packed coverage of the riders in their element. The film presents the pivotal years of change in a boy’s life growing up in one of the most dangerous and economically depressed cities in the US.
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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) Ken Burns, Jack Johnson, Keith David, Samuel L. Jackson, Documentary, Biography, Sport

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The story of Jack Johnson is huge. The first black Heavyweight Champion of the World, 1908 to 1915, he was rowdy, smart, rebellious, and proud. He was also resilient in the face of unrelenting racism. And, as Stanley Crouch observes in Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, “There is nobody like Jack Johnson, because, first thing, when Jack Johnson was fighting, he could have been killed at any of his major fights. There were people out in the audience who were probably willing to murder him. He knew it, they knew it, everybody in the world knew it.”

Talented and world-famous as a young man, as well as essentially unbeatable, Johnson was champion when (official, as opposed to underground) boxing was a wholly white province, when the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Jack London, all editorialized as to natural orders, in which African Americans were humble and inferior, and Caucasians were honorable, strong, and always right. And yet, as courageous and frankly brilliant as Jack Johnson was, his story is frequently forgotten in the wake of more recent flashy sports and other celebrities.
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Crude (2009) Joe Berlinger, Dan Ashley, Pablo Fajardo, Kent Robertson, Documentary

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One of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, CRUDE is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film examines a complicated situation from several angles while bringing a story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.
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Beyond the Myth: A Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination (2010) Libby Sherrill, Documentary

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Beyond the Myth is a film about dogs commonly referred to as “pit bulls” and those who love and defend these breeds. It explores the contributing factors behind the public’s generalized fear of “pit bulls,” and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of breed discriminatory laws, as carried out in three cities that ban pit bull-type dogs: Denver, Miami, and Cincinnati-along with San Francisco, which requires the animals to be spayed and neutered.
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Woody Allen: A Life in Film (2002) Richard Schickel, Documentary, Biography

Woody Allen A Life in Film (Richard Schickel, 2002)
A 90-minute documentary by film critic, author and historian Richard Schickel that is highlighted by a rare and candid interview with the writer, director and actor Woody Allen. The interview, shot exclusively for this documentary in New York in October 2001, marks the first time Allen has participated in an American documentary about his career. The program examines Allen’s work on such landmark films as “Take the Money and Run” (1969), “Bananas” (1971), “Sleeper” (1973), “Love and Death” (1975), “Annie Hall” (1977), “Manhattan” (1979), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989). The interview and film clips, including scenes from his most recent film at the time the interview was filmed, “Hollywood Ending,” are used to highlight his prolific career and examine Allen’s childhood and explore what drew him to writing and directing. One of the foremost American filmmakers of the 20th century, Allen shares anecdotes about his extensive body of work from the past…
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Triumph des Willens / Triumph of the Will (1935) Leni Riefenstahl, Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Max Amann, Documentary, History, War

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Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The “Jewish question” is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler’s climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, “spontaneous” Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl’s specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying.
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Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994) Mika Kaurismäki, Samuel Fuller, Jim Jarmusch, Documentary, Drama

Tigrero A Film That Was Never Made (Mika Kaurismaki, 1994)
In 1993, Sam Fuller takes Jim Jarmusch on a trip into Brazil’s Mato Grosso, up the River Araguaia to the village of Santa Isabel Do Morro, where 40 years before, Zanuck had sent Fuller to scout a location and write a script for a movie based on a tigrero, a jaguar hunter. Sam hopes to find people who remember him, and he takes film he shot in 1954. He’s Rip Van Winkle, and, indeed, a great deal changed in the village. There are televisions, watches, and brick houses. But, the same Karajá culture awaits as well. He gathers the villagers to show his old film footage, and people recognize friends and relatives, thanking Fuller for momentarily bringing them back to life.
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The Road to Guantanamo (2006) Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom, Riz Ahmed, Farhad Harun, Waqar Siddiqui, Documentary, Drama, War

The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross, 2006)
In 2001, four Pakistani Britons, Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul and another friend, Monir, travel to Pakistan for a wedding and in a urge of idealism, decide to see the situation of war torn Afganistan which is being bombed by the American forces in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Once there, with the loss of Monir in the wartime chaos, they are captured by Northern Alliance fighters. They are then handed them over the American forces who transport them to the prison camps at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. What follows is three years of relentless imprisonment, interrogations and torture to make them submit to blatantly wrong confessions to being terrorists. In the midst of this abuse, the three struggle to keep their spirits up in that face of this grave injustice.
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The James Dean Story (1957) Robert Altman, George W. George, Martin Gabel, James Dean, Lew Bracker, Documentary, Biography

The James Dean Story (Robert Altman, 1957)
This documentary, which was undertaken soon after James Dean’s death, looks at Dean’s life through the use of still photographs with narration, and interviews with many of the people involved in his short life. Interviewees include the aunt and uncle who raised him after his mother’s death (when James was 9), his fraternal grandparents, a cabdriver friend in New York City, and the owner of his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. James’s father, who was alive when the film was made, does not get a single mention.
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