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Weekly New Release - Documentary & Films

Weekly New Release - Documentary & Films


By Anne Lewis and Mimi Pickering

Anne Braden: Southern Patriot provides a moving, in-depth biography of an organizer and journalist who for a remarkable 60 years participated in the most significant movements for racial and economic justice in this country's most conservative region - the South. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. praised her steadfast activism in support of civil rights and civil liberties, but she was threatened, attacked, indicted and labeled a "Communist agitator" and "race traitor" by white supremacists. Her conservative background gave her special insight into white racism, why it poses such a great obstacle to social change in this country and what progressive white people can do to end it.

DVD (Closed Captioned, With English Sbutitles) / 2012 / 77 minutes

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By Luisa Riley

On February 14th, 1974, 19-year-old Deni Prieto Stock was killed by the Mexican army in the town of Nepantla, along with four of her comrades in the Fuerzas de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Forces), a forerunner to the Zapatistas.

FLOWER IN OTOMI depicts Prieto Stock's short, but very full life and the trajectory that brought her to Nepantla and the FLN.

Her sister and other family members recount a cozy childhood spent between New York and Mexico City with parents who raised them to support leftist causes. A cousin shares letters that detail her radicalization, and former lovers describe her growing conviction, particularly following the killing of student protestors in the Tlatelolco massacre, that armed revolution was the only path to economic and social justice in Mexico.

In October 1973, Prieto Stock stood up at the family dinner table and said she was going out for a little while. Instead, she left for Nepantla, where should would be killed just four months later. Elisa, an FLN comrade, tells of her close friendship with "Maria Luisa" (Prieto Stock's nom de guerre), and describes life in the FLN safe house, and the group's activities. The film also reconstructs the Mexican Army and secret police's joint siege on the house during which Prieto Stock was killed, using state documents and accounts from area residents.

A moving tribute to a young woman who died for her convictions and a window into the Mexican social movements of the late 60s and early 70s, FLOWER IN OTOMI is an essential historical supplement.

  • "With political clarity and simplicity of means ... decrypts the excitement and experience of Deni/Maria Luisa." - La Jornada

  • "FLOWER IN OTOMI is a necessary documentary, needed to save the national "memory." The achievement of the documentary is also in the sense that it focuses our view on the women who participated in these subversive movements, often ignored in the movements' own histories." -CINE3

  • "An unforgettable film." - Excelsior

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 78 minutes

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    By Noga Ashkenazi

    THE GREY AREA is an intimate look at women's issues in the criminal justice system and the unique experience of studying feminism behind bars.

    Through a series of captivating class discussions, headed by students from Grinnell College, a small group of female inmates at a maximum women's security prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, share their diverse experiences with motherhood, drug addiction, sexual abuse, murder, and life in prison. The women, along with their teachers, explore the "grey area" that is often invisible within the prison walls and delve into issues of race, class, sexuality and gender.

  • "This insightful and thought-provoking documentary asks us to truly see the most invisible women in the United States - women in the criminal justice system. One cannot walk away from this film untouched or unaware of the reality of incarcerated women's lives. The Grey Area challenges us to take action and advocate for the reassessment of our current policies and programs." - Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D., Co-director, Center for Gender & Justice, La Jolla, CA

  • "A compelling example of the power of feminism to bridge barriers between women and to heal some of the damage they have endured." - Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, SUNY

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 65 minutes

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    By Remi Laine and Jean Reynaud

    An unusual hybrid court established by the United Nations and the government of Cambodia, the ECCC is tasked with investigating and bringing to trial surviving Khmer Rouge officials charged with human rights abuses.

    Working within the framework of international human rights law, but against the backdrop of a complex political arrangement with the government of Cambodia, the prosecution not only must prove the guilt of former high-ranking officials, but show that their crimes meet the judicial standards for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even genocide.

    The film follows Co-Investigating Judges Marcel Lemonde, from France, and You Bunleng, from Cambodia, as they investigate the first case, that of "Comrade Duch" (Kang Kek Iew), who oversaw the notorious Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, where thousands of Cambodians were tortured and killed.

    Working partly from information provided by Duch, the judges move to indict the four less cooperative, higher-ranking officials tried by the ECCC: Nuon Chea, "Brother Number Two" to Pol Pot; Khieu Samphan, President of the State Presidium; Ieng Sary, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister; and Ieng Thirith, Minister of Social Affairs.

    We see the court's dogged efforts to prove these former officials' culpability in the brutality that characterized the regime. The filmmakers also show us the sometimes tense dynamic between the Cambodian and European judges as they discuss the question of bringing charges for genocide: You expresses the Cambodian people's desire for the officials to be charged with that crime in particular, and Lemonde suggests that their actions may not meet the judicial standards for doing so.

    In showing the work of the ECCC, KHMER ROUGE: A SIMPLE MATTER OF JUSTICE sheds light on the still shadowy inner workings of the Khmer Rouge while illustrating the complex process of international human rights law.

  • "Thanks to exceptional access, Remi Laine and Jean Raynaud managed to dive into the heart of the investigation implementing this historic trial and they allow us to understand all its political and judicial twists and turns." - Toute la culture

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 79 minutes

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    By Daniel Moshel

    Centered around two people homebound by their disabilities who have found community online, LOGIN 2 LIFE explores the growing number of people who spend much of their lives in online virtual worlds.

    Elaborate digital platforms like Second Life and World of Warcraft offer novel opportunities for friendship, sex, employment, and aesthetic experience in virtual communities populated by cartoon-like avatars. While these simulated worlds are often treated with contempt by the general media, LOGIN 2 LIFE takes a more sympathetic approach, profiling seven people deeply immersed in these worlds, and attempting to understand what each gets from their virtual life.

    Paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident, 27 year-old Corey spends most of his days playing World of Warcraft, exploring a virtual landscape with far greater ease than he can move through his physical one. Alice, 60, has limited mobility due to multiple sclerosis. In Second Life, she is able to draw on her skills as an educator and volunteer to run an in-game business that provides resources to other disabled people.

    We also meet a diverse cast of characters from around the world, whose different online engagements illustrate the range of motivations for choosing a largely virtual existence. Kevin, a middle-aged family man in Florida, makes his living selling virtual sex devices within the Second Life universe. Philippe, in France, is an award-winning director of World of Warcraft machinima who has turned is hobby into a career. In China, a family of World of Warcraft "gold farmers" toil endlessly online, earning in-game currency that can be sold for real money.

    LOGIN 2 LIFE reconsiders the demarcation usually drawn between physical and online worlds. The film asks us to consider whether the people we have met are exceptions, driven to digital immersion by particular needs, or if they are pioneers of a lifestyle that will soon become commonplace.

  • "Captures the essence of online community and real relationships in cyberspace...LOGIN 2 LIFE is not the first documentary to portray and examine how people interact online, but it is one of the first to demonstrate the positive possibilities." - TILT Magazine

  • "An impressive feat...director Daniel Moshel refrained from portraying his subjects as freaks or clowns for the audience to laugh at. Instead, he unpacks their motivations and desires in a way that pulls you into their stories." - Betterverse

  • Premiere, 2012 Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA), France

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 86 minutes

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    By Lalita Krishna

    India is undergoing a retail revolution in which the aspiring middle-class is demanding more western goods and services. Modern malls are muscling into the traditional marketplace, pushing India's economic infrastructure to the limits and threatening to put thousands of bazaar owners and small farmers out of business.

    In Hindi "Mallamall" literally means "bountiful goods," and nowhere else in the world are the markets so lively with their jewel-colored saris, aromatic spices, and personalities to match. But in cities like Bangalore, street vendors and small business owners are pitted against savvy developers of super-stores. Generations of small merchant families have survived and thrived in urban centers, but foreign companies such as Canada's Perennial Design, are eager to capitalize on India's $650 billion retail industry. As Canadian Documentary & Films guru Chris Lund affirms: "India is where we want to channel our energy."

  • "A look at what happens when consumers ditch the street markets to shop in super malls." - Ranga Rajah, Suhaag.com

  • "The documentary looks at how vendors and small-business owners are becoming activists against the developers." - Kevin Connor, Toronto Sun

    DVD (Color, English and Hindi with English subtitles) / 2012 / 74 minutes

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    By Robert Lemelson

    The Balinese cremation ceremony, or ngaben, has primarily been known in the West as either a major tourist attraction that dazzles visitors with the splendor, intricacy, and drama of its performance, or as fodder for long-standing anthropological arguments about personhood and emotion on the island that debated whether or not Balinese people expressed, or even experienced, grief. According to Balinese Hindu beliefs, cremation is one of the most important steps in a person's spiritual life, and a heavy responsibility to the family, because it is through cremation that the physical body is returned to its five constituent elements and the soul is cleansed and released from the body to ascend to heaven and be reincarnated.

    Ngaben: Emotion and Restraint in a Balinese Heart takes an impressionistic look at the ngaben from the perspective of a mourning son, Nyoman Asub, and reveals the intimacy, sadness, and tenderness at the core of this funerary ritual and the feeling and force that underlie an exquisite cultural tradition. Amidst ample cultural and interpretive understandings of the cremation ceremony, the film purposefully provides a personalistic, impressionistic, and poetic glimpse of the process and the complex emotions involved.

    DVD (Color, Indonesian and Balinese with English subtitles) / 2012 / 16 minutes

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    By Robert Lemelson

    Standing on the Edge of a Thorn is an intimate portrait of a family in rural Indonesia grappling with poverty, mental illness, and participation in the sex trade. Shot over the course of 12 years, the film centers on Iman Rohani, a former civil servant struggling with a mental disorder, who takes in Tri, an unwed pregnant teenager 30 years his junior. Iman refuses to marry Tri, which would have made her an accepted member of the village. Instead, the couple are scorned by the other villagers and become isolated. Over time, trapped by traditional values that stigmatize their relationship, Iman and Tri sink even deeper into destitution and make a series of choices that lead Tri into a life a prostitution and violence.

    The narrator of the film is Iman and Tri's daughter, Lisa, who has witnessed most of these events. Starting when Lisa was a young child, the film documents her unfolding sense of self and identity against the backdrop of a destitute and unstable family. As the film progresses, Lisa struggles to understand her parent's predicaments, while she herself is being drawn into the sex trade. At the end of the film, we experience Lisa as a 16-year old-teenager, attempting to free herself from her parent's conflicts and troubles, as she plans to leave the village to pursue a new life in urban Indonesia.

    DVD (Color, English, Indonesian, Javanese with English subtitles) / 2012 / 33 minutes

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    Directed and Written by Jonathan Gayles

    Twenty years ago, Marlon Riggs produced an essential documentary critique of the images of African Americans in US television in his award-winning Color Adjustment. Now comes a documentary on representations of Black masculinity in comic books; a popular culture genre which existed before television and whose reach extends into other areas of cultural production such as movies and animated TV series. White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books analyzes the subject for the first time and looks at it over a 40 year period.

    In a serious, lively and humorous manner, the film examines the degree to which some of the first Black superheroes generally adhered to and were burdened by stereotypes about Black men. However we also witness how some images shifted ˇV oftentimes clumsily - to reflect the changing times. In fact the documentary was formerly entitled Shaft or Sidney Poitier: Black Masculinity in Comic Books to signify two types of characters, one with hyper-masculine urban swagger (Shaft) and one with remarkably "dignified" behavior (Sidney Poitier). Ultimately, it became clear that there was much more "Shaft" than "Sidney Poitier" in these early Black superheroes.

    Along with images from the comic books themselves, it features commentary by scholars and cultural critics (Jelani Cobb, Mark Anthony Neal, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua) producers, writers and artists (Reginald Hudlin, John Jennings, Tony Isabella and the late pioneer Dwayne McDuffie.) They provide tools for critiquing all media as they introduce and analyze the leading Black comic book superheroes of the late 60's to late 70's including Black Panther, the Falcon, John Stewart (the Green Lantern), Luke Cage and Black Lightning.

    DVD (Closed Captioned, With English Sbutitles) / 2012 / 52 minutes

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    By Ilja Kok and Willem Timmers

    The Mursi tribe resides in the basin of the Omo River, in the east African state of Ethiopia. Mursi women are known for placing large plates in their lower lips and wearing enormous, richly decorated earrings, which has become a subject of tourist attraction in recent years.

    Each year, hundreds of Western tourists come to see the unusually adorned natives; posing for camera-toting visitors has become the main source of income for the Mursi. To make more money, they embellish their "costumes" and finery to appear more exotic to the outsiders. However, by exaggerating their habits and lifestyle in such a manner they are beginning to cause their original, authentic culture to disintegrate.

    Framing the Other portrays the complex relationship between tourism and indigenous communities by revealing the intimate and intriguing thoughts of a Mursi woman from Southern Ethiopia and a Dutch tourist as they prepare to meet each other. This humorous, yet simultaneously chilling film shows the destructive impact tourism has on traditional communities.

  • Grand Prix Award, Montenegro Film Festival, Montenegro, 2012
  • Silver Horseshoe Award, Asterfest International Film Festival, Macedonia, 2012
  • Best Director, Bir Duino Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Kyrgyzstan, 2012
  • Audience Award, Scenecs International Debut Film Festival, The Netherlands, 2012
  • NTR Special Mention, Go Short International Short Film Festival, the Netherlands, 2012

    DVD (Color, English and Murs with English subtitles) / 2011 / 25 minutes

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    By Matthew Lancit

    "We pray to our ancestors but we do not worship them. You, you need an intermediary, the priest. But for us, our intermediary is the ancestor who is sitting next to God," says Pounde, the old Cameroonian ethnologist, to the young Jewish director from Canada. And with this conclusive statement, everything becomes clear: the funerals in memory of "the dead who are not dead" organized several days or even years following the burial, the chants, brass bands and traditional dancers who accompany and punctuate the village rituals. The ancestral rites struggle to survive in a continuously westernized society of consumption by parading wealth and excess for all to see ˇX even the dead.

    Funeral Season takes the viewer through the red dust of Cameroon's laterite slopes and into the heart of the Bamileke country, where one funeral flows into the next. These death celebrations provide an opportunity to see elaborate costumes and masks, festive songs and dances, and lavish feasts, while illuminating the communal links which bind the Bamileke as an ethnic group and society. Along the way, the director befriends his guides and becomes increasingly haunted by memories of his own ancestors. At times, the dialogues alienate him from the locals; at other times they bring the two closer together. Like the dead and the living, they belong to two different worlds often mirroring each other.

    There is a lightness to be found in this subjective ethnographic film which imaginatively and symbolically turns the gazes of two different worlds upon each other.

  • "A snapshot of our multicultural, inter-connected world." - Liz Ferguson, Montreal Gazette

  • "A highly personal and refreshingly humorous take on the often sober subjects of African film." - Christopher Sykes, Montreal Mirror

  • "A documentary in which ethnography is flipped on its head." -Jury of Traces de Vies - Rencontres du Film Documentaire

  • Rising Star Award, Canada International Film Festival, 2011
  • Menzioni Speciali, Contro-Sguardi, Italy, 2010

    DVD (Color) / 2011 / 87 minutes

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    By Amanda Homsi-Ottosson

    Lebanese poet and writer Joumana Haddad has stirred controversy in the Middle East for having founded "Jasad" (the Body), an erotic quarterly Arabic-language magazine. Dedicated to the body's art, science and literature, "Jasad" is one of the first of its kind in the Arab world and has caused a big debate in the Arabic region not only for its explicit images, erotic articles and essays on sex in Arabic but also for the fact that an Arab woman is behind it all. Despite Beirut's external appearance of freedom portrayed through its infamous nightlife and women's stylish and open revealing fashion sense, this is all still taboo. JASAD tackles the subject of sexuality in Lebanon, giving insight on the rare use of the Arabic language to discuss sex and erotica. Different views regarding the magazine and sexuality are also given by the head of a women's rights organization, a sexual health educator and a doctor who performs hymen reconstruction surgeries. Despite the debates, the threats and the lack of funds, one passionate woman shows no sign of slowing down her small steps towards a "sexual revolution" in the Arab world.

  • "About a fascinating Lebanese poet and writer Joumana Haddad who has stirred controversy in the Middle East for having founded 'Jasad' (the Body), an erotic quarterly Arabic-language magazine." - International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam

  • "The documentary opens up discussion about sexuality through a magazine that breaks taboos and challenges both stereotypes and language... what Haddad likes to call "a slap out of amnesia." - The Frontline Club

  • "Opens up discussion and debate." - Al Arabiya News

    DVD (English, Arabic, Color) / 2011 / 40 minutes

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    By Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann

    Cory Mann is a quirky Tlingit businessman hustling to make a dollar in Juneau Alaska. He gets hungry for smoked salmon, nostalgic for his childhood, and decides to spend a summer smoking fish at his family's traditional fish camp. The unusual story of his life and the untold history of his people interweave with the process of preparing traditional food as he struggles to pay his bills, keep the IRS off his back, and keep his business afloat. By turns tragic, bizarre, or just plain ridiculous, Smokin' Fish tells the story of one man's attempts to navigate the messy zone of collision between the modern world and an ancient culture.

  • "without pretense... thoroughly fresh, funny, wise, and sweet." - Alaskan Author Heather Lende

  • "a relevant, respectful and hip look at the continuing story of Southeast Alaska, as cultures come together, mix and create something entirely new." - Richard Radford, Capital City Weekly

  • Best Doc, Montreal First Peoples Film Fest, 2012
  • Best Doc, Arizona International Film Fest, 2012
  • Audience Award, Cowichan International Film Fest, 2012

    DVD (Color, English and Tlingit with English, Spanish, French, subtitles) / 2011 / 80 minutes

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    By Paul Wolffram

    "This is a story of the Lak people. It's also a story of how I came to know the people of the region and how my story became forever woven into their own... I was to become enmeshed in events that resulted in bloodshed and death. What's more, I was held responsible."

    In 2001 Paul Wolffram, a cultural researcher, travelled to one of the most isolated and unique corners of the earth. He eventually spent over two years living and working among the Lak people in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea. As his relationships with the people grew he began to glimpse a hidden reality, a dark and menacing history that loomed over his host community. Over time the sense that something is amiss grows. As his curiosity deepens Paul brings to light dark secrets that set in motion a compelling and deadly set of events.

  • "I know of no more successful or ingenious film that draws the viewer into another life-world while keeping faith with the tenor of its traditional narratives and respecting the lived experience of his/her interlocutors." - Michael Jackson, Harvard University

    DVD (Color) / 2011 / 89 minutes

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    By Christian Suhr and Ton Otto

    Soanin Kilangit is determined to unite the people and attract international tourism through the revival of culture on Baluan Island in the South Pacific. He organizes the largest cultural festival ever held on the island, but some traditional leaders argue that Baluan never had culture and that culture comes from the white man and is now destroying their old tradition. Others, however, take the festival as a welcome opportunity to revolt against '70 years of cultural oppression' by Christianity. A struggle to define the past, present and future of Baluan culture erupts to the sound of thundering log drum rhythms.

  • "...the various disputes that come forth during the film will provide an excellent teaching tool and springboard for myriad discussions associated with issues involving kastom, tradition, change, authenticity, performance, identity, cultural politics, exchange, and the impact of the West on traditional societies." - Karen Stevenson, American Anthropologist, September 2012

    DVD (Color, Tok Pisin, Tok Baluan, and English with English subtitles) / 2011 / 59 minutes

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    Director: Zola Maseko

    One of the definitions for Timbuktu in the Oxford Dictionary is "any distant or remote place". Featuring the knowledgeable commentary by African scholars, rich reenactments, and an original musical score by Vieux Farka Toure, the essential documentary The Manuscripts of Timbuktu critiques this limited view by firmly demonstrating that Timbuktu was once thriving and home to an advanced civilization. It was a leading cultural, economic, scientific and religious center that made a significant and lasting impact on Africa and the entire world. The film successfully documents that Africa had vibrant scholarly institutions and written cultures long before European intervention. It establishes the importance of preserving the thousands of manuscripts from long ago as an exciting and empowering legacy for Africana scholarship today.

    The Manuscripts of Timbuktu will be a great resource for African Studies, Black Studies, Islamic Studies, Anthropology, Folklore and Archeology courses.

    DVD (French and Arabic with English subtitles) / 2009 / 52 minutes

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    By Andy Lawrence

    For the Nath Yogis of Northern India this prayer is an expression of their desire to find the One amongst the many and to return to the source of all things. According to the Naths, only a true guru can guide them through the paradoxes of human life in their search for a centre where nothing must exist.

    This anthropological documentary film offers an in-depth look at the Tantrik, Aghori, holy seekers of Northern India who are the disciples of the great Guru Gorakh Nath. Following his journey of discovery in The Lover and the Beloved, Rajive McMullen goes deeper into Tantra presenting his own guru's story.

    DVD (Color, English and Hindi with English subtitles) / 2009 / 56 minutes

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    Directed by Holly Mosher
    Starring Muhammad Yunus

    Bonsai People is a feature length documentary film that explores the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and his vision from microcredit to social business.

    What if you could harness the power of the free market to solve the problems of poverty, hunger, and inequality? To some, it sounds impossible. But Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is doing exactly that. Bonsai People celebrates Yunus' extraordinary humanitarian work, which started by lending $27 to 42 people out of his own pocket and has now grown to helping 1 out of every 1,000 people on earth. But he didn't stop there - whenever he sees a problem he starts a business, creating a mix between business and social work, which he's coined "social business." By tackling some of the world's most vexing problems from healthcare, education to alternative energy, he is demonstrating to the world that complex problems sometimes do have simple answers. Microcredit is just the tip of the iceberg!

    3 DVDs (With Study Guide) / 78 minutes

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    Directed by Holly Mosher

    An award-winning emotionally moving documentary about how two nonprofits in Brazil use the pedagogy of affection to help street kids and women break the vicious cycle of domestic violence.

    Hummingbird is an emotionally moving and inspirational documentary that looks at two non-profits working with street children and women suffering domestic violence.

    In the beautiful coastal city of Recife, Brazil lurks a world capital for sex tourism. This award-winning documentary exposes the heart-wrenching realities and follows two groups of determined women who strive to get kids off the streets and break the cycle of domestic violence. Hummingbird shows us how these nonprofit groups use the pedagogy of affection to empower individuals and inspire positive life change - offering many a second chance.

  • Best Documentary for Human Rights in Rome
  • Best Short for Children's Advocacy at the Artivist Film Festival

    DVD / 48 minutes

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    By Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, Holly Mosher, John Wellington Ennis

    Award winning documentary on the Documentary & Films tactics of drug companies.

    Money Talks exposes the questionable tactics that big drug companies use to make record profits by playing with the safety of our familyˇ¦s health care. Using misleading advertising, attractive "drug reps" who wine and dine doctors and other unethical practices, the drug industry makes billions of dollars every year selling us unsafe, unnecessary and overpriced drugs. If you want to protect the people you love from their dangerous practices that compromise the safety and quality of our health care, Money Talks is a must-see film.

  • American Library Association (ALA) honors Money Talks as one of the most important films of 2008.

    DVD / 50 minutes

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