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Weekly New Release - Documentary

Weekly New Release - Documentary


Directed by Russell Martin

A profoundly moving and compelling portrait of one of the world's most remarkable hospitals, located in the bustling heart of Mexico City, which provides affordable, life-saving and life-transforming facial reconstructive surgery for local children.

Founded by pioneer surgeon Dr. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, the plastic surgery unit of Hospital General Gea Gonzalez, is considered among the most renowned reconstructive plastic surgery centers. With technical brilliance, imagination and compassion Dr. Ortiz Monasterio and his interdisciplinary team have treated thousands of disfigured children with revolutionary craniofacial surgery, consisting of cutting, displacing and rearranging facial bones.

It is a hospital that ably demonstrates that even the very poor can receive excellent medical care. On any given day, more than a thousand families will wait patiently for services, often for many hours. But the level of attention and expertise they receive is unmatched. The expert surgeons and doctors who work here are able to subsidize their salaries by owning separate plastic surgery practices.

Beautiful Faces offers an incredibly revealing account of the entire process by following caregivers and care receivers at different stages. We follow the surgeons as they conduct initial consultations, discuss strategies at brainstorming sessions, and practice their craft in the operating room. While some young children and families prepare for a first operation, other young adults, former patients who have been able to build a new life, return to the hospital to share their stories.

  • "A great documentary... Seeing this film is one of the most significant human and spiritual experiences I've had in recent years. What pride it gave me in being a doctor, what pride to find work like this in Mexico...what pride I found in the hope of these families." - Dr. Fernando Lorenzo Rego, Executive Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights

  • "I refer you to the splendid documentary Beautiful Faces . . . Over the years, the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Hospital General Gea Gonzalez¡Xwith its professionalism, capacity for innovation, quality, and compassion¡Xhas become a national and international reference point, the quiet pride of Mexico."- Federico Reyes Heroles, Reforma

  • Winner, Silver Palm Award, Mexico International Film Festival

    DVD / 2012 / 76 minutes

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    Directors: Edgar B. Howard, Muffie Dunn

    In 2004 Checkerboard had the privilege of filming Carrie Mae Weems discussing her body of work, comprised of 17 projects spanning more than two decades (1981-2004).

    This dynamic presentation was accompanied by slides of the artist's photographs and excerpts from her video art. The result is a chaptered lecture guided by Weems's seductive voice and passionate presence. The viewer is transported into her world as she details what she is trying to uncover, illuminate, investigate and provoke through her lens.

    Our film begins with Weems's documentation of her extensive family in the 1984 series "Family Pictures and Stories" and builds gradually in complexity with "Ain't Jokin"(1987-88), an examination of racial stereotypes, and "Kitchen Table Series" (1990), in which Weems, by inserting herself into the tableau, shows us 'woman' experiencing love, motherhood, companionship, and isolation. Series such as "Sea Islands" (1991-92) and "From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried" (1995-96) and later "The Louisiana Project" (2003) and "Missing Links" (2003) focus on the African diaspora and issues of race, gender, and cultural history addressed with a blend of poignancy and humor.

    In 1997, Weems says she reached a point where she "just could not function on the wall anymore," and so for the next three years printed her work on large swaths of fabric suspended from the ceiling to beckon movement through and around the images; this resulted in "Ritual and Revolution"(1998) "The Jefferson Suite"(1999) and "The Hampton Project"(2000).

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 29 minutes

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    Directed by Gayatri Roshan & Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

    Elemental delivers a powerful and unusually intimate portrait of modern environmental activism through the story of three eco-warriors united by their deep connection with nature and commitment to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time.

    The film follows Eriel Deranger, a Northern Alberta-based Canadian indigenous activist opposing the Tar Sands and a proposed 2,000 mile Keystone XL Pipeline, that would travel from Northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

    In India, water conservationist Rajendra Singh, a former Indian government official gone rogue, goes on a 40-day pilgrimage down India's once pristine Ganges now alarmingly polluted. Facing community opposition, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse local populations to treat sacred "Mother Ganga" with respect.

    In Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman struggles to find parties willing to invest millions on revolutionary turbine devices that he believes can slow global warming.

    Separated by oceans yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protect nature, the eco-warriors featured in Elemental offer an insightful and moving account of individuals overcoming overwhelming challenges.

  • "Three environmental activists around the globe are profiled in Elemental and their efforts are duly inspiring and the related issues imposing...an interesting view of eco-warriors at work...Editing smoothly weaves between the three strands." - Variety

  • "A rare, fresh look at environmental issues and sustainability that does not shy away from the personal impact the decisions to dedicate one's life to a cause entails." - The Film Stage

    DVD / 2012 / 93 minutes

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    Director: Edgar B. Howard

    Developed as an adjunct to the exhibition Dive Deep: Eric Fischl and the Process of Painting, this 35-minute film is a co-production with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. It is comprised of excerpts from interviews conducted by PAFA Director Harry Philbrick and Associate Curator Jodi Throckmorton of the San Jose Museum of Art in California at Fischl's Long Island and New York City studios. The film charts the course of the artist's creative process from his days as a student at California Institute of the Arts to the present.

    Fischl speaks candidly and with a comedic sense about his schooling - breaking away from minimal abstraction, revolting against the suggestion that painting was dead, particularly figurative painting, as well as finding his own voice. He is generous in the detail of his approach, sharing questions he attempts to answer in his paintings along with the challenges of composition, concluding, "at a certain point paintings paint themselves. You just carry out what (they're) telling you to do. You can't change it."

    Fischl works throughout the film in various media - paint, photography, sculpture and watercolor - moving effortlessly between each whilst opining on their respective merits. He lets us in on his influences, including the sculpture of Auguste Rodin and the paintings and photographs of Thomas Eakins. What connects them to his own broad body of work is the human figure; Fischl states, " I am interested in the relationship that a person has with their body. Their body is this interface between an internal world of feeling, self-regard, self loathing and this socialized world of availability signals, desire... you read all that. And that's the stuff that I am riveted to...that's the thing I find the most compelling about watching people."

    DVD (Color) / 2012 / 38 minutes

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    Director: Mehrnaz Saeedvafa

    In her intimate documentary "Jerry & Me," filmmaker Mehrnaz Saeedvafa examines the significant role that Hollywood movies played in her life, both as a young film lover growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran, and as an adult working as a filmmaker and educator in both Iran and the USA. Of particular focus in "Jerry & Me" is the intimate relationship young Mehrnaz develops with the image of Jerry Lewis, the iconic American film auteur who delighted audiences around the world with hilarious portrayals of outcasts and misfits in popular Hollywood comedies of the 1950s and '60s.

    As illustrated through a variety of Lewis' film clips, the shifts in the comedian's on-screen persona reflected the twists and turns of Saeedvafa's own life, providing her much needed comfort and companionship during a time that was tumultuous and chaotic. Mehrnaz's illusion of Lewis as an empathetic fellow outsider is ultimately shattered, however, by the stark reality of a real-life encounter with the star.

  • "A provocative and hilarious cross-cultural investigation." - Jonathan Rosenbaum

  • "Jerry & Me is a love letter to cinema." - Chicago Journal

    DVD (English and Persian with English Subtitles) / 2012 / 38 minutes

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    With Mark Cousins
    Director: Ehsan Khoshbakht

    In 2011, Irish author, filmmaker, and former director of Edinburgh Film Festival, Mark Cousins, ended his cinematic odyssey with the release of the 15 hour long compilation documentary: The Story of Film. For this epic project, Mark traveled the world to learn more about the films of renowned directors such as Youssef Chahine, John Ford, Abbas Kiarostami and Ritwik Ghatak and to experience firsthand the settings of their master works. While in Iran, Mark made two tribute documentaries on Iranian cinema: On the Road with Kiarostami and Cinema Iran.

    In A Journey Through Iranian Cinema With Mark Cousins, Iranian filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht catches up with Mark during the English tour of The Story of Film. Mark explores the impact of the films of Forough Farrokhzad, Abbas Kiarostami and the Makhmalbaf(s) have had on his life as filmmaker and film lover, as he reminisces about the two trips he made from Scotland to Iran in his campervan. Mark also offers fascinating insights on modern Iran: A country whose rich culture and vast history are often overshadowed by the day-to-day fluctuations in modern-day politics.

    DVD (English, Farsi with English subtitles) / 2012 / 30 Minutes

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    Directors: Jamil Khoury, Stephen Combs

    Inspired by Jamil Khoury's short play WASP: White Arab Slovak Pole, Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness is a thought-provoking documentary that explores the complicated relationship of Arab and Slavic immigrants to American notions of whiteness.

    The film integrates scenes from WASP alongside interviews with Arab American and Polish American academics who reflect upon contested and probationary categories of whiteness and the use of anti-Black racism as a "whitening" dye.

    In Not Quite White, Jamil Khoury (Artistic Director of Chicago's Silk Road Rising) draws upon his own Arab (Syrian) and Slavic (Polish and Slovak) heritage as the lens through which to investigate the broader issue of immigrants achieving whiteness and hence qualifying as "fully American." The film advances society's on-going conversations about the meaning of whiteness and efforts at redefining whiteness.

    Not just for white people, and not just for Arabs and Slavs, Not Quite White proceeds from the assumption that whiteness affects all our lives and that we all need to critically engage whiteness. "Whiteness has everything to do with melanin and pigmentation and it has nothing to do with melanin and pigmentation," Khoury observes. "Whiteness is about power and borders and authorship. And whiteness can, and does, change."

    The academics featured in Not Quite White include: Roxane Assaf, Adjunct Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Ann Hetzel Gunkel, Director of Cultural Studies, Columbia College Chicago; John Tofik Karam, Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, De Paul University; Dominic A. Pacyga, Professor of History, Columbia College Chicago.

  • "A bold and dynamic examination of the social construction of race and ethnicity in the US...a useful tool for teaching students that race is more complex than what meets the eye." - Michelle Yates, Ph.D., Columbia College

  • "Zeroes in on whiteness as a constructed social and political category...that historically 'played favorites,' advantaging Northern/Western European immigrants over those from Eastern/Southern Europe and the Middle East." - PRNewswire

    DVD / 2012 / 24 minutes

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    By Edgar Howard

    An historic event in New York City gathered the founding members of the Postmodernism movement on November 11 and 12, 2011. "The generations who followed came together at what was possibly the last opportunity to learn from those women and men who forged Postmodernism and to consider its legacy," says ICAA president, Paul Gunther.

    Reconsidering Postmodernism features film interviews with Denise Scott Brown and Vincent Scully, as well as Tom Wolfe's keynote address celebrating the 30th anniversary of the publication of his seminal text, From Bauhaus to Our House. Also incorporated are lectures and panel discussions by 36 leading architects, scholars and critics including Tom Beeby, Barry Bergdoll, Andres Duany, Paul Goldberger, Michael Graves, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Demetri Porphyrios, Jaquelin Robertson, Witold Rybczynski, and Robert A.M. Stern.

    The film captures the intellectual spirit of the conference through rich content presented by the people who shaped Postmodernism, including Charles Jencks, who coined the term in his 1975 essay "The Rise of Postmodern Architecture."

    The conference was conceived by Gary Brewer, architect and partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects and ICAA Board Member. "Thanks to the peerless artistry of the Checkerboard Film Foundation," Brewer commented, "Institute constituents and others can explore a collective debt to Postmodernism - prompting the possibility to question the orthodoxy of high modernism in force at the time of its advent."

    Paul Gunther concludes, "Our aim has been not only to look back historically, but also to place Postmodernism in a dynamic current context... To that end, current students and others curious and uninitiated are welcome to take due advantage of this vibrant film and video archive."

    4 DVDs (Color) / 2012 / 16 hours

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    Directed by Aimee Barry Broustra

    A fascinating documentary, The Young Ancestors explores a growing movement within American Indian communities to revitalize their native languages before they become extinct. An inspiring documentary, it follows a group of teenagers, who as part of a pilot program created by the Indigenous Language Institute, are learning their native language, Tewa, for the first time.

    Like many today, the dedicated students in the film are motivated and enthusiastic about learning Tewa because they understand the symbiotic relationship between language and culture; that one cannot survive for too long without the other. They learn Tewa through group discussions led by their teacher and mentor, along with the help of specially designed computer technology (which aids in capturing the inflections and nuances of their language).

    Learning their tribal language allows the student to establish a line of continuity with their ancestors and to connect with the rituals performed in their community. Dances, songs, and ceremonies are demystified. The language becomes once again vibrant.

    An important film, The Young Ancestors also explores the troubling history of forced boarding school attendance and relocation through interviews with parents and members of the community. It examines the historical reasons behind Native American language loss and uncovers the ways in which speaking one's native language heals on both individual and communal levels.

  • "Very enlightening. This will encourage Native Americans to appreciate the value of their beautiful language. It certainly will be of great benefit to all who desire to learn to speak their Native Tongue." - Ron, Tewa Language and Culture Instructor Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

    DVD / 2012 / 60 minutes

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    Director: J. Paul Preseault

    A semi-autobiographical short video play by Jamil Khoury, both/and disrupts the dictates of "either/or" and "us vs. them," imagining identities that are holistic and non-fragmented.

    In both/and, the characters of Jamil, Arab Man, and Gay Man explore and explode the constructed boundaries between American and Arab, Arab American and gay, for-profit and not-for-profit, and other assorted disputed territories.

    DVD / 2011 / 13 minutes

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    Director: Farheen Umar

    Three-year-old Farah arrived in California from Palestine in November of 2009 to be treated for injuries incurred during an Israeli bombardment on Beit Lahiya in Gaza. Farah makes the journey to America unaccompanied by members of her family and stays for nine months with her host mom, San Diego resident Amal Jubran.

    Amal cares for Farah throughout her three surgeries, and in the process the two form a strong emotional bond. While staying with her new-found mother, Farah transforms from a withdrawn child into a happy and outgoing little girl. However, as the time approaches for Farah's return to her home in Palestine, both Amal and Farah must prepare to face a difficult reality.

    DVD (English and Arabic with English subtitles) / 2011 / 50 minutes

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    Director: David Fine

    Basketball is much more than a game in David Fine's stirring documentary about an Iraqi women's basketball team at the American University of Iraq¡XSulaimani (AUIS) in Kurdistan. For the young women on the team, most of whom have never touched a basketball or been allowed to play sports at all before, it is a blissful escape from the realities of living in a war-torn nation.

    The team members come from a variety of ethnicities and sects¡XArab, Kurd, Christian, Sunni, Shiite¡Xbut the joy they discover in playing together and the deep love they come to feel for one another and for Ryan, their young American coach, reveals an Iraq united in a way we've rarely seen before.

  • "A stirring example of the possibilities for young Iraqis outside the country's war zones." - Variety

  • "Of the majority of images and video to be coming from Iraq...SALAAM DUNK stands aside from the pack." - IndieWire

  • Winner! Golden Plaque, Chicago International Film Festival

    DVD (English, Arabic, and Kurdish with English subtitles) / 2011 / 82 minutes

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    Directed by Kim Shelton

    The Welcome offers a rare and fiercely intimate view of a diverse group of veterans and family members, from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq - all suffering from the effects of PTSD - who come together to participate in an unusual healing retreat.

    The retreat is facilitated by renowned Mythologist and story teller, Michael Meade, who incorporates stories and rituals from various cultures into the healing process. Through extensive testimonials, group discussions and poetry writing sessions, veterans share their experiences and memories and together attempt to heal. The retreat culminates with the veterans presenting this poetry to a large civilian audience on Memorial Day.

    Across genders, ethnicities and generations, The Welcome offers diverse and powerful accounts of war experiences and life after war. While white female soldiers recall the sexism they faced, a Native American woman army vet struggles to find her place in the all-white group. Vietnam vets counsel young soldiers on furlough as they prepare to return for another tour, and family members struggle to understand the reasons for their conflicted lives.

    This documentary is an artful and gripping account of the struggles veterans face in finding their way home, as well as a powerful example of the essential role of the civilian community in working with the psychological and social issues in the aftermath of war.

  • "A powerful reminder that, even after all these years, it is never too late to embrace our veterans" - The Huffington Post

  • "Powerfully positive and brimming with hope." - David Templeton, The Pacific Sun

  • "The Welcome' should be viewed in every community across this nation." - Shad Meshad, Founder, National Veterans Foundation

  • Winner, Feature Documentary - Ashland Independent Film Festival
  • Audience Favorite Award, Feature Documentary - Mill Valley Film Festival
  • Best Dramatic Documentary, US - Docufest Atlanta
  • Interfaith Award, Feature Documentary - St. Louis International Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Film - The Western Psychological Association Film Festival

    DVD / 2011 / 93 minutes

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    Director: Dahna Abourahme

    The story of the women of Ein El Hilweh refugee camp between 1982 and 1984 is an important chapter in the history of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the camp was destroyed and its men were imprisoned.

    The Kingdom of Women documents the organizing spirit of the community's women during this period¡Xdetailing how they were able to rebuild the camp and protect and provide for their families while their men were held captive. Using animation and scenes from daily life as it moves between past and present, the film focuses on seven of these women, honoring the contributions they've made and continue to make to the survival of the Palestinian community in exile.

  • "The juxtaposition of black-and-white animation, documentary footage and photographs, and everyday sounds accompanied by a simple and poignant melody of distinctive notes weave together to narrate the women's stories." - Rania Jawad, Jadaliyya Magazine

    DVD (Arabic with English subtitles) / 2010 / 54 minutes

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    Keeping a healthy outlook on life is critical as we age. By using current research and personal stories, this program will focus on the importance of family, friends and the support systems we need as we age. At this stage of our lives and our parents' lives, a sense of loss is normal. Friends and family die, and on top of the emotional turmoil, other monumental changes can occur. Dramatic changes in health, housing and income can also have significant impacts on our mental well-being. How do we cope with these losses and how do we support loved ones going through challenging times?

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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    See the effects of aging on family members. Takes an in-depth look at family dynamics and aging. How do siblings make difficult decisions about and for their aging parents? Often one sibling takes on more responsibilities, which leads to other problems and concerns among the siblings and other family members. Current research on aging families and support systems will be explored as well as personal stories.

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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    Everyone has heard Canada's population is changing. What does this mean in our day-to-day lives and what does it mean for our futures? How do we respond to social issues like finances, health care, careers, retirement and housing? As well, as the population ages, new business opportunities are becoming apparent. In addition, there will be more career opportunities for people working in the field of gerontology.

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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    People understand more and more the importance of maintaining their health. A look at the components that contribute to healthy living, utilizing Health Canada's Key Determinants of Health--income and social status, social support networks, education and literacy, social environments, physical environments, etc. Profiles people living active healthy retirements and inspiring us, regardless of our age, to really live the lives we desire.

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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    We all have ideas of what aging means. Most people think of aging as a negative thing in which we lose our memory, our sight and our hearing. Most of the time aging means we can't get around, we can't sleep and sex isn't even a possibility. Many of these common ideas are myths and there are many things we can do to avoid and reduce these common myths of aging.

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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    Heart disease, cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis - are these diseases preventable? Many experts believe so. If someone has a chronic illness what can be done to improve their quality of life? What can baby boomers do to support their parents who are living with these conditions? Focusing on people who have chronic illnesses and addressing current knowledge about chronic illnesses as well as how people with these illnesses continue to live successfully.

    DVD / 2005 / (Grades 9-12) / 60 minutes

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