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Documentary - Social Science



1971

Director: Johanna Hamilton

On March 8, 1971, a group of citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, PA, took every file, and shared them with the public. Their actions exposed the FBI's illegal surveillance program of law-abiding Americans. Now, these previously anonymous Americans publicly share their story for the first time.

The FBI, established in 1908, was for 60 years held unaccountable and untouchable until 1971, when The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, as they called themselves, sent the stolen files to journalists at the Washington Post, which published them and shed light on the FBI's widespread abuse of power. These actions exposed COINTELPRO, the FBI's illegal surveillance program that involved the intimidation of law-abiding Americans, and helped lead to the country's first congressional investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The activist-burglars then disappeared into anonymity for forty years. Until now. Never caught, these previously anonymous Americans parents, teachers and citizens publicly reveal themselves for the first time and share their story in the documentary 1971. Using a mix of dramatic re-enactments and candid interviews with all involved, the film vividly brings to life one of the more important, yet relatively unexplored, chapters in modern American history.


DVD / 2015 / () / 79 minutes

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ANTIBIOTIC HUNTERS, THE

Directed by Bruce Mohun

Scientists are hunting urgently for new antibiotics -- a challenge that is taking them to some remote and unusual places.

Increasing resistance to antibiotics has been called the most pressing global health problem of our time. Medical experts are predicting a post-antibiotic era, in which people will die of infections easily treated just a few years ago -- unless we find more of these miracle drugs.

THE ANTIBIOTIC HUNTERS follows drug researchers as they investigate the slimy green fur of sloths, the saliva of Komodo dragons, the blood of alligators, and the bacteria in British Columbia caves and on the ocean floor off the coast of Panama -- all part of the urgent hunt to find the building blocks of new antibiotics.


DVD / 2015 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 44 minutes

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BURDEN OF PEACE

By Joey Boink

Burden of Peace tells the remarkable story of Claudia Paz y Paz, the first woman to lead the Public Prosecutor's Office of Guatemala. A country that has been ravaged for years by a devastating civil war, in which nearly 200,000 Mayan Indians were systematically massacred, is currently one of the most violent countries in the world. Drug cartels, corruption, rape, and violence rule everyday Guatemalan life, with little repercussions for offenders. As prosecutor, Claudia seeks justice for her nation's victims, and begins an assault that starts at the top, with government officials. She manages the extraordinary achievement of convicting former dictator Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide.

Since her first year in office, Claudia bravely gave access to documentary filmmakers, which resulted in an intimate glimpse into the life of a woman who will stop at nothing to break the cycle of violence and seek justice in the name of her nation's people. Her achievements don't come without sacrifices, however, and it isn't long before the government seeks to remove Claudia from office and threatens her life. This intense film shows an unfiltered look at the way those in power will stop at nothing to silence those who threaten their existence. Will Claudia be able to break the cycle of violence and corruption in her country? What will be the burden of the peace she seeks?


DVD / 2015 / () / 54 minutes

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DREAM ON

Dream On investigates the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income equality and declining economic mobility. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where anyone, of any background, could climb the ladder of economic opportunity. Following in the Frenchman's footsteps, Fugelsang asks whether the optimistic spirit of the American Dream that Tocqueville popularized is alive and well in the twenty-first century, or whether George Carlin was right when he famously quipped, "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

DVD / 2015 / () / 101 minutes

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FIRST DEGREE

By Roger Weisberg

Nationwide, nearly half of released inmates return to prison within 5 years. First Degree takes viewers inside Sing Sing Prison, one of the nation's most infamous maximum-security prisons, and presents a remarkable program that has dropped the recidivism rate to under 2%. Mercy College has partnered with the prison to provide an opportunity for inmates to earn a college degree, and with it, an entirely new life upon release. This inspiring documentary introduces us to the inmates who are actively choosing to change their life paths by participating in the college program, including convicted murderers and gang members who have now become role models for other inmates. First Degree shows how the diploma these men earn is far more than just a piece of paper; it is a second chance at life itself.


DVD / 2015 / () / 27 minutes

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IN OUR SON'S NAME

Directed by Gayla Jamison

Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez's lives shatter when their son, Greg dies with thousands of others in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Instead of seeking revenge, the grieving parents begin a journey of reconciliation that transforms their lives. The film follows their odyssey, which thrusts them reluctantly into the public eye as they speak out against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, oppose the death penalty for 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, and befriend his mother.

Seeking to understand the nature of violence, they engage in an emotional dialog with men incarcerated at Sing Sing prison for violent crimes, who themselves seek reconciliation. Over time Phyllis and Orlando reach a new understanding of their rebellious son, who had just begun to find his way when his life was cut short.

The film mixes in-depth interviews with on-location footage and striking archival photographs and video to create a deeply personal story that invites us to re-consider conventional concepts of justice and healing.


DVD / 2015 / () / 64 minutes

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LAW NOT WAR: BEN FERENCZ'S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE

By Ulabritt Horn

Law Not War is a moving portrait of the last surviving Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials, 95-year-old Benjamin Ferencz. The film offers both a look back into history as well as an examination of current issues of war, justice and the International Criminal Court (ICC). From historic Court Room 600 in Nuremberg, Benjamin Ferencz relives his memories of the famous trials through intimate interviews, which are interwoven with historic film footage and statements from other international leaders in the field.

Ferencz's life is defined by his remarkable journey from a poor, immigrant family in Hell's Kitchen, New York through Harvard Law School, to become Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials at the age of 27. At an age when most people's careers have not even begun, Ferencz was prosecuting the Einsatzgruppen, the group of Nazi soldiers who were known as death squads, and who were responsible for mass killings that took place during the Holocaust.

After the Nuremberg Trials, Ferencz became a tireless fighter for the ideals that they represented. He devoted his life to the principle that war crimes should be prosecuted, and he worked relentlessly for the ICC to actualize that, despite the fact that the political climate during the Cold War was not favourable to his position.

Ferencz still travels the world today, 70 years after the Nuremberg Trials, seeking both peace and justice for those who commit war crimes. 70 years later, his struggle is as relevant now as it was in 1945. As Ferencz himself says, "We have to turn to law instead of war. Or else we will destroy the whole world."


DVD / 2015 / () / 90 minutes

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LIFE AND DEATH AT PREAH VIHEAR

By David A. Feingold

Life and Death at Preah Vihear explores why two Buddhist countries are fighting in the 21st Century over a Hindu temple from the 11th Century because of a bad French map from the early 20th Century.

Filmed over a five year period in both Thailand and Cambodia, the film uses the conflict over the ancient temple of Preah Vihear (Khmer) / Khao Phra Viharn (Thai) to illuminate current political and cultural tensions between the two countries. In addition, it shows the ways in which the colonial encounter with the West impacted the concept of borders and boundaries of the Southeast Asian state. Finally, it shows the stark political divisions that have split Thailand into "Red Shirts" and "Yellow Shirts", and exposes how the dispute has influenced X and been influenced by X Thai internal politics.

The documentary shows the magnificence and mystical symbolism of the temple itself. Using rare archival footage, it places the present dispute in its historical context in both Cambodia and Thailand. It contains interviews with policy makers, scholars and ordinary people on both sides of the border; some of whom see the conflict as senseless, while others are willing to fight to the death. In Cambodia, it shows 'spirit warriors' of an ancient general being mobilized through trance to defend the country. In Thailand, both Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts are filmed, as are the street demonstrations and fierce fighting that has periodically erupted.

The film includes the most recent Thai military coup, and concludes by examining the impact of this seizure of power on issues along the border.


DVD (Color, Khmer, Thai, and English with English subtitles) / 2015 / () / 51 minutes

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TROUBLEMAKERS: THE STORY OF LAND ART

Director: James Crump

Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art unearths the history of land art in the tumultuous late 1960s and early 1970s. The film features a cadre of renegade New York artists that sought to transcend the limitations of painting and sculpture by producing earthworks on a monumental scale in the desolate desert spaces of the American southwest. Today these works remain impressive not only for the sheer audacity of their makers but also for their out-sized ambitions to break free from traditional norms. The film casts these artists in a heroic light, which is exactly how they saw themselves. Iconoclasts who changed the landscape of art forever, these revolutionary, antagonistic creatives risked their careers on radical artistic change and experimentation, and took on the establishment to produce art on their own terms. The film includes rare footage and interviews which unveil the enigmatic lives and careers of storied artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field) and Michael Heizer (Double Negative); a headstrong troika that established the genre. As the film makes clear, in making works that can never be possessed as an object in a gallery, these troublemakers stand in marked contrast to the hyper-speculative contemporary art world of today.

Troublemakers features Germano Celant, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, Vito Acconci, Virginia Dwan, Charles Ross, Paula Cooper, Willoughby Sharp, Pamela Sharp, Lawrence Weiner, Nancy Holt, Carl Andre, Gianfranco Gorgoni, and Harald Szeemann.


DVD / 2015 / () / 72 minutes

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TV FAMILY: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE FIRST REALITY TELEVISION PROGRAM

By Ethan Thompson

In 1960, NBC aired what some consider to be the first "reality television" show in American broadcast history. Hosted by Jane Wyatt of Father Knows Best fame, and billing itself as a "new kind of visual reporting," it was called Story of a Family, and it purported to document the day-to-day lives of the 10-member Robertson family of Amarillo, Texas. While the show has since faded from public memory, media scholars and television historians now recognize its significance as a precursor to the unscripted television programming that dominates American television today. In TV Family, filmmaker Ethan Thompson draws on the recollections of several of the children featured in the show to offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the making of Story of a Family. Weaving personal anecdotes from the Robertsons with commentary from TV historians and cultural critics, Thompson tells the story of how the show's producers carefully choreographed the way they wanted the family to appear to the American public -- all in the name of authenticity. The result is an eye-opening look at one of the television industry's earliest attempts to shape the "reality" of family life in commercially viable ways. Ideal for courses that look at media culture, commercial television, communication, documentary, and television history.


DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2015 / () / 56 minutes

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WELCOME TO LEITH

Directors: Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker

Welcome to Leith chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. With incredible access to both longtime residents of Leith and white supremacists, the film examines a small community in the plains struggling for sovereignty against an extremist vision.

DVD / 2015 / () / 86 minutes

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YUCATEC MAYA DEAF SIGN

By Hubert Smith

In 1976, Hubert Smith set out with a group of researchers to visually document Yucatec Maya society within the village of Chican. This project resulted in the 4-part series, The Living Maya. During filming, however, it was impossible to ignore the use of sign language in the village. Smith and his team saw a lot of the deaf residents, filmed them often, and went back to have these sign exchanges translated. Now it is time to share a story solely about them.

This video contains two conversations in Yucatec Maya Deaf Sign. The first episode features three deaf young men discussing their encounters with snakes. In the second episode, village bachelors tackle a common topic: who can carry out a successful courtship? Full of frank good humor, this conversation also shows a hearing man participating. He not only understands, but also contributes to the conversation using deaf sign.

Margaret Mead, who served as an advisor to the project before her death once remarked, "The language is one thing, but what is remarkable is that the entire community uses it!"


DVD (Color, Yucatec Maya Sign Language with English subtitles) / 2015 / () / 31 minutes

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ENEMY WITHIN, THE

Directed by Owen Gower

The story of Britain's longest strike, the 1984-85 miners' strike, when Margaret Thatcher declared war on the unions, as told by those who lived through it.

THE ENEMY WITHIN provides unique insight into one of the most dramatic events in British history: the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. No experts. No politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of those who lived through Britain's longest strike. Follow the highs and lows of that life-changing year.

In 1984, a Conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared war on Britain's unions, taking on the strongest in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers. Following a secret plan, the government began announcing the closure of coal mines, threatening not just an industry but whole communities and a way of life.

Against all the forces the government could throw at them, 160,000 coal miners took up the fight. THE ENEMY WITHIN tells the story of a group of miners and supporters who were on the frontline of that strike for an entire year. These were people that Margaret Thatcher labelled "the enemy within".

Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archival footage, THE ENEMY WITHIN draws together personal experiences - whether they're tragic, funny or terrifying - to take the audience on an emotionally powerful journey through the dramatic events of that year.


DVD / 2014 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adults) / 112 minutes

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