Posts tagged ‘Documentary’

August 2, 2020

Dead Birds


Dead Birds is a 1963 American documentary film by American anthropologist Robert Gardner (1925-2014) about the ritual warfare cycle of the Dugum Dani tribe in New Guinea. The film presents footage of battles between the Willihiman-Wallalua clan and the Wittaia clan with scenes of the funeral of a small boy killed by a raiding party, the women’s work that goes on while battles continue, and the wait for enemy to appear.

The film’s theme is the encounter that all people must have with death, as told in a Dugum Dani myth of the origins of death that bookends the film. The film uses a nonlinear narrative structure of parallel or braided narrative that traces three individuals through a season of three deaths and one near-death as relayed by an expository voiceover that describes scenes and the thoughts of the film’s protagonists.

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August 7, 2018

Tim’s Vermeer

Hockney–Falco thesis

Tim’s Vermeer is a 2013 documentary film, directed by Teller (of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller), produced by his stage partner Penn Jillette and film producer Farley Ziegler, about inventor Tim Jenison’s efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices.

Tim Jenison is the founder of NewTek, a company working in various fields of computer graphics, most notably the 3D modelling software ‘LightWave 3D.’ Jenison, himself both an engineer and art enthusiast, becomes fascinated with the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, the 17th-century Dutch painter, whose paintings have been described as having a photographic quality to them.

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March 25, 2016

The Wolfpack


The Wolfpack is a 2015 American documentary film about a family who homeschooled and raised their seven children in the confinement of their apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City. The film, directed by Crystal Moselle, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

Locked away for fourteen years, the Angulo family’s seven children—six brothers named Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (Glenn), and Jagadesh (Eddie), and their sister Visnu—learned about the world through watching films. They also re-enact scenes from their favorite movies.  Their father, Oscar, had the only door key and prohibited the kids and their mother from leaving the apartment except for a few strictly-monitored trips on the ‘nefarious’ streets.

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December 1, 2013

The Queen of Versailles

Jackie Siegel

The Queen of Versailles is a 2012 American documentary film by Lauren Greenfield, depicting Jackie Siegel and her husband David, founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts (a timeshare company based out of Florida), and their family as they build the Versailles house, the largest and most expensive single-family house in the United States, and the crisis they face as the US economy declines.

Washington Post’ columnist Ezra Klein called it, ‘perhaps the single best film on the Great Recession,’ writing that one scene, in which Siegel recounts a series of transactions that allowed him to purchase at a fraction of its original value a loan on which he owes money, ‘might stand as the single most complete vignette on the mechanics of the financial crisis and the subsequent slow recovery.’

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August 13, 2013

Citizen Koch


Citizen Koch‘ is a 2013 documentary film directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, concerning the political influence of American plutocrats on the political process following the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision, which granted corporations the ability to anonymously spend unlimited money to influence public policy and elections.

The film focuses on the eponymous Koch brothers, in particular, and their support for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who represents the Citizen Koch in the title. The film also chronicles the rise of the Tea Party movement in response to the election of the first African-American President in 2008.

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August 6, 2013

Ecstasy of Order


Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters’ is a 2011 American documentary film that follows the lives of several gamers from around the country as they prepare to compete in the 2010 ‘Classic Tetris World Championship’ held in Los Angeles.

It recounts the development and rise of Tetris as one of the most-played video games of all-time, the role it has played in shaping the lives of the gamers it chronicles, the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of former Nintendo World Champion Thor Aackerlund, and the conception and execution of the first ever Classic Tetris World Championship by gaming enthusiast Robin Mihara.

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August 4, 2013

New York Street Games


New York Street Games is a 2010 documentary film directed by Matt Levy about children’s games played by kids in New York City for centuries. The story is brought to the present with discussions of the current role of street games and opinions as to what kids lose by not having the freedom to play without adult supervision, most importantly the social skills developed when kids could play in the streets.

Many of the ball games featured are most often played with a pink rubber ball called a Spaldeen. Games covered include Stickball, Ringolevio, Stoopball, Kick the can, Punchball, Hopscotch, Slapball, Hit the Stick, Skully, Double Dutch, Johnny on a Pony, Boxball, Steal the Bacon, Ace-King-Queen, Red Rover, Off the Wall, and Box Baseball.

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June 5, 2013

Born Rich

Lucky Sperm

Born Rich‘ is a 2003 documentary film about growing up in the world’s richest families. It was created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. It consists primarily of Johnson interviewing his friends and peers about living life free of financial constraints. These interviews are offset by Johnson’s exploration of his own experience and family.

Interviewees include: Georgina Bloomberg, Stephanie Ercklentz (born to New York lawyer Enno W. Ercklentz Jr.), Christina Floyd (born to golfer Raymond Floyd), Juliet Hartford (born to A&P heir Huntington Hartford), Josiah Cheston Hornblower (born into Vanderbilt-Whitney lineage), S.I. Newhouse IV, Ivanka Trump, Cody Franchetti (heir to Milliken & Co), and Carlo von Zeitschel (German baron and Italian viscount, great grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm). Luke Weil (born to Scientific Games CEO A. Lorne Weil) sued unsuccessfully to remove his segments from the film.

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March 9, 2013

Czech Dream

cesky sen

Czech Dream‘ is a 2004 documentary film directed by Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda, which recorded a large-scale hoax perpetrated by the filmmakers on the Czech public, culminating in the ‘opening event’ of a fake hypermarket (a supermarket and a department store in one).

The film was their final project for film school. Remunda and Klusák invented the ‘Český sen’ (‘Czech Dream’) hypermarket and created a massive advertising campaign around it.

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March 7, 2013

The Trap

Adam Curtis

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom’ is a 2007 BBC documentary series by English filmmaker Adam Curtis, well known for other documentaries including ‘The Century of the Self’ and ‘The Power of Nightmares.’

The series consists of three one-hour programs which explore the concept and definition of freedom, specifically, ‘how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.’

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December 21, 2012

Copyright Criminals


Copyright Criminals is a 2010 documentary film directed and produced by Benjamin Franzen examining the creative and the commercial value of sampling including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and money. Copyright Criminals was funded by the Ford Foundation, University of Iowa, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It premiered in 2010 at the Toronto Film Festival. Sampling is when musicians make an audio montage taking a portion, or sample, of a sound recording and reusing, remixing or reworking it as a separate instrumental layer or loop into another song.

The documentary contains interviews with several sampling artist pioneers, including hip-hop groups. A longtime area of contention from a legal perspective, early sampling used portions of other artists’ recordings without permission. Once hip-hop, rap and other music incorporating sampling began generating a noticeably substantial income, the original artists began to take legal action, claiming copyright infringement and demanding high-sum royalties. Sampling artists fought back, claiming fair use (an exception in copyright law).

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October 1, 2012

The Ascent of Money

Niall Ferguson by David Levine

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World’ is a 2008 book by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s, which was adapted into a series of documentary feature for public television in the US and UK. It examines the long history of money, credit, and banking. From Shylock’s pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the ‘promises to pay’ on Babylonian clay tablets to the Medici banking system.

Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization. He also investigates human bondage. Studying the question: How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century. The book also explores why stock markets produce bubbles and busts.

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