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Documentaries (Premieres)

Director: Robert Stone
Earth Days takes a trip through the history of environmentalism from its birth on April 22, 1970 to its current state of social and economical awareness on the status of the earth and its inhabitants. This film must not be missed!

Documentaries (U.S. Dramatic Documentary)

Director: Bill Benenson, Gene Rosow

Dirt is the skin of the earth and Dirt! The Movie is the exploration of that skin. Dirt is literally and figuratively the start of all life on the planet, without dirt there are no plants and without plants there is no life. This film studies the affects people are having on the planets soil and the wars that are being fought over soil that sustains crops.

Director: Louie Psihoyos
The Cove was financed to the sum of $5 million by Jim Clark, the founder of Netscape and chronicles the brutal annual slaughtering of Dolphins in Taiji, Japan for their meat. This slaughter is a heavily guarded secret that forced the filmmakers into almost James Bond scenarios to get their footage. This film won the Audience Award for Documentary, and must be seen to be believed.

Director: R.J. Cutler

The September Issue gives us an unprecedented look into the life of high fashion arbiter/tyrant Anna Wintour, the all-powerful editor of Vogue Magazine. The film documents the months leading up to the publication of the mag’s biggest issue of the year- the September issue, a behemoth at more than 500 pages. You watch as Wintour hop-scotches the world, from Fashion Week in New York, to Milan and to Paris. She enters the hallowed halls of top couture houses- for secret advance peeks at tomorrow’s most fabulous fashion, and you eavesdrop on staff-only meetings across continents. The most interesting dynamic in the film is between Wintour and former model and Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, showing the two locked in a seeming never-ending battle over whose vision for Vogue’s pages should triumph.

Director: Greg Barker

In Sergio a U.N. Ambassador to Iraq is in the U.N. Headquarters when the bomb on August 13, 2003 rocked a our nation to its core, and this film follows that day and the people that put themselves in harms way to save one man. This film won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award.

Director: Ondi Timoner

We Live in Public chronicles the rise and fall of Josh Harris, the creator and founder of Jupiter Research, who sold his company for $70 million at age 26. Obsessed with the effects of technology on society’s future, Harris created and financed the big-brother-like Quiet: We Live in Public project in which a large number of people lived together, being filmed 24-hours a day, every day, no matter what they were doing. Director Ondi Timoner was a resident there, and much of the footage in the film was shot by her. Moving on to other visionary (or insane, depending on your point of view) projects, including an internet TV network named Pseudo and later a 24-hour-a-day real time video blog featuring himself and his girlfriend.  Fascinating stuff, and deserving of the highly regarded Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary at Sundance.

Director: Tom DiCillo

Who doesn’t love Jim Morrison and the Doors? When You’re Strange is a look at the band through their own eyes, featuring vintage footage as assembled by Director Tom DiCillo The movie is really a montage of original Doors home movies and even includes a long lost film made by Jim Morrison himself. There are no remade shots and no voice overs- over, only The Doors themselves, and what they were about. This film is a time capsule that sucks you in, and into the mentality and disintegration of an iconic American icon, and his band.  

Director: Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler

The late civil rights attorney William Kunstler was one of the most famous and controversial lawyers of the 20th century. He represented civil rights and anti-war activists, as well as accused terrorists and murders. In William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, his filmmaker daughters Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore their father's life, from middle-class family man, to movement lawyer, to the most hated lawyer in America.

Documentaries (World Cinema Documentary Competition)

Director: Havana Marking

Some see American culture as something to be avoided but some view it as a step towards freedom for Afghanistan in Afghan Star, a TV program based on American Idol. Over 2000 contestants comprised of all social classes, ages, and genders vied for the title, but as in America, only one can win. For many of the people that voted via text message, it was their first glimpse into any democratic process. This film won the World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary.

Director: John Maringouin
When we think “world class endurance swimmer” the mental picture is not a 53 year old, over-weight flamenco guitar teacher, but that is what you get in Big River Man. In this documentary about Martin Strel, the only man to have swum the Mississippi, the Danube, and the Yangtze river, Strel tackles the mighty Amazon to raise awareness of river pollution. This was something that was so bad in the Yangtze that his son thought he wouldn’t survive its affects.

Director: Erwin Wagenhofer

Let’s Make Money sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s more about how people get rich and what the rich do with their money. This film follows the global economy and the path that massive amounts of funds founds follow as they move from one country to another. Some numbers are so large, you must wonder if that much money even exists. But don’t expect any answers here, as it seems even those with the money are not always sure where it is and what it is doing.

Director: Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal

Have you seen that new, great Nigerian movie yet? Neither have we, but Nollywood Babylon takes you on an eye-opening visit into the heart of film making in Nigeria. Believe it or not, Nigeria’s a film industry is right behind the U.S. and India in terms of films made and growth. Though most of these movies are a self-made genre of B-movies that go straight to video, that doesn’t hinder their popularity or sales a bit.

Director: Paul Saltzman
Segregation seems so long ago to most of us, but in Charleston, Mississippi it’s now and relevant on high school prom night, when the all- white and all-black proms happen simultaneously, but not together. Actor Morgan Freeman, who owns a home in Charleston, offered to pay for the prom in its entirety, but only on the condition it was racially integrated, an offer that has been ignored since 1997, the first time he proposed it. Finally, in 2008, Freemen’s offer was accepted, and the bi-racial prom finally took place. Still, Prom Night in Mississippi shows how deep racism goes, when even now some parents still forbid their children to go to the mixed prom, and hold their own whites-only prom anyway. One white student speaks his true feelings about this only in shadow and disguise, to keep from being disowned by his parents.

Director: Kim Longinotto
Rough Aunties is about an organization called “Bobbi Bear” in South Africa that has one goal, and that is to combat child abuse. The film follows a multi-racial staff that not only stands up for the abused, but seeks and gets justice against those that would harm a child. It won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary.

Documentaries (Spectrum)

Director: Davis Guggenheim
U2, Led Zeppelin, and the White Stripes, It Might Get Loud is an understatement. This film takes you inside the minds of some of the greatest guitar players alive today. Not so much a film about thrashing chords and cranking it up to 11, It Might Get Loud gives you a look into how these guitarists developed their signature sound.

Director: Laura Gabbert, Justin Schein
No Impact Man is not another hippie short, but it is all about our carbon footprint and our impact on the world or rather, the possibility of our non-impact on the world. Colin Beavan decides to take his wife and daughter on a year-long adventure of sacrifice and discovery,  leading to a zero carbon footprint. They go without electricity, caffeine, they can produce no garbage and sustain themselves from only locally grown food. Oh, by the way, they are doing all this in an apartment in New York City!

Director: Robert Townsend

Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy is more a film about the social advancement of comedy than actual comedy. The film follows black comedy from its early days of black face and minstrels, to corporate sponsorship of Russell Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam, and Spike Lee’s The Original Kings of Comedy.

Director: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno

The Yes men are back and it’s time to save the world again! The Yes Men Fix the World follows Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, much like in their previous film, as they again sneak their way into corporate events and let the bigwigs know exactly what they have been doing wrong. Although after their first film you would think they wouldn’t be able to pull it off again, this time they just went bigger.

Documentaries (Park City at Midnight)

Director: Adam Bhala Lough

Starring: Lil’ Wyane (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.)
The Carter is a documentary about internationally known rapper Lil’ Wayne. His most recent album went platinum in a week, and he just might be the voice of his generation. But this ain’t no VH1 rock doc. Rather, it is an intoxicating, cinematic journey into the thoughts and world of an extremely complicated man, whose creative force is something to behold. / Issue 102 - September 9507
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