This is a compilation of progressive films that may be of interest to activists and researchers. Click on the title to see a description of the video, and when available, a web page where you can purchase it.
13 Pueblos: In Defense of Water, Air and Earth
The 800 Mile Wall
The Age of Stupid
America’s Impact on Russia
The American Ruling Class
Argentina: Hope in Hard Times
The Awful Truth: Seasons One and Two
Banking on Life and Debt
The Battle of Chile
Beyond the Bottom Line: American Worker Cooperatives
Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas
The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress
Big Spuds, Little Spuds
The Billionaires’ Tea Party
The Body of War
Bowling for Columbine
Cancel the Debt Now!
Capitalism: A Love Story
Capitalism Hits the Fan
Una Causa Noble
Che: El Argentino
Children of Shatila
Civilizing the Economy: The Co-op Alternative
The Coca-Cola Case: The Truth That Refreshes
Corazon de Fabrica
Crime After Crime
Crude: The Real Price of Oil
Cultures of Resistance
The Day Diplomacy Died
Deadly Embrace: Nicaragua, the World Bank and the IMF
The Economics of Happiness
The End of America
The End of Poverty?
The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the End of the American Dream
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room
An Environmental-Industrial Complex?
The Environmental Impact of War
Even the Rain
Fidel: The Untold Story
Fixing the Future
Forks Over Knives
The Future of Food
Gap and Nike: No Sweat?
Global Village or Global Pillage?
Globalization and Human Rights
The Greening of Cuba
Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America
Harvest of Shame
Heist: Who Stole the American Dream
Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire
Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train
Imperial Grand Strategy: The Conquest of Iraq and the Assault on Democracy
An Inconvenient Truth
In the Valley of Elah
Invisible Ballots: A Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud
The Invisible War
Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers
Last Call at the Oasis
Letters from the Other Side (Cartas del Otra Lado)
Life and Debt
Made in Dagenham
Made in India
Maquila: A Tale of Two Mexicos
The Mondragon Experiment
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Murder on a Sunday Morning
The New Rules of the Game
Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause
Orwell Rolls in His Grave
The Other Side of Immigration
The Panama Deception
Paul Robeson: Here I Stand
The People Speak
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Prescription for Disaster
Presumed Guilty (Presunto Culpable)
Right-Wing Populism in the USA
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands
The Road to Guantanamo
Roger and Me
The Secret of Oz
Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman
Sewing Our Future
The Short Life of José Antonio Gutierrez
Sir! No Sir!
The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas
South of the Border
The Story of Cap and Trade
The Story of Stuff
Sweating for a T-shirt
Tell the Truth and Run
Time-Bomb: America’s Debt Crisis
Trading Democracy (Bill Moyers Reports)
Too Big to Fail
Turning Down the Heat: The New Energy Revolution
Two Trevors go to Washington
Underground: The Julian Assange Story
The Untold History of the United States
Venezuela: Revolution Inside Out
Voices from the Fields
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death
The War on Democracy
The War You Don’t See
We’re Not Broke
What I’ve Leaned About U.S. Foreign Policy
What Would Jesus Buy
When the Levees Broke
When the Mountains Tremble
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Why We Fight
Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
Women, War and Peace
WTO: In Whose Hands?
World Without Water
The Yes Men: Cutting the Corporate Crap
The Yes Men Fix the World
You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train
13 PUEBLOS:IN DEFENSE OF WATER, AIR AND EARTH
“13 Pueblos: In Defense of Water, Air and Earth” chronicles citizens from 13 Morelos villages and their struggle against environmental degradation from human misuse and industrial and commercial projects brought on by NAFTA. To keep from plummeting into poverty under this new system they had three choices—joining guerilla forces, drug trafficking or immigration. Instead, these 13 pueblos, or villages, led by a Council of Elders, joined forces and begun protesting.
“13 Pueblos” was made by award winning Mexican filmmaker Francesco Taboada Tabone. Taboada sees his films as a platform to instigate a grassroots change throughout the wider community. “Los pueblos have a strong oral tradition,” he said. “We have to promote this knowledge throughout communities. You will never find this kind of movie in commercial theaters in Mexico or the United States. But you may find it on a small street projected on blankets.”
AMERICA’S IMPACT ON RUSSIA
This video investigates the increasingly negative attitudes of Russians toward America and asks why this is the case. Many Russians blame the U.S. for the economic downfall that came in the wake of brutal “shock therapy” economic reforms designed to open the Commonwealth of Independent States to the free market as rapidly as possible. This informative documentary includes interviews with members of the Russian parliament, American experts, and journalists and authors, who share their insights about the current mood in Russia.
“America’s Impact on Russia” (1998) 29 min. America’s Defense Monitor
THE 800 MILE WALL
By closing off the easier crossing points along the US-Mexican border, the wall is funneling emigrants into inhospitable deserts and mountains where they die by dehydration, hypothermia, and hyperthermia. This is the result of a cruel US Border Patrol policy of “prevention through deterrence.” The film The 800 Mile Wall documents this human tragedy and the costly ineffectiveness of these efforts “to secure the border.” billions of dollars are being spent in this futile effort to keep decent human beings out of the country. There’s got to be a more sane immigration policy. Someone should demand “Tear down that wall Mr. Obama!”
“The 800 Mile Wall” 89 min
An affluent artist returns to his home in Oaxaca to find it is a virtual ghost town. He decides to pay homage to each migrant who left his village by creating a monumental installation art piece: 2501 life-size sculptures. This documentary portrait of a unique artist at work captures the hopes and struggles of rural communities that send workers across the border.
“2501 Immigrants” 57 min
9500 Liberty documents the first and likely only 8 weeks in U.S. history where an “Arizona style” immigration law was actually implemented. Prince William County, Virginia becomes ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopt a law requiring police officers to question people they have “probable cause” to suspect are undocumented immigrants.
9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens. Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual town halls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government. The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.
THE AGE OF STUPID
Coastal areas of New York City and New Jersey are flooded by hurricane Sandy. Heat waves and drought dampen food production. The earth’s temperature rises as glaciers and polar ice caps melt and ocean levels also rise. Meanwhile industrial economies continue to burn hydrocarbons in increasing amounts and major governments are unable or unwilling to do anything to arrest global climate change.
Suppose climate change does continue, unarrested. Where will we end up? The dystopian film “The Age of Stupid” takes us into the future to the year 2055. Amidst a devastated world, an elderly man, the lone survivor, reviews archival images of the previous half century as he asks the question, “Why didn’t we stop climate change while we had the chance?” Why indeed?
“The Age of Stupid” 2009, 89 min.
We have all heard stories about the trials and tribulations Mexican immigrants encounter in the US. But the film Alambrista (The Illegal) focuses on another aspect of their lives in el norte: the experience of being an outsider. It is the tale of a campesino, Roberto, who leaves his tranquil life in Mexico to find work in the US to support his wife and baby. Speaking no English, naïve Roberto, gets quite an education during the course of the sojourn. He finds heartbreak, exploitation, and disappointment, but also friendship, affection, and help along the way. Learning to live in a strange country, he meets Joe, who gives him a hilarious lesson in how to march into a cafe, cross his legs like a gringo, order a gringo’s breakfast (“what you really want is tortillas and beans — but here you order ham-eggs-coffee”) and flirt with the waitress. The paradoxical quality of his new life contrasts with the familiar world he left behind. This is a small, gentle, beautifully made film that will take you into the inner life of the often misunderstood people who do the hard work in the US.
“Alambrista” 1977 110 min
THE AMERICAN RULING CLASS
This is a highly entertaining dramatic documentary musical written by Lewis Lapham and directed by John Kirby that “explores our country’s most taboo topic: class, power and privilege in our nominally democratic republic.” It seeks to answer the question, “Does America have a ruling class?”
Serving as an oddly Vincent Price-like master of ceremonies, Lapham poses a simple question: Is there a ruling class in America, and, if so, how does one get in? To find the answer, he sends two fictional Yale grads on a series of interviews, some candid and some staged, with such power brokers as former secretary of State James Baker as well as progressive icons, such as Howard Zinn, filmmaker Robert Altman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kurt Vonnegut, and Pete Seeger.
At bottom “The American Ruling Class” is a morality tale. As Lapham conducts them through the corridors of power: Pentagon press briefings, the World Economic Forum, philanthropic foundations, Washington law firms, corporations, banks, the Council on Foreign Relations, and New York society dinners–our two representative graduates “one rich and the other not so rich” must struggle with their responsibilities in “a world collaterally damaged by the magic of money and the miracles of science.” The real-life luminaries they meet on their journey become characters in a story about power, its responsibilities and abuses.
http://theamericanrulingclass.org/home/index.php 2007 89 min.<>
Reviewed by A. O. SCOTT
Although John Sayles’s new film, “Amigo,” is set in what seems to be a remote time and place — a hamlet called San Isidro, in the Philippines, around 1900 — it bridges the gap in a hurry. This is not the kind of movie, and Mr. Sayles is not the type of director, to linger in the picturesque past, savoring antique details and restaging bygone conflicts.
History for him turns on recurrent themes of power, greed, exploitation and principled, often Quixotic, resistance to those forces. Local circumstances may vary, but the basic dialectic is reassuringly, maddeningly and sometimes inspiringly the same. Though he has worked on an intimate scale — in the wonderful “Passion Fish,” for example — Mr. Sayles gravitates, as a writer (of novels and screenplays) and a director (of 17 features since 1979), toward populous pageants that illustrate his historical ideas. He sometimes resembles a left-wing, baby-boom John Ford, spinning fables of the American character out of the threads of myth, memory and ideology.
Through the fronds of jungle vegetation, the subtitled Tagalog and the affectionately noted Filipino customs, “Amigo” invites you to contemplate other, more recently contested landscapes of counterinsurgency. With precision that sometimes tips over into didacticism, Mr. Sayles outlines connections between the war the United States waged in the Philippines and later interventions in Vietnam, Central America, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the Philippines American forces arrived as liberators (driving out the Spanish) and quickly became an army of occupation. It was neither the first nor the last time that democratic ideals came into conflict with, or perhaps provided cover for, imperial ambitions.
“We’re here to win hearts and minds,” says Colonel Hardacre (Chris Cooper) as he rides into San Isidro. His use of a phrase made notorious during Vietnam (and revived, often without irony, in more recent wars) may sound a bit anachronistic and overly pointed, but it also reinforces a disconcerting parallel. Long before the word quagmire was applied to Vietnam, Mark Twain used it to describe America’s Philippines entanglement, which he vigorously opposed. An early statement of American policy declared that “only through American occupation” was “the idea of a free, self-governing and united Filipino commonwealth at all conceivable.” It is hard to imagine a clearer statement of the contradictions of nation building.
Mr. Sayles dramatizes those contradictions with wit and concision, and with determined fair-mindedness as well as outrage. His moral universe certainly has room for obvious heroes and villains, but in his best films he undermines his Manichean soapbox tendencies by attending to gray areas and focusing on characters whose essential decency is challenged and complicated by circumstances.
In this regard, Rafael — played with sly, hangdog brilliance by the well-known Filipino actor Joel Torre — is an exemplary John Sayles protagonist. The hereditary head man of San Isidro, he is a doting father, a loving husband and a figure of reasonable if sometimes exasperated authority. He is also quick to perceive that the arrival of the American soldiers is going to bring him and his subjects a host of new headaches.
His brother Simón (Ronnie Lazaro) is a leader of the rebel army loyal to Emilio Aguinaldo, whose insurrection the Americans are determined to crush. They turn San Isidro into a garrison commanded by Lieutenant Compton (Garret Dillahunt) and patrolled by a gaggle of platoon-movie archetypes, among them a brainy signal corpsman (DJ Qualls), a jovial drunkard (Stephen Taylor), a cynical veteran (James Parks) and a naïve, sweet-faced young recruit (Dane DeHaan).
Some of these men signed up hoping for action in Cuba. Others are seasoned fighters of American Indians, and nearly all of them speak in a casually racist idiom that serves less to demonize them than to pin them to their historical context. The young recruit, who develops a crush on a village girl, tells her that she’s very pretty “for, well, for one of you.” He and his comrades, whether noble, boorish or craven, share an unexamined assumption that the races of the world are stacked in a hierarchy, with whites on top.
But “Amigo” is not a simplistic parable of diabolical colonialists and their innocent victims. The Americans commit atrocities, including water torture and the deliberate destruction of rice paddies and livestock, and so do the rebels, who cut the throats of Chinese laborers stringing up telegraph lines. The murderous, hard-line proclamations of both sides echo each other, but so do the principles for which they claim to fight. And Lieutenant Compton, with his starchy sense of decorum and his sincere desire to do some good, represents an advance over the old colonial order, whose last vestige is an imperious, nasty priest played, rather too stagily, by Yul Vázquez.
Though Mr. Sayles’s eye is on the present, his storytelling methods are sturdy and old-fashioned. “Amigo” is a well-carpentered narrative, fast-moving and emphatic, stepping nimbly from gravity to good humor. The narrative blueprint is frequently visible, but the movie is no more schematic than “The Help” or “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It has points to make, but Mr. Sayles frequently allows his ideas about how the world works to be overridden (or undermined) by his curiosity about how people behave, and he invites his actors to find their own ways of wearing the tight garments he has designed.
All in all, he is a pretty good history teacher, the kind who knows how to make even difficult lessons entertaining and relevant.
ARGENTINA: HOPE IN HARD TIMES
We indeed live in hard times. But few have had it as hard in recent years as the people of Argentina. Once one of the most prosperous countries of South America, in 2001 its economy collapsed. Hundreds of thousands, many of them middle class, were thrown out of work. The government closed the banks and people couldn’t get access to their money. And no one did anything to help. Government after government fell as housewives, students, factory workers and lawyers burst into the streets of Buenos Aires chanting “Que se vayan todos!” –”Throw them all out!”
In the face of desperation, the cynical might have expected that people would turn on each other in an effort to survive. But instead, a remarkable thing happened. People turned to each other in mutual support. The documentary film “Argentina: Hope in Hard Times” tells the inspiring stories of ordinary people creating new ways of rebuilding their lives in a resurgence of grassroots democracy and community spirit.
Film critic Sean Cain has asked: “During a political or economic crisis, what is it that makes one society turn to equality and democracy, such as contemporary Argentina, and others to turn to fear, repression and exploitation, such as 1930s Germany? What would happen if such an economic catastrophe were to strike North America, something which no longer seems that unfeasible. How would we respond? Would people work together to tackle such problems as poverty, unemployment and inequality, or would they turn to xenophobia, immigrant-bashing, leader worship, and the neo-liberal orthodoxy of ‘greed is good’?”
“Argentina: Hope in Hard Times” prompts us to think about such questions. It also restores a faith in human beings and a hope that we too can find our way through hard times.
“Argentina: Hope in Hard Times” (2004) 74 min. Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young DVD or VHS
THE AWFUL TRUTH
From acclaimed filmmaker and author Michael Moore comes THE AWFUL TRUTH, the most daring documentary show to hit the American public since Moore’s own TV Nation. Now, for the first time, this Emmy nominated series is available in one complete DVD set. In the spirit of his award-winning film Bowling for Columbine, Moore skewers politicians and the public alike, placing himself squarely in the middle of today’s most controversial issues and events. Join Moore as he goes on a crusade for justice with Cracker, The Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken, spreads holiday cheer to deserving tobacco executives with the “Voice Box Choir,” and brings a street pimp to congress as the answer to campaign finance reform. Shot in Moore’s trademark “guerrilla video” style, each of 24 half-hour episode is filled with scathingly funny observations and humorous rants that boldly and ironically provide valuable commentary on today’s cultural landscape.
“The Awful Truth: Seasons One and Two” (1999-2000) Michael Moore, 2 DVD set, 10 hours
BANKING ON LIFE AND DEBT
Banking on Life and Debt, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, presents a highly informative analysis of the origins and development of the Bretton Woods “twins”, the IMF and the World Bank. It examines the ways in which these international financial institutions (IFIs) have usurped control of economic and political decision making in Ghana, Brazil, and the Philippines, and it analyzes the disastrous effects of their structural adjustment policies. Even UNICEF holds many IFIs’ policies responsible for the deaths of millions of children.
“Banking on Life and Debt” (1995) 30 min. Richter Productions, Maryknoll World Productions
THE BATTLE OF CHILE
The Battle of Chile is an epic chronicle of the bloody 1973 military coup in Chile in which General Augusto Pinochet ousted Sálvador Allende’s democratically elected Popular Unity government. The film explores Allende’s socialist vision and social experiment, which was enthusiastically supported by a majority of Chileans. During Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship, The Battle of Chile was banned in Chile but was shown around the world and received many awards. Time Out Film Guide calls it, “Not only the best film about Allende and the coup d’etat, but among the best documentary films ever made.” (Black & white, in Spanish, with English subtitles)
“The Battle of Chile” (Parts I&II) (1975-76) 205 min. Patricio Guzmán, First Run/Icarus Films
BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE: AMERICAN WORKER COOPERATIVES
Beyond the Bottom Line is a 30 minute documentary about a little known twist on the American Dream – businesses in which workers own the stock, reap the profits and decide for themselves how the company runs. It is the story of worker-entrepreneurs in dozens of communities and nearly every kind of business… from manufacturing to health care to high tech. Some are tiny firms, while others employ hundreds and record millions of dollars in yearly revenues. By giving the viewers a glimpse into the inner workings of these successful companies, Beyond the Bottom Line shows American workers, entrepreneurs and business owners that viable, community-oriented businesses are within their grasp.
BEYOND ELECTIONS: REDEFINING DEMOCRACY IN THE AMERICAS
“Beyond Elections” is an important new documentary film that explores one of the vital questions of our time –What is democracy? To find an answer it takes us on a journey across the hemisphere from Venezuela’s communal councils to Brazil’s participatory budgeting, from constitutional assemblies to grassroots movements, from recuperated factories to cooperatives.
A democratic wind is blowing in Latin America that is experimenting with new forms of citizen participation. Yes, elections are a part of democracy, but they are not the whole of it. The relationship between ordinary citizens and their government is being redefined. As the political process is being opened up to include the poor as well as the middle classes, the scope of democracy is being expanded beyond the mere selection of leaders to popular participation in directly making those decisions that affect ones life.
Across the world, 120 countries now have at least the minimum trappings of democracy—the freedom to vote for all citizens. But for many, this is just the beginning not the end. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and devastating structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption, and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct, and participatory.
In 1989, the Brazilian Worker’s Party altered the concept of local government when they installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, allowing residents to participate directly in the allocation of city funds. Ten years later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was swept into power with the promise of granting direct participation to the Venezuelan people; who have now formed tens of thousands of self-organized communal councils. In the Southern Cone, cooperative and recuperated factory numbers have grown, and across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens.
Featuring interviews with: Eduardo Galeano, Amy Goodman, Emir Sader, Martha Harnecker, Ward Churchill, and Leonardo Avritzer as well as cooperative and community members, elected representatives, academics, and activists from Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, United States, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, and more.
BEYOND ELECTIONS: REDEFINING DEMOCRACY IN THE AMERICAS
Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas questions the U.S. orthodoxy that defines democracy essentially in terms of electoral politics. Across Latin America citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct, and participatory. In 1989, the Brazilian Worker’s Party altered the concept of local government when they installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, allowing residents to participate directly in the allocation of city funds. Ten years later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was swept into power with the promise of granting direct participation to the Venezuelan people; who have now formed tens of thousands of self-organized communal councils.
In the Southern Cone, cooperative and recuperated factory numbers have grown, and across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. From the grassroots up, democracy is being reinvented. As citizens in the US face the challenges of an Obama administration and an economic crisis, this timely documentary shows that the revolution can start today right in your own living room or neighborhood.
“Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas” (2008)
THE BIG BUY: TOM DeLAY’S STOLEN CONGRESS
This hard hitting documentary tells the story of one of the most audacious power grabs in American history – and how a local district attorney in Texas turned out to be the biggest threat to the DeLay machine.
DeLay blatantly funneled banned corporate money to candidates in the 2002 Texas elections in the first phase of a take-no-prisoners plan to ensure a more hard-Right Republican Congress. With the state legislature in their hands, they were able to carry out a controversial redistricting in Texas that disenfranchised voters, setting off the largest upheaval in modern Texas political history and sending five new hard-Right Republican congressmen to Washington.
But now Texas grand juries have brought 41 indictments against eight corporations, DeLay’s political action committee, a business lobby ally, three underlings and Tom DeLay himself. But while DeLay has given up his leadership post, his Texas takeover is still affecting all Americans daily.
This film is a warning about how easy it is for American democracy to be hijacked by a combination of relentless ambition and corporate millions. Don’t miss this tale of the Grinch who stole Congress.
“The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress” (2006), 75 min. by Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck
BIG SPUDS, LITTLE SPUDS
From Peru to Idaho, climatic change and monoculture have conspired to wreak unpredictable damage to one of the world’s staple crops, the potato. Historically, Andean farmers raised more than 5000 varieties of potatoes and practiced crop rotation. But during the U.S.-promoted “Green Revolution” in the 1960s, these farmers were urged to switch to a handful of new, high yielding varieties that required massive amounts of chemicals and water and proved vulnerable to disease, pests, and weather. In 1997, the El Nino weather phenomenon had a devastating impact on the potato crops in both Peru and Idaho. This film contrasts traditional farming methods in the Andes with industrial methods used in Idaho and, increasingly, in Peru. Big Spuds, Little Spuds reveals that there is an emerging pride on the part of Peruvian farmers returning to old varieties and old methods in an effort to preserve genetic diversity and food security.
“Big Spuds, Little Spuds” (1999) 52 min. Christoph Corves and Delia Castiñeira, Bullfrog Films
THE BILLIONAIRES’ TEA PARTY
In The Billionaires’ Tea Party Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham finds that behind the
movement’s rhetoric of ‘freedom’ versus ‘socialism’ lies a highly coordinated network
of shadow groups, funded by the likes of billionaire ideologues Charles and David Koch. Billionaires 20 times over, these oilmen brothers are on a mission to create a privatized America. For three decades they’ve underwritten a propaganda war, funding fake grassroots groups to dupe citizens into protesting on behalf of some of America’s most powerful people and corporations. Filmmaker Oldham goes undercover into astroturf organizations Americans For Prosperity and Freedomworks to see how patriotic Americans are indoctrinated into equating their own interests with those of corporate America. Witness hysterical scenes as a proposed Health Care bill is reframed as Soviet style ‘socialised medicine’. Follow industry-funded spin-doctors and scientists dismissing Obama’s climate bill as a liberal conspiracy to control people’s lives and destroy the economy. See the cozy relationship between Koch operatives and Fox News. You will come to better understand how immense private wealth can corrupt democracy.
“The Billionaires’ Tea Party” 2011 54 min.
The docudrama “Bitter Seeds” takes us to India where every 30 minutes a farmer commits suicide. “Bitter Seeds” dramatizes this by investigating the lives of cotton farmers using Monsanto Bt seeds that fail to live up to the company’s sales pitch that promised higher yields from their pesticide resistant GM seeds. Instead the water-hungry plants withered in dry weather and expensive insecticides became necessary. Unable to repay usurous loans, farmers have found suicide the only way out. Meanwhile, Monsanto denies any responsibility and the Indian government fails to address the problem. This is a heart wrenching, but all too true story.
“Bitter Seeds” 2011,
THE BODY OF WAR
Produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, “The Body of War” is an indictment of the politics that led to the invasion of Iraq and a heartbreaking account of one man’s living with the aftermath. Tomas Young was a 22 year old from Kansas who decided to enlist in the army after watching President Bush with his bullhorn atop the rubble of the World Trade Center. Expecting to be sent to Afghanistan, he was instead shipped to Iraq. There, five days later while riding through Sadr City in an un-armored, uncovered Humvee, a bullet severed his spinal cord leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
“Body of War” is the story of Young’s political awakening. It is also the story of a nation’s awakening to the abuse of the patriotic sentiments of youth by politicians and the human costs of war.
A dramatization based on the true story of the hundreds of women working in American-owned maquiladoras who have been brutally raped and murdered. When editor of the Chicago Sentinel George Morgan (Martin Sheen) sends ambitious reporter Lauren Adrian (Jennifer Lopez) to Juarez to investigate the murders what she finds is the story of a lifetime. Eva, a young woman who was raped and left for dead in the desert, is the only woman to survive an attack. Unable to go to the police for help she turns to a local newspaper run by Diaz Alfonso (Antonio Banderas), a former friend and colleague of Lauren’s. Hiding Eva is incredibly dangerous but Lauren knows that publishing her story is the only way to expose the truth behind the murders. She is determined to find Eva’s attackers but soon finds herself immersed in a dangerous web of corruption that extends to both sides of the border.
“Bordertown” was never released in U.S. theaters because of political pressure. Instead, it went straight to DVD, and was only finally released in Mexico quite recently. It is a powerful tale of life on the border between the United States and Mexico.
Bordertown 2007 114 min
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE
Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” is an alternately humorous and horrifying film about the United States. It is a film about the state of the Union, about the violent soul of America. Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? The talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? What sets us apart? How have we become both the master and victim of such enormous amounts of violence? This is not a film about gun control. It is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States, and the 280 million Americans lucky enough to have the right to a constitutionally protected Uzi.
An epic film of the transition from colonialism to neocolonialism, “Burn!” is Marlon Brando’s most political film. An analysis of Black revolutionary struggle which is part Marx and part Franz Fanon, it maps the historic cycles of white colonialist oppression and Black insurgency. At the same time, this 1969 Gillo Pontecorvo classic is a political statement against the Vietnam war. Perhaps that is why United Artists withdrew it from exhibition soon after it opened.
“Burn!” is a political allegory set in a fictional sugar cane-producing Caribbean Island named Quemada. Marlon Brando is Sir William Walker, the 19th-century English equivalent of a CIA operative who has been sent by the British government to fan the flames of an insurrection of the Black slaves and simultaneously to whisper encouraging words to members of the mixed-race urban classes so that when the Portuguese are routed, they will be ready to seize the reins of power. Not real power, of course, because it is British wealth to which this puppet regime will be permanently indebted.
The rebellion transformed Quemada from a colony into a neo-colony – nominally independent politically but economically dependent on its new British masters. And it also transformed slaves into wage slaves, now paid for their labor but little better off than before. Within a decade there is a new rebellion and Walker is called back this time to put it down. As Walker muses, “sometimes a single decade can reveal the contradictions of an entire epoch.” The counter insurgency directed by this 19th century CIA precursor leads to scorched earth scenes reminiscent of Vietnam. Today’s viewer might well ask whether history is now repeating itself once again.
“Burn!” (1969) 112 min. Gillo Pontecorvo
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Carl Rove but were afraid to ask. “Bush’s Brain” takes you behind the scenes to the Machiavellian puppet master who made George W. Bush governor of Texas and then president of the U.S. Cunningly adept at destroying political opponents, this 2004 film documents Rove’s dirty tricks in Texas politics and Bush’s rise to the presidency in 2000. Political consultant Rove has since become a force in shaping the administration’s domestic policies. The sordid story that “Bush’s Brain” documents is not yet over. It continues in today’s headlines.
“Bush’s Brain” (2004) 88 min. Joseph Mealey and Michael Shoob, Based on the book by James C. Moore and Wayne Slater, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential.
CANCEL THE DEBT NOW!
What is the origin of Third World debt? Is it irresponsible to wipe the financial slate clean for people in the poorest countries? This video, narrated by actress Julie Harris and produced by the Jubilee 2000 Campaign, which is demanding debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries, explores how aggressive lending policies in the 1970s helped create the Third World debt and how, beginning in the 1980s, heavy-handed and misguided World Bank and IMF structural adjustment policies exacerbated poverty. The video explains how the multilateral institutions not only weaken national economies but also undermine governments in developing countries.
“Cancel the Debt Now!” (1999) 24 min. Jubilee 2000/USA
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY
It was Charles Wilson who famously said “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” During the Golden Age of U.S. capitalism in the post-war period, that identification of the national interest and of individual well-being with corporate capitalism was widely believed. The working class found the key to the American Dream in a good paying job with GM or other such employers. Workers loved capitalism. Such was the world that Michael Moore grew up in. So did most of us and our parents. The life of entire cities like Moore’s Flint, Michigan, Detroit, Pittsburg –indeed, the industrial heartland of America—was based on corporate capitalism.
But then in the late 1970s and the 80s free market globalization hit. GM closed its auto plant in Flint and moved those good paying jobs to Mexico, to places like Silao where it didn’t have to pay so much. Corporate capital abandoned U.S. workers and the industrial heartland became the rust belt. Michael Moore tells the story of that betrayal in his first hit film Roger and Me and now in his latest film Capitalism: A Love Story.
Capitalism: A Love Story comes home to the issue Moore has been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans. But this time the culprit is much bigger than General Motors, and the crime scene is far wider than Flint, Michigan. Free market capitalism has not only bankrupted GM, it has also crashed the banks and Wall Street and it takes massive government bailouts to rescue them. The result of free market capitalism is that there is no middle class anymore –– there is only, as one subject of the film puts it, “the people who got nothing and the people who have it all.” This assesment is confirmed in a leaked Citibank report that enthuses about how America is now a modern-day “plutonomy” where the top 1% of the population control 95% of the wealth.
This documentary is a tragedy wrapped in an entertaining comedy. But it is also Moore’s call to arms against the robber barons who shamelessly empty our pockets while we do nothing about it. Perhaps the most poignant moment comes in a 1944 historical film clip of President Roosevelt calling for a “second bill of rights,” asserting that “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” The image of this visibly frail president, who died the next year, appealing to our collective conscience — and mapping out an American future that remains elusive — is moving beyond words. And chilling: “People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
“Capitalism: A Love Story” Michael Moore
CAPITALISM HITS THE FAN
“Capitalism Hits the Fan” breaks down the root causes of today’s economic crisis. While the media tries to convince us that the worst is over and the economy is on the mend, Professor Rick Wolff argues that it was decades in the making and reflects seismic failures within the very structure of American style capitalism. Wolff, a renowned economist at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, traces the source of the crisis to the 1970s, when wages began to stagnate and working people were forced into an unsustainable spiral of borrowing and debt that ultimately exploded in the mortgage meltdown. By placing the crisis within this larger historical and systemic context, Wolff argues convincingly that government bailouts, stimulus packages and increased market regulation will not be enough to address the root causes of the crisis. Far more fundamental changes will be needed to avoid future catastrophes. Richly illustrated with motion graphics and charts, this film is a superb introduction designed to help ordinary citizens understand and react to the unraveling economic crisis.
“Capitalism Hits the Fan” (2009) Rick Wolff
UNA CAUSA NOBLE
Shot in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, “Una Causa Noble” (A Noble Cause) tells the tragic story of a young Mexican man who emigrates to the US to join the army based on President Bush’s offer of a fast track to citizenship. Told from the point of view of the wife, son and extended family left behind, this short film highlights the human side of migration.
Ignacio and Marina, a young Mexican couple, are at odds over what is best for their young son’s future. Ignacio, who has been working most of the time in the United States, believes that more opportunities exist for them and their young son “en el otro lado” -(on the other side). Marina feels that their son is better off being raised among family and tradition. When Ignacio decides to join the U.S. Army in order to expedite their application for citizenship, Marina is faced with some heartrending decisions.
“Una Causa Noble” (A Noble Cause) (2006) 26 min. Miles Merritt
CHE: EL ARGENTINO
The legendary revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara lives in Steven Soderberg’s epic film biography “Che”. Part One titled El Argentino, which chronicles his years with the Cuban Revolution, will be screened by the Center for Global Justice on March 26. It shows Che (played by Benicio Del Toro) meeting Fidel Castro (played by Demian Bichir) in Mexico in 1955 where they trained, going by boat in 1956 with 80 fighters to start an uprising in Cuba, suffering from his asthma in the jungles of the Sierra Maestra, and finally marching triumphantly into Havana in January 1959.
The Cuban Revolution changed the political landscape in Latin America, and along with Fidel, Che became the symbol of popular hopes for change throughout the hemisphere. To this day, the iconic image of Che adorns youthful T shirts everywhere –although one often wonders how much the wearer knows about the ideas of the man whose image they bear. While the film is not heavy on ideology, hopefully viewers will learn something of what one of the century’s preeminent revolutionaries fought and died for.
The Bush-Cheney administration will soon be history. But will the vast expansion of unchecked executive power that Vice President Dick Cheney fashioned fad into the past? For the last eight years he waged a secretive and often bitter battle to expand the power of the presidency under a dubious reading of the Constitution called The Unitary Executive Theory. Others call it The Imperial Presidency.
Over the last 70 years of wars, both hot and cold, there has been a gradual expansion of presidential power. But nothing like what occurred after 9/11 and the war on terror. Cheney’s special position as co-president with George W. Bush gave him the opportunity to claim unprecedented powers for the White House –the power to imprison indefinitely and to torture, to wiretap, to render and assassinate, to select which laws to enforce and which to ignore … and who knows what more? The ways in which this was done are meticulously traced in PBS’s Frontline documentary “Cheney’s Law.” This look into the behind-closed-doors battle within the administration over the power of the presidency and the rule of law would make the Founding Fathers turn over in their graves.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cheney/ 2007 60 min.
CHILDREN OF SHANTILA
The 1982 Sabra-Shatila massacre of more than 500 refugees brought international attention to the Shatila refugee camp near Beirut. This camp is home to some 15,000 displaced Palestinians and Lebanese; its original occupants were Palestinians driven into exile when the Israeli state was founded in 1948. The video tells the story of how the children of Shatila attempt to come to terms with the realities of being refugees in a camp that has endured the horrors of massacre, starvation, and now widespread poverty and unemployment. Against the backdrop of the camp’s collective tragedies, filmmaker Mai Masri focuses on the personal stories of two Palestinian children, and articulates the aspirations of a younger generation. (Includes sections in Arabic, with English subtitles)
“Children of Shatila” (1998) 50 min. MaiMasri, Arab Film Distribution
“La Ciudad”gives us a realistic picture of the daily life of Latino immigrants in New York City. Filmed in stunningly gritty black and white, it is comprised of four unforgettable stories: a group of day-laborers scavenge for bricks; two teenagers meet at a party in the projects; a homeless father tries to enroll his daughter in school; and a garment worker seeks justice in the sweatshops. Set in the present day, “The City” takes us inside the community of newcomers, creating a powerful and incisive drama about the loneliness, displacement, and economic hardship which they face in the new and unfamiliar world of the city.
The director, David Riker, strove for authenticity both in the stories he tells and in the characters he portrays. He spent five years developing the film within the Latin American community, and chose to cast nonactors in almost every role. Because most of the performers are themselves struggling immigrants, they bring a resonant understanding and realism to the film.
Riker hopes that people come away from seeing “The City” with a different and deeper understanding of the Latino immigrant experience. He says, “Unless you are from one of the Indian nations, the vast majority of people in this country has had this experience — of coming from somewhere else, of arriving here and being treated as an exploited work force, not knowing the language, dealing with the profound dislocation of being uprooted.” To Riker, the story of the people in “The City” is basically the story of Americans. “If your experience has been as an immigrant, you should be able to identify with the newest immigrants. The film, I hope, is a denunciation of xenophobia. But the final sequence in the film is meant to go one step further, when we see all the faces and portraits of this community. I deliberately tried to choose a series of faces that was very diverse, with the hopes that people will see themselves in one of those faces, someone that doesn’t look too far removed from themselves, or someone they know. And in the end, I hope that the film creates a solidarity capable of opposing the anti-immigrant fervor that is so rampant.”
“La Ciudad” (The City) (1999) B&W, English subtitles, 88 min. David Riker
Civilizing the Economy: The Co-op Alternative
Part 1 of Civilizing the Economy deals with co-operation in a market economy, by examining the phenomenal success of Emilia Romagna in northern Italy, which is perhaps the worlds’ most successful example of a co-operative economy.
Emilia Romagna, with Bologna its capital, is the most productive and prosperous regions of Italy and generates 45% of its GDP from coops in food production and distribution, cement manufacturing and construction, ceramics and machinery, and many other manufacturing sectors as well as controlling food distribution through their own supermarkets and, increasingly, to the delivery of social services formerly provided by government.
The Coca-Cola Case: The Truth That Refreshes
As a leading transnational corporation, Coca-Cola is known around the globe, but especially here in Mexico where it is a major contributor to high rates of obesity and diabetes. But less well known are widespread charges that the company and its bottlers are a major human rights violator in many countries of the global South. It is accused of benefiting from prison labor in China and child labor in El Salvador, pollution of water resources in Mexico, India and elsewhere, and in Colombia using paramilitary security forces to silence, abduct, torture and even murder trade union leaders. The International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steelworkers Union has filed legal suits against the company in US courts.
This story is told in an explosive new Canadian Film Board and Argus Films documentary The Coca-Cola Case: The Truth That Refreshes. The New York Times calls it “a legal thriller about the soft-drinks titan.” As the battle for justice escalates in 2011, what will be the outcome?
“The Coca-Cola Case: The Truth That Refreshes” 2010 86 min
Everyone knows that immigrant workers from Mexico are often mistreated in the U.S. And everyone also knows that Canada has a much more humane approach. Right, huh? Unfortunately, abuses also happen in Canada, as documented in the National Film Board release El Contrato.
Canada has a legal program whereby employers contract as many as 25,000 farm laborers from Mexico, flying them all the way for seasonal work. But since they are each bound by contract to a single employer, once there they are powerless to defend their rights and face immediate repatriation at their own expense if they complain too much. El Contrato follows the case of several poverty-striken campesinos from Central Mexico who go annually to southern Ontario to pick tomatoes under conditions and wages no local will accept. Since the government program allows growers to monitor themselves, the opportunity to exploit workers is as ripe as the fruit they pick.
“El Contrato” 2003 51 min
This controversial documentary examines sympathetically the news coverage by the Middle East’s most popular news agency, Al-Jazeera. The film supplies clear evidence where Al-Jazeera is right and the American government is wrong on certain Iraqi events, while Al-Jazeera reporters interviewed admit their bias. They don’t make ludicrous Fox News claims of being “fair and balanced.” “Control Room” shows how propaganda works on both sides and how the truth is often somewhere in between. You may not agree with its point of view, but you need to know what over 40 million Arab viewers are watching. It’s the network George Bush hates almost as much as Michael Moore.
UPDATE: Josh Rushing, a former Marine captain featured in “Control Room”, has been hired to work as a host and correspondent for Washington-based Al-Jazeera-International.
“Control Room” (2003) 86 min. Jehane Noujaim
CORAZON DE FABRICA
The film looks at the life of a group of workers, men and women, inhabitants of the Argentinean Patagonia. These workers start a fight to stop the deaths and accidents that happen in the factory where they work. They live complex and dangerous conflicts and they are taking more and more commitment, something many of them had never imagined could happen. These strong episodes are affecting their perception of the reality, of the world. No one now can see himself or herself like the human he or she used to be. Something broke, something has changed and can not return to the original place. In a poor country looted by its own governments and businessmen, the workers of Zanon Ceramic take the factory in their own hands when the owner closes it. They start to produce ceramics again, but without bosses.
Trailer (subtitled): www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KbPjaUoB0o, www.cdfdoc.com.ar/
“Corazon de Fabrica” 2008, 129 minutes
Next to the nation-state, without a doubt the dominant institution of modern society has been the corporation. Since it was given the legal status of a person by act of the U.S. Supreme Court in the late 19th century, its rights, powers and wealth has grown immensely to the point where of the 100 richest economic units in the world, only 49 are countries and the other 51 are corporations.
Provocative, witty and informative, “The Corporation” has won 24 international awards. Taking the corporation’s status as a legal person seriously, this documentary puts the corporation on the psychiatrist’s couch and finds it to be a highly anti-social “personality”: It is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Using the DSM-IV, the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists, this institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism is found to be a “psychopath.”
This disturbing diagnosis is reached through forty interviews with corporate insiders and critics – including Milton Friedman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Michael Moore — plus true confessions, case studies and anecdotes that reveal behind-the-scenes tensions and influences in several corporate and anti-corporate dramas.
While the corporation may be amoral, the human beings are often revealed to share common moral sentiments. Nevertheless, it is the corporate drive for profit that guides organizational behavior. A case in point: Sir Mark Moody-Stuart recounts an exchange between himself (at the time Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell), his wife, and a motley crew of Earth First activists who arrived on the doorstep of their country home. The protesters chanted and stretched a banner over their roof that read, “MURDERERS.” The response of the surprised couple was not to call the police, but to engage their uninvited guests in a civil dialogue, share concerns about human rights and the environment and eventually serve them tea on their front lawn. Yet, as the Moody-Stuarts apologize for not being able to provide soy milk for their vegan critics’ tea, Shell Nigeria is flaring unrivaled amounts of gas, making it one of the world’s single worst sources of pollution. And all the professed concerns about the environment do not spare Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other activists from being hanged for opposing Shell’s environmental practices in the Niger Delta.
Nevertheless, whistleblowers from within and concerned citizens from without have begun to challenge the corporate behemoth. Since the landmark WTO protest in Seattle, a rising wave of networked individuals and groups have decided to make their voices heard. Movements to challenge the very foundations of the corporation are afoot: The corporate charter revocation movement tried to bring down oil giant Unocal; a groundbreaking ballot initiative in Arcata, California, put the corporate agenda in the public spotlight in a series of town hall meetings; in Bolivia, the population fought and won a battle against their government’s effort to the water system to Bechtel Corporation; in India nearly 99% of the basmati patent of RiceTek was overturned; and W. R. Grace and the U.S. government’s patent on Neem was revoked.
As the global justice movement takes back local power, a growing re-invigoration of the concept of citizenship is taking root. It has the power to not only strip the corporation of its seeming omnipotence, but to create a feeling and an ideology of democracy that is much more than its mere institutional version.
“The Corporation” (2003) 145 min., Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott & Joel Bakan. Based on the book THE CORPORATION: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, by Joel Bakan.
CRIME AFTER CRIME
In 1983, Deborah Peagler, a woman brutally abused by her boyfriend, was sentenced to 25 years-to-life for her connection to his murder. Twenty years later, as she languished in prison, a California law allowing incarcerated domestic-violence survivors to reopen their cases was passed. Enter a pair of rookie land-use attorneys convinced that with the incontrovertible evidence that existed, they could free Deborah in a matter of months. What they didn’t know was the depth of corruption and politically driven resistance they’d encounter, sending them down a nightmarish, bureaucratic rabbit hole of injustice. The outrageous twists and turns in this consummately crafted saga are enough to keep us on the edge of our seats. Meanwhile, the spirit, fortitude, and love all three characters marshal in the face of this wrenching marathon is nothing short of miraculous. We fall in love with the remarkable triumvirate as they battle a warped criminal-justice system and test whether it’s beyond repair.
“Crime After Crime” 2011
Crude: The Real Price of Oil
This is the story of an on-going legal battle by indigenous people of Ecuador against the oil giant Chevron Texaco for despoiling their environment. Ground water has been polluted, people have been sickened, whole communities can no longer live where they have lived for generations. While Chevron claims in its defense that its drilling and extraction practices observe international standards, this becomes a damning statement in view of the evident damage it has done to the Amazon. If this is standard practice in the oil industry, perhaps the price of oil is too high.
With help from activist lawyers, Ecuadoran indigenous communities are trying to get Chevron to pay that price in a $27 billion law suit. This is an epic struggle between little people and big oil that is likely to rage in the courts for years to come. Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly disappearing indigenous cultures. Dynamic, tightly arranged, and deliberately provocative, Joe Berlinger’s Crude is a sobering, enraging wake-up call.
“Crude: The Real Price of Oil” 2009 100 min
CULTURES OF RESISTANCE
When we think of “resistance,” what mostly comes to mind is guerrilla warfare. But resistance doesn’t always involve roadside bombs or military operations. Sometimes it is sprayed on a Teheran wall, or rapped in a hip-hop song in Gaza. It can be a poem in Medellin, Colombia or come from a guitar shaped like an AK-47. In short, there are few boundaries or strictures when it comes to the imagination and creativity that people bring to the act of defiance. “Poetry does not overthrow governments, but it does open consciousness and hearts,” one poet says.
That art can be powerful stuff is the central message that Brazilian filmmaker Iara Lee brings to her award-winning documentary “Cultures of Resistance.” Lee began “Cultures” in 2003, just before the Bush administration invaded Iraq, and her six-year odyssey takes her through five continents and 35 cities: Burma, Brazil, Rwanda, Iran, Burundi, Israel, Nigeria, the Congo, and Liberia, to name a few. In each case she profiles a grassroots movement that embodies the philosophy of non-violent resistance to everything from political oppression to occupation.
“Cultures of Resistance” is a surprising film. Lee is a strong supporter of non-violence, but “Cultures of Resistance” is hardly about how hugs will free us all. She recognizes that resistance in the face of oppression—or indifference—can spark anger. If non-violent resistance is ignored, things can turn ugly.
One of the films messages is that cultures of resistance—those that have the audacity to say “no”—have things in common. The Buddhist monks that challenged the military dictatorship in Burma share common ground with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Israelis opposed to the occupation of Palestinian lands, and Palestinians resisting the spread of Israeli settlements, meet in the medium of rap. As Lee says, “Global solidarity is the only thing that can promote real change.”
“Cultures of Resistance” 2010, 73 min.
THE DAY DIPLOMACY DIED
This film sets the record straight on ‘FIDEL CASTRO’S CRACKDOWN’ in 2003 when 75 Cubans were arrested and jailed.
Four Cuban State agents speak out for the first time on film why the Cuban government locked up these 75 “independent” journalists, trade unionists and librarians. They tell of the inner workings of the dissident groups they infiltrated and of the various, and often frightening, plans hatched to destabilize their country.
The Day Diplomacy Died also features two former Heads of the US Diplomatic Staff in Havana, Ricardo Alarcon, President of the Cuban Parliament and human rights lawyer, Jose Pertierra, who explains how Cuba, under international and Cuban law, has the right to protect its country’s sovereignty from interference by its biggest and most powerful enemy.
‘The Day Diplomacy Died’ 2010 33 min written and directed by Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruiz Rebo and produced by `Two Islands Productions’ (Ireland)
DEADLY EMBRACE: NICARAGUA, WORLD BANK & IMF
Why does Nicaragua have one of the highest foreign debts in the world? At $3000 to $4000 per capita, this debt has spawned the country’s worst economic crisis. With powerful cinematography, Deadly Embrace explores how the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have contributed to Nicaragua’s crisis. (Includes sections in Spanish, with English subtitles)
“Deadly Embrace: Nicaragua, the World Bank and the IMF” (1999) 27min. Elizabeth Canner and Ashley Eames, Compas de La Primavera
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Utopia is an ideal society that does not yet exist. Dystopia is the opposite. Michigan’s Detroit is closer to the latter, as we discover in the new film “Detropia.” It hasn’t always been that way. Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century— the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, “Detropia” sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution.
Is this the fate of our postindustrial cities? Some in Detroit seek to shape a different future. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive the deindustrialization globalization has brought to the US and begins to envision a radically different future.
“Detropia” 2012, 90 min.
DIRTY WARS: THE WORLD IS A BATTLEFIELD
What begins as an investigation into a US night raid gone terribly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly transforms into a high-stakes global investigation into one of the most secretive and powerful military units in American history. As journalist Jeremy Scahill digs deeper into the activities of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he is forced to confront painful truths about the consequences of a war without end that extends through Republican and Democratic administrations. Pulled deeper into the stories he investigates and the lives of the people he meets along the way, Scahill realizes that the investigation has transformed him. Tracing the rise of JSOC, the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history, Dirty Wars reveals cover operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens. Dirty Wars takes viewers to remote corners of the globe to see first-hand wars fought in their name and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a high-stakes investigation. We are left with haunting questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice.
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill got his start at Democracy Now!, went on to work with Michael Moore and is currently with The Nation Magazine. He authored the international bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
“Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield” 2013
THE ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS
Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization. ‘Going local’ is a powerful strategy to help repair our fractured world – our ecosystems, our societies and our selves. Far from the old institutions of power, people are starting to forge a very different future…
“The Economics of Happiness” 2011
THE END OF AMERICA
This is a stunning indictment of the sweeping policy changes enacted during the Bush Administration. This documentary film was made in collaboration with best-selling author Naomi Wolf. It makes a chilling case that American democracy is under grave threat. Investigating parallels between our current situation and the rise of dictators and fascism in other once-free societies, Wolf uncovers a number of deeply unsettling similarities — from the use of paramilitary groups and secret prisons to the targeted suspension of the rule of law. With this galvanizing call to action based on her recent book “Letters to a Young Patriot,” she urges regular citizens to take back our legacy of freedom and justice. In November, voters answered the call. But will the new President be able to undo what is actually a half century erosion of the American Constitution?
http://www.endofamericamovie.com/ 2008 71 min.
THE END OF POVERTY?
Poverty is not an accident. 1492 marks the birth of modern times when the conquistadors violently extracted gold and other natural resources. Colonialism was followed by neo-colonialism and now by globalization. Throughout , our economic system has been financed by the poor by forcing them to give up their land and access to natural resources, then through unfair trade, debt repayment and unjust taxes on labor and consumption. This system was carefully built and maintained by the free market policies, resource monopolies and structural adjustment programs of the World Bank and the IMF.
“The End of Poverty?” skillfully interweaves all the disparate issues that go into shaping the activist agenda, not just the extreme, irreparable poverty of the Third World, but also the extreme, burgeoning wealth of the United States and Western Europe, the wars and assassinations that secure that wealth, and the destruction of the environment that accompanies it. It effectively answers the question “Why are the people living in the richest countries in terms of resources always the poorest people in the world?” It explains why throwing money (and volunteerism) at the problem is never going to change anything and has, in fact, been making the problem progressively worse. Those
who want to keep throwing crumbs to the poor while the rest of us dine on cake should just ignore this message and keep doing what you’re already doing.
http://theendofpoverty.com/ 2008 104 min.
THE END OF SUBURBIA: OIL DEPLETION AND THE END OF AMERICAN DREAM
“The End of Suburbia” raises serious questions about the sustainability of the suburban way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, “The End of Suburbia” explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary. Are today’s suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow?
http://www.endofsuburbia.com/ 78 min.
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES
This video, by prominent Canadian filmmaker Magnus Isaacsson, investigates the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by connecting factory closures in Canada with the emergence of sweatshops in Mexico. A group of disgruntled Canadians travel south to see who has “stolen” their jobs, only to find that conditions in the maquilas in Mexico’s free trade zone are appalling–despite the promises of NAFTA. Imbued with a new sense of international solidarity, the Canadian workers return home and re-open a paper plant on the premises of the old one. (Includes sections in Spanish, with English subtitles)
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” (1995) 53 min. Magnus Isaacsson
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM
Based on the best-selling book by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, “Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room” is a true crime story of arrogance, intolerance, and greed by co-conspirators Kenneth Lay, Jeffery Skilling, and CFO Andy Fastnow who perpetrated one of American history’s most odious business scandals. It tells the story of how Enron went from 65 billion dollars in assets to total bankruptcy in 24 days, costing investors everything and leaving thousands of employees jobless and stripped of their pension benefits. We see how the villainous powerbrokers worked behind the scenes to divert company profit to personal accounts and manipulated earnings while marketing themselves as the decade’s biggest success story.
Narrated by Peter Coyote, the exposé features insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio and videotapes that will have viewers’ blood boiling. But then it leaves with us the question whether the corruption that infected Enron was just an aberration with this one company or the tip of the corporate iceberg.
“Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room” (2005) 109 mins. Alex Gibney
AN ENVIRONMENTAL-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX?
The United States continues to spend vast sums on building new high-tech weapons and maintaining cold war relics, in part because military industries provide jobs in key congressional districts. Yet, as this video shows, there is a growing consensus that public funds would be better spent on finding solutions to global environmental problems. Even at home, environmental problems–from nuclear waste to water contamination–need urgent attention and require government investment.
“An Environmental-Industrial Complex?” (2000) 29 min. America’s Defense Monitor
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WAR
The environment is not often thought of as a casualty of war, but the Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Yugoslavian wars all left grim legacies of ecological contamination. The Environmental Impact of War shows that environmental contamination carries human costs: e.g., depleted uranium used in Desert Storm and in Yugoslavia threatens to slowly kill survivors of those wars. The defoliation of the Vietnamese jungle in the 1960s and 1970s degraded the soil and has caused flooding. The 1977 Environment Modification Convention, establishing an international protocol to protect the environment during wartime, was ratified by the U.S. in 1979, but as the film explains, the Pentagon has already violated it in the Gulf War, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.
“The Environmental Impact of War (1999) 29 min. America’s Defense Monitor
EVEN THE RAIN
In 1999 the World Bank and IMF required Bolivia to privatize all public utilities in line with their neoliberal agenda. The compliant government of Bolivia then sold the water system of Cochabamba to a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corporation. Bechtel proceeded to raise the water rates by as much as 200 to 300% –far beyond what the poor Bolivians could pay. The company even forbad the people to collect rain water, claiming ownership of all water. “Even the rain!” protested the people as riots rocked the city.
The documentary film Even the Rain depicts these dramatic events as backdrop for a fictional film that is being shot in Cochabamba at the time. The film is to be about Christopher Columbus’s conquest and supression of indigenous resistance. But the film soon takes on a parallelism with the real events unfolding as the people occupy public spaces in protest and are violently attacked by the government. The message is clear: the conquest continues. To today’s audiences there is also a parallel to the occupy movement in the US and the violent supression of it by local authorities.
Although Even the Rain does not carry its story forward, the Cochabamba water war opened the way to the collapse of the Bolivian government and the eventual election of Evo Morales as that country’s first indigenous president. Bolivia along with much of Latin America continues to resist the neoliberalism the US seeks to impose. Michael Moore has called Even the Rain “a brilliant movie. At a time when the poor of the world seem to be rising up, I found myself deeply moved and completely enthralled by this film. I encourage everyone in search of a great movie to go see Even the Rain.” This 2010 film is as relevant today as it was in 1999 and, indeed, as in 1492.
“Even the Rain” 2010 100 min
Gael García Bernal as fictional director Sebastián in Even the Rain.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore’s searing examination of the Bush administration’s actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how – and why – Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda. Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq and Fahrenheit 9/11 takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven’t heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families.
Immigration has become a major issue in the U.S. “Farmingville” documents the response of a Long Island suburb to the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Anglos feel threatened by immigrants who take jobs that they don’t want anyway. Others come to the defense of the immigrants who themselves seek for positive ways to relate to the larger community. Charges and counter charges of lawlesness and racism escalate into violence that tears the community apart. This provocative, complex and emotionally charged film was a prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Farmingville” (2003) 78 min. Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini
FIDEL: The Untold Story
FIDEL covers forty years of the Cuban Revolution and provides a unique opportunity to consider the life of one of the most influential and controversial figures of our time. Director Estela Bravo has obtained original and unusual interviews with Castro and exclusive footage from Cuban State archives. For the first time on film, we see Fidel Castro in a more intimate light, swimming with his bodyguards, visiting his childhood home and school, joking with his friend Nelson Mandela, meeting with Elian Gonzalez, and celebrating his birthday with the Buena Vista Social Club.
Bravo allows the story to unfold through the words of Alice Walker, Sydney Pollack, Ted Turner, Muhammed Ali, Harry Belafonte, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Congressman Charles Rangel, Ramsey Clark, Wayne Smith, and others. Family and close friends, such as the Nobel Prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, also offer a window into the largely unknown private life of Fidel Castro.
Juxtaposing the personal and the anecdotal with the history of the Cuban Revolution and Castro’s fight to survive the post-Soviet period and the continued U.S. embargo, this 91-minute documentary tells a story that has yet to be told on film. Without resorting to polemics, Bravo is able to surprise her audience as she reveals another side to the compelling figure of Fidel.
“Fidel: The Untold Story” (2001) 91 minutes. by Estela Bravo.
FIXING THE FUTURE
A thoughtful PBS documentary by David Brancaccio. In travels around the country Broncaccio finds local, green and egalitarian businesses that are creating good jobs. The current crisis tells us we must serve the economy; this film shows that an economy that serves people is possible and is in fact being built.
Not all of the film conduces to this conclusion. At the first stop, we learn of a forum for businesses dedicated to building a local, sustainable economy. The owner of a salmon fishing business says his may be the greenest such operation. An oven maker whose workers have decent wages and products are reasonably priced – all without outsourcing to china. No worker coops are there to challenge the standard subjection of wage labor to capital. Values of localism and environmental sustainability trump egalitarianism
In Maine we discover a “bank” where “deposits” and “withdrawals” are not in cash but in work-time among hundreds of participants. Hours of ditch-digging, legal services, psychotherapy, and weatherizing are all taken and given in exchange. This increases “community wealth” and not just money wealth.
In Austin, Texas we visit Yo Mama’s catering, a 4-woman worker coop connected to a national movement of coop-building. The sheer joy of working successfully together without a boss is palpable.
Even more real is Cleveland, Ohio where “inter-cooperating” coops combine to scale up their size to match larger businesses. We meet the elected head of a green laundry operated as a worker coop. Its ex-addict co-owners had been spat out by de-industrialization and left to die by globalization.
A splendid animated piece compares the money and human costs and gains of riding one’s bike to the store versus driving one’s car. The meanings we give to “money, “wealth” and “happiness” are suddenly suspended and questioned. Discussions with “experts” are mercifully short. A business journalist tells Broncaccio that the worst thing would be to abandon capitalism, and the second worst thing would be not to reform it. How? Give up the current obsession with the short term. As if the system did not demand that obsession and as if worker coops were not standing challenges to wage labor essence of capitalism. Broncaccio listens, noncommital. Broncaccio leaves open two questions that run throughout the film: Can capitalism be reformed? And: If it can’t be, will these initiatives take us beyond it? These are not questions of fact. It is left up to us to decide their answers.
“Fixing the Future” PBS NOW 2011 1 hour
Not for the faint of heart.
by Molly Blakemore
“You’ll never look at dinner the same way:” that’s the tag line of Food, Inc. and it is particularly true if you live in the US and you shop at a conventional grocery store. Produced by Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation and directed by award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner the film is a sobering, infuriating exposé of the industrial food racket in America.
Narrated by Schlosser and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) the film’s three parts explore factory animal farming, the consolidation of grain and commodity crops, and the corporate interests that have come to dictate food policy in Washington.
From the window-less, overcrowded chicken coops contracted by Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods, to the manure-ridden, bacteria-breeding feedlots of Smithfield Farms, we get a horrifying look at the inhumanity and foulness of industrial animal “production”. Down on the farm, the filmmakers give a tutorial on the market distortions caused by the commodity-heavy US Farm Bill that subsidizes soybean and corn at rates that cause massive overproduction and require ever more ingenious and scientific uses for said crops, and its influence over the American diet. And if you are not already appalled and infuriated every time you hear the word “Monsanto”, a look at what this mega-corp has done to the livelihood of Midwestern farmers and small business owners who have eschewed their “patented seed technologies” should make you run out and join the Organic Consumer’s Association in it’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign.
At the heart of the film is the central message: all of this is making us sick. Whether it’s the rampant presence of E.coli in industrial meats or the high-fructose corn syrup found in everything from Coca-Cola to Salad Dressing, the film reveals the hidden costs of cheap food and the billions of dollars spent each year to conceal them. A trip to Washington, DC illuminates the corporate control of food policy and the commandeering of such important public agencies as the FDA and the USDA.
Food Inc. is an important film for anyone concerned with food safety, animal rights, nutrition, health or sustainability. And it’s a must see for anyone whose New Year’s Resolution is to go veggie (it’s like a nicotine patch for the recovering meat eater). One warning, though, in the words of Eric Schlosser, “The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating – because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.” You may never be able to shop in your chain grocery store again.
“Food, Inc.” (2009)
FORKS OVER KNIVES
Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. Research by nutritionists and doctors has shown that degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented – and in many cases reversed – by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.
“Forks Over Knives” 2011 96 min.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD
There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America — a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat.
“The Future of Food” offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.
From the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push towards globalization are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed by the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply.
Shot on location in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, THE FUTURE OF FOOD examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world’s food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today.
“The Future of Food” (2004) 88 mins. Deborah Koons
GAP AND NIKE: NO SWEAT?
Nike and Gap both have strict codes of conduct for manufacturing: they claim that they do not use sweatshops or child labor. They also say they routinely “monitor” their factories, to make sure their codes are followed. But when the BBC’s Panorama team visits Cambodia, they find severe breeches of these codes within days. By talking with workers and using hidden cameras, they show how one factory, used by both Gap and Nike, has sweatshop conditions and employs children. All the workers interviewed work seven days a week, often up to 16 hours a day. Children as young as 12 are employed. After these findings, Panorama goes back to speak with Gap and Nike, to hear what they have to say. They also show how U.S. companies can use sweatshops and still put “Made in the U.S.A. on the label. An eye-opening view of labor conditions in the third world and unfair industry practices.
“Gap and Nike: No Sweat?” (2000) 39 min. BBC’s Panorama
The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.
GLOBAL VILLAGE OR GLOBAL PILLAGE?
Critics of globalization see a race to the bottom as corporations pressure governments to reduce laws protecting workers and the environment and poor countries compete with each other to attract transnational corporations by lowering their standards. The gap widens between rich and poor between nations and within nations. And who makes the rules affecting free trade? It isn’t governments, but the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organization – unelected technocrats who are not accountable to citizens.
These are some of the provocative views presented in the documentary “Global Village, Global Pillage”. Narrated by Ed Asner, the film features Ralph Nader, Charles Kernaghan (an anti-sweatshop activist), Thea Lee, Loretta Ross and Dennis Brutus. They also talk about how through grassroots organizing, ordinary people can empower themselves to deal with the global economy. People around the world are challenging corporate globalization as ordinary people empower themselves through grassroots organizing.
“Global Village or Global Pillage?” (1999) 26 min. Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello
GLOBALIZATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
A well-rounded examination of globalization, this video by award-winning producers Rory O’Connor and Danny Schechter presents differing perspectives on the relation between free trade and human rights standards and regulations. Among those interviewed are international banker and philanthropist George Soros, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Ralph Nader. The documentary contrasts the language of international corporate policies with the reality of human rights abuses caused by corporate practices.
“Globalization and Human Rights” (1998) 60 min. Rory O’Connor and Danny Schechter/PBS Frontline
Sometimes a film makes history; it doesn’t just document it. Such is the case with Granito, the astonishing new film by Pamela Yates. Part political thriller, part memoir, Granito takes us through a riveting, haunting tale of genocide and justice that spans four decades, two films, and in many ways, Yates’s own career.
Embedded in Granito is Yates’s seminal 1982 film, When the Mountains Tremble, which introduced the world to the tragedy of the genocide carried out against the Mayan people by the Guatemalan government and propelled Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchú to the international stage. During filming, Yates was allowed to shoot the only known footage of the army as it carried out the genocide. Twenty-five years later, this film and its outtakes become evidence in an international war-crimes case against the former commander of the army, and Yates reunites with Menchú, now a Nobel laureate, and others who continue to contribute their granito (tiny grain of sand) in a continuing quest for the truth.
When this film was premiered in Guatamela to an audience who had lived through this war, it received a standing ovation.
Democracy Now! interviewed filmmaker Pamela Yates and forensic investigator Fredy Peccerelli http://www.democracynow.org/2011/9/15/granito_how_to_nail_a_dictator
“Granito” 2011 103 min
THE GREENING OF CUBA
When trade relations with the socialist bloc collapsed in 1990, Cuba lost 80 percent of its pesticide and fertilizer imports and half of its petroleum – the mainstays of its highly industrialized agriculture. Challenged with growing food for 11 million people in the face of the continuing U.S. embargo, Cuba embarked on the largest conversion to organic farming ever attempted.
To understand how this was accomplished, the Center for Global Justice will show the film “The Greening of Cuba.” This Food First documentary profiles Cuban farmers and scientists working to reinvent a sustainable agriculture, based on ecological principles and local knowledge rather than imported agricultural inputs. In their quest for self sufficiency, Cubans combine time-tested traditional methods with cutting edge technology.
Told in the voices of the campesinos, researchers, and organic gardeners who are leading the organic agriculture movement, “The Greening of Cuba” reminds us that developed and developing nations alike can choose a healthier environment and still feed their people.
“The Greening of Cuba” (1996) 38 min. Food First video, DVD or VHS
HARVEST OF EMPIRE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF LATINOS IN AMERICA
This feature-length documentary examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.
Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning NY Daily News journalist and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, “Harvest of Empire” takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.
From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, the film unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S. “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north,” says Juan González at the beginning of the film.
The film provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. It features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists Maria Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada.
The filmmakers tell their story with a deep underlying conviction that once Americans have accurate facts, “they rarely allow injustices to stand”.
“Harvest of Empire” 2012, 90 min.
HARVEST OF SHAME
Presented by Dan Rather, Edward R. Murrow’s HARVEST OF SHAME is among the most famous television documentaries of all time. Richly photographed and arrestingly poignant, this long-acclaimed 1960 exposé on the plight of migrant farm workers resonated deeply for a nation unfamiliar with such brutally honest depictions of living conditions that, as Murrow remarks, “wrong the dignity of man.” Smartly televised to millions of Americans the day after Thanksgiving to better tap into their emotions, Murrow’s indispensable classic led to permanent changes in the laws protecting workers’ rights. Yet, how much have conditions really changed now nearly a half century later?
“Harvest of Shame,” (1960) Edward R. Murrow, DVD, 55 min.
HEIST: WHO STOLE THE AMERICAN DREAM?
“HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream?” reveals how American corporations orchestrated the dismantling of middle-class prosperity through rampant deregulation, the outsourcing of jobs, and tax policies favoring businesses and the wealthy. The collapse of the U.S. economy is the result of conscious choices made over thirty five years by a small group: leaders of corporations and their elected allies, and the biggest lobbying interest in Washington: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To these individuals, the collapse is not a catastrophe, but rather the planned outcome of their long, patient work. For the rest of the country, it is merely the biggest heist in American history.
“HEIST” traces the worldwide economic collapse to a 1971 secret memo entitled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” Written over 40 years ago by the future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, at the behest of the US Chamber of Commerce, the 6-page memo, a free-market utopian treatise, called for a money fueled big business makeover of government through corporate control of the media, academia, the pulpit, arts and sciences and destruction of organized labor and consumer protection groups.
But Powell’s real “end game” was business control of law and politics. Narrated by Thom Hartmann, HEIST’s step by step detail exposes the systemic implementation of Powell’s memo by both U.S. political parties culminating in the deregulation of industry, outsourcing of jobs and regressive taxation. All of which led us to the global financial crisis of 2008 and the continued dismantling of the American middle class. Today, politics is the playground of the rich and powerful, with no thought given to the hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. No other film goes as deeply as HEIST in explaining the greatest wealth transfer of our time. Moving beyond the white noise of today’s polarizing media, HEIST provides viewers with a clear, concise and fact- based explanation of how we got into this mess, and what we need to do to restore our representative democracy.
“The Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?” 2011, 90 min.
HIJACKING CATASTROPHE: 9/11, FEAR AND THE SELLING OF AMERICAN EMPIRE
True or False? The plan to invade Iraq and establish U.S. military dominance in the Middle East was made in the days immediately after September 11.
False! In fact, it was made nearly 10 years earlier at the end of the first Gulf War when the first Bush administration refused to topple the Saddam Hussein regime. It was then that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and their fellow neocons advocated that the U.S. take advantage of the post Cold War opportunity to flex its military muscle and establish worldwide dominance. They only had to wait until the “new Pearl Harbor” (their phrase) of September 11 gave them the political opportunity they needed to press forward with their agenda.
That is the thesis of the film “Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire” being shown this week in the Snowbird Symposium. And you don’t have to believe in conspiracies to believe that. It’s all right there on the neocon’s own website at www.newamericancentury.org. It’s the smoking gun. There you will find their own documents, their policy recommendations and reports made throughout the years of the Clinton administration. It wasn’t until they came back into power with the presidency of Bush the Younger, that they were able to hijack U.S. foreign policy following the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Now their ideas are embedded in official National Security Strategy doctrine and written in the blood of thousands.
Narrated by Julian Bond, “Hijacking Catastrophe” examines how a radical fringe of the Republican Party used the trauma of the 9/11 terror attacks to advance a pre-existing agenda to radically transform American foreign policy while rolling back civil liberties and social programs at home. Sobering and provocative, this documentary includes interviews with Noam Chomsky, Medea Benjamin, Daniel Ellsberg, Chalmers Johnson, Mark Crispin Miller, Norman Mailer, Benjamin Barber, Scott Ritter, Immanuel Wallerstein and others.
Don’t miss this powerful expose of the cabal that now controls the most powerful state in history. You’ll never be able to view the Bush administration the same way again.
“Hijacking Catastrophe” (2004), directed by by Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally, 64 min. DVD or VHS, http://www.hijackingcatastrophe.org/
HOWARD ZINN: YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN
“I had a modest goal when I became a teacher. I wanted to change the World.” – Howard Zinn.
This film documents the life and times of Howard Zinn: historian, activist, and author of several classics including “A Peoples History of the United States”. Archival footage, and commentary by friend, colleagues and Zinn himself.
“Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train” (2004) 78 minutes. By by Deb Ellis & Denis Mueller.
The 2011 Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature went to Inside Job. It tells the sordid story of how Wall Street’s best and brightest brought us a catastrophic meltdown. This is the film that cost $20,000,000,000,000 to make! It tells how the financial industry engineered massive private gains at public expense. When director Charles Ferguson asked why there hasn’t been a systematic investigation of this, he was told “it’s because then you’d find out who the culprits are.” You’ll leave the theater asking “why aren’t these guys in jail?” You should also ask, “why are they still in power?”
“Inside Job” 2010 110 min
Described as An Inconvenient Truth on the economy, the documentary film “I.O.U.S.A.” takes a dark look at the national debt, the trade deficit and the lack of personal savings in the U.S. — and the failure of political leaders to take seriously the road to bankruptcy to which these are leading the nation. The film demonstrates how little the public understands such economic issues while going a long way toward making them more understandable through the creative use of graphics.
“I.O.U.S.A.” is based on the book “Empire of Debt” and the “Fiscal Wake-up Tour” that former director of the Government Accountability Office, David M. Walker, and Robert L. Bixby of the Concord Coalition have been taking around the country for several years now. But what has awakened people to our debt crisis is not so much their efforts as it was the financial meltdown that hit just after the film was released last summer. And that crisis was based on private speculative debt, not the public debt and entitlements that the film sees as bringing on a fiscal tsunami. That still lies in the future. And then too there is the ever mounting war debt.
http://www.iousathemovie.com/ 2008 90 min.
IMPERIAL GRAND STRATEGY: THE CONQUEST OF IRAQ AND THE ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY
Revolutionary linguist and outspoken political activist and theorist Noam Chomsky tackles U.S. domestic and foreign policy, specifically the war in Iraq and the Patriot Acts I & II. In Chomsky’s eyes, the war in Iraq is merely a manifestation of a larger and long-standing U.S. policy of foreign aggression, an Imperial Grand Strategy that was first made public in the neo-cons 2002 National Security Strategy.
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.
If that sounds like a recipe for serious gloom and doom — think again. From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man’s fervent crusade to halt global warming’s deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it. That man is former Vice President Al Gore, who, in the wake of defeat in the 2000 election, re-set the course of his life to focus on a last-ditch, all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change. In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his “traveling global warming show,” Gore also proves himself to be one of the most misunderstood characters in modern American public life. Here he is seen as never before in the media – funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our “planetary emergency” out to ordinary citizens before it’s too late.
Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation. Interspersed with the bracing facts and future predictions is the story of Gore’s personal journey: from an idealistic college student who first saw a massive environmental crisis looming; to a young Senator facing a harrowing family tragedy that altered his perspective, to the man who almost became President but instead returned to the most important cause of his life – convinced that there is still time to make a difference.
With wit, smarts and hope, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH ultimately brings home Gore’s persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue – rather, it is the biggest moral challenges facing our global civilization.
“An Inconvenient Truth ” (2006) 100 mins. directed by Davis Guggenheim
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
In this Paul Haggis drama, Tommy Lee Jones plays Hank Deerfield, a retired military man investigating the mysterious disappearance of his soldier son, Mike. Charlize Theron is the civilian homicide cop in the small town near the base where Mike recently returned from a combat tour in Iraq. When this unlikely pair ends up investigating the mystery together, they encounter some suspicious covering-up from the army. Deerfield gets access to his son’s camera phone that contains startling video footage from combat overseas.
Performances are all Oscar-worthy: Jones’s craggy, weather-beaten face hiding grief and anguish beneath a steely facade until they threaten to boil over. His mug becomes a symbol for an America with no other choice but to confront its own grave flaws if it’s ever to find any answers. Susan Sarandon is the anguished mother waiting at home, and Theron is strong and sure, as a single mother who bravely faces, among other challenges, harassment in the workplace. Josh Brolin is her ex, the chief of police, and Jason Patric and James Franco are among the impassive faces of the military.
“A somber condemnation of US foreign policy, wrapped in an absorbing whodunit.”
“It is extraordinary that a film this muted could resonate with a message this strong.”
“Though some of Paul Haggis’s themes are heavy-handed, In the Valley of Elah is otherwise an engrossing murder mystery and antiwar statement, featuring a mesmerizing performance from Tommy Lee Jones.”
2007 121 min.
“El Inmigrante” is a documentary film that examines the Mexican and American border crisis by telling the story of Eusebio de Haro a young Mexican migrant who was shot and killed during one of his journeys north. The film presents a distinct humanitarian focus in which story and character take precedent over policy and empiricism. Towards this end “El Inmigrante” examines the perspectives of a diverse cast of players in this border narrative. A cast which includes the de Haro family, the community of Brackettville, Texas–where Eusebio was shot, members of vigilante border militias in Arizona, the horseback border patrol in El Paso, and migrants en route to an uncertain future in the United States.
“El Inmigrante” (2005) 90 mins. Dave Eckenrode John Eckenrode & John Sheedy
Governments are installing computerized voting systems with no paper record to verify accuracy. Elections will be controlled by companies that do not allow voters to inspect their software. If vote counting becomes privatized, there may be no way to get it back. Hightech vote fraud is already a reality.
“Invisible Ballots: A Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud” (2004) 90 mins. DVD William Gazecki
THE INVISIBLE WAR
This documentary brought to public view the issue of rape in the US military. This is a too common and long denied problem in our armed forces. As one reviewer observed, “the fact that this subject has taken so long to achieve full-scale exposure was itself symptomatic of the problem.” Nominated for an Academy award for best documentary feature, “The Invisible War”, has forced the military and Congress to finally address this painful issue.
The Defense Department estimated there were 19,000 sexual assaults in 2010, but only 6% were reported. And there were a mere 244 convictions against perpetrators. Who does a woman report an assault to when the assailant is her commander? In this we can see how power functions in the absence of accountability, something that new legislation seeks to address.
“The Invisible War” features interviews with veterans who recount events surrounding their assaults. Their stories show many common themes, such as the lack of recourse to an impartial justice system, reprisals against survivors instead of against perpetrators, the absence of adequate emotional and physical care for survivors, the unhindered advancement of perpetrators’ careers, and the forced expulsion of survivors from service.
Interspersed with these first person testimonies are interviews with advocates, journalists, mental health professionals, active duty and retired generals, Department of Defense officials, and members of the military justice system. The film also includes footage, often shot by the veterans themselves, which documents their lives and continuing struggles in the aftermath of their assaults.
“The Invisible War” 2012, 97 min.
IRAQ FOR SALE: THE WAR PROFITEERS
This is the story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war. Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed and Uncovered) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq and the decision makers who allow them to do so.
Greenwald’s film exposes the long-time personal connections between the Bush administration and the profiteers as it investigates Blackwater Security Consulting, a Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, and CACI International, finding such travesties as truck drivers—told they would be kept out of harm’s way—forced to drive into battle zones unprotected; the use of mercenaries for combat operations and interrogations; and soldiers training civilians to, ultimately, outsource their own jobs at much higher salaries so that friends of the administration can rake in obscene profits.
“Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers” (2006) 75 mins. Robert Greenwald
LAST CALL AT THE OASIS
Academy Award winning director Jessica Yu and Academy Award nominated producer Elise Pearlstein bring us “Last Call at the Oasis.” This documentary sheds light on the vital role water plays in our lives. The global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century. We can manage this problem, but only if we are willing to act now. “Last Call at the Oasis” shatters myths behind our most precious resource. This film exposes defects in the current system, shows communities already struggling with its ill-effects and highlights individuals championing revolutionary solutions during the global water crisis.
While we are well acquainted with water shortages here in arid San Miguel, in lush California we see fishermen fighting farmers in heated battles over the precious resource and whether to continue to water the Central Valley or maintain a fragile marine ecosystem. “Last Call at the Oasis” also delivers the alarming news that if Las Vegas continues to irrigate its dancing fountains and casino tourists at current rates, the nearby Lake Mead will be depleted, rendering the Hoover Dam unable to generate electricity in four years.
From Texas’s polluted wells to enormous cattle feeding lots in Michigan – where a heroic farmer risks harassment and threats to document their effect on her community’s drinking water – and, finally, to the Jordan River itself, “Last Call at the Oasis” skillfully threads viewers through complicated scientific, environmental and geopolitical issues. But we also see cause for optimism in the Middle East, where in spite of intractable political conflict, shared water problems have led to cooperation.
“Last Call at the Oasis” 2012, 99 min.
LETTERS FROM THE OTHER SIDE (Cartas del Otro Lado) – Spanish with English subtitles
a documentary film by Heather Courtney
“He said he would only go for a year. The morning he left, he hugged and kissed me and the children … I never heard from him again. We found out through the television.”
In May of 2003, Carmela Rico and Laura Almanza Cruz, of Pozos, Guanajuato, watched with horror the news story about the worst smuggling accident in U.S. history – their husbands, along with 17 other undocumented immigrants, suffocated in the back of a semi-trailer truck in Victoria, Texas.
In the film “Letters from the Other Side” director Heather Courtney sensitively interweaves the personal stories of four women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico by husbands and sons working in the U.S., an aspect of the immigration issue rarely touched upon by the media or in national debates.
“After a few months of filming several families, I was about to drive back to the U.S. for a visit,” says Courtney, “when one of the women asked if I would show the videos I filmed of her to her sons, undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. When I offered to shoot and bring back videos of them, I realized how messed up it was – I could visit the sons she couldn’t, and shepherd messages over a border she wasn’t allowed to cross.”
In addition to Carmela and Laura, two other Guanajuato women, Eugenia González and María Yañez send and receive video “letters” via Courtney. The result is a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics; hopes and dreams fulfilled then broken or found empty; communities and traditions dying at the hands of globalization; and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.
Carmela and Laura: The young widows send a “letter” to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking: “How many more deaths does it take for the U.S. government to do something? Let it be on your conscience that since our tragedy many more have died and many more will die.” The U.S. bureaucrat who replies to their anguished cry delivers the usual political rhetoric. One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Carmela flies to Houston for the trial of the smuggler, gliding through the clouds in an airplane across the border that cost her husband his life.
In an attempt to make ends meet as single mothers, the two women struggle to start a bakery but they are shell-shocked from their tragedy and frustrated with government band-aid approaches on both sides of the border. Immediately after the accident, the Mexican government donated a large oven and other heavy equipment, but they have no money to invest in supplies, and no training on the use of the machines. In the end, they bake their cakes in their family kitchen “the old-fashioned way,” stepping around the hulks of the unused equipment which simply take up space.
Eugenia: Her husband left for the U.S. eight years ago and has never returned; one by one, her sons have left “for the other side,” seeking work and their father. Her youngest son, Enrique, reports back that his father is living with another woman, and that he himself is afraid to return because of the increasing danger in crossing the border. At home in Apaseo, Guanajuato with her two daughters, Eugenia has tried to make a new life for herself and her two daughters, making soap and jam from nopal cactus.
In her video letter, Eugenia says to her son: “If you invite your father to watch this video, please tell him that I am very happy to have accomplished everything I have accomplished without having to rely on him at all.” When she receives a video response in which he promises to return, she has conflicting feelings. She wonders who will “wear the pants,” and how 7-year-old Jessica will react to the father she has never known. Yet she also knows how much it would mean to her teenaged daughter Maricruz, who hopes against hope that her father will return in time for her quinceañera (15th birthday) celebration.
María: like many campesinos, she and her husband eke out a living from their small parcel of land while their sons leave for the U.S. each year. Hers is a relentlessly hard life, made even more precarious by the decreasing prices for farm products due to the influx of cheap imports from the U.S. since NAFTA. As María and her husband grow older, it is more and more difficult for them to do the backbreaking physical labor of planting and harvesting, and they hope to leave their land to their youngest son, Julio, who is in his last year of high-school. But, like so many young men in the campo, he too is drawn by the promise of well-paying work in the U.S.
In order to make a little extra cash, María embroiders pillows which are sold at the Mujeres Productoras cooperative store in San Miguel (in the Center for Global Justice office, Calzada de la Luz #42, between Animas and Loreto). As Yolanda Millan, legal representative of Mujeres Productoras, puts it, “We hope we can create sources of income within the communities through productive projects, so that there is no need to seek work on ‘the other side.’” María’s video letter begins by following one of her pillows over the border into the U.S. with the American retiree who purchased it.
UPDATE NOTE: One of Maria’s sons was robbed and died while crossing the border in August 2006.
“Letters from the Other Side” (2006) 74 mins. Heather Courtney
LIFE AND DEBT
If you come to Jamaica as a tourist, what you will see is the breathtaking natural beauty of the island. What you might fail to see is how the strategies for survival by individual Jamaicans are conditioned by the structural adjustment lending policies of the IMF and corporate domination through free trade. It is this post-colonial landscape that is revealed to us in the film “Life and Debt.” Based on Jamaica Kincaid’s award-winning book “A Small Place”, the film takes us inside the day-to-day realities of the lives of not only these people on a little Caribbean island, but through them we see the lives of millions throughout the global South.
In a voice-over using lines from Ms. Kincaid’s book, a subversive tour guide informs potential tourists in a soothing tone of the things that will be hidden from sight should they visit Jamaica: the sweatshops where workers make garments for the U.S. market for $30 a week and no unions are allowed and small banana farmers are forced to compete with corporate giants like Chiquita and Dole due to a U.S. complaint to the World Trade Organization. Such stories are counterpoised to scenes of overweight American tourists in a beer drinking contest. This is a reality tour that reminds you that you haven’t seen a country just because you had a good time as a tourist at a five star hotel.
Yet, this film does not preach to its audience. It simply and in a calm voice shows you the effect of the crushing debt burden that has been imposed on this beautiful island and its vibrant people (there’s a lot of Bob Marley music on the soundtrack to prove it). Poverty may be a familiar sight to experiences travelers. But putting it in the context of a globalization directed by the wealthy countries of the North, deepens our understanding of global injustice and why many in the South are looking for an alternative economic order.
“Life and Debt” (2001) 80 mins. Stephanie Black
MADE IN DAGENHAM
“Made in Dagenham” is a dramatization of the 1968 strike by women workers at the Ford Motor plant in the London suburb of Dagenham. The cause? Sexual discrimination. The result of their struggle? Britain passed the Equal Pay Act of 1970.
The 187 women did the specialized work of sewing car-seat upholstery, a job classified by the company as “unskilled,” for which they are paid far less than the men. Whereas the 55,000 men who worked at the plant were housed in a clean, new facility, the women had to contend with sweatshop conditions in a facility dating back to the 1920s. When their kindly union rep, Albert, encourages the women to bring their grievances to Ford, Rita O’Grady (played by Sally Hawkins), and the shop steward are fobbed off with minor concessions.
To everybody’s surprise, including her own, Rita was instantly radicalized. She demanded pay parity with the men and declared a one-day strike, which eventually turned into a long-term strike that shut down the plant – much to the massive annoyance of the men, who tolerated the women’s action until it affected their own paychecks.
MADE IN INDIA
Depicting a country fraught with unemployment, poverty, and the perils of liberalizing markets, this video tells the story of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), an Indian project helping poor women organize a trade union, a bank, and social welfare services. This pioneering project, defying India’s male-dominated and economically rigid society, has grown into an internationally acclaimed model for rural development and women’s empowerment. Plattner’s powerful documentary interviews SEWA founder, Ela Bhat, and follows the development of the organization and the women who have joined it. (Includes interviews with English subtitles)
“Made in India” (1998) 52 min. Patricia Plattner
MAQUILA: A TALE OF TWO MEXICOS
A post-NAFTA world of unrestrained economic global liberalization offers tough choices to contemporary Mexican peasants. This film tells of the confrontation in Chiapas between the Mexican army and poor farmers trying to cling to their land and Mayan culture. Some of these besieged peasants, like millions of other poor Mexicans, have migrated to Juarez, Tijuana, and other northern border cities to take low paying jobs in foreign-owned factories. In Juarez, they encounter more than poor working conditions–environmental pollution, a high cost of living, horrifying rapes and murders of young women maquila workers, and the loss of cultural roots, family, and community. This innovative documentary by award-winning filmmaker Saul Landau allows its subjects to speak for themselves, with little narration. (In Spanish, with English subtitles)
“Maquila: A Tale of Two Mexicos” (2000) 55 mins, Saul Landau and Sonia Angulo To order call: Cinema Guild, (800) 723-5522.
Maquilapolis tells the story of a border city where it takes an hour of drudgework inside a poisonous factory to earn enough to buy a jug of potable water. Where it takes about two hours to earn a gallon of milk. Where factory workers find bathroom breaks are few, toxins are many, and the pressure — and intimidation — are always on. It’s a place where poverty is so deep that workers are expected to be grateful for the high-end $11 a day they might earn, to give up hope of ever earning more or of ever seeking better working conditions. This daily $11 does not buy them the protection and aid of their local and national governments. Under-taxed and under-regulated factories operated by multinational corporations — usually through local middlemen — pollute residential neighborhoods with seeming impunity.
This powerful and unique film brought American and Mexican-American filmmakers together with Tijuana factory workers and community organizers to tell the story of globalization through the eyes and voices of the workers themselves — overwhelmingly women — who have borne the costs but reaped few of the benefits. The workers did not just testify on camera, they became an integral part of creating their stories on film. Two women in particular, Carmen Durán and Lourdes Luján, armed with cameras for video diaries, chronicle their struggles. The result is not only an informative and disturbing film, but also an evocative and poetic one.
“Maquilapolis” (City of Factories), 68 minutes, 2006, by Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre, http://www.maquilapolis.com/
Meltdown is a four part CBC/Al-jazeera television series that looks at the 2008 financial crisis in the U.S. when the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve tapped billions of our dollars to save big banks from the consequences of their risky bets. When the Goldman Sachs boys rushed to save their buddies on Wall Street, the US taxpayers were left holding a huge debt. Meltdown takes us inside those fateful events whose consequences will be with us for many years to come. Parts 3 and 4 looks at the popular fight back. If your news source is mainly the U.S. media, you will be surprised how widespread and radical this resistance to global capitalism has been. Time Magazine declared “The Protester” the 2011 Person of the Year. Will “The Revolutionary” be the Person of 2012?
“Meltdown” 2011 4 hour long programs
THE MONDRAGON EXPERIMENT
This 1980 BBC documentary brought to world attention this remarkable system of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. The Mondragon Experiment details the early history, structure and operation along with its second degree cooperatives: its development bank, its technical university and research center, its supermarkets and housing coops, insurance company and more. These are not just single coops. This is an integrated system of cooperatives based on the principle of one worker, one vote.
“The Mondragon Experiment” BBC 1980 60 minutes
THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS
Long before there was WikiLeaks there was Daniel Ellsberg. He made a major contribution toward informing the US public by leaking the top secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War, thereby exposing the lies and deceptions our government had promulgated. And the political elite called him a traitor, discredited him, and persecuted and prosecuted him to no end, just as they are doing currently with Julian Assange. Henry Kissinger called him the most dangerous man in America. Others called him a national hero. Now a major documentary film has been made of this important episode in US history, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
In this classic whistleblower tale we see Ellsberg, a government Cold War analyst whose conscience was offended by what his leaders were doing, muster the moral courage to reveal the truth to the public. Then, as now, they retaliated. Their power depends on hiding their crimes. Publication of the Pentagon Papers was really the first chapter of Watergate, the trigger that drove Richard Nixon to take the law into his own hands and proved to be his undoing.
As solid as a textbook, the film stitches together old broadcast footage, first-person testimony, tart excerpts from the Nixon White House tapes, and recreations into riveting, revelatory political drama. It offers a real life lesson in the First Amendment that should be required viewing for every citizen.
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
(2009) 90 min http://www.mostdangerousman.org
MURDER ON A SUNDAY MORNING
Winner of the Academy Award for best documentary, this extraordinary French-made feature concerns a black teenager on trial for a murder he did not commit. In May 2000, Mary Ann Stephens, a sixty-five year old white tourist, was leaving a Ramada Inn in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband when a black assailant stole her purse and shot her dead. The Jacksonville police picked up the first black youth they saw in the area — fifteen-year-old Brenton Butler, who was out walking his dog. Everything was against Butler: the grieving husband immediately identified him as the killer, and by that evening Butler had signed a confession. Butler told his court-appointed defense attorneys, Ann Finnell and Patrick McGuinness, that he was innocent and that the confession had literally been beaten out of him by the police. Within a short time, the public defenders discovered their young client was telling the truth, and they proceeded to mount the most vigorous defense they could muster. The prosecutor and police officers who walked into court believing they had an open-and-shut case were in for a surprise. The 111-minute movie is not only riveting — it would have taken a great dramatist to write the courtroom scenes, particularly the confrontations between police detectives and the brash, chain-smoking McGuinness — but important. It illustrates how easily innocent people can be indicted for capital crimes, and is essential viewing for anyone interested in the fallibility of American justice.
“Murder on a Sunday Morning” (2001) DVD or VHS, 111 min., Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
One of the worst atrocities of the blood-stained 20th century took place in Nanking, China in the winter of 1937-38. In a prelude to World War II, the Japanese invaded China and after months of aerial bombardment, captured Nanking. Now a film has been made that tells the story of the horrifying murder and rape the Japanese army unleashed on the city. In the midst of the rampage, a small group of Westerners banded together to establish a Safety Zone where more than 200,000 Chinese found refuge. Unarmed, these missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen – including a Nazi named John Rabe – bore witness to the events, while risking their own lives to protect civilians from slaughter.
Their story is told through deeply moving interviews with Chinese survivors, chilling archival footage and photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers. At the heart of “Nanking” is a filmed stage reading of the Westerners’ letters and diaries, featuring Woody Harrelson, Muriel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow.
http://nankingthefilm.com/ 2007 90 min.
THE NEW RULES OF THE GAME
“Commanding Heights: The New Rules of the Game” is Part 3 of a three-part series originally aired on PBS. The six-hour series traces the evolution of the modern global economic system through a century of political and social upheaval, providing in-depth analysis of our interconnected world and the ways in which global economic institutions, systems and values will shape our lives in the twenty-first century. This episode outlines the path to and implementation of globalization as espoused in the theories of Friedrich Van Hayak as embraced by Ronald Reagan and Great Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.
Based on a book by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, who strongly support the “free market” movement, the film nevertheless looks at its impact on world markets and the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/lo/ 3 one hour segments
NOAM CHOMSKY: REBEL WITHOUT A PAUSE
Called “the most important intellectual alive” by The New York Times, and “a rebel without a pause” by rock-star Bono, Noam Chomsky is one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century and the world’s leading voice of dissent.
In a post 9-11 world, Noam Chomsky speaks openly about the U.S. war on terrorism, media manipulation, and social activism to intimate seminar groups and crowded venues. Chomsky analyzes the roots of anti-American sentiment, defines terrorism in the new millennium, and examines the after-effects of 9-11 in honest and forthright terms, providing a critical voice that many audiences feel is missing in the world today.
Featuring candid interviews with his wife and tour manager, Carol Chomsky, as well as activists, fans, and critics REBEL WITHOUT A PAUSE is a timely, must-see film that offers an alternative voice and explores the truths and myths about the most important intellectual of our time.
“Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause” (2003) DVD, 75 min. + 40 min. extra Will Pascoe
”El Norte” has something of the manner of a wonderful and terrible fable, being a record of the adventures of two young Guatemalan Indians, a brother and sister who must flee their mountain village after their father is murdered for antigovernment activities and their mother is imprisoned. Believing in the pictures they’ve seen in old copies of Good Housekeeping, which report that even the lowliest United States peons have flush toilets and TV sets and that no one is too poor not to own an automobile, they walk and ride their way north through Mexico to Tijuana and, finally, to Los Angeles.
“El Norte” (1983) 139 mins. Gregory Nava
ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE
As the Fourth Estate, the mass media has often been considered as the bastion of democracy. But now there are fears that the media has entered into an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for truth, distorting and often dismissing actual news events. In a hard-hitting critique, the documentary film Orwell Rolls in His Grave explores what the media doesn’t like to talk about: itself. It presents a riveting and eloquent mix of media professionals and leading intellectual voices on the media as it moves through a troubling list of questions and news stories that go unanswered and unreported in the mainstream media. Are Americans being given the information a democracy needs to survive or have they been electronically lobotomized? Has the frenzy for media consolidation led to a dangerous irony where in an era of more news sources the majority of the population has actually become less informed?
“Orwell Rolls in His Grave” 2004 90 min
THE OTHER SIDE OF IMMIGRATION
The filmmaker, Roy Germano, is a doctoral student at the University of Texas studying remittances. He surveyed about 800 households from about ten towns with high rates of emigration in the Mexican state of Michoacan (which is famous for its popsicles). It has been widely noted that remittances from the United States are down—$25 billion in 2008, compared to $26 billion the year before. That has led to speculation that illegal immigration in the US will slow. But Mr Germano argues that the reduction in remittances has been slight in the grand scheme of things—in the mid-1990s, when Mexico started keeping good records on it, only a few billion dollars came back each year—and that people will keep coming to work in the US because opportunities in pig farming in Michoacan, for example, have suffered as a consequence of NAFTA.
“Migration doesn’t just happen; there are reasons for it,” says Mr Germano. “For a lot of families it’s a necessary evil. When we look at it that way, border control isn’t the only option.” He muses about more creative responses, such as a guest-worker programme matched with incentives for economic development in Mexico—say, you bring back some money from working in the US and a Mexican-American development fund matches your dollars so you can build a greenhouse. “This fence that was just built cost $6m per mile,” says Mr Germano. “Why not invest that $6m per mile in something that’s going to have an impact?”
“The Other Side of Immigration” 2009
“Outfoxed” examines how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, have been running a “race to the bottom” in television news. This film provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public’s right to know.
The film explores Murdoch’s burgeoning kingdom and the impact on society when a broad swath of media is controlled by one person.
Media experts, including Jeff Cohen (FAIR) Bob McChesney (Free Press), Chellie Pingree (Common Cause), Jeff Chester (Center for Digital Democracy) and David Brock (Media Matters) provide context and guidance for the story of Fox News and its effect on society.
This documentary also reveals the secrets of Former Fox news producers, reporters, bookers and writers who expose what it’s like to work for Fox News. These former Fox employees talk about how they were forced to push a “right-wing” point of view or risk their jobs. Some have even chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect their current livelihoods. As one employee said “There’s no sense of integrity as far as having a line that can’t be crossed.”
“Outfoxed” (2004) 77 min. Robert Greenwald
THE PANAMA DECEPTION
The 1989 invasion of Panama was touted as a swift and successful military action to remove a “narcoterrorist,” General Noriega, from power and to restore democracy to this strategically important country. But what was the real U.S. agenda? Winner of the 1993 Academy Award for best documentary, this film recounts the untold story of the invasion, the enormity of death and destruction, and the collaborative efforts by Washington and the mainstream media to suppress information about this foreign policy disaster. The documentary includes never-before-seen footage and brilliantly juxtaposes factual historical analysis with statements by both proponents and opponents. (Includes sections in Spanish, with English subtitles)
“The Panama Deception” (1992) 120 min. Barbara Trent, Empowerment Project
PAUL ROBESON: HERE I STAND
This PBS documentary presents the life and achievements of an extraordinary man. Athlete, singer, and scholar, Robeson was also a charismatic champion of the rights of the poor working man, the disenfranchised, and people of color. He led a life in the vanguard of many movements, achieved international acclaim for his music, and suffered tremendous personal sacrifice. His story is one of the great dramas of the 20th century–spanning an international canvas of social upheaval and ideological controversy. The film, which is an American Masters production, blends voices, music, visual montages, and interviews into a seamless portrait of a remarkable man.
PETE SEEGER: THE POWER OF SONG
As composer and performer of folk music, Pete Seeger has been an active voice in most of the social struggles of the 20th century in the labor, peace, civil rights and environmental movements The PBS documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song traces his life and music. He wrote such classics as“Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Guantanamera,” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Turn Turn Turn,” and “We Shall Overcome.” Such songs have inspired millions. They demonstrate that you can be a dissident and still love your country, indeed, if you love it you have to protest in the name of justice. You’ll leave the theater with his music ringing in your head and in your heart.
“Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” 2007
THE PEOPLE SPEAK
Since its publication in 1980, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States has opened the eyes of millions to the role of ordinary people in the making of our nation’s history. His message was that history doesn’t come from great men, it comes from the bottom up. As Naomi Klein has observed, “he told people to believe in themselves and their power to change the world,” a message especially relevant at the present moment.
This message is dramatized in the film “The People Speak,” which uses some of the historical letters, diaries and speeches of ordinary Americans who, through their words and actions, changed the course of our nation. Originally broadcast on the History Channel, this film was written and co-directed by Zinn shortly before his death. Its readings and music is performed by a star-studded cast from Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. It brings alive popular struggles at key moments of U.S. history. This certainly isn’t the way most of us were taught history in high school.
“The People Speak”
THE POWER OF COMMUNITY: HOW CUBA SURVIVED PEAK OIL
When Cuba lost access to Soviet oil in the early 1990s, the country faced an immediate crisis –feeding the population – and an on-going challenge: how to create a new low-energy society. Cuba transitioned from large, fossil fuel intensive farming to small, less energy-intensive organic farms and urban gardens, and from a highly industrial society to a more sustainable one – a transition we may all have to make as the world reaches peak oil.
“The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” (2006) 53 min., DVD or VHS, Community Solution
THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES: THE RISE OF THE POLITICS OF FEAR
This three-hour BBC documentary compares the rise of the American Neo-Conservative movement and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and noting strong similarities between the two.
More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive sinister organized force of destruction, specifically in the form of Al Qaeda, is in fact a myth perpetuated by politicians in many countries, particularly American Neo-Cons, in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian, ideologies.
Part 1, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” explains the origins of radical Islamism and Neo-Conservatism and how they were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. Producer Adam Curtis goes back to the late1940s to the beginnings of the modern Islamic fundamentalist movement and its founding theoretician, the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb and traces a parallel development with modern Neo Conservatism in America and its founder Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. Both movements have had a powerful impact on our world as they have given rise to a “politics of fear” and while they may be considered polar opposites politically, this fascinating film sees important similarities in their mutual assessment of western liberal democracy as weak and decadent.
Part 2, “The Phantom Victory,” tells how Islamist factions join the Neo-Conservative-influenced Reagan Administration to combat the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. They are successful in repulsing the Soviet armies and, when the Eastern Bloc begins to collapse in the late 1980s, both groups believe they were the primary architect of the “Evil Empire’s” defeat and thus have the power to carry out their revolutions in their homelands. The film instead argues that the Soviets were on their last legs and were doomed to collapse without intervention.
As serious as the subject of the film is, producer Curtis doesn’t hesitate to incorporate humor into the film, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. In light of recent events viewers will be particularly amused at clips of a very young Don Rumsfeld haranguing about the dangers of secret Soviet weapons systems that turned out not to exist!
Part 3, “The Shadows in the Cave,” addresses the actual rise of Al Queda and how it was enabled by the Neo-Cons. The repercussions of the Neo-Conservative strategy are also explored with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of “preemption” against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved could later become a threat.
While the three episodes work in concert, they can also stand independently.
PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL
Review by Bob Herbert
New York Times, January 31, 2009
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
In the documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a woman whose family had endured the agony of civil war in Liberia talks about a dream she had in 2003 in which someone urged her to organize the women of her church to pray for peace.
“It was a crazy dream,” she said.
Prayer seemed like a flimsy counterweight to the forces of Charles Taylor, the tyrannical president at the time, and the brutally predatory rebels who were trying to oust him from power. The violence was excruciating. People were dying by the tens of thousands. Rape had become commonplace. Children were starving. Scenes from the film showed even small children whose limbs had been amputated.
The movie, for me, was about much more than the tragic, and then ultimately uplifting events in Liberia. It was about the power of ordinary people to intervene in their own fate.
The first thing that struck me about the film, which is playing in select theaters around the country now, was the way it captured the almost unimaginable horror that war imposes on noncombatants: the looks of terror on the faces of people fleeing gunfire in the streets; children crouching and flinching, almost paralyzed with fear by the sound of nearby explosions; homes engulfed in flames.
It’s the kind of environment that breeds feelings of helplessness. But Leymah Gbowee, the woman who had the crazy dream, would have none of that, and she should be a lesson to all of us.
The filmmakers Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker show us how Ms. Gbowee not only rallied the women at her Lutheran church to pray for peace, but organized them into a full-blown, all-women peace initiative that spread to other Christian churches — and then to women of the Muslim faith.
They wanted the madness stopped. They wanted an end to the maiming and the killing, especially the destruction of a generation of children. They wanted to eradicate the plague of rape. They wanted all the things that noncombatants crave whenever the warrior crowd — in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia, wherever — decides it’s time once again to break out the bombs and guns and let the mindless killing begin.
When the Liberian Christians reached out to “their Muslim sisters,” there was some fear on both sides that such an alliance could result in a dilution of faith. But the chaos and the killing had reached such extremes that the religious concerns were set aside in the interest of raising a powerful collective voice.
The women prayed, yes, but they also moved outside of the churches and the mosques to demonstrate, to protest, to enlist all who would listen in the cause of peace. Working with hardly any resources, save their extraordinary will and intense desire to end the conflict, the women’s initial efforts evolved into a movement, the Liberian Mass Action for Peace.
Their headquarters was an open-air fish market in the capital, Monrovia. Thousands of women responded to the call, broadcast over a Catholic radio station, to demonstrate at the market for peace. The women showed up day after day, praying, waving signs, singing, dancing, chanting and agitating for peace. They called on the two sides in the conflict to begin peace talks and their calls coincided with international efforts to have the two sides sit down and begin to negotiate.
Nothing could stop the rallies at the market, not the fierce heat of the sun, nor drenching rainstorms, nor the publicly expressed anger of Mr. Taylor, who was embarrassed by the protests. Public support for the women grew and eventually Mr. Taylor, and soon afterward the rebel leaders, felt obliged to meet with them and hear their grievances.
The moral authority of this movement that seemed to have arisen from nowhere had become one of the significant factors pushing the warring sides to the peace table. Peace talks were eventually held in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and when it looked as if they were about to break down, Ms. Gbowee and nearly 200 of her followers staged a sit-in at the site of the talks, demanding that the two sides stay put until an agreement was reached.
A tentative peace was established, and Mr. Taylor went into exile in Nigeria. The women continued their activism. Three years ago, on Jan. 16, 2006, in an absolutely thrilling triumph for the mothers and wives and sisters and aunts and grandmothers who had worked so courageously for peace, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia — the first woman ever elected president of a country in Africa.
Liberia is hardly the world’s most stable society. But “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” reminds us of the incredible power available to the most ordinary of people if they are willing to act with courage and unwavering commitment.
“Precious Knowledge” is a documentary film ripped from the pages of today’s newspaper. It portrays the highly successful but controversial Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. The program was a national model of educational success — 93 percent of its enrolled students graduating from high school and 85 percent going on to attend college, bucking a statewide trend that saw only 48 percent of Latino students graduating at all. The program taught Mexican and American history, as well as Central and South American literature and culture. Above all it taught self-respect and dignity.
But as Arizona passed draconian immigration laws, legislators turned their attention to Tucson High’s ethnic studies program. Opponents of the program launched a campaign to convince the public that ethnic studies teach everything from communism to terrorism to “reverse racism” and hatred of whites.
Students and their teachers fought hard to preserve their program, marching to the statehouse, holding vigils, and testifying before lawmakers. At the center of the debate was Paulo Freire’s book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which the school’s instructors used for the ethnic studies classes. The book is a famous example of critical race theory, which looks at and acknowledges the influence of institutional racism in America on non-dominant groups. The theory has been criticized as Marxist.
In 2011 Arizona lawmakers passed a bill giving unilateral power to the state superintendent of schools to abolish ethnic studies classes, which he immediately did. The struggle to restore ethnic studies continues in Arizona and in other states, bringing into focus the very nature of America. Is the US a multicultural society or a white nation? This is the civil rights struggle of our time.
“Precious Knowledge” 2011, 70 min.
PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER
This documentary provides an in-depth investigation into the symbiotic relationships between the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, lobbyists, lawmakers, medical schools, and researchers, and the impact this has on consumers and their health care. It’s estimated that Americans spent nearly $2 trillion treating disease last year. Despite this massive expenditure on treatment, more Americans are sicker than ever before with largely preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.
This documentary by research scientist Gary Null asks why so little is being spent on prevention compared with what is being spent on treatment. The answer, he concludes, is simple: when you are sick, it is highly profitable to various giant corporations. When you are well, it doesn’t profit them much at all.
2006 93 min.
PRESUMED GUILTY (PRESUNTO CULPABLE)
Imagine being picked up off the street, told you have committed a murder you know nothing about and then finding yourself sentenced to 20 years in jail. In December 2005 this happened to Toño Zúñiga in Mexico City and, like thousands of other innocent people, he was wrongfully imprisoned. The award-winning Presumed Guilty is the Kafkaesque story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free Zúñiga. As they appealed his conviction, they set about recording the injustices they were witnessing. It’s no wonder the Mexican police detectives in this explosive 2009 documentary stare at the camera during the dramatic retrial and accuse the filmmakers of threatening them by the mere act of filming.
In Mexico, those arrested are, in practice, considered guilty until proven innocent — with predictable results. The great majority of the accused never see a judge or even an arrest warrant. The conviction rate in Mexico City of those who do go to court is an incredible 95%, but 92% of verdicts lack scientific evidence. The road from arrest to prison proceeds behind closed doors via reams of paperwork that may have more to do with bureaucratic needs than actual events.
Presumed Guilty (Presunto Culpable in Spanish) is a production of Lawyers With Cameras, an organization that seeks to bring cameras into Mexican courtrooms to expose a justice system they see as corrupt and fatally compromised by a medieval concept of guilt and innocence. When first released the film was banned from showing in Mexico until a higher court ruled it was protected under Mexico’s constitutional guarantees of free expression. But largely as a result of this film, Mexico has since reformed its criminal justice system.
“Presumed Guilty” (Spanish with English subtitles) 2011
Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Rethink Afghanistan” looks at all the hard issues on the ground. Although President Obama has rethought the U.S. role in that war raved country, Greenwald goes further and asks why after eight years of war and no end in sight, why is the U.S. there at all? And who is “the enemy”? In this advocacy documentary Greenwald examines questions about troop levels, women, civilian casualties, the cost of war, Pakistan, and security. “It’s easy to get into war. It’s hard to get out. The more troops we put in, the harder it is,” says Greenwald. Afghanistan “is a deeply troubled country, the third poorest country in the world. And the notion that we can solve militarily what are economic, social problems is absurd, and it’s a fundamental flaw.”
“Rethink Afghanistan” (2009) 75 min Robert Greenwald
RIGHT-WING POPULISM IN THE USA
With the growing attention to right-wing populist groups like the Tea Party, we all need to better understand this phenomenon. Actually it has been with us for many years, as investigative journalist Chip Berlet argues. The Center for Global Justice will screen a talk by him given last summer. He traces its development from an ostracized John Birch Society in the 1960’s to the present. He points out how they have used an organizing model based on previously successful left campaigns and tactics and aided by well-funded foundations and strategic coalition-building in the 1970s.
Chip Berlet has spent over 25 years studying political movements of the far right. A senior analyst at the Political Research Associates, he has co-authored Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort and edited Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash. He is the guy we need to listen to if we hope to reverse the rightward drift of the country.
“Right-Wing Populism in the USA” 2010 86 min
THE RISE OF DISASTER CAPITALISM
Naomi Klein is author of the bestselling 2008 book The Shock Doctrine. There she showed how a crisis disorients people and whole societies, enabling elites to push through major changes that otherwise would not have been possible. 9/11 is one such case that enabled neocons to reshape society according to a preconceived agenda. Similarly Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, she shows how the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries enabled America’s “free market” policies to dominate the world.
Now in the film “The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, we hear Klein update her thesis with the latest shock that has befallen us: the current economic crisis. Again a major shock to society makes it possible to push through policies that otherwise would not likely have seen the light of day as banks that were “too big to fail” are saved by government hand-outs of taxpayer money and end up even bigger than before.
“The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”
RISING WATERS: GLOBAL WARMING & THE FATE OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS
The islands of the South Pacific are home to 7 billion people, exotic tropical fish, and many unique ecosystems, including coral reefs. However, over the last few years, these low-lying islands have begun to disappear, as increased global warming causes a rise in both water temperatures and sea levels. The tiny island of Bikeman, part of the Kiribas Federation, was the first to be submerged. Other islands in the Kiribas are threatened, as are the Marshall and the Samoan islands. This outstanding documentary examines how a hundred years of greenhouse gas emissions are now wreaking havoc on our oceans. It depicts the efforts made by people in Fiji and the Marshall Islands to safeguard their land. They confront the fossil fuel lobby, which is fighting both in the U.S. and in international forums to block measures necessary to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands” (2000) 56 min. Andrea Torrice/Bullfrog Films
THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO
“The Road to Guantanamo” is the terrifying first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for two years without charges in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were eventually returned to Britain and released. Part documentary, part dramatization, this story of their chilling ordeal illustrates the gross violations of human rights that has become a hallmark of the Bush administration.
“The Road to Guantanamo” (2006) Michael Winterbottom
ROGER AND ME
Michael Moore dogs GM Chairman Roger Smith as he tries to get him to explain why he is ruining the lives of the working people of his hometown by closing the GM plant there, turning Flint into a ghost town. Smith turns a deaf ear to Moore, ignoring his pleas to come see the destruction he has wrought. Now we know that this tragedy foretold the future of the entire country. In the midst of the present economic crisis Moore sighs “For twenty years I tried to warn GM and others that this was coming, to no avail.” Will we head his voice now?
“Roger and Me” (1989) Michael Moore
“Romero” is a true story of Catholic priest Archbishop Oscar Romero (played by Raul Julia in the performance of his life), during the political unrest in El Salvador in the late 1970s. Initially selected by the church as a soft, safe candidate for Archbishop, Romero surprised everyone by speaking out against the violence of the government’s terror campaign against the guerillas in an attempt to crush them. This is an intensely moving film that portrays Romero’s painful and conflicted transformation to a champion of the poor and the oppressed after seeing his fellow priests murdered and tortured by the country’s brutal, repressive government. Eventually, his principled stand for the teachings of Christ led to his assassination in 1980 while blessing the wine during Mass. “Romero” was selected by Arts & Faith as one of the 100 most “Spiritually Significant Films” ever made.
“Romero” (1989) 102 min. John Duigan
When will we all have health care? When will we train doctors for service? When will thousands of health professionals volunteer to serve worldwide in poor areas? Right now, says Cuba.
Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko” provoked controversy by taking three 9/11 workers to Havana for treatment. “Sicko” gave you a glimpse of the Cuban experience., “¡Salud!” takes you into it in depth. Although the United States leads the world in biomedical research and high-tech medicine, Cuba scores comparably on many health care indicators at a fraction of the cost. How can such a poor country achieve infant mortality, immunization, and life expectancy rates at comparable levels to the U.S. and what lessons can we draw from that experience? Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country, and has more serving in the Third World than the World Health Organization –100,000 since 1963.
Filmed in Cuba, South Africa, The Gambia, Honduras, and Venezuela, “¡Salud!” records the voices and experiences of Cuban medical professionals at home, highlights the Cuban approach to community-based care, and explores the country’s medical diplomacy program.
THE SECRET OF OZ
You thought the US dollar was created by the US government? Wrong. If it were, there would be no interest on the US debt. Our currency is created by private banks! That’s the story, with all its ramifications, told in “The Secret of Oz.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and later made into a technicolor movie in 1938, is more than a children’s classic. It is also a symbolic tribute to the views of politician William Jennings Bryan, represented in the movie as the cowardly lion. Now a provocative film “The Secret of Oz” decodes the symbolism and puts it in historical perspective. The scarecrow in the story is said to represent the mid-western farmer who was thought to be ignorant of the financial world but they were smarter than the central bank realized. The tin man is said to represent the industrial worker, unemployed and ‘stuck’ due to the lack of liquidity (oil). The wizard is of course the central bank, hiding behind the curtain pulling all the strings. The yellow brick road easily represents gold, emerald city representing the Greenbacks. The story is about the efforts a century ago of people to free themselves from the tyranny of the banks.
But the film “The Secret of Oz” does more than uncover the historical meanings hidden in an entertaining story (meanings never admitted by author L. Frank Baum), it also points to the lessons for us today as we continue to cope with the financial crisis of 2008. We have learned how big banks have a stranglehold on the nation’s economy. Some, like Ellen Brown, are now advocating that government and public banks should create money instead of Wall Street. With that, trillions of dollars of the national debt could be eliminated in a few years and we could take back the power of money as our own power. We don’t need the fumbling Wall Street wizards.
“Secret of Oz” 2010, 101 min.
SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN
“Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman” tells the story of the hundreds of kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. The murders first came to light in 1993 and young women continue to “disappear” to this day (2005) without any hope of bringing the perpetrators to justice. Who are these women from all walks of life and why are they getting murdered so brutally?
The documentary moves like the unsolved mystery it is, and the filmmaker poetically investigates the circumstances of the murders and the horror, fear and courage of the families whose children have been taken. Yet it is also the story of a city of the future; it is the story of the underbelly of our global economy.
SEWING OUR FUTURE
Why has the U.S. government used taxpayers’ money to help American companies move overseas? How has this affected American factory workers? This video compares working conditions in El Salvador and the U.S. and argues that U.S. government policies should protect–not export–American workers’ jobs. Reflecting the views of the U.S. garment workers unions, this documentary questions the one-sidedness of free trade agreements and gives constructive suggestions for future labor organizing. (Includes sections in Spanish, with English subtitles)
“Sewing Our Future” (1993) 30 min. Rhian Miller and Patrice O’Neill, The Working Group Contact to order via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
THE SHORT LIFE OF JOSÉ ANTONIO GUTIERREZ
This documentary follows the journey of the first U.S. soldier killed in the invasion of Iraq. Born in Guatemala, Gutierrez eventually made his way to the United States to become a “green card solider,” promised a fast track to citizenship by enlisting in the military.
Mournful and engrossing, the film traces Gutierrez’s life through the people he knew and the places he lived. He dreamed of becoming an architect, enlisting in the Marines to support his education. Orphaned during Guatemala’s lengthy civil war (waged by army juntas with U.S. support), he was the streetwise survivor of a sad and lonely childhood, passing through foster families and briefly reuniting with a long-lost sister before trekking north on the Pan-American Highway, jumping the Mexico-U.S. border and living homeless in Los Angeles until a social worker helped turn his life around. After his death, his hard-luck story was given a typically uplifting spin on the nightly news, and faulty record-keeping resulted in an erroneous birth date on his gravestone that has yet to be corrected. The ultimate irony is that the first U.S. casualty in Iraq was an illegal immigrant fighting a foreigner’s war with hopes for a better future.
http://www.theshortlife-film.com/en/ 2007 90 min.
Reviewed by Cliff DuRand
In “Sicko” Michael Moore gives us a comic acidic documentary. Moore holds up for all to see the failings of a health care system that is one of the most expensive in the world and yet has 50 million uninsured citizens, 18,000 of whom die each year because they are uninsured. However, the film focuses not on them, but on the inadequacies for the insured whose claims are denied or policies canceled so that private insurance companies can achieve higher profits and on those who are driven to bankruptcy by high medical bills.
Among “Sicko’s” villains are lobbyists and politicians who pocket millions from HMOs and pharmaceuticals that denounce universal care as little better than a Communist plot. But the main villain is the insurance industry itself, the frequent target of complaints by doctors and patients alike.
It is this profit driven health care system that is the source of the problems. The solution? Universal single payer health coverage. The U.S. is the only industrialized country without it, where it is tarred as “socialized medicine”. Elsewhere it is simply seen as social insurance. As a result, France, Britain, Canada and even poor Cuba have better delivery systems than the U.S. Moore gives France’s socialized medicine considerable attention. There, doctors lead comfortable lives, patients receive attentive care, and employers grant extended health-related leaves — all reasons the World Health Organization ranked France tops in its global 2000 survey of the best healthcare countries. The U.S. ranked 37.
Cuba’s extensive system of free preventative health care for everyone also comes in for praise. Moore took three 9/11 ground zero volunteers to Cuba for free treatment they could not receive in their own country. Moore certainly knows how to tweak the establishment.
One of the more memorable scenes in the film is when Moore takes them to Guantanamo where the accused terrorists detained there receive the best of medical care for free while ground zero volunteers go untreated in their own country. Moore could have also made his point had he taken them to the U.S. Congress, whose members receive free comprehensive health care while denying it to ordinary citizens.
Audiences familiar with Michael Moore’s confrontational style might have expected such a stunt. But here we do not see him confronting HMO or pharmaceutical executives. Nevertheless, Moore told the Los Angeles Times “there is a big confrontation in this movie. Because I am confronting the American audience with a question: ‘Who are we, and what has happened to our soul?’ To me, that’s maybe more confrontation than going after the CEO of Aetna or the CEO of Pfizer.”
Moore is confronting us, the American people. We think of ourselves as a kind and gentle people, yet we tolerate a system that sometimes condemns to death those in need of life saving care and casts into the streets the sick who cannot pay. “What kind of a people have we become?” he asks. In a moment of sermonizing Moore tells us we need to realize we are all in the same boat together and start thinking of ‘we’ instead of just ‘me.’
With that Moore seeks to galvanize the American public into action for universal free single payer health care. Although President Obama’s proposals don’t go that far, health care reform is high on his legislative agenda. “Sicko” makes it clear that any change will require popular mobilization to overcome entrenched special interests.
1998 was designated “International Year of the Oceans.” It turned out to be the year that coral reefs–the jewels of the ocean–began to die. This film, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, documents the unprecedented mass bleaching of coral reefs now occurring in the world’s tropical oceans. It shows how slight rises in sea temperatures have severely damaged hundreds of miles of coral coastline. This bleaching is widely viewed as unequivocal proof that global warming has begun and that its impact will be greater than had been previously predicted. Rafe Pomerance, a key U.S. global warming negotiator, has called Silent Sentinels “the most important movie on global warming to date.”
“Silent Sentinels” (1999) 57 min. Richard Smith, Bullfrog Films
Here in San Miguel we can watch the émigrés ride by on the freight trains heading to el norte. But we know little of the drama, the danger, the pathos of that middle passage. The dramatic film Sin Nombre takes us inside that experience. It is the story of a young man from the Mexican south who is fleeing the poverty of his life and the brutality of the Mara Salvatrucha gang that he has betrayed. And it is the story of a young Honduran woman he encounters atop a freight train. She befriends him and slowly wins his trust, the first human relationship of solidarity he has experienced outside of the violent culture of the gang. This thriller/love story will engage you deeply and help you empathize with those who desperately flee northward, many to die namelessly along the way, remembered only by the ‘sin nombre’ cardboard markers left where they fell.
“Sin Nombre” (2009)
SIR! NO SIR!
Sir! No Sir! energetically reveals the untold story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam. This is the story of one of the most vibrant and widespread upheavals of the 1960s – one that had a profound impact on American society, yet has been virtually obliterated from the collective memory of that time.
By the Pentagon’s own figures, 503,926 “incidents of desertion” occurred between 1966 and 1971; officers were being “fragged”(killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops) at an alarming rate; and by 1971 entire units were refusing to go into battle in unprecedented numbers. In the course of a few short years, over 200 underground newspapers were published by soldiers around the world; local and national antiwar GI organizations were joined by thousands; thousands more demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970 and 1971, including in Vietnam itself. This hidden history combines fast-paced archival footage with thoughtful interviews, “perfectly timed with new doubts about the Iraq War”
“Sir! No Sir!” (2005) David Zeiger
THE SIXTH SUN: MAYAN UPRISING IN CHIAPAS
This award-winning documentary by IPS fellow Saul Landau interweaves Mayan and Mexican history with the contemporary struggle of the Zapatista Liberation Army in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Through the voices of the movement’s leaders, supporters, and negotiators–including subcomandantes Marcos and Elise and Bishop Samuel Ruiz, (dubbed “The Red Bishop”)–this film chronicles the major events since the Zapatista uprising began on January 1, 1994. It also traces the history of how, beginning in the 1980s, Zapatista guerrillas organized in the mountains of Chiapas, consolidating their ideology and physical strength in preparation for their New Years’ Day uprising that shook the world. This peasant uprising has challenged both the Mexican government’s revocation of indigenous communal land rights and its joining the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Following the movement with footage from the initial San Cristobal attack to the arrival of government troops in Chiapas and an international convention held in the heart of the jungle, this dramatic and at times humorous documentary traces the growth of a tiny regional movement into an internationally influential struggle for economic, political, and social rights. (English subtitles for Spanish interviews)
“The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas” (1997) 60 min. Saul Landau and Meredith Burch, To order call: Cinema Guild, (800) 723-5522.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Filmmaker Oliver Stone takes us on a road trip to five South American countries where a revolution is under way, a revolution misunderstood by the mass media and politicians alike in the U.S. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her late husband and ex-President Nėstor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region. This feisty, entertaining documentary will open your eyes to some of the most hopeful developments in this hemisphere.
“South of the Border” Oliver Stone 2010
THE STORY OF CAP AND TRADE
The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the “devils in the details” in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.
“The Story of Cap and Trade” (2010) 10 min.
THE STORY OF STUFF
The Story of Stuff is a 20 minute animated fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. Narrated by Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It will teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
When the video was first put up on the internet Annie Leonard thought it would be a success if it got 50,000 views. It got that number in the first hour! By a year and a half later it had over 7 million views.
“The Story of Stuff” (2007) 20 min
SWEATING FOR A T-SHIRT
Do you know where your clothes are made? Do you bother to look at the label when you buy merchandise at a store? This video shows the journey of one UCLA student to Honduras, where she soon learns exactly where her college clothing is being made, and the conditions that prevail among the sweatshops. She speaks with local workers and human rights activists, who tell of the unhealthy conditions and unfair labor practices the workers live with. These workers earn only $3.50 a day in countries where the basic cost of living is $8 a day. At the end, we see Brown students who have just forced their administration to adopt fair labor standards for the production of clothing bearing their university logo. A great video to show students that something can and must be done.
“Sweating for a T-shirt” (1998) 23 min. Global Exchange
TELL THE TRUTH AND RUN
“Tell the Truth and Run” raises fundamental questions about the recorded history of the Twentieth Century; about freedom, fairness and diversity in the media; about power and abuse of power; and about public citizenship and the democratic process. It tells the dramatic story of muckraking journalist George Seldes (1890-1995).
Eighty years a newspaperman, Seldes was a noted foreign correspondent who became America’s most important press critic. Through Seldes’s encounters with Pershing, Lenin and Mussolini; the tobacco industry, J. Edgar Hoover and the lords of the press, “Tell the Truth and Run” provides a fresh perspective on Twentieth-Century history while raising profound ethical, professional and political questions about journalism in America.
Seldes at age 98 is the centerpiece of the film: remarkably engaging, witty and still impassioned about his ideas and ideals. Howard Zinn called this film “magnetic, entrancing, inspiring…revealing a history of our times unknown to most Americans.” Narrated by Susan Sarandon and Ed Asner, “Tell the Truth and Run” also features Ralph Nader, Victor Navasky, Ben Bagdikian, Daniel Ellsberg, Nat Hentoff and Jeff Cohen, among others, who provide incisive commentary. Nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature.
“Tell the Truth and Run” 1996, 111 min.
Water: commodity or human right?
Water is one of the most precious sources of life. But is it part of a shared “commons,” a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? Water is becoming “blue gold,” the oil of the 21st century. Global corporations are rushing to gain control of this dwindling natural resource, producing intense conflict in the US and worldwide where people are dying in battles over control of water.
The documentary film “Thirst” opens with politicians, international bankers, and corporate executives deciding who will control global fresh water supplies. Their consensus for large dams and privatized, corporate water systems is challenged by experts and activists who assert that water is a human right, not a commodity to be traded on the open market.
The people of Cochabamba, Bolivia fought successfully to reverse the privatization of their water after the government had sold it to Bechtel Corporation. The struggle even toppled the national government in 2003 and helped set the stage for the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Evo Morales. The central story in “Thirst” takes place in Stockton, California, where the mayor proposed giving control of the water system to a consortium of global water corporations. Worried about price hikes, water quality, and layoffs of public employees, who tend to be women or people of color, Stockton residents created a new grassroots coalition to demand a say in the decision.
Meanwhile, across the United States, multinational water companies continue to campaign for new contracts, but have been put on the defensive by the collapse of contracts in Atlanta and Puerto Rico and popular challenges in many other cities.
In Rajasthan, India, a charismatic local “Gandhi” is leading a poor people’s movement for water conservation that has revived rural life. But it’s an achievement that would be swept away by government plans, under pressure from the World Bank, to build large hydroelectric dams and privatize communal water sources, selling them to Coke and Pepsi.
In Uruguay voters headed off any privatization efforts by voting last fall to amend their constitution, making water a human right.
“Thirst” (2004) 62 min. DVD Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman
TIME-BOMB: AMERICA’S DEBT CRISIS
Time-Bomb is a powerful new documentary that exposes George W. Bush’s faith-based, supply-side economics for what it is: nothing more than pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking that threatens to bring down the U.S. economy in a pile of dust. It shows how Bush squandered a $5 trillion government surplus and now runs record deficits in one of the greatest miscalculations in human history. A distinguished array of economic experts, activists, statesmen, and business executives explain why the threat to the nation is more real than most of us have dared imagine.
Produced by the American Fiscal Responsibility Campaign, a bipartisan effort designed to raise awareness of America’s debt crises and put pressure on our leaders to address these crises.
“Time-Bomb: America’s Debt Crisis” DVD, 30 min. John F. Ince, The American Fiscal Responsibility Campaign
Bill Moyers, one of the world’s most respected journalists, reveals how NAFTA’S Chapter Eleven clause can cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars when multinational corporations sue the government over environmental and health laws that threaten their profits.
Speaking with legislators, public policy experts, community leaders, and citizens about the lawsuits filed under NAFTA’s Chapter Eleven, Moyers unravels the hidden repercussions of a treaty that was supposed to promote democracy through free trade, but now appears to have given deep-pocketed corporations the means to undermine democracy across international borders.
The program explores the case of Methanex, a Canadian company that is the world’s largest producer of the key ingredient in the gasoline additive MTBE, which was found to be a carcinogen. In 1995 MTBE began turning up in wells throughout California, and by 1999 had contaminated thirty public water systems. The state ordered that the additive be phased out. Methanex filed suit under NAFTA’s Chapter Eleven, seeking $970 million in compensation for loss of market share and future profits. Environmental attorney Martin Wagner tells Moyers, “they’re saying that California either can’t implement this protection or that they get a billion dollars. People should be outraged by that.”
Moyers also takes his investigation to the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, where an American company called Metalclad tried to bulldoze over the protests of both state and local governments to reopen a toxic waste dump that many citizens feared was making them sick. When Metalclad was stopped by the local town council the company invoked Chapter Eleven and was awarded $16 million in compensation.
“Bill Moyers Reports: Trading Democracy”
transcript at http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_tdfull.html
TOO BIG TO FAIL
The HBO docudrama “Too Big to Fail” tells a story that is too exciting, engrossing and explosive to miss. The New Yorker magazine published a long article on these events entitled “Eight Days: The Battle to Save the American Financial System,” by James B. Stewart, Sept. 21, 2009. Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a best-selling book on it entitled “Too Big to Fail.” Curtis Hanson directed the film of the same title. On the one hand, the film is advertised with the following sound bites: “Main Street Took the Fall. Wall Street Got the Check. The True Story behind the 2008 Economic Crisis.” The film is also billed as “…an explosive drama capturing how the U.S. economy was brought back from the brink of collapse.” So which was it? An economic crisis that enriched Wall Street insiders (many who also are beltway insiders and vice versa) and impoverished Main Street or did the heroic CEO’s of the U.S.’s largest financial institutions, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve save the world?
Hollywood portrays these CEO’s, the then and present Secretaries of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve as heroes. It never mentioned how much money they got away with: Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, $485 million; Henry Paulson former CEO of Goldman Sachs and then Secretary of the Treasury, $500 million tax-free, etc. If defrauding customers, laundering money, and cooking the books over and over again makes one excessively wealthy instead of putting one in jail, who wouldn’t do it?
“Too Big to Fail” 2011, 98 min.
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT: THE NEW ENERGY REVOLUTION
Global warming is no longer a debatable issue: the world must stop using fossil fuels that destroy the environment. This film looks at new sources of energy that are already being effectively used around the world, from Holland to Japan, to India and beyond. This film shows the many energy alternatives out there, and how they could quickly pay for themselves, saving governments money and rescuing our environment. All that is needed is the political will.
“Turning Down the Heat: The New Energy Revolution” (1999) 46 min. Jim Hamm Productions
TWO TREVORS GO TO WASHINGTON
Two South Africans with very different economic views meet at the IMF/World Bank meetings and protests in April 2000. One Trevor is an official inside the IMF and World Bank. The other is a government official from Johannesburg who has joined the protests in the streets. Through the eyes of these two Trevors, both elected officials of the South African government, we see the debate over “structural adjustment programs” of the IMF and World Bank at an international level. The film then goes on to show the devastating social and economic effects of these policies in South Africa. It is not hard to see why the people are beginning to rise up to protest against these international institutions.
“Two Trevors go to Washington” (2000) 20min. Ben Cashdan
UNDERGROUND: THE JULIAN ASSANGE STORY
Number one on the Most Wanted list of the US National Security State is Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. For he is the one behind the largest release to the public of embarrassing secret documents in US history. He is now holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under political asylum. Bradely Manning, the alleged source of the documents has been in military prison since May 2010, awaiting trial.
Now a film, “Underground: The Julian Assange Story,” has chronicled the formative years of Assange, exploring how he became politicized. Based on his own autobiography, “Underground” treats Assange’s life as a young hacker in the late 1980s in Melbourne, Australia, seeking to understand his activism and the power of the individual in the twenty-first century. While he is vilified by the corporate media and the political elite, Assange is viewed by many as a hero for exposing the criminality of governments.
“Underground: The Julian Assange Story” 2012, 88 min.
THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
Filmaker Oliver Stone teams up with historian Peter Kuznick to give us a stunningly different take on US history from WW II to Obama. In many ways it challenges the received wisdom, presenting an alternative interpretation of the rise of the empire. At several key turning points Stone and Kuznick focus on how history could have been very different if the balance of political forces had been different in the elite. For instance, Henry Wallace almost became president, and if he had we might not have had the Cold War and colonialism abroad and racial segregation at home might have ended sooner. Throughout Stone takes us inside the counsels of government, with little attention to the role of economic forces and wealthy interests. Detailed attention is given to the wars that have marked the last 75 years, running through 12 presidents.
You’ll have great discussions if you watch the 10 episodes with friends: 1 WORLD WAR TWO; 2 ROOSEVELT, TRUMAN, & WALLACE; 3 THE BOMB; 4 COLD WAR: TRUMAN, WALLACE, STALIN, CHURCHILL & THE BOMB; 5 THE ‘50s: EISENHOWER, THE BOMB & THE THIRD WORLD; 6 JFK: TO THE BRINK; 7 JOHNSON, NIXON AND VIETNAM: REVERSAL OF FORTUNE; 8 REAGAN; 9 BUSH & CLINTON: AMERICAN TRIUMPHALISM – NEW WORLD ORDER; 10 BUSH & OBAMA-AGE OF TERROR
“The Untold History of the United States” 2012, 10 hour long episodes
VENEZUELA: REVOLUTION INSIDE OUT
Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out is a voyage into Latin America’s most exciting experiment of the new millennium, exploring the history and projects of the Bolivarian Revolution through interviews with a range of its participants, from academics to farm workers and those living in the margins of Caracas. Organizers, educators and people at work in the communities offer perspectives on projects to renew society through participation and work at the grassroots. In an effort to build socialism one cooperative at a time, well over 100,000 cooperatives have been organized and funded by loans and grants from the government. Eschewing utopianism, this film takes a sobering look at the challenges of cooperation. Many cooperatives have succumbed to the pressures to function like capitalist enterprises. What is needed, “what is fundamental”, says a leader of one coop, “is the consciousness of the people. If we don’t create awareness we’ll never be able to develop a social project. When there is consciousness, people can all work collectively. And the collective is what is important.” Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out is an honest examination of the extremely complex process of building a better world where the outcome is not foreordaned.
“Venezuela: Revolution Inside Out” (2007) 85 min.
Nearly a century after the Mexican Revolution, the turmoil that so transformed this country still reverberates. But of all those whose deeds made history, none is more alive today than Emiliano Zapata. This campesino from Morelos fought for land and liberty –a cry still heard today from those who have resurrected his name to struggle against neo-liberalism and for indigenous rights.
Marlon Brando received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Zapata and Anthony Quinn received an Oscar for his supporting role. John Steinbeck also got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay. Directed by Elia Kazan and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, this 1952 film may take some liberties with the facts in romanticizing Zapata, but it does focus on the corruptive influence of power.
“Viva Zapata!” (1952) 113 min. black & white, Elia Kazan
VOICES FROM THE FIELDS
This video describes how changes in agricultural production are driving many Mexican peasants to the cities or to the United States in search of work. The introduction of tractors, credit, and cattle are only some of the “modernizations” that are eroding traditional campesino economic activities, while increasing use of chemicals, insecticides, and fertilizers are harming both humans and the environment. Voices from the Fields showcases a new method of farming–agroecology–that attempts to find a balance between nature and production. (In Spanish with English subtitles)
“Voices from the Fields” (1997) 45 min. Selena Jaramillo and Ulla Nilsen, Cinema Guild
To order, call: Cinema Guild, (800) 723-5522.
WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE
When has a single private company driven scores of small stores out of business and turned main streets into ghost towns? When has an employer encouraged its employees to go on public assistance for their health care? When has a single store so sapped the tax base of a whole town that it can no longer provide essential services? When has a single company added so much to an entire nation’s foreign indebtedness by importing cheap goods from abroad? The answer is –when it is Wal-Mart.
Here’s another question. When has a single documentary movie so effectively exposed such a company that scores of state legislatures are discussing new laws to make it more socially responsible? When has a film caused such a public stir that the largest company in the world spends millions and millions of dollars in publicity to patch up its image? When has a film moved people from coast to coast (and even here in Mexico) to mount picket lines protesting the building of a new store in their community? When has a film done so much to change the world? The answer is –when it’s Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.”
While we knew the story of Sam Walton’s small business growing into the number one retailer on the globe, we probably didn’t know how much it violated the basic American values that he professed. “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” lays it all out to us through the personal stories of Wal-Mart employees –”Associates” – who face retaliation for speaking out, stories of businessmen driven into bankruptcy, former Wal-Mart managers who reveal company practices, local leaders struggling to grapple with the impact of Wal-Mart on their community. It will make you want to ask, what would happen if a Wal-Mart, or a Wal-Mart clone, were to come to San Miguel de Allende?
Director/producer Robert Greenwald has a number of other hard-hitting documentaries to his credit: “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdock’s War on Journalism” (2004), “Unconstitutional” (2004), “Uncovered: The Iraq War” (2003), and “Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election” (2002). Where there is an important social issue, Greenwald will have his cameras there. Most recently he has done two series: “The ACLU Freedom Files” and “The Sierra Club Chronicles.” Greenwald is an activist filmmaker of the first order.
“Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” (2005) 98 min. Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films
“Greed is good,” proclaimed Gordon Gekko in the most memorable line in the 1987 film “Wall Street.” This was the mantra not only for the 1980s but it has guided our high stakes financial dealers in the decades since as well. It has taken the current financial crisis to expose this illusion as a self defeating ideology –at the expense of millions of little people who trusted in the integrity of our regulatory institutions.
This is a classic Oliver Stone film. Michael Douglas won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Gekko, a ruthless Wall Street schemer. An early template for the financial gamblers now being bailed out by our government, Gekko boasts “I create nothing. I own.” In such memorable lines we can see the mentality that has afflicted the U.S. for too long.
WAR MADE EASY:HOW PRESIDENTS AND PUDITS KEEP SPINNING US TO DEATH
Based on Norman Solomon’s revealing book by the same title, this film reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, War Made Easy exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.
http://www.warmadeeasythemovie.org/ 2007 70 min.
THE WAR ON DEMOCRACY
The War on Democracy demonstrates the brutal reality of the America’s notion of ‘spreading democracy’; that, in fact, America is actually conducting a war on democracy, and that true popular democracy is now more likely to be found among the poorest of Latin America whose grassroots movements are often ignored in the west.
John Pilger conducts an exclusive interview with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Pilger also goes to the United States and in some remarkable interviews, speaks exclusively to US government officials who ran the CIA’s war in Latin America in the 1980s. This reveals more about US policy than all the statements and postures of recent times; it also reveals how what’s happened in Latin America is a metaphor for how the rest of the world is being “ordered.”
The War on Democracy, however, is a hopeful film, for it sees the world not through the eyes of the powerful, but through the hopes and dreams and extraordinary actions of ordinary people. Although set mostly in Latin America, it is a metaphor for all the world.
www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/wdem.html http://www.johnpilger.com/ 2007 94 min.
THE WAR YOU DON’T SEE
British journalist and filmmaker John Pilger gives us his latest documentary The War You Don’t See. This is a powerful and timely investigation into the media’s role in war. It traces the history of embedded and independent reporting from the carnage of World War I to the destruction of Hiroshima, and from the invasion of Vietnam to the current war in Afghanistan. An incisive and rare critic of Western economic and military power, Pilger’s humane eyewitness reporting has been described as a unique presence on British television that explores where others dare not go.
“The War You Don’t See” 2011
WE’RE NOT BROKE
Deficit hawks cry “We’re broke” as they slash budgets, lay off schoolteachers, police and firefighters. Meanwhile US corporate profits soar and they hide over a trillion dollars overseas from Uncle Sam to avoid paying income taxes. Now Occupy Wall Street protesters demand that corporations pay their fair share in a provocative new documentary “We’re Not Broke.” Well-researched and brightly presented, this film kicks assets and takes names as it exposes how political leaders allow the country to be a paradise for corporate tax cheats.
“We’re Not Broke” 2012, 81 min.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
In this video, ten segments from a range of documentary and media sources are brought together to unravel the atrocities committed upon the Third World by the U.S., via the CIA, the Pentagon, America’s corporate culture, and the mainstream press. Frank Dorrel’s montage takes an in-depth look at some of the most heinous crimes of U.S. foreign policy through the eyes of some of the most important and influential figures in contemporary history. Included in his video are speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Stockwell, the former CIA chief in Angola in the 1970′s; clips from documentaries such as Bill Moyers’ 1987 PBS documentary “The Secret Government,” an overview of CIA covert ops, and “School of Assassins” a film on the SOA narrated by Susan Sarandon; and many more insightful segments on U.S. government conspiracies, from the Iran-Contras affair and sanctions in Iraq, to our invasion of Panama and the CIA’s involvement in the deaths of some six million people in the Third World.
“What I’ve Leaned About U.S. Foreign Policy” (2002) 2 hours, Frank Dorrel
Available for $10.00 on http://www.addictedtowar.com
WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY?
In his quest against the worship of retail, Reverend Billy sets Spending-Sins Confessional-Booths at shopping temples (aka malls), exorcizes department stores “to drive the demons out of cash registers,” sets outdoor demonstrations, preaches in churches and goes door to door with his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir singing Christmas carols with amusing lyrics. For his activism, Reverend Billy was arrested over 40 times, and received a court order ban from every Starbucks in California.
“What Would Jesus Buy?”
WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A Requiem in Four Acts
As the world watched in horror, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Like many who watched the unfolding drama on television news, director Spike Lee was shocked not only by the scale of the disaster, but by the slow, inept and disorganized response of the emergency and recovery effort. Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy, a morality play witnessed by people all around the world. This intimate, heart-rending portrait of New Orleans in the wake of the destruction tells the heartbreaking personal stories of those who endured this harrowing ordeal and survived to tell the tale of misery, despair and triumph.
The film also looks at a community that has been through hell and back, surviving death, devastation and disease at every turn. Yet, somehow, amidst the ruins, the people of New Orleans are finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes, buoyed by their own resilience and a rich cultural legacy.
To make the film, Lee visited the Gulf Coast region nine times and interviewed more than 100 people, including the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, Sean Penn, Soledad O’Brien, Kanye West, engineers, historians, journalists, radio DJs—even the guy who spotted the vice president during a post-Katrina photo-op and told him, “Go f— yourself, Mr. Cheney.” Critics have called When the Levees Broke the most essential work of Lee’s 20-year career.
Act I covers the storm’s arrival; Act II chronicles the failure of the emergency response; Act III follows an abandoned community coming to grips with all that it lost, and Act IV addresses the halting, haphazard effort to begin again. But images and ideas echo through each act like a fugue. Lee’s voice is rarely heard; he lets the people of New Orleans and Terence Blanchard’s thundering brass score, dizzy with grief, do the speaking for him. We all know that our government failed us when Katrina hit. What Lee most importantly reveals is how it continues to fail fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast — race be damned — to this day.
“When the Levees Broke”, 4 hours and 36 minutes, 2006, by Spike Lee. Available via Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/When-Levees-Broke-Spike-Lee/dp/B000J10F14
WHEN THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE
The film that shook audiences and critics alike upon its original theatrical release, this revolutionary tour-de-force and Sundance Film Festival winner is now available for the first time on DVD. Digitally remastered to commemorate its 20th Anniversary, this special edition chronicles the astonishing story of one woman who stood up for her people and helped wage a rebellion in the wake of seemingly unconquerable oppression.
Shot at the height of a heated battle between the heavily-armed Guatemalan Military and a nearly defenseless Mayan population, filmmakers Pamela Yates and Newton Thomas Sigel threw themselves into the center of a storm to capture live combat footage with a surprisingly robust passion and exhilarating flair. As the first film to depict this previously unreported war, it is firmly anchored by the firsthand accounts of Rigoberta Menchú, a Quiché Indian woman known around the world for her humanitarian efforts. Throughout the imminent chaos and danger, Menchú provides courage and optimism in a time where death squads kill without conscience and an oppressive dictator seizes power.
Updated after Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, WHEN THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE includes a compelling filmmaker commentary as well as a never-before-seen forward from Susan Sarandon and an illuminating epilogue reflecting on the country’s events a decade later.
“When the Mountains Tremble” DVD, 90 min.
WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?
In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline………..Ten years later, these cars were gone. EV1 was a well-intentioned soul that was in the right place at the right time, but was surrounded by the wrong people. So, who killed the electric car? Possible suspects include consumers, oil companies, car manufacturers, government and even the Hydrogen Fuel Cell car. Chris Paine’s who-done-it tells the whole tale with humor. It’s a dirty story about a clean car.
“Who Killed the Electric Car?” (2006) 92 min.
WHY WE FIGHT
“Why We Fight” is a compelling documentary about the U.S. war machine. Directed by Eugene Jarecki, the film examines the extent to which the “military-industrial complex” (a term coined by President Dwight Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech warning about the permanent establishment of an arms industry) not only profits from war, but also becomes a force that makes war happen. With the use of graphic war footage, a visit to a weapons trade show, and interviews with politicians, ordinary citizens, and retired military officers, Jarecki dispels the notion advanced by Presidents Johnson, Reagan, and Bush, that America has been a force for peace in the world. Instead what we see is a militaristic nation in which capitalism is at war with democracy—and capitalism is winning.
“Why We Fight” was selected as the Best American Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Why We Fight” (2005) 98 min., DVD
WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP
This new documentary chronicles half a century of hostile US-Cuba relations by telling the story of the Cuban five, intelligence agents sent to penetrate Cuban exile terrorist groups in Miami and now serving long prison sentences. The film highlights decades of assassinations and sabotage at first backed then ignored by the very government that launched a war against terrorism. In the film, viewers see leading terrorists, now in their 80s, recounting their deeds, and Cuban state security officials explaining why they infiltrated agents into violent Miami exile groups. The film, featuring Danny Glover and 84 year old Fidel Castro in key scenes, raises and tries to answer the question: what did Cuba do to deserve such hostile treatment? It traces key events from the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, through multiple assassination attempts on Fidel Castro s life. This documentary reveals a story of violence that also echoed on the streets of Washington DC, New York and especially Miami where Cuban American critics of the bombers and shooters also wound up dead.
“Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” Dir. Saul Landau 2011 80 min
WILLIAM KUNSTLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE
The New York Times called activist lawyer William Kunstler “the most hated and most loved lawyer in America,” depending on which side you are on. He fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King and represented the famed “Chicago 8” activists who protested the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or when the American Indian Movement stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they trusted Kunstler to be their lawyer.
Now his daughters have made a compelling documentary about their father, Disturbing the Universe. It recounts not only the historic causes that Kunstler fought for, it also reveals a man that even his own daughters did not always understand, a man who risked public outrage and the safety of his family so that justice could serve all.
“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe” 86 min
In February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre, an astonishing public inquiry into war crimes committed by American forces in Vietnam was held at a Howard Johnson motel in Detroit. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War organized this event called the Winter Soldier Investigation. More than 125 veterans spoke of atrocities they had witnessed and committed.
Though the event was attended by press and television news crews, almost nothing was reported to the American public. Yet, this unprecedented forum marked a turning point in the anti-war movement. It was a pivotal moment in the lives of young vets from around the country who participated, including the young John Kerry. The Winter Soldier Investigation changed him and his comrades forever. Their courage in testifying, their desire to prevent further atrocities and to regain their own humanity, provide a dramatic intensity that makes seeing Winter Soldier an unforgettable experience.
The fact that this process of truth-telling was not respected and honored as a part of the experience of these soldiers is one of the reasons that the subject of the war in Vietnam continues to be misunderstood and misrepresented. This is a very disturbing film about the making of war, the making of young men into killers, the bringing of our society into acceptance of a war against people of a different color, a different culture, all the way around the globe. It brings to the surface of consciousness questions that must be confronted and asked again as our country is again sending off soldiers to die and to kill.”
“Winter Soldier”, Milestone Film & Video, 96 minutes http://www.wintersoldierfilm.com/
WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE
The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. The post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties. Yet they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.
The PBS miniseries Women, War and Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.
Episode 1, “I Came to Testify”, is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence – and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war.
Episode 2: When the U.S. troop surge was announced in late 2009, women in Afghanistan knew that the ground was being laid for peace talks with the Taliban. “Peace Unveiled” follows three women in Afghanistan who are risking their lives to make sure that women’s rights don’t get traded away in the deal.
Episode 3, “The War We Are Living” travels to Cauca, a mountainous region in Colombia’s Pacific southwest, where two extraordinary Afro-Colombian women are braving a violent struggle over their gold-rich lands. They are standing up for a generation of Colombians who have been terrorized and forcibly displaced as a deliberate strategy of war.
The capstone episode, “War Redefined” challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned survivors of war and peace-making. Interviewees include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; and globalization expert Moisés Naím.
This powerful film will move you with the courage of women putting their lives at risk protesting the injustice of war.
“Women, War and Peace” 2011 4 hour long programs
available online at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/
WORLD WITHOUT WATER
A thought-provoking film about the threats to our most precious resource on the planet. A Bolivian child in the film, whose village is facing major threats to its water supply, says it very simply, “Our life revolves around water, water is life.” There are multiple threats to world water such as global warming contributing to on-going drought conditions, depletion of our aquifers through over-farming and ‘wrong’ farming, pollution of our water ways, and the corporate privatization of our water resources.
“World Without Water” 76 min.
WTO: IN WHOSE HANDS?
This video examines–from a feminist and humanist perspective–the inequalities caused by WTO policies. It proposes that women around the world must not only protest the inequalities to which they bear witness but must also learn the fundamentals of economics in order to help their local communities fight the devastating effects of “free” trade.
“WTO: In Whose Hands?” (2000) 20 min. /United Methodist Women/Service Center. For more information about the video and study guide, see: http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wto.html and http://www.gbgm-umc.org/umw/service.html
THE YES MEN: CUTTING THE CORPORATE CRAP
Andy and Mike, the Yes Men, set out to change the world one prank at a time. This humorous documentary monitors the exploits of a group of jokester liberals who impersonate representatives of the World Trade Organization on television and at business conferences around the world. The film begins when two members of The Yes Men, Andy and Mike, set up a website that mimics the World Trade Organization’s–and it’s mistaken for the real thing. They play along with the ruse and soon find themselves invited to important functions as WTO representatives. Delighted to represent the organization they politically oppose, Andy and Mike don thrift-store suits and set out to shock unwitting audiences with darkly comic satire that highlights the worst aspects of global free trade.
THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD
Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno strip the mask off corporate capitalism. They are the Yes Men, two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world’s most outrageous pranks. In this screwball documentary, Andy, purporting to be a Dow Chemical spokesperson, gets on BBC World News and announces that Dow will finally clean up the site of the largest industrial accident in history, the Bhopal catastrophe. The result: as people worldwide celebrate, Dow’s stock value loses two billion dollars. People want Dow to do the right thing, but the market decides that it can’t. The reality hits Andy and Mike like a ton of bricks: we have created a market system that makes doing the right thing impossible, and the people who appear to be leading are actually following its pathological dictates. If we keep putting the market in the driver’s seat, it could happily drive the whole planet off a cliff. We are left with the question “why have we given the market more power than any other institution to determine our direction as a society?”
“The Yes Men Fix the World”
YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN
This biography of historian Howard Zinn tells the life and times of an uncommon man who celebrated common men and women as they struggled against the injustices of our world. It opens with Zinn’s words: “We grow up in a controlled society, where we are told that when one person kills another person, that is murder, but when the government kills a hundred thousand, that is patriotism.” The movie makes excellent use of interviews with important leaders — Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman, Tom Hayden, Daniel Berrigan and others — to tell about Zinn’s influence as a leader against Jim Crow laws in Georgia, as a primary leader of the Peace Movement during the Vietnam War, as a union activist at Boston University, and as a leader in the anti-War movement during the Iraq War.
“You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train” (2002)