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April 18, 2017 \ Geoff Birmingham
Kedi: Life Smiling at You

Kedi: Life Smiling at You

Kedi ("cat" in Turkish) is equal parts a meditation on the quirky nature of cats, the people who love them, and the city of Istanbul. Seen through the eyes of the filmmakers, the cats are full of character and are charming, living in happy co-existence with the humans who dote on them, in a city that glows with Old World charm. A cynic might say that it's not a true representation of things....

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November 17, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
Before the Flood

Before the Flood

It’s hard to know what the filmmakers’ intent was in making Before the Flood, a documentary about climate change. For those of us who already believe scientists’ claims of climate change, we don’t really need to see the rising waters in India or shrinking glaciers in Greenland to be convinced. For those who believe that 97% of climatologists are engaged in a grand conspiracy and that climate...

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May 16, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
The Guys Next Door

The Guys Next Door

The Boston International Film Festival was held in April and presented the New England premiere of The Guys Next Door. The documentary is the story of family: Erik, Sandro and their two daughters; the family of Rachel, who was the surrogate mother to Erik and Sandro's girls; and the extended family that results from the combination of the two nuclear ones. We interviewed Allie Humenuk,...

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September 29, 2015 \ Emma Freter
Art Changes Lives

Art Changes Lives

Recently, I was introduced to a video called “Where Art Changes Lives,” which gave a glimpse into a visual arts non-profit center in San Francisco, Creativity Explored. This organization “is a place where developmental disabled artists come to strengthen their sense of self, explore their potential in the world and get the tools to establish themselves as working artists.” In this video we are introduced...

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September 22, 2015 \ Rachel Jellinek
Alive Inside: A documentary about the power of music to combat senility

Alive Inside: A documentary about the power of music to combat senility

This week I watched a wonderfully powerful documentary film entitled, “Alive Inside.” It focuses on the work of Dan Cohen and his organization, Music & Memory. Their mission is to reconnect nursing home residents with a sense of their identity through music. By creating personal music playlists on iPods and distributing them to the nursing home residents, Dan and his team work to reestablish...

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October 2, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Nike – Make it Count

I came across this short video and it drew me in. Reasons why I like it: Yes, it's an advertisement for Nike's FuelBand. But it's also a documentary film (my favorite kind) delivered in a very unusual way. The energy is high. The pacing is fast. Even though the main character visits 13 countries in 10 days, all in less than 5 minutes, the video still tells a story. It has a home-movie feel,...

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August 30, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Two documentaries with the human touch

Airlines get a lot of grief for nickel-and-diming customers while simultaneously reducing services, but one thing I have to give them credit for is offering a pretty decent selection of free movies on the longer flights. While flying home from Europe last weekend, I was happily able to kill three hours of the nine-hour flight watching a couple of very good documentaries - Undefeated and Bully. Films...

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July 13, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
The Interrupters: breaking cycles of violence in inner-city Chicago

In a post from awhile back, we shared some of our favorite documentary films, and Hoop Dreams was identified as "must-see." It definitely lands in my all-time favorite top ten. The Interrupters is another documentary by the same filmmaker, Steve James, who co-directed and produced the film with Alex Kotlowitz.  The personal story-lines in The Interrupters aren't as powerful as those in Hoop Dreams,...

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June 19, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead seems like a combination of things. It begins as the personal journey of Joe Cross, the filmmaker, to a healthier life. He also mixes in some education on nutrition. And the films ends with an inspirational moment and an invitation to change our bad eating habits. Stories of personal journeys usually are most powerful when there's a strong, narrative arc: desperate man, living...

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May 14, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Mugabe and the White African

Mugabe and the White African raises all kinds of questions. If you are white, can you be African? Do white African farmers today owe black Africans anything because of the transgressions of European colonists from 100 years ago? If so, should there be a forced transfer of land ownership from whites to blacks if the land is then left uncultivated and barren? The film focuses on the land reform policies...

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