Wednesday, January 02, 2008

About.Com: Top Ten Documentaries for 2007

Top Ten Documentaries of 2007

By Jennifer Merin,
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1. Recommended Documentaries

There were hundreds of documentary films produced during 2007, ranging from the relatively big budget Sicko and 15-years-in-production Lake of Fire to serious indictments of war in Nanking and No End In Sight. Some documentaries had healthy theatrical runs, others went straight to DVD. Of all, these, in alphabetical order, are my favorites:
1. The Body of War
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Mobilus Media
The Body of War present the heart wrenching story of how 25-year-old Thomas Young, a patriotic young man who enlisted in the military the day after the 9-11 bombings, became a victim of the Iraq War.
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2. For The Bible Tells Me So
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First Run Features
In For the Bible Tells Me So, documentary filmmaker Daniel Karslake reveals the ways in which Scripture has been used to discriminate against homoexual men and women, and shows how literal — and oft inaccurate — interpretations of the Bible are causing widespread despair and the destruction of lives.
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3. Lake of Fire
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Filmmaker Tony Kaye took fifteen years to produce this searing investigation of the issue of abortion. The film introduces us to brutally aggressive right-to-lifers and to women who are determined to terminate their pregnancies. We witness right to life rallies and go inside abortion clinics. Some of the footage--especially that which shows the remains of aborted fetuses--is shocking. This film will make you reexamine your position on abortion, whatever it might be.
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4. Manufacturered Landscapes
Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes (2007) follows photographer Edward Burtynsky to China to document the environmental effects of industrialization. Baichwal uses the camera to explore the photographer's monumental stills and then turns to the actual spaces captured in them, resulting in a provocation for viewers to explore their own relationship to art--the beautiful photographs, in this case--and the real world--the disturbingly destroyed environment, in this case--as passive observers.
5. My Kid Could Paint That
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Sony Pictures Classics
Questions of authenticity surrounding four year old Marla Olmstead's paintings occasion filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev's insightful investigation about media frenzy and public perception, and the very nature of nonfigurative art.
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6. Nanking
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Nanking sheds light on a Chinese holocaust that is little known in the West. Actors Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow portray heros who saved thousands of Chinese people from being slaughtered. Several survivors speak out about what they experienced and how it has effected their lives. A very moving and powerful anti-war film.
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7. No End In Sight
Political scientist Charles Ferguson gives us a blow by blow description of how America first became entangled in the Iraq War and how the government and military continue to compound the untenable situation.
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8. Sicko
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Weinstein Co.
Michael Moore applies his very in-your-face style of documentary filmmaking to the business of health insurance in America. Find out just how bad it is....
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9. Taxi To The Dark Side
Acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney's Taxi To The Dark Side follows the trail of American military torture of suspected terrorists from the disappearance and death of a taxi driver in rural Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo. Gibney's evidence--footage and photographs of victims, interviews with families of those killed and with torture survivors, with former soldier interrogators, military top brass, John Yoo, JAG attorneys, and video clips showing the smug indifference of America's elected and appointed officials--is absolutely shocking. The film played festivals during 2007, and will release theatrically in January.
10. The Yiddish Theater: A Love Story
The Yiddish Theater: A Love Story is as charming, humorous, convincing, tenacious and relevant as its wonderful leading lady, the actress Zypora Spaisman, who fought heroically to keep her language and culture alive.

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