Documentaries (D)

Friday, 10 to 11:45 a.m., Tahoe 1007

George and Claire Roper

As usual, the documentaries presented will be quite varied. Some will be enlightening and-or heartwarming, others will be educational and-or maddening, but all will be entertaining. This is a drop-in class with no sign-up or presentation requirements.

Feb. 3: Prescription Thugs, 2015
This hard-hitting and thought-provoking documentary is an expose of Big Pharma, its marketing practices and their impact on the staggering level of addiction to prescription drugs in North America. It questions the motives and ethics of these pharmaceutical manufacturers that earn huge profits from promoting dangerously addictive products. 87 minutes.
Feb. 10: Coming to Light: The Edward S. Curtis Story, 2001
Edward Curtis set out in 1900 to photograph traditional Indian ways that he thought were vanishing. He abandoned his career as a successful portrait photographer and sacrificed his health, marriage and all his assets to create an astonishing body of work. Curtis produced a 20-volume photographic record of Native Americans that was both art and a record of a vanishing people. This documentary tells the story of his life and how he went about taking these wonderful pictures. 83 minutes.
Feb. 17: Divorce Corp., 2014
This arresting documentary examines the aspirations and failures of the nation's family court laws, regarded by many as brutal and deeply flawed. Rather than helping solve families' conflict issues, governmental authorities often do just the opposite. Featured are interviews with whistleblowers, attorneys, judges, mediators, investigators and especially the victims of egregious government misconduct and corruption. The segment on Sacramento's Family Court is particularly unsettling. 90 minutes.
Feb. 24: Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, 2015
In 2011, when music legend Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he was told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, he set out on an unprecedented Goodbye Tour across America that he thought would last five weeks; instead it went for 151 spectacular sold-out shows over a triumphant year and a half. This film documents this extraordinary journey as he and his family attempt to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen's progressing disease using love, laughter and music as their medicine of choice. Special appearances include Bruce Springsteen, The Edge, Paul McCartney, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Steve Martin and Chad Smith among many others. 104 minutes.
March 3: (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies 2015
This is a fascinating, disturbing, and sometimes funny documentary. From little white lies to earth-shattering deceits, it explores how and why human beings lie. Interviews with psychologists, behavioral scientists and liars themselves reveal much about the impetus and impact of fibbing. If you're a habitual liar, you probably won't be fazed by it; however if you consider yourself to be an honest person, it may cause you to re-evaluate yourself. 89 minutes.
March 10: Trans 2013
Too many of us condemn without knowledge or understanding. Trans is an extraordinary documentary feature about men and women, and all the variations in between, the transgender community, perhaps the most misunderstood and mistreated minority. This film answers questions you have not yet asked, shows how parents struggle to accept their children and how many cut them out of their lives, as well as the joy found by those who do succeed in self-actualization, and the fear and obstacles that all too often result in suicide. 93 minutes.
March 17: The Last Man on the Moon 2015
When Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan stepped on the moon in 1972, he left his footprints and his daughter’s initials in the lunar dust. Now, forty years later, in an artful blend of memoir and documentary, he looks back on the glory days of NASA’s lunar landing and shares his personal story of fulfillment, love and loss. If you want a sense of the amazement and wonder of the time and the people who were involved in the greatest adventure mankind has ever undertaken, this is the documentary to see. 96 minutes.
March 24: No Class
Spring Break.
March 31: No Class
Cesar Chavez Day.
April 7: Battered Bastards of Baseball 2014
This inspiring documentary recounts the history of the Portland Mavericks, an independent professional team that broke attendance records in 1973 with a roster that included a blacklisted former Yankee pitcher, a left-handed catcher, the sport’s first female general manager, and young movie star Kurt Russell, whose father was the scrappy team’s owner. If you are able to recognize the beauty in the game of baseball or just humanity itself, you will love this unique film. 80 min.
April 14: Poverty, Inc. 2014
From TOMS Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to US agricultural subsidies, drawing from over 100 interviews filmed in 20 countries, this documentary unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore. It exposes flaws in the current approach, taken by a majority of charitable programs, causes more harm than good and respectfully points out, “Having a heart for the poor is easy…having a mind for the poor is the challenge.” 91 minutes
April 21: The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats its Young 2015
A famous prison break sparked the idea for a cult-like race that has seen only 10 finishers in its first 25 years. You don’t have to be an ultra-runner or athlete to enjoy this award winning, oddly inspiring, and wildly funny documentary that reveals the sports world’s most guarded secret. 89 minutes.
April 28: Attacking the Devil 2014
This is the story of the largest man-made disaster in peace time. Thalidomide. This was drug created at the command of Hitler himself and extensively tested in the death camps. Before the internet, social media and breaking news, the victims of Thalidomide had to rely on something even more extraordinary to fight for them: Investigative journalism. This is the story of how Harold Evans fought and won the battle of his and many other lives. Until recently, this story was hidden, banned in many cases and partly undiscovered. It is a must see story about how profit & greed was placed far in front of children’s lives. This film is the brilliantly told story of almost 50 years of investigation. 101 minutes.
May 5: Catching the Sun 2015
Through the stories of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China, Catching the Sun captures the global race to lead the clean energy future. It tells the story of the global energy transition from the perspective of workers and entrepreneurs building solutions to income inequality and climate change with their own hands. 73 minutes.