Documentaries (D)

Friday, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Tahoe 1003 (Note: Room Change!)

George and Claire Roper

The documentaries presented this semester 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 seminar with no sign-up or presentation requirements.
Feb. 5: Pump (2014)
In the wake of World War II, consumer tastes and government policy steered the United States into a fateful reliance on oil-fueled technology. This sobering documentary explains why and how Americans must end this addiction. It will educate you on what we can actually do today to put an end to oil's dominance. It lays out exactly why we need to diversify the fuels we use in our cars, and how we can do it. For too long, our national economy, environment, national security and family budgets have suffered from the exclusive use of oil for transportation. It's time to break that cycle. (87 min)
Feb. 12: Honor Flight (2012)
A poet, a plumber and a postmaster are just three of the heroes whose stories emerge in this film about a town's efforts to honor its WWII vets. In a race against time, volunteers work to deliver the aging ex-soldiers to their country's memorials. This inspirational documentary will touch your heart. It should be shown in schools every Veterans' Day. (82 min)
Feb. 19: Fed Up (2014)
Childhood obesity has become an evermore serious medical issue in the United States. This eye-opening documentary examines the underlying causes behind the epidemic, including the marketing strategies of major U.S. food producers. The focus of the documentary goes into depth about the sugar industry and helps explain why we need to make better decisions as consumers about what kind of calories we put in our bodies. (90 min)
Feb. 26: On the Way to School (2015)
This inspiring documentary follows four persevering schoolchildren from different corners of the world as they go to great lengths—literally—to obtain an education, overcoming disabilities and danger in the process. This film, breathtaking beautifully shot and edited, will leave you with a smile on your face. It is truly amazing what these kids will go through to get an education. (80 min)
March 4: The Culture High (2014)
Deep moral divisions and scientific controversy continue to fuel America's political debate regarding the legalization of marijuana. This engrossing documentary examines the arguments of the warring factions behind the decades-long debate. It presents a very even-handed and impartial picture of the modern-day debate over the simultaneous legalization and criminalization of marijuana—medical and otherwise. (105 min)
March 11: Unbranded (2015)
Intending to cross the United States from south to north on horseback, four friends saddle up their wild mustangs and begin a journey of self-discovery amid breathtaking vistas, uncovering some disquieting truths about the changing American West. On the journey, both physical and mental, they learn who they really are and what they are capable of doing. This is an amazing film that pulls in the beauty of our nation's landscape, bringing back the Old West roots. (106 min)
March 18: Above and Beyond (2014)
Chronicling a little-known slice of history, this absorbing documentary looks at a diverse group of veteran World War II pilots who defied the U.S. Neutrality Act and volunteered to fly for Israel at a critical moment in its battle for independence. Considering what Israel was up against in 1948, and with almost zero assistance from the international community, it is miraculous that Israel survived, thanks to the extraordinary bravery and ingenuity of these volunteer pilots. It is an incredible story told with heart and soul. (85 min)
March 25:
Spring Break; No Seminars.
April 1: Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)
This documentary looks at the world of backup vocalists, woven together with interviews with legendary singers. It is the winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and a must-see for those interested in the history of music and the folks who bring great music to life. The featured singers, both back-up and stage-front, are interesting and talented; their stories are often riveting, and the music is terrific. (90 min)
April 8: The Alps from Above (2015)
In this documentary, the motion-stabilized Cineflex camera, developed by U.S. secret services, brings razor-sharp aerial closeups and breathtaking panoramic images to life. Filmed exclusively with aerial shots, this is a unique cinematic expedition from the peaks of Mont Blanc to the Dolomites that traces the history and geography of the Alps. The 90 minutes of stunning aerial vistas in vivid quality are pure eye candy. (90 min)
April 15: Gideon's Army (2014)
At Atlanta's Southern Public Defender Training Center, three recent law school grads prepare to represent some of the poorest of the poor. But their idealism will be tested by an overtaxed system—and the culture's low opinion of their defendants. This film allows for a more honest view of the criminal justice system than most people are afforded by the coverage provided in mainstream media. (95 min)
April 22: Tap World (2015)
Tap is a dynamic blend of ethnic percussive dances, a distinctively American art form that has spread across the globe. Thanks to a new generation of talented dancers, tap is experiencing a renaissance, as detailed in this upbeat documentary. Enjoy an amazing compilation of tap from around the world that demonstrates that rhythm is truly a universal and democratic language. (72 min)
April 29: Damnation (2014)
Over two centuries of dam-building projects in the United States have taken a toll on wildlife and communities on thousands of rivers nationwide. This inspiring documentary examines the growing movement to remove dams and revive our nation's waterways. It sheds light on the overlooked issue of obsolete, unnecessary or inefficient hydropower dams and their status in the 21st century. (88 min)
May 6: Slingshot Note: Film Change!
Painting an insightful portrait of Dean Kaman (inventor of the Segway transporter), this inspiring documentary chronicles the eccentric brainiac's unflagging efforts to end the planet's water problems with his revolutionary purification device. Those with an interest in new technology or humanitarianism will enjoy this documentary.