Documentaries (D)

Friday, 9:30 to 11:45 a.m., Library 3023

Allan Keown, Mary Hyland

For the eighth year, we shall present a lineup of "cutting-edge" documentaries drawn largely from the recent finalists for the Oscars and Sundance Film Festival. As in the past, this is a drop-in seminar with no prior sign-up or presentation requirement. Post-film discussion is always available and strongly encouraged as part of the learning process.

Sept. 7: Faces Places (2017) (Varda, JR)
In this Oscars Finalist documentary, Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, as well as acclaimed French photographer and muralist JR, teamed up to co-direct this enchanting documentary road movie. Kindred spirits, the co-directors share a lifelong passion for images and how they are created, displayed and shared. Together they travel around villages of France in JR's photo truck meeting locals, learning their stories and producing epic-size portraits of them. The photos are prominently displayed on houses, barns, storefronts and trains, revealing the humanity in their subjects, and themselves. The film documents these heart-warming encounters as well as the unlikely tender friendship that they formed along the way.
Sept. 14: The Gleaners and I (2000) (Varda)
Agnes Varda was honored on Nov. 11, 2017, with an Academy Honorary Award for her contributions to cinema, making her the first female director to receive such an award. It is intended to "reflect the breadth of international, independent and mainstream film-making' and is given "to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences or for outstanding service to the Academy." To recognize this distinction, we have decided to show this film from 2000. It focuses on Varda's interactions with gleaners (harvesters) who live in the French countryside and includes subjects who create art through recycled material as well as an interview with psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche.
Sept. 21: Jane(2017) (Morgen)
Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that had been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the scientific consensus of time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus states that "Jane honors its subject's legacy with an absorbing, beautifully filmed, and overall enlightening look at her decades of invaluable work.' Metacritic rated it 87/100, indicating 'universal acclaim.'
Sept. 28: RBG (2017) (West, Cohen)
At the age of 85, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive quiet warrior's rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans, until now. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring Ginsburg's exceptional life and career.
Oct. 5: Dolores (2017) (Bratt)
Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. She tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Cesar Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century—and who at 87 continues the fight. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of 11 children, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one's life to social change.
Oct. 12: Seeing Allred (2017) (Grossman, Sartain)
This film provides a candid look at one of the most public crusaders against the war on women. Through rare archival footage and revealing interviews with both her supporters and critics, this fascinating biographical portrait examines Gloria Allred's personal trauma and also assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump.
Oct. 19: Two PBS Frontline Documentaries (2018)
Separated: Children at the Border (PBS Frontline: 7-31-18). This is a report about the separation of immigrant families at the Mexican border, the treatment of minors at the border and an overview of immigration policies under Presidents Obama and Trump.
Documenting Hate: Charlottesville (PBS Frontline: 8-7-18). An investigation reveals some white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., rally go unpunished and continue their operations around the country.
Oct. 26: Icarus (2017) (Fogel)
This Academy Award-winning documentary features writer and director Bryan Fogel setting out to uncover the truth about doping in cycling. A chance meeting with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian scientist, transforms Fogel's story into a geopolitical thriller. Dirty urine, unexplained death, Olympic gold and the need for Rodchenkov to enter the FBI's witness protection plan are all part of the exposure of the biggest scandal in sports history. And, as political events have escalated with the ongoing Trump-Putin collaboration, the Orwellian implications of the Russian threat to American democracy grow larger each week.
Nov. 2: Two Possibilities
Fahrenheit 11-9 (2018) (Moore) (if available). This documentary by Michael Moore is about the 2016 election and the subsequent presidency of Donald Trump. The title refers to the date that the Associated Press called the election for Trump. It also alludes to Moore's 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
The Brainwashing of My Dad (2015) (Senko). This film is about the director's Dad's transformation from a nonpolitical life-long Democrat into an angry, right-wing fanatical Republican. It shines a light on how the media and the nation changed and leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights we have as listeners/watchers, and what responsibility does our government have to keep the airwaves truly fair, accurate and accountable to the truth.
Nov. 9: Quest (2017) (Olshevski)
Covering 2012-2016, this PBS film chronicles the daily struggles of a black family in North Philly. Christopher "Quest" Rainey and his wife Christina "Ma Quest" raise a family while nurturing a community of hip-hop artists in their basement home music studio. It is a moving portrait of one family's life together that beautifully illuminates the issues of race and class as well as love, healing and hope.
Nov. 16: Abacus (2016) (James)
This film focuses on Abacus Federal Savings Bank, a family-owned community bank situated in Manhattan's Chinatown. Deemed "small enough to jail" rather than "too big to fail," it became the only financial institution to actually face criminal charges following the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Over the course of a five-year legal battle, the Sung family successfully defends itself and their bank's legacy in the Chinese community.
Nov. 23: No Class
Thanksgiving Holiday.
Nov. 30: Human Flow (2017) (Weiwei)
More than 65 million people around the world recently have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change, and war— the greatest displacement since WWII. Acclaimed documentarian Weiwei examines the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and it profoundly personal human impact with a variety of photographic techniques. Over the course of one year of filming in 23 countries, he follows a chain of urgent stories that stretch across the globe including Afghanistan, France, Greece, Germany, and Iraq. Powerful.
Dec. 7: Skid Row Marathon (2017) (Hayes)
When Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell visited the Midnight Mission on Skid Row, he decided to start a running club in the shelter. As he begins training a motley group of four homeless people to run marathons, lives begin to change. The runners rise from the streets of downtown L.A. to run marathons around the world, and their story emerges as one of hope, friendship, and dignity.


Dec. 14: Three Identical Strangers (2018) (Wardle)
In 1980 in New York, three young men who were all adopted meet each other and find out that they are triplets who were separated at birth. Then they discover why. The history of that discovery is filled with the brothers' anguish and provides a profound setting for examining the ancient issue of the roles that both nature and nurture play in human character and personality. Join us for this extra bonus session and prepare to be deeply moved by this extraordinary documentary.