Monday, June 29, 2009

Supreme Court Unsure on Clinton Documentary

A few months ago, it was posted that a documentary bashing Hillary Clinton (that was released while she was still campaigning for a presidential bid) was involved in a free speech/campaign finance case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Surprisingly, the justices postponed their ruling and demanded more focused arguments from both sides in this case.

For those who need a refresher, the issue at hand is whether or not the 90-minute Hillary: The Movie (and its promotional television ads) is subject to strict campaign finance laws on political advocacy or is instead a constitutionally protected form of speech. The court will reconvene in September to hear the case, which could potentially make Obama's Supreme Court justice appointment all the more important.

Both Fox News (good details) and CNN (good summary) provide more depth on this story if you are interested.

Trailer: Act of God

I've never been struck by lightning so the thought of thousands of volts of electricity running through my body isn't exactly something I'm able to comprehend. But, such limitations didn't stop Jennifer Baichwal (Manufacturing Landscapes) from wanting to capture the singular experience endured by those who have been. More impressively, her documentary, Act of God, goes well beyond the simple recounting of people's stories and seems to enter the metaphysical aspects.

As the fi'm's summary puts it: "The film explores seven stories from around the world that raise and respond to these questions, while keeping the sky and what comes out of it as a central visual metaphor and thread." That sounds wholly fascinating and suddenly I find myself eagerly awaiting it's October release date. If you're interested, head on over to Apple to check out the trailer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Béla Fleck's African Banjo

As odd as this sounds to say, Béla Fleck is the banjo version of a cross between Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane. A simple listen over at and you'll understand what I'm talking about: the man can flat out jam... on a banjo. But I'm not here to talk mere music. It seems Fleck has a strong desire to remind listeners worldwide that his instrument of choice takes its roots from African culture and to do this, he's made a film.

Titled Throw Down Your Heart, this feature length documentary "follows American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck on his journey to Africa to explore the little known African roots of the banjo and record an album. It’s a boundary-breaking musical adventure that celebrates the beauty and complexity of Africa – an Africa that is very different from what is often seen in the media today" (from film website).

The documentary has already made the festival circuit rounds and racked up two Audience Awards and some high praise. Now, it's making a tour through American cities and (hopefully) will have a DVD release date for those unfortunate enough to miss out. In the meantime, head over to the film's site to watch a trailer, learn more details and even listen to the music resulting from Fleck's quest.