Friday, February 12, 2010

Theatrical Releases

Every Friday we update you all with the week's theatrical documentary releases. Now, this is not a perfect process as our beloved genre prefers the rolling/limited release schedule instead of a big nationwide or international-wide release. So apologies if a film isn't out in your area or if you are a filmmaker and we missed the boat on announcing your documentary's big day (if that is the case, please let us know and we'll correct the mistake).

Now, with that introduction out of the way, here's this weekend's releases with their current rating on the amazing website

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein- (100% rating) A devoted son of holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israel and US Middle-East policy, and author of five provocative books, including The Holocaust Industry, Finkelstein has been at the center of many intractable controversies. Called a lunatic and a self-hating Jew by some and an inspirational street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure whose struggles arise from core questions about freedom, identity, and nationhood. From Beirut to Kyoto, Ridgen and Rossier follow Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among both supporters and critics, providing an intimate portrait of the man behind the controversy while giving equal time to both his critics and supporters. (

Barefoot to Timbuktu – (50% rating) A Film about Tolerance, Conflict and Friendship between Cultures 

Araouane, a settlement in the middle of the Sahara, seven days by camel from Timbuktu. 
In 1989, the once prosperous oasis was disappearing under encroaching dunes, when the noted Swiss/American artist Ernst Aebi passed through on a caravan. The population’s destitution leaves a deep impression on him. Trying to help them becomes an obsession for Aebi because attempting the impossible satisfies his quest for adventure. 

Aebi, one of the pioneers in the transformation of New York’s SoHo factory spaces to lofts, stays for three years in the desert and becomes so engrossed in the project that he is willing to bury his capital there. Under his guidance, the village awakens to a new life: a productive vegetable garden, a school, and even a small hotel rise from the barren sands. 

A civil war in Mali forces Aebi in the early nineties to escape “his” village. He leaves behind a blooming oasis and a family of friends who await his return. 

Except for a few earlier unsuccessful attempts, almost twenty years pass until Aebi is finally able to get back. (

October Country - (100% rating) October Country is a beautifully rendered portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by the ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care and child abuse. A collaboration between filmmaker Michael Palmieri and photographer and family member Donal Mosher, this vibrant and penetrating documentary examines the forces that unsettle the working poor and the violence that lurks beneath the surface of American life. Shot over a year from one Halloween to the next, the film creates a stunning cinematic portrait of a family that is unique but also sadly representative of the struggles of America's working class. As the Moshers do their best to confront their ghosts, the audience confronts the broader issues that haunt us all in the continued struggle for the American Dream. (

Videocracy – (80% rating) How can one explain the devolution of the politics and media culture of Italy in the age of its current prime minister and media emperor Silvio Berlusconi? As Italy's political leader, he maintains considerable control of the state-run RAI channels, affording him an unprecedented hybrid of executive power and private interest to control the airwaves. Videocracy probes the methods and lives of key players in Berlusconi's empire, examining how they thrive in the secret leveraging of their own conflicted interests in the realms of fame, politics and finance. 

Director Erik Gandini richly illustrates Videocracy with the trashy TV clips, bucolic political spots and brazen press conferences that swept Berlusconi into power. Approaching the material as both insider and outsider, Gandini gains remarkable access to the opulent world of Berlusconi's associates and the armies of willing wannabes that swarm around them. (

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