FILM LIBRARY: ART & CULTURE

Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side)
by Natalia Almada

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The proud Mexican tradition of corrido music — captured in the performances of Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte and the late Chalino Sanchez — provides both heartbeat and backbone to this rich examination of songs, drugs and dreams along the U.S./Mexico border. "Al Otro Lado" follows Magdiel, an aspiring corrido composer from the drug capital of Mexico, as he faces two difficult choices to better his life: to traffic drugs or to cross the border illegally into the United States. An Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival.

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Belarusian Waltz
by Andrzej Fidyk

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Belarus has been called "Europe's last dictatorship." Since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet republic with a despotic hand, jailing the opposition, shutting down the press and refusing to investigate the assassinations of dissidents. He has virtually silenced his critics — but not one lone performance artist who stages public stunts mocking the dictator's pretensions. "Belarusian Waltz" is the story of Alexander Pushkin, whose audacious, comical exploits find him facing the hostility of the police and the consternation of his family. An offbeat tale of post-modern street theater meeting 1930s-style authoritarianism, the film offers a surprising window into the soul of the Belarusian people. A co-production of ITVS International.

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Bronx Princess
by Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed

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Rocky Otoo is the Bronx-bred teenage daughter of Ghanaian parents, and she's no pushover. She is a sassy high-achiever bound for college. With freedom in sight, Rocky rebels against her mother's rules. When their relationship reaches a breaking point, Rocky flees to her father, a chief in Ghana. What follows is captured in Bronx Princess, a tumultuous coming-of-age story set in a homeland both familiar and strange. Her precocious — and very American — ideas of a successful, independent life conflict with her father's traditional African values. Reconciling her dual legacies becomes an unexpected chapter in this unforgettable young woman's education. A co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

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Brooklyn Castle
by Katie Dellamaggiore

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This public-school powerhouse in junior high chess competitions has won more than 30 national championships, the most of any school in the country. Its 85-member squad boasts so many strong players that the late Albert Einstein, a dedicated chess maven, would rank fourth if he were on the team. Most astoundingly, I.S. 318 is a Brooklyn school that serves mostly minority students from families living below the poverty line. Brooklyn Castle is the exhilarating story of five of the school's aspiring young players and how chess became the school's unlikely inspiration for academic success.


This film is not available for private school or university/college screenings through the POV free lending library. To purchase the educational DVD, visit First Run Features.

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Dance for Me
by Katrine Philp

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Professional ballroom dancing is very big in little Denmark. Since success in this intensely competitive art depends on finding the right partner, aspiring Danish dancers often look beyond their borders to find their matches. In Dance for Me, 15-year-old Russian performer Egor leaves home and family to team up with 14-year-old Mie, one of Denmark's most promising young dancers. Strikingly different, Egor and Mie bond over their passion for Latin dance—and for winning. As they head to the championships, so much is at stake: emotional bonds, career and the future. Dance for Me is a poetic coming-of-age story, with a global twist and thrilling dance moves.


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Ella Es El Matador (She is the Matador)
by Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco

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For Spaniards — and for the world — nothing has expressed their country's traditionally rigid gender roles more powerfully than the image of the male matador. So sacred was the bullfighter's masculinity to Spanish identity that a 1908 law barred women from the sport. Ella Es el Matador reveals the surprising history of the women who made such a law necessary and offers fascinating profiles of two female matadors currently in the arena: the acclaimed Mari Paz Vega and neophyte Eva Florencia. These women are gender pioneers by necessity. But what emerges as their truest motivation is their sheer passion — for bullfighting and the pursuit of a dream. A co-presentation with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).

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Getting Back to Abnormal
by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler

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What happens when America's most joyous, dysfunctional city rebuilds itself after a disaster? New Orleans is the setting for Getting Back to Abnormal, a film that serves up a provocative mix of race, corruption and politics to tell the story of the re-election campaign of Stacy Head, a white woman in a city council seat traditionally held by a black representative. Supported by her irrepressible African-American aide Barbara Lacen-Keller, Head polarizes the city as her candidacy threatens to diminish the power and influence of its black citizens. Featuring a cast of characters as colorful as the city itself, the film presents a New Orleans that outsiders rarely see. Official Selection of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. A co-production of ITVS.


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Girl Model
by A. Sabin and David Redmon

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Girl Model strips away the façade of the modeling industry by following two people whose lives intersect because of it. Ashley is a deeply conflicted American model scout, and 13-year-old Nadya, plucked from a remote Siberian village and promised a lucrative career in Japan, is her latest discovery. As the young girl searches for glamour and an escape from poverty, she confronts the harsh realities of a culture that worships youth — and an industry that makes perpetual childhood a globally traded commodity. An Official Selection of the 2011 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Winner, 2011 POV | Alpha Cine Award. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. (90 minutes)

This film is not available for university/college screenings through the POV free lending library. To purchase the educational DVD, visit girlmodel.com.

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Guilty Pleasures
by Julie Moggan

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Every four seconds a romance novel published by Harlequin or its British counterpart, Mills & Boon, is sold somewhere in the world. Julie Moggan’s Guilty Pleasures takes an amusing and touching look at this global phenomenon. Ironies abound in the contrasts between the everyday lives of the books’ readers and the fantasy worlds that offer them escape. Guilty Pleasures portrays five romance devotees who must, ultimately, find their dreams in the real world. An Official Selection of the 2010 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam. (60 minutes)

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Homegoings
by Christine Turner

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Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City's historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones "home." A co-production of ITVS and POV's Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

 

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Herman's House
by Angad Singh Bhalla

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Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States—he's spent more than 40 years in a 6-by-9-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he vehemently denies. Herman's House is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell. Imagining Wallace's "dream home" began as a game and became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America. The film takes us inside the duo's unlikely 12-year friendship, revealing the transformative power of art. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

 

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New Muslim Cool
by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

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Puerto Rican-American rapper Hamza Pérez pulled himself out of drug dealing and street life 12 years ago and became a Muslim. Now he's moved to Pittsburgh's tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family and take his message of faith to other young people through hard-hitting hip-hop music. But when the FBI raids his mosque, Hamza must confront the realities of the post-9/11 world, and himself. New Muslim Cool takes viewers on Hamza's ride through streets, slums and jail cells — following his spiritual journey to some surprising places in an America that never stops changing. Produced in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).

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Only the Young
by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims

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Only the Young follows three unconventional Christian teenagers coming of age in a small Southern California town. Skateboarders Garrison and Kevin, and Garrison's on-and-off girlfriend, Skye, wrestle with the eternal questions of youth: friendship, true love and the promise of the future. Yet their lives are also touched by the distress signals of contemporary America—foreclosed homes, abandoned businesses and adults in financial trouble. As graduation approaches, these issues become shocking realities. With sun-drenched visuals, lyrical storytelling and a soul-music soundtrack, Only the Young embodies the innocence and candor of its youthful subjects—and of adolescence itself.

 

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Salt
by Michael Angus and Murray Fredericks

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In his search for “somewhere I could point my camera into pure space,” award-winning photographer Murray Fredericks began making annual solo camping trips to remote Lake Eyre and its salt flats in South Australia. These trips have yielded remarkable photos of a boundless, desolate yet beautiful environment where sky, water and land merge. Made in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Michael Angus, Salt is the film extension of Fredericks’ work at Lake Eyre, interweaving his photos and video diary with time-lapse sequences to create the liberating and disorienting experience of being thrown into an infinite dimension of mind and spirit.

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Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
by Zach Niles and Banker White

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If the refugee is today's tragic icon of a war-ravaged world, then Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, a reggae-inflected band born in the camps of West Africa, represents a real-life story of survival and hope. The six-member Refugee All Stars came together in Guinea after civil war forced them from their native Sierra Leone. Traumatized by physical injuries and the brutal loss of family and community, they fight back with the only means they have — music. The result, as shown in "Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars," is a tableau of tragedy transformed by the band's inspiring determination to sing and be heard. A Diverse Voices Project co-production.

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Sweetgrass
by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor

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Sweetgrass presents a riveting and poetic portrait of the American West just as one of its traditional ways of life dies out. Shot amidst the grandeur of Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, the film follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into the breathtaking and often dangerous mountains for summer pasture. Magnificently photographed and unsparingly candid, Sweetgrass discovers a world of harsh beauty and arduous labor, where humans still work in rugged intimacy with nature. (90 minutes)

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FILMS FROM THE ARCHIVE

Films that are currently unavailable in our free lending library but that we recommend for group and classroom screenings.

American Aloha
by Lisette Marie Flanary and Evann Siebens

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For Hawaiians, the hula is not just a dance, but a way of life. While most Americans know only the stereotypes of grass skirts and coconut bras, the hula is a living tradition that tells of the rich history and spirituality of Hawai'i through music, language, and dance. "American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai'i" discovers a renaissance of Hawaiian culture as it continues to grow in California. Following three kumu hula, or master hula teachers, the film celebrates the perpetuation of a culture — from the very traditional to the contemporary — as it evolves on distant shores. Revealing the survival of Hawai'i's indigenous culture from near-destruction, "American Aloha" is a reminder of the power of reclaiming tradition for communities creating a home away from home. An Independent Television Service (ITVS) and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) co-presentation. A Diverse Voices Project Selection.

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The Beaches of Agnès
by Agnès Varda

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In this delightful memoir, award-winning French filmmaker Agnès Varda (Vagabond, Cléo From 5 to 7) employs all the magic of cinema to juxtapose the real and the imagined, the past and the present, pain and joy. For this 81-year-old artist, memories live through her films. In The Beaches of Agnès, she uses film clips, old photos and gorgeous reenactments to revisit her Belgian youth, association with the French New Wave, marriage to director Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and the making of her movies. You don’t need to know anything about Varda to enjoy this enchanting glimpse into the treasure chest of her memories.

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El General
by Natalia Almada

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Past and present collide as award-winning filmmaker Natalia Almada (Al Otro Lado, POV 2006) brings to life audio recordings she inherited from her grandmother, daughter of Plutarco Elias Calles, a revolutionary general who became Mexico's president in 1924. In his time, Calles was called El Jefe Maximo (Foremost Chief). Today he is remembered as El Quema-Curas (Priest Burner) and as a dictator who ruled through puppet presidents until his exile in 1936. Airing during the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, El General moves between a daughter's memories of her father as she grapples with history's portrayal of him and the weight of that same man's legacy on Mexico today. Winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Directing Award: Documentary. A co-production of ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting.

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The Flute Player
by Jocelyn Glatzer

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Arn Chorn-Pond was only a boy when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime overran Cambodia and turned his country into a ghastly land of "killing fields." While most of Arn's family, and 90% of the country's musicians, were killed, Arn was kept alive to play propaganda songs on the flute for his captors. Now, after living in the U.S. for 20 years, "The Flute Player" follows Arn's journey back to Cambodia as he seeks out surviving "master musicians" and faces the dark shadows of his war-torn past. An extraordinary story of survival, the film is a testament to one man's ability to transcend tragedy. An Independent Television Service (ITVS) and a National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA) co-presentation.

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Golub
by Jerry Blumenthal, Gordon Quinn

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The role of art in America has been debated recently everywhere from the Halls of Congress to the local shopping mall. "Golub" is more than a portrait of the socially committed painter Leon Golub, whose massive canvases are intended to provoke viewers. It is about media and contemporary society, social responsibility and creativity, art and information.

"Golub conveys the exhilarating sense that art is inseparable from both the world that engenders it and the world that receives it." - Jonathan Rosenblum, The Chicago Reader

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In The Realms of the Unreal
by Jessica Yu

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Reclusive janitor by day, visionary artist by night, outsider artist Henry Darger moved through life virtually unnoticed. But after his death, a treasure trove was discovered in his one-room Chicago apartment: a staggering 15,000-page novel and hundreds of illustrations that continue to inspire artists around the world. With dreamlike animation, poignant narration by Dakota Fanning and a haunting musical score, Academy Award winner Jessica Yu fashions a bold and beautiful film. "In the Realms of the Unreal" immerses us in Darger's startling universe of innocence and pain, showing how he forged magic out of the bleakest of lives. A co-presentation with the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

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Intimate Stranger
by Alan Berliner

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Alan Berliner puts his late grandfather, Joseph Cassuto, at the center of a personal, single-family saga that shines a light into the silent, shadowy corners that are present in all families. When the film premiered at the New York Film Festival, The New York times called it "a rich, tumultuous portrait of family life with a powerful, bittersweet universality."

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Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music
by Robert Elfstrom

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In this classic 1969 documentary, the Man in Black is captured at his peak, the first of many in a looming roller-coaster career. Fresh on the heels of his Folsom Prison album, Cash reveals the dark intensity and raw talent that made him a country music star and cultural icon. Director Robert Elfstrom got closer than any other filmmaker to Cash, who is seen performing with his new bride June Carter Cash, in a rare duet with Bob Dylan, and behind the scenes with friends, family and aspiring young musicians. "Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music" paints an unforgettable portrait that endures beyond the singer's 2003 death.

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Kings of Pastry
by Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker

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When Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker, award-winning filmmakers of The War Room, Startup.com and Don't Look Back, turn their sights on the competition for the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, the country's Nobel Prize for pastry, you're in for a treat. In Kings of Pastry, 16 chefs, including Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago's French Pastry School, whip up the most gorgeous, delectable, gravity-defying concoctions and edge-of-your-seat drama as they deliver their spun-sugar desserts to the display table. The inevitable disasters and successes prove both poignant and hilarious. (90 minutes)

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The Last Conquistador
by John J. Valadez and Cristina Ibarra

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Renowned sculptor John Houser has a dream: to build the world's tallest bronze equestrian statue for the city of El Paso, Texas. He envisions a stunning monument to Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate that will honor the contributions Hispanic people made to building the American West. But as the project nears completion, troubles arise. Native Americans are outraged — they remember Oñate as the man who brought genocide to their land and sold their children into slavery. As El Paso divides along lines of race and class in "The Last Conquistador," the artist must face the moral implications of his work. A co-production of Independent Television Service (ITVS). A co-presentation of Latino Public Broadcasting, Native American Public Telecommunications and KERA Dallas/Fort Worth.

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Life. Support. Music
by Eric Daniel Metzgar

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In 2004, Jason Crigler's life was taking off. He was one of New York's hottest young guitarists, his new CD was due for release and his wife, Monica, was pregnant with their first child. Then, at a gig in Manhattan, Jason suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. His doctors doubted he would ever emerge from his near-vegetative state. The astonishing journey that followed, documented by friend and filmmaker Eric Daniel Metzgar (The Chances of the World Changing, POV 2007), is a stirring family saga and a portrait of creative struggle in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

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Lomax the Songhunter
by Rogier Kappers

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Alan Lomax was "the song hunter." He devoted his life to recording the world's folk tunes before they would permanently disappear with the rise of the modern music industry. In "Lomax the Songhunter," filmmaker Rogier Kappers seeks to tell Lomax's story by interviewing friends such as Pete Seeger, combining it with archival recordings of music greats Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, and gathering footage of the cotton fields, rock quarries and prisons where Alan Lomax captured America’s quintessential music. Finally, Kappers followed the route that Lomax took so many years ago and traveled to remote villages in Spain and Italy, hearing memories and music from the farmers, shepherds and weavers whose songs Lomax recorded decades earlier.

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Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
by Freida Lee Mock

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The Vietnam War Memorial was one of the most controversial monuments of its time. Thrust in to the eye of the storm was architect-sculptor Maya Lin, whose design for the memorial was chosen when she was a 21-year-old college student. Withstanding bitter attacks, she held her ground with clarity and grace. In this Academy Award winner, Freida Lee Mock follows a decade in the life of this visionary artist.

"Two Thumbs Up" — Siskel and Ebert

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Patti Smith: Dream of Life
by Steven Sebring

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Shot over 11 years by renowned fashion photographer Steven Sebring, Patti Smith: Dream of Life is an intimate portrait of the legendary rocker, poet and artist. Following Smith's personal reflections over a decade, the film explores her many art forms and the friends and poets who inspired her — William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Robert Mapplethorpe and Michael Stipe. She emerges as a crucial, contemporary link between the Beats, punks and today's music. Shot in lush, dark tones, featuring rare performance clips and narrated by the artist herself, Patti Smith: Dream of Life is an impressionistic journal of a multi-faceted artist that underscores her unique place in American culture. Winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary. A production of Clean Socks and THIRTEEN. Produced by Steven Sebring, Margaret Smilow and Scott Vogel.

 

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Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
by Zach Niles and Banker White

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If the refugee is today's tragic icon of a war-ravaged world, then Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, a reggae-inflected band born in the camps of West Africa, represents a real-life story of survival and hope. The six-member Refugee All Stars came together in Guinea after civil war forced them from their native Sierra Leone. Traumatized by physical injuries and the brutal loss of family and community, they fight back with the only means they have — music. The result, as shown in "Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars," is a tableau of tragedy transformed by the band's inspiring determination to sing and be heard. A Diverse Voices Project co-production.

This film is not currently available in our free lending library.

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Steam of Life
by Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen

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From a land of long, dark winters comes Steam of Life, a moody, comic and moving study of Finnish men as framed by the national obsession with the sauna. There, they come together to sweat out not only the grime of contemporary life, but also their grief, hopes, joys and memories. Beautifully and hauntingly shot, the acclaimed film provides a surprising glimpse into the lives of Finnish men and a remarkable depiction of the troubled and often reticent hearts of contemporary Western men. (60 minutes)

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The Sweetest Sound
by Alan Berliner

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What's in a name? Names are the opening words to our life stories. With intimacy, humor and his own inimitable style, Alan Berliner dives headfirst into the American name pool in search of the treasures and traps hidden in names — especially his own. The Sweetest Sound starts out as a search for identity, transforms into a meditation on mortality, leaving a keen sense of the power and mystery embedded in every name.

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Tintin and I
by Anders Østergaard

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Why does the comic strip The Adventures of Tintin, about an intrepid boy reporter, continue to fascinate us decades after their publication? "Tintin and I" highlights the potent social and political underpinnings that give Tintin's world such depth, and delve into the mind of Hergé, Tintin’s work-obsessed Belgian creator, to reveal the creation and development of Tintin.

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Wattstax
by Mel Stuart

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POV brings back the cult favorite "Wattstax," the 1973 documentary directed by Mel Stuart. In August 1972, seven years after the Watts riots, the legendary Stax recording label staged a benefit concert in Los Angeles for 90,000 people. As time went by, it became known as the Black Woodstock. Hosted by Rev. Jesse Jackson, it was a veritable "who's who" of gospel, soul and R&B and was a mirror of various aspects of African-American culture. The newly restored concert film features trenchant commentary from Richard Pryor, performances by Rufus Thomas, the Staple Singers, the Emotions and the Bar-Kays, and includes the grand finale (not seen in the original film) — Isaac Hayes' electrifying "Theme From Shaft." A DVD of Wattstax with bonus features is scheduled to hit stores September 7. In late August, Fantasy/Stax Records will release a new CD featuring 75 minutes of musical highlights from the film. A POV Classics presentation.

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What I Want My Words To Do To You
by Madeleine Gavin, Judith Katz and Gary Sunshine

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"What I Want My Words to Do To You" offers an unprecedented look into the minds and hearts of the women inmates of New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. The film goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright Eve Ensler, consisting of fifteen women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Through a series of exercises and discussions, the women, including former Weather Underground Members Kathy Boudin and Judith Clark, delve into and expose the most terrifying places in themselves, as they grapple with the nature of their crimes and their own culpability. The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women's writing by acclaimed actresses Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Rosie Perez, Hazelle Goodman, and Mary Alice.

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Who is Henry Jaglom?
by Alex Rubin, Jeremy Workman

A film still from 'Who is Henry Jaglom?'
You may have heard of Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen, but who is Henry Jaglom? Hailed by some as the last true maverick of American cinema, this writer-director has been dubbed everything from cinematic genius to the world's worst director. Obsessively confusing and abusing the lines between life and art, Jaglom challenges the boundaries of filmmaking and viewer endurance. Alex Rubin and Jeremy Workman pay an off-beat tribute to the man and his vision with a snappy spectrum of opinions from friends, family and Hollywood notables.

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Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner
by Freida Lee Mock

A film still from 'Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner'
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Tony Kushner, whose epochal Angels in America won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, has emerged as one of the country's leading playwrights and one of its fiercest moral critics. In the film "Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner," Oscar-winning director Freida Lee Mock (POV's "Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision") followed Kushner for three tumultuous years, from September 11, 2001 to the 2004 presidential election, to delve into the passions that keep him reaching for the great American play. Actresses Marcia Gay Harden, Meryl Streep, Tonya Pinkins and Emma Thompson, directors Mike Nichols and George C. Wolfe, and writer/artist Maurice Sendak are seen collaborating with Kushner on such landmark works as Angels in America; Caroline, or Change and Homebody/Kabul.

This film is not currently available in our free lending library.

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Downloadable materials:
Discussion Guide | Further Reading List | Lesson Plan

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Left: WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima (POV 1989)