REVIEW: Life, Animated [2016]

“Just your voice” It’s 2017 and yet I’m pretty sure you think about one of two things when hearing the word autism: Rain Man or vaccination. This is a shame because it only helps bolster the stigma assigned to the disorder. Pop culture has latched onto the “spectrum” with multiple examples of Asperger’s syndrome, but […]

REVIEW: Watani: My Homeland [2016]

“I am responsible for destroying my children’s future right now” Out of five Oscar-nominated documentary shorts, four deal with the cost of genocide with three being specifically about today’s Arab refugees. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the topic is very much at the forefront of the world’s mind, the internet allowing injustices thousands […]

REVIEW: The White Helmets [2016]

“To save a life is to save all of humanity” Every year seems to bring a new on-the-ground document of nightmarish tragedy thanks to Netflix’s fearless international programming. 2013 brought the fantastic The Square about Egyptians standing ground in their revolution against tyrants. 2015 brought the equally eye-opening Winter on Fire to ensure everyone acknowledged […]

REVIEW: Extremis [2016]

“I have to be right for her” If there’s substance to Dan Krauss‘ documentary short Extremis beyond its observational look at the emotionally heavy compromises made when a patient is faced with life or death scenarios, it’s to provide concrete evidence as to why you should put your own decisions down in writing before anything […]

SUNDANCE17 REVIEW: Machines [2017]

“Poverty is harassment, Sir” The most pointed question asked by Rahul Jain‘s documentary Machines comes from the camera. By showing us the gigantic textile spools, looms, and washers with only their rhythmic clanks, booms, and bangs opposite the Indian workers applying dyes, mixing chemicals, and ensuring there are no jams to the same sounds, we […]

SUNDANCE17 REVIEW: Winnie [2017]

“The self no longer mattered. The country came first.” It’s difficult to truly capture a controversial subject in film. For a figure such as Winnie Madikizela Mandela, it may be impossible unless you ensure her perspective is included. This is a woman labeled terrorist by many countries, a wife who “tarnished” her heroic husband’s legacy. […]

REVIEW: Pear Cider and Cigarettes [2016]

“What was he fighting for anyways?” “He was born lucky and died unlucky.” These are the words Robert Valley uses to describe an old childhood friend named Techno Stypes, the subject of his twenty-five year autobiographical journey entitled Pear Cider and Cigarettes. From the youthful eyes of adulation, Techno was the fastest person alive and […]

REVIEW: 4.1 Miles [2016]

“Did Dad get on the boat?” While Trump’s administration unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims from countries he doesn’t do business with, heroes are risking their lives to protect those who need protecting. One of these is Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a Greek Coast Guard captain from the island of Lebos who goes out into the choppy waters of […]

REVIEW: Joe’s Violin [2016]

“How long can you live with memories?” You never know when a potential story will come your way. For Kahane Cooperman it was on her drive to work around New York City while listening to WQXR. The station was calling for used instruments to be donated for children and schools in need, a story about […]

REVIEW: Hooligan Sparrow [2016]

“Hey Principal: get a room with me and leave the kids alone!” First-time director Nanfu Wang‘s documentary Hooligan Sparrow proves how a single piece of paper explaining a child’s rights can cause a ripple within a sea of oppression and catalyze justice. That document came from the hand of Wang Yu, a lawyer who followed […]

REVIEW: 悲兮魔兽 [Bei xi mo shou] [Behemoth] [2016]

“A land of deathly silence” There’s just one thing missing from Liang Zhao‘s visually masterful documentary 悲兮魔兽 [Bei xi mo shou] [Behemoth] and it’s a before image of what this wasteland of coal and rock used to be before God’s beast was unleashed. This creature—as represented by the industrial machine—devours the mountains of Mongolia, exploding […]