Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988). Directed by Mark Lewis. Cinematography by Jim Frazier.
Tip Byrne, a sugar cane farmer, recalls the seminal moment in the history of the invasive species. “Yes, I’ve got vivid memories when the toads were first brought to this place.”
After Tiller (2013). Directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson. Director of Photography Hillary Spera.
Dr. Warren Hern, one of only four doctors practicing late-term abortions in the U.S., describes his family’s fear in the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. “This is a profoundly traumatic experience for everybody in my family starting with Odalys, Fernando, and my mother, you know who worries about my safety. I faced these threats before when I was single, but it’s not the same as having a family that’s around you all the time.”
Payback (2012). Director Jennifer Baichwal. Director of Photography Nick de Pencier.
The shining star of this odd essay film based on Margaret Atwood lectures is Paul Mohammed, a criminal deeply plagued by guilt for the trauma he caused a victim.
"We horse traded this uh, this uh poor lady’s jewelry for I think, maybe I got enough to do three or four hoots of crack. That was it. That’s what I got out of it. And uh, it just kind of feeds itself because then I feel so guilty about what I did that I want to keep getting high because I feel like crappy cause of what I did. And then I go and I do it again. Cause I don’t want to come down and feel like what the fuck are you doing, why did you do that?"
Detropia (2012). Directed and Produced by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Cinematography by Tony Hardmon and Craig Atkinson.
Tommy Stephens, owner of the Raven Lounge in Detroit, shares some wisdom. “When you see your neighbor going down, you have to think about yourself. And if you don’t go over there and put that fire out, help your neighbor put that fire out, that fire is coming to you. No matter what the problems are. What happened in Detroit is now spreading throughout. It’s coming to you. Yeah. It’s coming to you.”
Saving Face (2012). Directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Cinematography by Asad Faruqi, Aaron Kopp, and Martina Radwan.
Here a woman named Rukhsana, still living with her husband and in-laws, describes how they doused her in acid and gasoline and set her aflame. “This is where they burned me alive. My life was destroyed in this room.”
More Than Honey (2012). Directed by Markus Imhoof. Shot by Jörg Jeshel. The insect macro-cinematography by Attila Boa is even more impressive.
It always helps to shoot in the Alps. This is Swiss beekeeper Fred Jaggi:
"Here the bees are feeling good. They are having Sunday today. No wonder they are making such a clear honey. Pure nature, no fungicide, no poison, anywhere."
Twist (1992). Directed by Ron Mann. Director of Photography Robert Fresco.
Hank Ballard, who recorded the original twist: “Kids like the real thing. They want it raw. And these kind of records, man, brought it all out.”
How To Survive A Plague (2012). Directed by David France. Director of Photography Derek Wiesehahn.
I loved this film and I’m not sure how I’m just seeing it now. The interviews are simple, soft beautiful in a rich black limbo. And they’re packed with the emotional wallop of revealing who is still alive. This particular image is Peter Staley, letting us know that he has survived the epic journey of struggle against HIV/AIDS, and now he has the luxury and burden of reflecting upon it with us. “Just losing and uh just so many, so many good people and uh you know, like any war you wonder why you came home.”
Only The Young (2013). Directed by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims. Shot by Tippet. This is a profile of three California skate kids who love punk rock and Jesus. It’s a universal angsty teen story in many ways, but religion clearly plays a very deep influence in their lives.
Here is Skye Elmore, the mature and most interesting of the three, taking it in stride as her sort of boyfriend Garrison starts dating someone else. “Garrison doesn’t know what he wants. I mean, you know, she’s fun, she’s crazy. She likes different things and it’s funny ‘cause I never, I mean, Garrison never really liked those things.”
Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010) Directed by Banksy, here interviewed to help set up the complex structure of the film.”Uh, well, the film is uh the story of what happened when this guy tried to make a documentary about me, but he was actually a lot more interesting than I am. “
If you look closely you can see the black mask over the hoodie hole ensuring that the director/star reveals zero facial information.
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