‘Happy’ Delves into the Science of, Well, Happiness

Are you happy? If not, then Roko Belic’s 2011 documentary Happy can help you figure out how to find it. Through a combination of expert commentary, personal stories, and animation, Happy shows how people are happy or can become happy. The expert commentary comes from people whose work connects with a growing field called positive… Read More ‘Happy’ Delves into the Science of, Well, Happiness

The Title ‘Happy People: A Year in the Taiga’ Says It All

The title of Happy People: A Year in the Taiga describes well what the documentary is about. For one year, it follows trappers from the village of Bakhtia, located in the Siberian taiga. In the voiceover, co-director Werner Herzog explains why the trappers are happy with their lives and with hunting in balmy minus 33-degree-Fahrenheit… Read More The Title ‘Happy People: A Year in the Taiga’ Says It All

‘Blackfish’ Causes Public Relations Nightmare for Seaworld

Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary Blackfish has been causing Seaworld some public relations nightmares since its debut. Blackfish addresses how amusement parks treat orcas in captivity and how trainers suffer injury and, even more sadly, die. Tilikum, the orca at the center of the documentary, killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, and he is considered responsible for… Read More ‘Blackfish’ Causes Public Relations Nightmare for Seaworld

‘Hot Coffee’ Reveals Deeper Injustices in Civil Courts System

The McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit has become the knee-jerk reaction when it comes to critiquing the “lawsuit abuse” pervading the civil justice system, all thanks to some aggressive public relations and other campaigns that result in more “protections” for corporations and fewer rights for the public. Susan Saladoff’s documentary Hot Coffee (2011) shows how this… Read More ‘Hot Coffee’ Reveals Deeper Injustices in Civil Courts System

The Unpretty Side of the Modeling Industry in ‘Girl Model’

Girl Model shows the modeling industry as anything but beautiful. In fact, the whole industry appears pretty screwed up through the lens of this raw documentary. The insight into this industry comes from two perspectives: a model scout and a beginning model. Ashley is the model scout. She modeled for several years before moving to… Read More The Unpretty Side of the Modeling Industry in ‘Girl Model’

Memory and Narrative in ‘Stories We Tell’

Stories We Tell offers a sophisticated retelling of a family’s story that calls into question the nature of memory and narrative. It consists of extensive interviews, voiceover narration, archival footage, and staged footage to tell not multiple stories, but a single story from multiple perspectives. These perspectives come from director Sarah E. Polley’s family and… Read More Memory and Narrative in ‘Stories We Tell’

‘Hoop Dreams’ Delivers Goose Bumps and a Good Story

A memorable sport documentary requires two things: goosebumps and a good story. Hoop Dreams has both, in spades. The story behind Hoop Dreams shows the power of long-term documentary making. The arc follows William Gates and Arthur Agee for five years, from their entry into high school through their first year of college. As high… Read More ‘Hoop Dreams’ Delivers Goose Bumps and a Good Story