‘GMO OMG’ adds little new to the GMO debates

Jeremy Seifert’s GMO OMG (2013) begins with his son’s interest in seeds and seed collecting. Taking his family on a journey of discovery, Seifert explores the issues surrounding GMO (genetically modified organisms) production, studies, labeling, and regulation. In part he wants to know why some Haitian farmers call GMO seeds “seeds of death,” while people… Read More ‘GMO OMG’ adds little new to the GMO debates

‘Housing Problems’ a Landmark in Documentary Sound

Housing Problems (Arthur Elton and E.H. Anstey, 1935) is one of those classic documentaries that is important to the development of the documentary form but is more interesting to read about than it is to see. Housing Problems is one of the first documentaries to use synchronized sound of people speaking on camera. We hear… Read More ‘Housing Problems’ a Landmark in Documentary Sound

‘Gideon’s Army’ Battles an Unjust Justice System

Dawn Porter’s Gideon’s Army (2013) is the best example I have seen of documentary story-telling so far with its dramatic tension that keeps you riveted until the jury’s verdict is read. Gideon’s Army follows three public defenders in the Deep South as they work against enormous odds — professional, financial, and personal — to represent… Read More ‘Gideon’s Army’ Battles an Unjust Justice System

Performance, Music Come First in ‘Stop Making Sense’

Concert films are a well-established sub-genre of documentary. Think Woodstock, Monterey Pop, The Last Waltz. Their conventions, by now, are well known: interviews with the stars and the fans, shots of performances, and hopefully some deep dish about the band not available elsewhere. While often dismissed by critics as publicity vehicles, concert films still provide… Read More Performance, Music Come First in ‘Stop Making Sense’

‘Nostalgia for the Light’ Stuns with the Beauty and the Awful

Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) opens not with people, but with artistic cinematography and contrapuntal sound of heavy equipment shifting, turning, rotating. There is no narration, no scored music — just the rhythms of the telescope moving. Only as the shots shift to objects within a house does Guzmán’s voiceover begin. Nostalgia for… Read More ‘Nostalgia for the Light’ Stuns with the Beauty and the Awful