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Film Review: A Fierce Green Fire – April 18, 2014

Rousing PBS documentary covering 50 years of environmentalism to honor Earth Day

Mark Kitchell’s 1990 Oscar nominated documentary Berkeley in the Sixties covered the campus activism that disrupted the House Un-American Activities Committee’s hearings, launched the Free Speech Movement, fought the police at People’s Park, and inspired student spokesman Mario Savio to declare: “There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part … You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.” Now Kitchell is back with another stand up and cheer nonfiction film about a different movement: Environmentalism and its eco-warriors who,… more

by: Ed Rampell

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Thanks to the Deepwater Horizon Spill, the World is No Longer Black Fishermen’s Oyster – January 24, 2014

Film Review: Vanishing Pearls

The hard-hitting new documentary Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe á la Hache, which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival this week, is full of pearls of wisdom. In the documentary, director Nailah Jefferson holds these truths to be self evident: That 2010’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, massive oil spill and BP’s supposed cleanup and settlement efforts (or lack thereof), have laid waste to the traditional way of life of an African American community in the Gulf of Mexico.

photo of a man on a boat looking down at a table covered with oystersphoto Courtesy Perspective PicturesNailah Jefferson’s new documentary depicts the slow… more

by: Ed Rampell

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A Well-Told Tale of A Daring Big Cat Rescue Operation – November 8, 2013

Film Review: Lion Ark

Lion Ark is a film about a daring rescue operation that liberated 25 lions from bondage. But not, to use another Biblical analogy, from “way down in Egypt land” – rather, from circuses in Bolivia. This engrossing documentary combines elements of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, the 1966 lion movie Born Free, and the recently released nonfiction film about marine mammals in captivity, Blackfish.

photo of a lion through the bars of a cageImages and video courtesy ADIThe film follows animal rights activists who track down circuses scattered around Bolivia and stage
a series of nationwide roundups of 25 captive lions.

This… more

by: Ed Rampell

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Story of Black Bloc’s Benedict Arnold Highlights FBI Surveillance of Activists – October 4, 2013

Film Review: Informant

Shortly before Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s all-pervasive Big Brother snooping, at least three print magazine published cover stories presaging his disclosures: Earth Island Journal’s “Prying Eyes” looked at how corporations and law enforcement agencies were spying on environmentalists; The Progressive uncovered “Spying on Occupy Activists;” and my front-page report in CounterPunch,Hollywood’s Year of Living Clandestinely” examined CIA’s influence in the movie/TV industry. Now Jamie Meltzer’s powerful new documentary Informant exposes FBI infiltration of a radical activist group – with a twist.

movie poster

If Elia Kazan was what Victor Navasky called in his book Naming Names “the quintessential… more

by: Ed Rampell

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‘SeaWorld Staff Have Become Master Storytellers Who Believe Their Own Tales’ – July 19, 2013

A Conversation with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

The riveting new documentary Blackfish, which makes a powerful argument that marine life parks are gulags for sea creatures run by corporations in order to reap profits, is sure to make a cinematic splash. Blackfish focuses on Tilikum, the 12,000 pound, 22-foot killer whale who killed veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24, 2010 at SeaWorld, Orlando. In the able hands of director and co-writer Gabriela Cowperthwaite the horrifying Florida incident becomes the launching pad for an investigation into the conditions of orcas and other marine animals held in captivity, and of their human trainers.

movie poster thumbnailThe film, which was nominated… more

by: Ed Rampell

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