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Asperger’s Are Us

After seeing Paddleton, I was interested in other films by Alexandre Lehmann, and I found this film. This is a documentary about four young men – Noah, Ethan, New Michael, and Jack – who are all on the autism spectrum, had formed their own comedy troupe and were preparing to perform their last show. While I would have liked to have had more background on each of them in terms of their growing up years, I was inspired by these four men who set out to do what they loved doing – comedy. It was also great to hear these …

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The Cave

This is the latest film by Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, who made Last Men in Aleppo, the gripping film about the White Helmets, the men who risked their lives to rescue civilians from bombing-related rubble. This documentary follows Dr. Amani, a pediatrician and managing physician of the Cave, an underground hospital in a city near Damascus, as she struggles to keep her hospital running. Food, medicine, and medical supplies are dwindling (one of the surgeons plays classical music on his phone and asks his patients to relax during surgery because of the lack of anesthesia), and the increasing risk of …

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The Edge of Democracy

This documentary traces the rise of democracy in Brazil from just after the end of the dictatorship through the election in which Bolsonaro was elected into power. During this time, Lula Da Silva, a champion of the workers ruled, followed by Dilma Rousseff, who found herself and her administration under siege by the right. What makes this film unique, and why I think it was nominated for an Oscar, is the lens through which the director (Petra Costa) chooses to tell this history: Her parents were both revolutionaries against the dictatorship and, Ms. Costa weaves their (and her) stories into …

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For Sama

This documentary tells the story of a journalist (Waad al-Kateab) and her family as they endure 5 years in Aleppo during the Syrian civil war. She and her husband were both student activists whose roles quickly changed once the war started – he a doctor trying to treat victims in sometimes makeshift hospitals, she a journalist documenting the war, and raising a baby daughter during it all. The film is pretty powerful. It is all first-had footage from her video camera, and she captures a range of experiences from the ground as a woman and mother – scenes in hospital …

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Maiden

This documentary is the story of the first-ever all-female crew to sail the Whitbread Round the World race in 1989. The film uses a combination of archival video footage montaged with the crew members, members of the press, and skippers of other boats in the race in the present day reflecting on their experience during that race. This is a fascinating and inspiring film of Tracy Edwards, who was in her 20’s at the time. She was a problem teenager who ran away from home at 16 and “never did finish anything she started”. She happened to get a job …

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Tell Me Who I Am

Netflix documentary about two twin brothers. Alex was in a serious motorcycle accident that caused him to lose all memory of anything before the event: the only thing he remembered was that Marcus was his brother. Marcus spent the next several years teaching Alex how to ride a bike, tie his shoes, and rebuilding Alex’s childhood. I won’t say too much more about the film as not to give anything away, as watching how the story unfolds is part of what makes the film so powerful. It is beautifully filmed, using archival video footage and family photographs interspersed with both …

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American Factory

This documentary is set in Ohio and begins with the closing of a GM plant near Dayton in 2008. Fast forward to 2015, when a Chinese billionaire buys the building and opens Fuyao, which makes windshields for cars. The film is a fascinating analysis of what happens when two cultures collide in the workplace – two cultures with different ideas of worker’s rights and expectations regarding productivity.  Everything starts out well enough. There are high hopes for those who lost their jobs at GM. However, it doesn’t take long for problems to appear: the low pay – less than half …

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The Great Hack

This documentary attempts to give the full story of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. To refresh memories, Cambridge Analytical use the data from millions of Facebook users to target voters for political advertising purposes during the 2016 elections in the US (as well as the Brexit campaigns). The film tracks the timeline of Cambridge Analytica’s demise, including the involvement of the chief whistleblowers, Chris Wylie and Brittany Kaiser. From a film perspective, I did not think it to be the greatest of documentaries. Particularly in the first half, there is a lot of “filler” space. Granted, some of it is quite …

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Apollo 11

Using archival audio and video footage, we are transported back to 1969 when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. I absolutely loved this film. Everything is stitched together into one neat story; we see what the astronauts saw, hear conversations between Armstrong, Aldin and Collins and ground control, and experience what those on the ground must have felt at every milestone of that mission. At 9 years old, I don’t really remember those days at all, so to be able to watch this as though I were watching the news was fantastic. The music …

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Hail Satan?

This often hilarious and surprisingly insightful documentary looks at the Satanic Temple, an activist group led by Lucien Greaves that is really not at all about the devil but about activism and the strong belief in the separation of church and state. The director combines several elements to make the documentary work as well as it does. The interviews are fascinating, and she assembles a group of adherents of different colors, ages, and sexual orientations who are united in their belief in valuing all religious viewpoints. She gives us a history lesson, bringing in footage from earlier eras of the …

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