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A Tale of Two FYRE Documentaries.

Which unfinished camp do you fall into? Netflix or Hulu? Here is a quick review of both and my personal preference. 

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NETFLIX : FYRE 

First thing to note about this documentary, it’s created by the marketing company behind the festival, F$@!Jerry. That’s important to know as an audience member so you can understand the bias of the film. Documentaries are inherently biased. This is hotly debated among creators. I think understanding the creators is almost as important as the documentary itself. So what does that mean for FYRE? 

An exclusive behind the scenes look at the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival. Launching globally on Netflix on January 18, 2019. Created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre Festival was promoted as a luxury music festival on a private island in the Bahamas featuring bikini-clad supermodels, A-List musical performances and posh amenities.

I think the most interesting thing about this documentary is the victimized stance of anyone involved in the creation of the festival. Everyone seems to point fingers at Billy. Especially the marketing company. They even take the stance that by not paying Billy for an interview, they are not contributing to the madness any further. Yet, that are ok with profiting off the story. Yeah, ok guys.

It just falls flat.

While this documentary is shot really well. It’s flashy, it’s funny and feels outrageous because the story is outrageous. It takes no stance on the subject or the depth of it’s characters. The narrative is: “Look at this train wreck story, isn’t it crazy?”

To me, it feels like one long marketing video for F@!$Jerry. They position themselves as the geniuses who made FYRE huge and then watched it burn to the ground without taking any responsibility for it’s creation. I imagine a big corporate client watching this and going “Hey, we should hire them!” They don’t dive into any real discussion about the responsibilities of marketers in our digital time. That is a huge, deep and interesting topic. One that influences elections, money and power in ways that we are only really starting to understand.

I did love hearing the story of the initial promotional video. I’ve been there. Unreasonable expectations by a client to create the MOST EPIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME, while going around every filmmaking process that ensures great results. But we glossed over a major dynamic on this shoot. The use of the girls. The toast JaRule gives says it all “Here’s to living’ like movie stars, partying like rockstars and F$!@ing like porn stars.”

No one talked about the ethics of what they were doing while filming the promo. They show interactions between Billy, JaRule and the models and it made me want to cringe. Men with power, filming women on a deserted island with no structure. They came up with ideas that would be “cool,” and ask the models to participate in the fantasy. It’s gross. A rich boys club gone wild. I kept waiting for some of the interviews to point out the ethics of it all. Not just the creation of the marketing, I wondered where the responsibility of everyone involved. Seriously, what was with the “take one for the team,” story. Borderline harassment. If my boss ever told me to give a blow job for the good of the team, I’d report him. Tone deaf to include that and gloss over it like it was a locker room story. Ick.

The “characters," keep moving the project forward, claiming to be on an almost unstoppable train. I wondered, why? No one really answers that question. 

As a director, I wonder why we don’t go here. It’s the most interesting exploration of human behavior. Why did people continue to play along when there were clear red flags in every direction? The filmmakers never ask this. The best interviews were from the workers on the islands. That community had the most substance simply because they had the most to loose out of this situation.

At the end of the day, F$!@Jerry made a documentary on Netflix that got us all to watch, point our fingers and go “man how messed up is that!” But the real underbelly of the story isn’t explored. This documentary barley touches on consequences of the fraud of the festival or what happened to the islanders afterward. It ends almost abruptly. The most interesting footage at the end is the business meeting where Billy and JaRule try to convince employees to stick with them. They attempt to share the story about VIP NYC but I didn’t fully understand it till I saw the Hulu documentary. Then, like the festival, the documentary ends. With a whimper and a cheese sandwich. 

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The documentary attempts to poke fun at the fact that the world loved seeing the festival fail and that’s the most interesting stance it takes. It lacks a meta voice. An outside perspective to place the story within social and cultural context. I wanted more zeitgeist. Fyre is a documentary created by a marketing company and it feels like just that. 

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The best thing to come out of this one is what happened after it’s release. The owner of the catering company that lost tons of money on the island, Maryann Rolle, raises over 100K on go fund me as a result of her tearful interview and Jerry Media donated over 30K of that.

So good for you guys.

The real victims of this whole story are the islanders and none of the documentaries attempt to tell their story with the depth that it deserves and cost of that deception. This tearful interview is all you will get between both docs. I think we could do better.


HULU: FYRE FRAUD 

FYRE FRAUD is a true-crime comedy exploring a failed music festival turned internet meme at the nexus of social media influence, late-stage capitalism, and morality in the post-truth era. The Fyre Festival was the defining scam of the millennial generation, at the nexus of social media influence, late-stage capitalism, and morality in the post-truth era.

Right out of the gate, the title and description should clue you in. The tone is different than the Netflix documentary. A true-crime comedy. They secretly drop their documentary the night before Netflix. Sneaky, sneaky guys.

Worth noting, Hulu’s documentary paid for an interview with Billy. So this story has Billy as a main character in it’s structure. Hotly debated is paying for that interview. People are paid for interviews all the time. We pay criminals for their stories all the time. So personally, I don’t care that they paid him. It does add a nice element to the story. 

This documentary takes a stronger stance on that meta voice that I felt was missing from the Netflix version. I really liked how they dove into Billy as a character. They hit the fraud harder. They place the instagram campaign in social context in ways that helps me think about the bigger picture. It’s not a home run. Some of the themes I mentioned above don’t get a deep dive, but this documentary tries a little more to have a meta voice and structure.

Fyre Fraud takes more of a stance on story.

Fyre Fraud takes the position that the festival and Billy were fraudulent from the beginning. It seeks to tear down the “We tried something so big, we got in over our heads and failed,” narrative that the lawyers for Billy have spun. It paints Billy as a con artist from the get go. It’s not as flashy as the Netflix version. It’s not as funny. But it feels more like a documentary to me. There is more research. More outside perspective interviews and a larger point that they are trying to prove.

Billy’s interview tips the scales for me. I am really interested in how the Billy’s of the world are created and perpetuated by society. I loved the millennial lens. The connection to escapism and fantasy selling. Discussion of wealth and power. But we still don’t talk to the islanders enough. I don’t think the consequences of the story are as clear as they could be. 


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The closer we get to people arriving on the island, the more the footage is the same. It’s almost like both documentaries were working with the same batch of collected footage with a few new surprises. Cutting back and forth to Billy, who looks like he is shrinking in his seat, is more compelling than the Netflix version. From here, we get a closer look at the lawsuits and issues that arise after the attempted festival. 


The new information we get here is what Billy did in the hours and months after the festival, his conviction and, the depth of his delusions. They pose the question about his six year prison sentence, was it enough?

Finally some one says what I’ve been thinking: “Don’t just focus on Billy. There are lots of people who helped Billy create fraud so they could make money too.”

Was that enough to satisfy my point? Not really. I would have loved to see the creators ask people about their responsibility in a deep and critical way. A credit sequence reveals that the workers on the island were never paid, Grant was fined, JaRule distances himself from the backlash and they point out that F@1$Jerry made the Netflix documentary and they pose the question about marketers responsibility. I didn’t like that we waited till the end to do so, but I’ll take it.


The verdict: I think FYRE FRAUD attempts to tell a fuller story and at least booked you into that villa on the island. So it gets my vote as the better doc. 

I think that the FYRE Festival is a great zeitgeist of our time. A reflection of the power and influence that marketing can have to create big things while at the same time exploiting others for financial gain. We LOVED seeing rich white kids fail. The meme’s were hilarious. I think everyone likes a good train wreck story. I also wonder why.

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The perception of white collar fraud in our country is flawed to say the least. I think most people see these documentaries and don’t fully understand the depth of the crime. We poke fun and make a joke without understanding the real consequences beyond sunburn and delayed flights. We create the perfect martyr in our con artist Billy persona and watch him fail with delight. We gloss over the racial and social justice topics. It doesn’t bother anyone that they essentially exploited a poverty stricken island for the festival and then didn’t pay them? What happened to the islanders? Why do we tell Billy’s story and not theirs? Where is the responsibility of everyone involved? How do we prevent the Billy’s of the world from creating more situations like this? If it were me, I would have told the story from the perspective of the islanders first. That would have been compelling.

Honestly, wasn’t crazy about either of them. It’s a great story but both lack depth. Ironically, like the almost-festival that they document, they disappoint.

Good documentaries entertain us, Compelling documentaries ask great questions and challenge our perceptions.

Neither of these are compelling by those standards. They do entertain though. I am curious, what did you think?

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Female Filmmaker Friday | ELAINE MCMILLION SHELDON

My new female documentary director crush is Elaine McMillion Sheldon. She's an academy award nominated documentary director based in West Virginia. Her work largely focuses on the Heroin(e) epidemic affecting our country. Her first film to make it to Netflix got my attention long before it was nominated for an academy award. It's a stunning piece of work and is still on Netflix. I highly recommend you add it to your list. 

In the face of the opioid epidemic in a West Virginia town, three women are giving their community a fighting chance. Heroin(e), only on Netflix September 12.

As a documentary filmmaker myself, I know how hard it is to craft relationships and stories within a complex backdrop. The topics Elaine explores are presented with compassion for its subjects. Something I feel very strongly about in my own work. I think it is easy to present a shocking story about drug addicts. It's easy for an audience to gawk voyeuristically, say "how horrible," and move on. I think we larlgey have our news outlets and reality television to thank for that. Elaine's work does the opposite. She dives in deep with her subjects and presents them to her audiences with a tender curiosity. 

RECOVERY BOYS

I just finished her new film Recovery Boys and am equally inspired by the work. It's emotional, heartbreaking and compassionate. Her complicated subjects are treated with respect by her lens and it pays off in her ability to dive in with people and get them to reveal their true selves on camera.  

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I won't reveal much about the "boys," here. I'd rather you see the film. Social issue documentaries have the power to heal, create change, inspire and influence our society in ways that our media outlets can not. It's why I love it so much. I have spent a large part of my career helping non-profits fundraise through documentary films with my peeps over at fig media. I take great care to let my subjects be the voice as much as possible. That is not easy. Personal bias, the desires or my clients and the audiences who donate money to such causes make navigating the stories I tell difficult. So when I see work that I can relate to in this way, I get excited.  

Elaine brings the human element of her stories into spaces that we only hear about in negative contexts in our news. She takes your hand and guides you through these spaces with her camera. She strays from being an essayist and lets her message evolve through the people she follows. This gives her subjects the chance to be the voice versus her directing being out front.

A quick look at her website, made me giggle. She and I use the same website template, we both shoot photography. I didn't realize that one of my favorite Frontline episodes is hers and damn it - she's six years younger than me.  So, Elaine, I am officially a big fan. If you are ever in Chicago, let's have lunch. I promise not to gush too much.

I got some work to do to catch up. 

*Opens a new tab and 'Googles' Documentary grants.* 

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Currently Watching: Ellis

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Currently Watching: Ellis


This is the trailer for ELLIS, a short film starring Robert De Niro, written by Eric Roth, directed by JR. The short narrative film, ELLIS, awakens our collective memory. Leaving their past behind them, immigrants fleeing poverty, discrimination, dictatorship arrived there. Ellis Island was the gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants. Upon arrival, they were processed, approved or denied access. Due to sickness or simply tiredness, many were placed in the hospital. A purgatory of sorts, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, where thousands of men, women and children awaited their fate. ELLIS tells the forgotten story of these immigrants who built America while questioning about those who currently seek the same opportunities and safety in this country and other parts of the world. The short film stars Academy Award Winner Robert De Niro, was written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth and directed by the artist JR whose Unframed art installations in the abandoned Hospital complex serve as the set for this powerful and timely film.

The past few years I have discovered a deep desire to learn more about my own genealogy and cultural identity. Up until recently, when asked, I told people I was a blend of many European cultures. So blended, in fact, that I don't have any cultures I identify with. Being an artist this was a topic I often explored. Feeling invisible among my diverse peers. It has taken me years to be able to articulate the feeling of being removed from ancestral traditions. I know this plays into my desire to work with and capture stories of all peoples. 

It is not that I don't have a form of cultural identity but for whatever reason, it wasn't a currency in my family system. It has been lost. I have no religion that I feel deeply connected to, I study all of them. I have no traditions that stem from generations. I have a few stories of farming and growing up in the depression but beyond that, there is a void. 

Since as long as I can remember, I longed to see the world and learn about different cultures. I purposely seek out worldly people to fill my life with. I reasoned that if I didn't have a specific culture I identified with, that I would become a student of all of them.

Art allowed me to do that. 

I had been casually looking up french street art, you know, as one does, when I came across JR's work. His talk, "How art can change the world," won the TED prize in 2011. JR is a French street artist who had some beautiful ideas about how art could shape a community. After being in Paris and getting to see their street art first hand, I can tell you, they do it better than anything I have seen in the states. It's sassy and on point in a way Banksy could never touch. If you haven't seen the talk yet, please watch it below. It is amazing. I would LOVE to see something like this in Chicago. 

Ellis is not a new piece of work. It features JR's installation, Unframed. The installation was created in 2014, the short film came out the following year. It feels more relevant to me now given our current events. I remember reading Anne Frank in school and having my eyes opened to the horrors of oppression and immigration. I hope to never know such peril in my life. Truth is America was founded by immigrants who fought their way across the land and conquered it. Unless you are Native American, you are the product of immigration. In Ellis, JR attempts to bring you face to face with these ghosts. These stories of immigration. The people who fled discrimination, war and poverty to seek a better life. A staggering number of people living in the United States can trace their roots back here. Millions came through the island on their way to a better life.

It is estimated that 40% of people alive today can trace their roots back to a family member coming through Ellis Island. 

The film is beautifully written. I love me some De Niro, and think he gives the material justice. Personally, I would have loved to hear it in different languages. The photography of Unframed is haunting. It sits among the dilapidated buildings giving story to it's walls. Simply breathtaking.

When immigration became a political hot topic this year, my brain became interested in this project again. Our modern day immigrants don't look like this. They are no longer the European ancestors we see in our history books, they come from all over the world. When I began traveling I was embarrassed that I didn't speak another language. Everywhere I went, people were bilingual. They never made me feel bad for not knowing the native tongue but I had this deep desire to join them. Travel breaks down walls. The biggest wall it breaks down is fear. Fear of others, fear of other cultures, fear of those who are different than "us." 

I think it is more important now than ever that we see the faces of everyday people from all walks of life doing every day things. 

It is important to know our history. I think of our modern day Ellis Islands. The ones that sit on our borders and detain people. They have the same desire as those who came before. They are looking for a better life. They don't want anything they haven't earned. They just want a shot at creating something better for themselves. I can't imagine having to leave it all behind and start over in another country. One that is hostile towards me. What bravery and courage that takes. 

I am headed to New York for the first time this spring. Ellis Island was the first place on my list to visit. I want to stand there. On the steps of what was hope for so many and gaze at lady liberty. Some never made it beyond the hospital. Others were detained for years, living in limbo. Before the island was opened to the public, it was used for deportations. A crazy full circle. 

You can watch Ellis on Netflix or Amazon Prime. 

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Currently Watching: HUMAN

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Currently Watching: HUMAN

LOVING this series. I highly recommend this to give you some inspiration. Beautiful, emotional and rich with wisdom. (New goal: Standing ovation from United Nations.) 

Watch everything here: 

https://humanthemovie.withgoogle.com

ABOUT HUMAN
Turn on the Closed Captions (CC) to know the countries where the images were filmed and the first name of the interviewees. What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? 
Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness. 

Watch the 3 volumes of the film and experience #WhatMakesUsHUMAN. 

The VOL.1 deals with the themes of love, women, work and poverty.

HUMAN by Yann Arthus-Bertrand - An exceptional premiere at the United Nations General Assembly Hall - New York City On September 12, 2015, thanks to the the support of the French mission and to the UN Secretary-General M.

 

 

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Samsara: I wish I had seen in theaters.

Samsara: A film I wish I had seen in theaters. Now streaming on Netflix. 

At times the message feels a little heavy handed with its carefully crafted images and content. This is not the type of film I would recommend if you are looking to escape. It is similar to a Pink Floyd’s The Wall kind of “I dare you to watch this stoned out of your mind,” kind of way. There are several sequences that will make you tweak out of your mind even sober. There is no dialogue. This film makes you think. Which is why it is refreshing. 

Chances are if you can’t make it through the first fifteen minutes, you will hate the film. Just fast forward to my favorite part I mentioned below and turn it off. Come back to it only after your curiosity has peaked. 

I think it is overly touted as a Buddhist meditation. While the film references direct concepts in Buddism / Nirvana it is moreover a visual essay. A commentary on life through the eyes of our filmmakers. 

If you are versed in the symbolism of Tibetan imagery you will enjoy the thoughtful circle of life. Most notably the Mandala sand painting in the beginning. The clever use of eyes, hands and arm positions. My art history friends will be thrilled. Everyone else has no clue what I am talking about. 

What I love is the focus on your experience of the film and what happens when you put two images side by side without language. The juxtaposition is the dialogue. This is a beautiful, well paced film with interesting commentary on technology, farming and human interaction. 

Best part to watch: The sequences in a Japanese robot factory that are making life sized sex dolls.Bet I got your attention now! I was beyond curious watching the cutting between the dolls and other mechanized processes. A not so subtle focus thought the film is eye contact. Eye contact with both humans and human made objects. Desire for connection. Widows to the soul. Each desire creates an action then a consequence. Desire, create, repeat. Not all desires are received well in this film. The mechanized meat process plants, sex industry, plastic surgery, bullet factories are all products of said circle.

It seems to come to a climax when you reach this part of the film, pun directly intended. The dolls sat with me the most. In our quest for fulfillment of desires to create the perfect body, we create an artificial one to fulfill the desires of men. The feminist in me was outraged, the filmmaker in me was curious and the woman in me was upset. The dolls are amazing. They are also disgusting. They do actually exist. 

In any respect this is a must see film. I have watched it twice already and see something new each time. It got my wheels turning. 

Watch and tell me what you think! 

SAMSARA

(in Tibetan called ‘khor ba (pronounced kɔrwɔ [IPA] in many Tibetan dialects), meaning “continuous flow”), is the repeating cycle of birthlife and death(reincarnation) within HinduismBuddhismBönJainismTaoism,[1] and Yârsân. In Sikhism this concept is slightly different and looks at one’s actions in the present and consequences in the present.

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    Notes on the most haunting film I have ever seen. Oscar Nominated Documentary: The Act of Killing.

    I have so much to say about this film, I don’t even know where to begin. I have seen many unsettling documentaries, but this one transcends the genre in a way I can not articulate yet. So excuse my attempt here, I am merely trying to collect my thoughts. 

    If you have seen Twelve Years a Slave then you know the feeling I am about to describe. The funeral like procession you had when you walked out of the theater. No words, head hung low struggling for the right words to utter after the work you just experienced. I sat in silence through the credits. It is my pick for the Oscars. One of the strongest directed films. My love for the work was overshadowed by my experience of it. Twelve Years a Slave is painful. It hurts to watch. It is an important experience. It is importance to see the dark side of our human nature. 

    Enter The Act of Killing. Imagine asking a war criminal, known for aiding in the genocide of millions to make a film that reenacted his crimes and then documented the process. For humor sake since i have no smarter comparison, if Hitler made an art film. 

    Joshua Oppenhimer originally sent out to make a documentary about the victims of the communist purging in Indonesia in 1965. In seeking out survivor stories, he failed in getting clearance and the support he needed. He then directed his cameras to the perpetrators. Finding it easier to document the “heroes” of the country, the youth gang that aided the government in the extermination. 

    I know very little about this period in history. In fact it was complete news to me. I had to look it up. Tucked away under a victory over communism at the height of the cold war, is one of the largest mass murders of our history. I will just let that little nugget sit with you for a moment. It happened in Indonesia, executed by the government through gangs in 1965. Before human rights violations was international law. I sometimes forget that the human rights movements became the laws as we know them today within my lifetime. A fact that the perpetrators in the film repeat. Perspective. 

    The dynamics of this documentary are compelling and utterly terrifying. This is by no small device from the filmmakers. The idea is brilliant. The images that come out of the “film” within the film create so much internal conflict with the audience that I am surprised this isn’t being talked about more widely.

    Unlike the “shock doc craze,” The Cove or Blackfish, documentaries made to shock people into action by sharing graphic images, The Act of Killing opens the door for a unique peek into the minds of men who committed murder without ever showing you the evidence. 

    They offer up their stories like national heroes. Justifying their actions in eerily similar ways to recent events. Glorifying their actions. They are not much different then us. Think about it. Zero Dark Thirty, Any WW II movie made about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, The War on Terror. Before you go pointing fingers and think, “What Monsters!” Remember that our history is littered with these acts. The sooner we start looking at them thoughtfully from a new perspective with compassion for all parties the better. 

    That is what this film offers us. A chance to see what happens from the other side. This is often the theme of any project Werner Herztog touches. Into the Abyss, argues for the humanity of our criminals while positioning the pain of the victims together. Creating an unsettling experience. One that leaves the audience with more questions then answers. It is a complex argument for human rights.

    What is justice? 

    There are two moments in The Act of Killing that will haunt my dreams. The first is the “scene” where the group is reenacting a torture sequence. The perpetrators are dressed in silly costumes and make-up. They are cartoons of themselves discussing the scene at hand. They are concerned about making sure they tell the truth even if it means finally admitting that the people they executed were less brutal then they are. In an act of bravery the actor playing the “communist” offers up the story of his stepfather as an idea for a scene to add realism. He then begins to tell this heart wrenching story of how his stepfather was murdered and how he was witness to it at ten years old. The group brushes off the story, it was too uncomfortable for them to handle. The “actor” side steps the interaction to avoid conflict and they all move on to filming the scene. During which, the actor is then “tortured.” I clutched my heart through the whole thing. For the actor, this was not just a play. This was real. The group likens their behavior to Guantanamo Bay, saying that during the war on terror it was justified for Americans to torture their captives. Now that the fear of 9/11 has subsided, this behavior is frowned upon. “How is that any different then us?” he says.

    The second is the final scene in which our main protagonist pulls back his facade and takes us to the site where he committed murders. He finally shows vulnerability. He goes into shock on camera. The full weight of his actions hitting him. He then walks out and the film fades to black.  

    This film is a bold statement. The device of the film within a film works in ways I don’t think our director even dreamed up. In any respect it will leave you clutching you heart with more questions then answers. That same upset, funeral like procession from the theater as 12YAS is how I felt after watching this one. Right now this is my front runner for best documentary. It is on Netflix. Be brave and watch it. 

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    6 Upsetting Documentaries you have to see and Why

    I read the news every morning over coffee. By the time I finish my cup, I can not read any more.

    The world is too upsetting. 

    Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s our media pumping out the worst of the world for ratings or if things really are that bad. This does not stop me from reading. 

    In fact, I do it because it upsets me. I think if more people paid attention this way, our world might be a better place. Not because I am going to run out and become an activist for every cause that upsets me, because that is imposible. It is because I am open to experiencing the upset of the world that it changes me.

    I know there is no way I can solve every problem, but that does not mean I should ignore them. When the times comes, I find that my education on topics such as this help me make compassionate decisions. 

    When discussing the recent events that lead to our nation’s topic on gun control, a friend of mine was telling me how “shocked” she was at how horrible mass violence has become. I laughed and said, to her dismay, that I was not shocked at all. 

    When she inquired why I told her this: 

    "We all have the capability to do horrific acts of violence and unspeakable evil to one another. To deny that part of yourself is to deny our nature. Under the right circumstances, you too could make a choice you currently see as horrific. Whether premeditated or impulsive it does not matter. The evil in our world does not simply go away because you choose to ignore it. It exists, pulsing through your viens. I am not shocked to hear the awful things that happen because I know that I myself am wholly capable of doing the same. It is that awareness of this truth that allows me to make that choice. We have yet to evolve to a place where we can see that some people are not aware of the difference. We treat the body, not the mind. Until we strive to understand ourselves more deeply - these acts will continue." 

    So buck up, open your heart and watch one of these. Don’t be shocked the next time something happens. This is also why I love documentary. It has the power to change, educate and open your heart and mind. Netflix is full of amazing documentary work. Brave filmmakers who dare to enter these spaces so that you can learn about them. 

    They are phenomenally courageous films, and I highly recommend you watch them. 

    1. Mugabe and the White African. 

    A farmer and his family fight a corrupt government to save their South African farm in Zimbabwe. This film is beautifully shot and heartbreaking. This documentary got short listed for an Oscar and beat out by Burma VJ (Also on Netflix). Between the two, I think this one is stronger. When the last slide comes up before the credits, I broke into tears. More people need to know this story. It will challenge how you view race, government and the traditional hero.  

    2. The Cove

    I am sure you have heard of this one. You may have even been cautioned to watch it. It documents what happens in a cove in Japan. Illegal fishing of dolphins. You need to see this. Then understand that we do this to animals on our home turf. This is not ok and has to stop. 

    3. Dark Days

    Beautiful black and white fllm about a homeless community that set up camp in the NY subway system. This movie will change the way you see your city and how you treat the man asking you for help in the subway. 

    4. Cry of the Snow Lion

    Forget that our history is littered with instances of people wiping out people. We still live in that world. This documentary follows the people of Tibet in exile. Here is a leadership corageous enough to call for peaceful means a world where others might take up arms. *cough* like us? 

    5. Radio Bikini

    This 1988 documentary literally blew my mind. Releasing declassified military footage of the 1946 atomic bomb tests on Bikini Atoll. You get to see the tests cut to interviews of those that were there. I sat with my mouth open the whole time, wanting to believe that what I saw was fake. I just… you have to see it. 

    6. The Interrupters. 

    I saved this one for last. Because it is happening on home turf. Want a bold inside look at what Chicago’s real problems are with youth violence? Then you have to see this. Forget Obama’s speech and gun law regulations. This will help you understand why none of that will work. I have never seen a filmmaker get closer and more raw honesty then this in Chicago. It is DVD only, but so worth it. 

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