Friday, September 5, 2014

Who is Dayani Cristal? (2013)

Director: Marc Silver
Run Time: 85 min.
Call Number: JV6483 .W46 2013

"The Sonora Desert in Arizona is freezing at night, brutally hot in the day. The documentary Who is Dayani Cristal? reveals that the infrastructure dealing with illegal immigration into the United States from points south is likewise hot, cold, and unnecessarily deadly. . . . We meet Americans dedicated to identifying, even humanizing, the bodies found there. But the system is by design a trap. Director Marc Silver covers one immigrant's journey, starting with his death."
—Daphne Howland, Village Voice

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story (2013)

Director: Al Reinert
Run Time: 92 min.
Call Number: HV6533.T4 U573 2013

"The prospect of unjust imprisonment is a plight both easily imagined and terrifying, and we all wonder how we might fare in such a grim circumstance. No case in modern America illuminates this condition more completely than the story of Michael Morton. In 1986 his young wife Christine was brutally murdered in front of their only child, and he was accused and convicted of the crime, spending a quarter of a century in Texas prisons. Michael’s son Eric, only three at the time of his mother’s death, was raised by family members and eventually cut off all contact with the father he believed had killed his mother.

An Unreal Dream is Michael’s story: the love he shared with Christine, his despair at her murder followed quickly by his shock at his own arrest, his conviction at the hands of a small-town jury influenced by a legendary sheriff and ambitious DA, the long prison years relieved only by new friendships and a profound spiritual experience, the difficult fight for his freedom."

—Film website

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God Loves Uganda (2014)

Director: Roger Ross Williams
Run Time: 83 min.
Call Number: HQ76.3.U33 G633 2014

"A searing look at the role of American evangelical missionaries in the persecution of gay Africans, Roger Ross Williams’s God Loves Uganda approaches this intersection of faith and politics with some fairness and a good deal of outrage. . . . Delving into a political framework that ties United States financing of H.I.V. relief efforts to a radical Christian moral agenda, Mr. Williams uses interviews and hidden-camera footage to expose the egotism, avarice and ignorance that undermine more laudable intentions. There is much here to sicken, including a frothing Ugandan pastor presenting an S-and-M video to his flock as a benchmark of gay behavior, and the powder-keg funeral of David Kato, a gay rights advocate who was fatally beaten with a hammer during filming."
—Jeannette Catsloulis,  New York Times

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Trials Of Muhammad Ali (2013)

Director: Bill Siegel
Run Time: 94 min.
Call Number: GV1132.A45 T75 2013

Ali's life has been recounted so many times that you'd think no one could come up with a fresh angle on it; documentary maker Bill Siegel (The Weather Underground) succeeds, primarily by delving into the religious story, largely downplayed by the mainstream, that's been sitting there in plain sight for 50 years. Siegel mostly dispenses with the fighter's comic pronouncements, his verbal jousting with Howard Cosell, in fact his entire athletic career, choosing instead to explore his great political awakening in the Nation of Islam. "I know the real God!" shouts 22-year-old Cassius Clay after beating Sonny Liston in 1963, and the statement defines him for the rest of the decade as he becomes a vocal advocate of black nationalism and sacrifices his heavyweight title to protest the racism of the Vietnam war."
—J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let the Fire Burn (2013)

Director: Jason Osder
Run Time: 95 min.
Call Number: F158.9.N4 L48 2013

"Documentaries don’t come more sparse or more disturbing than 'Let the Fire Burn,' Jason Osder’s examination of the disastrous confrontation between the police and the radical group MOVE in Philadelphia in May 1985. . . . [The film] uses archival footage from sources that include newscasts and community hearings to tell the story of the growing tension between the group and the city, which came to a head on May 13 of that year with tear gas, gunfire and the bombing of the MOVE compound from a police helicopter. The resulting fire destroyed some 60 homes. By the time it was over, 11 people were dead."
—Neil Genzlinger, New York Times