AFI Documentary Festival

AFI DOCS runs June 14–18, 2017, in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD http://www.afi.com/afidocs/features.aspx

I have not studied the program in depth, and none of the films that I screened made the festival, but, if you are interested in documentary film, I recommend you buy advance tickets to at least one film. If you do not buy tickets in advance, you will likely be relegated to the stand-by line, which is not as futile as it sounds. Most films screen once in DC and once in Silver Spring.

Here are a few films that did jump out at me:

AFIDOCS___Features_2

http://www.afi.com/afidocs/features.aspx#dolores

AFIDOCS___Features_3

http://www.afi.com/afidocs/features.aspx#la-libertad-del-diablo

I note that two films below appear to be showing only once (instead of twice) and also seem to be programed for the smallest theater in Silver Spring (theater 3). Seems like one of the high level programmers thought these were very important films, but not anticipated to appeal to a larger audience.

AFIDOCS___Features_1

http://www.afi.com/afidocs/features.aspx#el-mar-la-mar

AFIDOCS___Features

http://www.afi.com/afidocs/features.aspx#insignificant-man-an

If you are a serious documentary film buff or an inspiring filmmaker, you may want to check out the AFI Docs Forum. In the past, it has only been for filmmakers and Industry people. You may want to look at the schedule of events. It does not include films (or food) only lectures. It seems like a good deal, although last year all of the forum sessions were streamed live.

http://www.afi.com/afidocs/forum.aspx

Peace Corps History and the Peace Corps Archive

Were you a Peace Corps Volunteer?  If so, please consider donating letters, diaries, and/or other items to the Peace Corps Archive at American University.

I made the video above about the Peace Corps Archive at a recent history event organized by Jesse Bailey who is the Historian of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington (RPCV/W).  He moderated a panel discussion about the history of RPCV/W.  The participants were all former board members of RPCV/W.  There were even many audience members who were very steeped in the history of the Peace Corps.  The event lasted more than 2 hours.  Here is a teaser:

Part one of the panel discussion can be found here:

A Fast Food Company That Cares for the Environment

Here is an example of a fast food company that sources sustainably raised agricultural products, including Niman Ranch pork.  It has hired small media company to produce a video and an iphone application to tell the story of how industrialized agriculture is destroying the planet.  Watch the video they created (soundtrack by Fiona Apple):

and then what the behind the scenes video:

“Granito: How to Nail A Dictator” to air on some public television stations

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I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in the late 1980s.  Since that time, I have tried to stay informed about what is going on there.  It is an amazingly beautiful country with a brutally violent history.  It was with great sadness that I recently learned that the United States will no longer send volunteers to Guatemala and many other Central American countries because of an escalation of drug war violence.

(As an aside, I recommend that you watch http://www.thehouseilivein.org/ for why the drug war is a failure.)

The purpose of this post is to highlight the national distribution of “Granito: How to Nail A Dictator,” which I have heard is an amazing film and will be nationally broadcast on public television stations starting on Thursday, June 28.

However, as I explained in the post below, many public television stations have decided not to air it at all (this seems to be true for WHUT and MPT), and some, like WETA, have decided to air this film only in the middle of the night. 

How is it that Antiques Roadshow can air repeatedly occupying many prime viewing slots and an amazing documentary film is relegated to the middle of the nightSee post below to help correct this problem.

If you love great films, Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Do you love great documentary films?  Would you like to see them on your local public television station?  A recent Center for Social Media report showed strong public support for public-purpose programming and popular anger that many public television stations decide to repeatedly air programs like Antiques Roadshow during prime viewing hours, while relegating meaningful documentary films few slots, frequently in the middle of the night.  In addition, many public television station choose not to air many meaningful documentaries at all.

Please help make sure that your local public television affiliate knows what you value. POV and Independent Lens both fund and distribute some of the best new docs on public television stations throughout the United States.  They publicize these films and release schedules for when they are going to air.  However, if you have ever tried to watch a documentary on your local public television station, you have likely found that the show that you want to watch is not airing on the date or time that was advertised.    Local affiliates have discretion over which shows to air and when to schedule them.   Here in the Washington DC area, we are lucky to have three public television stations, WHUT, WETA, MPT.   Unfortunately, WHUT, WETA and MPT frequently air ITVS’ Independent Lens, and POV and other great documentaries not on the dates and times advertised for national distribution, but mostly if they choose to air them at all, they air them days or weeks later, in the wee hours of the night.

Nationally, Public Broadcasting Service (“PBS”) has decided to promote documentaries into a more desirable time frame.  This fall, PBS will program POV documentaries to air on Monday early evening time slot.  The purpose of this blog post is to encourage documentary lovers and all lovers of great films to encourage your local PBS affiliate to follow PBS’ lead and air Independent Lens and POV documentaries on Monday evenings, at the times and days that they air nationally.  To the uninitiated, this seems like a relatively minor issue.  However, for documentary filmmakers, the issue is quite important for building audiences and promoting their films.  Obviously, it is not desirable to have your film air at one in the morning, but having it air on a different date in every major city is also a tremendous impediment to viewers like you and me.   Please contact your local public television affiliate and encourage it air these great films during the same days and times are they are intend to be seen nationally.

Click here to send an email WETA: http://www.weta.org/contact

WETA, 3939 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206

Phone: 703-998-2600

Or contact Maryland Public Television here: directconnection@mpt.org

Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Boulevard
Owings Mills, MD 21117-1499

Phone: 410-356-5600
Fax: 410-581-4298

Or contact WHUT here: http://www.whut.org/whut/?page_id=28

WHUT
Howard University Television
2222 Fourth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20059
202-806-3200

For more context, see:

http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/blog/future-public-media/pbs-decides-showcase-indie-work

http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/blog/future-public-media/pbs-finds-spot-independent-lens-and-pov%E2%80%94-where

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/pbs-will-move-series-of-films-to-monday-night/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/schedule-changes-hurt-pbs-film-series.html?_r=1

http://kartemquin.com/newsletter/4531/pbs-needs-indies-a-success-%E2%80%94-pbs-moves-pov-independent-lens-to-monday-night

http://www.current.org/indies/indies1209treaty.html

New Peace Corps Promotional video (13 minute)

I’m looking forward to the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Peace Corps next weekend. There is going to be a story slam, a gathering of Peace Corps authors, a Third Goal Bash, Embassy receptions, and a march to President Kennedy’s Tomb. Below is the latest recruitment video from the Peace Corps. While it is good, it seems to have omitted the traditional refrain, “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love,” which is too bad because it was quite apropos. Also, the video seems to gloss over some of the real challenges of living in the third world. Anyway, its worth watching if you are considering the Peace Corps. Another, more time-intensive way to learn about the Peace Corps is to read some of the books written by Peace Corps volunteers. This is one of my favorites, but there are dozens that I have really liked and none that I have not liked: Under the Neem Tree, by Susan Lowerre (Senegal 1985–87). Without a doubt, the Peace Corps is not for everyone, but if it is right for you, it will be a remarkable, life-changing experience that you will cherish. It will alter your life path in a significant way.

Great Documentary on a local DC hero

“Redemption Stone-The Life and Times of Tom Lewis” will have its U.S. Television premiere Monday May 24th on the Documentary Channel at 8:00 p.m. ET.

http://www.documentarychannel.com/

Redemption Stone introduces Tom Lewis, a storyteller of quiet power, who recounts the social upheaval and rebirth that shape his unique American journey. A spiritual vision inspires Tom to open an after-school safe haven called The Fishing School and to turn hardship into hope for the children in his community.
http://www.redemptionstone.net

Best Film of the year: The Cove

I saw the film today and also heard the producer speak. Here is an excerpt of the talk he gave at SilverDocs: http://boo.fm/b31943

It is a moving film called “The Cove,” about efforts to save dolphins.  Please take action by visiting http://www.takepart.com/thecove/

Below is a review I just read:

From: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/04/the-cove-trying-to-save-23000-dolphins-from-slaughter.php

The Cove – Trying to Save 23,000 Dolphins from Slaughter

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California on 04. 9.09

the the cove diver underwater with dolphins photo
Photo via TheCoveMovie.com

Each year, starting in mid-September, 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered in near secrecy in a cove in Taiji, Japan. Richard O’Barry, the leading dolphin trainer in the 1960s and trainer of the dolphins used in the TV series Flipper, has been trying to stop this slaughter for years. We covered the stories of activist Hayden Panettiere trying to expose the slaughter. And last year, we covered the story of a brave set of film makers lead by director Louie Psihoyos who have teamed up with O’Barry and other activists in an effort to show people the intolerable killings. They’ve now created a film called The Cove showing their efforts to get through the intense security and record what happens there.

the cove slaughter of dolphins photo

The Cove is a powerful documentation of more than just this mass killing of dolphins, whose meat is later labeled as some other type of larger whale and sent for sale in markets, despite the incredibly high levels of mercury it contains due to pollution. The film is also a story of the power of commerce, the government corruption, and the culture of loving something to death that all culminate at this tiny cove where anyone trying to see what happens is intimidated until they leave.

the cove film team photo

Psihoyos and his team undertook an operation to set up secret cameras and document what happens in the cove – the round-up, the selection of a few dolphins for sale to aquatic entertainment centers, and then the slaughter of every animal left in the ring of nets.

The International Whaling Commission does nothing to stop Japan’s extreme whaling habits. The citizens of Japan do nothing simply because it is kept under such tight wrap, people don’t even know that dolphin meat is being consumed. It has taken the activists involved in this film to get it as exposed as it has become so far.

The film is intense, it’s message clear and urgent, and its passion contagious. Right now, it is being screened in various locations, but needs funding to be completed and shown on a larger scale. And time is running out – the slaughter is set to start again this September.

If you want to see the film, try to catch one of these screenings. You can also watch snippits at TheCoveMovie.com. And, of course, if you want to take action immediately, there are ways to do that too through petitions and changes in your own daily life.