Not a feather, but a dot [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Author:  Teju Prasad
Title:  Not a feather, but a dot [videorecording DVD]
Like many immigrant groups, Indian-Americans have had to deal with prejudice, stereotypes, and just plain ignorance. Teju Prasad is a young, imaginative filmmaker with family and cultural roots in India.  His documentary film explains the origins of some of the stereotypes and common misconceptions of Indians, and then he pokes fun at some of the sillier ones using skits, animations, and unexpected interruptions. While the story of ignorance between different immigrant groups is the same for many, Prasad presents the Indian-American view in a way both informative and friendly. This will appeal to teens and young adults because of its light-hearted tone. This is a great discussion starter on the subjects of prejudice and cultural differences.


W.A.R. : Women art revolution [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Title: W.A.R. : Women art revolution [videorecording DVD]
In the 1960’s and 1970’s the feminist movement and the art world collided and merged, spinning off new ideas and techniques. We meet some of the pioneers – Judy Chicago, Marina Abramovic, Hannah Wilke, Cindy Sherman, Marcia Tucker, B. Ruby Rich, The Guerrilla Girls, and more – and hear their stories of discrimination, frustration, and ridicule in the white man’s elitist art world. The strange new experience of performance art, unashamed sexuality, romanticism, sadness, humor, and rage were their weapons of expression as they fought to be included in museum and gallery showings. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson uses archival footage along with contemporary interviews and a fantastic amount of the art itself to make this an inspirational documentary.

Mother: caring for 7 billion [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Title:  Mother [videorecording DVD] : caring for 7 billion
Our mother, Mother Earth, is at a critical point.  On October 31, 2011 the world population will reach 7 billion.  Over-population, fueled by advances in science, food production and health care, and encouraged by religious beliefs and an unquenchable desire for economic growth, is overwhelming our natural resources.  The dire facts are presented in the first part of the film in a fast-paced montage that features expert interviews and historical film footage, bringing us quickly up-to-date on the issue and the need for action.   The film then changes tempo and we find ourselves along a personal journey with child-rights activist Beth, who travels to Ethiopia searching for a way to make a difference.  She discovers that empowering women; the daughters, wives, and of course mothers with education, choices about birth control, and a voice in the way the world works, may be the answer to slowing our frantic race to a troublesome future.  The film focuses on over-population, but also addresses the very complex problems that have led us to our crowded world.

I wish

From  Ellen  Druda
Author:  Kore-Eda   Hirokazu
Title:   I wish [videorecording DVD]
Think back to those great family movies starring plucky kids, like Escape to Witch Mountain, or Flipper, or even The Parent Trap, and you’ll get the same feeling watching I Wish. Set in Japan, this is the story of two brothers separated by divorce, who plan to reunite with the help of their pals.  The new bullet train service is coming, and brothers Koichi and Ryunosuk believe your wish will come true if you shout it when the first trains pass each other at top speed.  The kids spend time planning exactly where this will occur and how they will get there.  They also share their wishes.  The performances by Kouki Maeda and Oushiro Maeda, brothers in real life, bring tons of charm to this movie, which was originally conceived as a promotional film for Japan Railways. VERDICT: A heart-warming Japanese language film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Rachel is [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Author: Charlotte Glynn
Title: Rachel is [videorecording DVD]
Rachel is a young adult still living at home. Rachel is finishing her last year at school and trying to figure out what to do next. And like most people her age, Rachel is a frustrated, frightened, excited, half child half grown-up. What makes Rachel different is her developmental disability. This portrait of a young lady at a critical point in her life is expressed by her film maker sister, who takes us into the daily life of Rachel as she alternately rages at and depends upon her mother, Jane. While Rachel deals with school, work, friends, and boys in her world, Jane tries to figure out how to get Rachel her dream of living independently after graduation with varying degrees of success. What gives this film its heart is how very typical Rachel is, and yet how very different her disability makes her. Poignant, funny, and complex, the documentary is enlightening and sympathetic.

Nina Conti: Her Master’s Voice

From Ellen Druda
Author: Nina Conti
Title: Nina Conti: Her Master’s Voice
This is a strange little film about an equally strange profession, ventriloquism. Nina Conti was a protégé and lover of British theater genius/eccentric Ken Campbell, who encouraged her interest and talent. We tag along on her trip to Kentucky and a ventriloquists convention, also the location of Vent Haven, the resting place for puppets of dead ventriloquists. Nina has a lot of soul searching conversations with her puppet Monkey, with who she shares her hotel bed, about the death of Campbell and the retirement of his favorite puppet and alter ego to Vent Haven. She also interviews some of her fellow performers at the convention about the art and technique of ventriloquism. Conti is a YouTube star and the reason is obvious after watching her amazing performances in this film. Beyond the predictable voice throwing gymnastics, she questions identity and ego and the blurry boundaries between them. VERDICT: This film confirms my long held belief regarding ventriloquists’ dummies — they are real!

Somewhere Between (DVD)

From Ellen Druda
Somewhere Between (DVD)
Filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton has created an incredibly touching documentary about adoption.  The film stars four teenage girls adopted from China who have either never known their birth families or only have very scattered memories of life before America.   Haley, Jenna, Ann, and Fang seem like typical teens, but as we get to know them we see their inner struggles with identity are both personal and universal.  Because of China’s “One Child Policy” these girls were given away to orphanages or simply left on the street, and although they have good lives now, they still carry hurt and confusion and a strong sense of something missing.  Haley and Fang get to travel back to China and find a way to connect.  Ann begins to question her complacency, and Jenna tries to come to grips with her feelings of abandonment.  All the girls are articulate and intelligent, and as they open their hearts, it’s impossible not to feel moved as they question deeply who they are. This is a fantastic film about gender and race in America vs. China and how adoptees feel “somewhere between” their birth families and their new lives.