World’s Biggest Ivory Market Shutting Down—What It Means Chinese government shuts down a third of ivory factories and shops today, ahead of ban on all trade in ivory by the end of 2017. Big win for investigative film, “The Ivory Game,” which opened Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival last year and will play at Beijing Film Festival this year. Read more →
Action star Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) delves into the shadowy world of investigative journalism as Gary Webb, the real-life journalist who remains one of the most controversial of our times. In the vein of “All the President’s Men,” this thriller follows Webb’s allegations that the CIA supported Nicaraguan contra efforts through the importation of crack cocaine into American cities. Threatened against releasing his evidence, in 1996 Webb nevertheless wrote a three-part series in the San Jose Mercury News — paying for it with his reputation and ultimately his life. Read more →
September 18: “Gideon’s Army” at Georgetown University “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to have the assistance of counsel for his defense” — Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. But with 15,000 public defenders for 12 million arrests per year, this unalienable right becomes a civil rights battle for those unable to afford a lawyer. “Gideon’s Army” follows three of its soldiers as they navigate the emotional and personal strain of handling hundreds of cases at once, simultaneously introducing viewers to defendants and their struggle — frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring — for equality in the courtroom. Read more →
September 16: “Merchants of Doubt” 6:30pm at MLK Library. Adversaries for hire. Robert Kenner’s 2014 documentary enters the world of scientific gunslingers, experts paid by corporations to publicly contest research findings that may hurt their bottom line. This world, Merchants of Doubt posits, is one in which global warming, DDT, acid rain, tobacco, ozone, and asbestos remain controversial at the benefit of big business and the mouthpieces they hire — and the expense of scientific communities overwhelmingly adamant about the need for regulatory action. Read more →
The Investigative Film Festival is proud to present a free community screening of “Poverty, Inc.” on September 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets. The 2014 documentary questions the system of entrenched humanitarian aid in developing countries — what impact do free goods have on local economies? Why is NGO presence perpetual? Is altruism profitable? Director Michael Matheson Miller interviews 200 community leaders from 20 nations in a quest to find out. The first Investigative Film Festival in the United States aims to facilitate discourse about the marriage of media and journalism and its impact on the issues of today. Free community screenings will be provided throughout September and the Festival will take place September 30-October 2 at the National Portrait Gallery. Read more →
By Lewam Dejen Angola, USA A few weeks ago, President Obama pardoned 46 low-level drug offenders. The next day, he visited the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual conference in Philadelphia to proclaim his commitment to prison reform in the last stretch of his presidency. Although this issue may feel recent to many Americans, it has afflicted our country for decades. Seventeen years ago, the documentary film The Farm: Angola, USA brought unprecedented insight into mass incarceration and its disproportionate effects on black Americans. “I’ve been raised here,” Eugene Tannehill Jr. says matter-of-factly. By “here,” he’s referring to the former plantation he lives on, where his food is monitored, hard labor profited from, life threatened frequently, and individuality stripped. This place, which he is forced to call home, is the largest prison in the United States, known colloquially as “Angola.” (Its informal name derives from the Angolan slaves that previously worked the land.) “It was October 4th, 1959… I must have been 24 years old then,” Mr. Tannehill says of the day of his sentencing. At the time of this interview, he had lived in Angola for 38 years. Tannehill is a black man– one of many,... Read more →
By Drew Williams Technology and tradition collide, and a forward-thinking documentary industry may have to reconsider its Oscar addiction following a recently announced New York Times decision. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences currently requires a review from either the New York Times or Los Angeles Times to qualify a documentary feature film for award consideration. But the New York Times shifted its policy of reviewing every theatrically released film in New York City, Variety reported May 20. It is a move that could particularly target independent documentary films — which stand at an existential crossroads regarding style, distribution, and awards recognition. The Academy will have its annual meeting this month to discuss any potential rule change, while the Los Angeles Times will have to decide whether to copy its New York counterpart. “I can’t imagine [it] not following suit,” said Nina Gilden Seavey, director of the Documentary Center at George Washington University. The new film review policy went into effect in February, but did not become public until Variety obtained a courtesy email sent to publicists whose films will not receive a review, said A.O. Scott, the Times’ chief film critic, in an interview with IndieWire. “The... Read more →
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