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March 7-April 30, 2004  

Further Pursuits: Recent Activist Cinema

This program is co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Special thanks to the Film Study Center.


Director Sam Green and Weather Underground member Bernadine Dohrn in Person
March 7 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Weather Underground

Directed by Sam Green and Bill Siegel
US, 2003, color, 92 min.

Thirty years ago a group of young American radicals, The Weather Underground, announced their intention to overthrow the United States government. Fueled by outrage over racism and the Vietnam War, the group waged a low-level war against the government throughout much of the 1970s—bombing targets across the country they considered emblematic of the violence for which the U.S. was responsible around the world. Ultimately, the group’s clandestine network managed to evade one of the largest manhunts in FBI history. In this new Oscar-nominated documentary, former Underground members speak publicly about the idealistic passion that drove them to “bring the war home” and the trajectory that placed them on the FBI’s most wanted list.

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Directors Randy Bell and Pacho Velez in Person
March 14 (Sunday) 7 pm

Orphans of Mathare

Directed by Randy Bell and Pacho Velez
US, 2002, color, 60 min.

Orphans of Mathare documents the lives of former street children—many orphaned by HIV/AIDS—now living at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home, an orphanage and school in the Mathare Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. By following the lives of several orphans, the film lays bare the complicated relationship between poverty, violence, disease, Christianity, tradition, and the orphan crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. Orphans of Mathare brings new urgency to the issue of the AIDS pandemic in its revelation that global AIDS is not simply a medical crisis but a socio-cultural one that threatens to create a generation of children without parents. The film encourages Western audiences to ask questions of themselves regarding their role in dealing with this global problem.

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Director Leonard Morris in Person

Stolen Childhoods

Directed by Leonard Morris
Brazil/Kenya/India/Indonesia/Mexico/US, 2003, color, 86 min.

Stolen Childhoods is a powerful exposé told primarily in the words of laboring children who live on three different continents but share a common fate. Children are shown working in dumps, quarries, and brick kilns; making charcoal; laboring on fishing platforms; picking tobacco, coffee, or vegetables; working in sweatshops, as domestics, and making rugs; and selling their bodies on the street. The film places these children’s stories in the broader context of the worldwide struggle against child labor. Stolen Childhoods provides an understanding of the causes of child labor as it investigates what it costs the global community, how it contributes to global insecurity, and what it will take to eliminate it.

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March 17 (Wednesday) 8:15 pm
Writer-Producer Don Mullan in Person
Free Screening

Bloody Sunday

Directed by Paul Greengrass
UK/Ireland, 2002, color, 107 min.
With James Nesbitt, Allan Gildea, Gerard Crossan

Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and recipient of the Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award, writer-director Paul Greengrass’s impassioned drama is a striking recreation of the events of Sunday, January 30, 1972, when British troops clashed with unarmed protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland. Released on the thirtieth anniversary of the tragedy, the film has received worldwide acclaim for its fearless style, which mixes largely handheld camerawork and improvised dialogue in a manner reminiscent of Pontecorvo’s canonical The Battle of Algiers.

This program is co-sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

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Director-Producer Peter Raymont, Co-producer Harold Crooks, and Yunit Armengol in Person
March 21 (Sunday) 7 pm

The World is Watching

Directed by Peter Raymont
Canada, 1988, color, 59 min.

In the context of Nicaragua’s Arias Peace Plan negotiations, The World Is Watching examines behind-the-scenes elements of news reporting that shaped our understanding of that event. Following ABC’s John Quinones in Managua while simultaneously recording editorial meetings with Peter Jennings and senior editors at the New York newsroom, Raymont investigates who decided the newsworthiness of events, whether the coverage was wholly factual, and whether correspondents reported all they witnessed or encountered editorial constraints they were forbidden to challenge. The juxtaposition of the news gathering and news editing processes reveals how the business works, exposing the distortions that are an inevitable—and sometimes intentional—part of the process.

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The World Stopped Watching

Directed by Peter Raymont
Canada, 2003, color, 82 min.

A follow-up to Raymont’s multiple-award-winning film The World is Watching, which documented the media circus in Managua, Nicaragua, in 1988, The World Stopped Watching follows journalists who return to the country fifteen years after the conflict and explore what happens after the media spotlight has disappeared. The journalists, who include Bill Gentile of Newsweek, Randolph Ryan of The Boston Globe, and Jon Snow and Edith Coron of The Sunday Times of London, discover a country struggling with desperate poverty and political corruption, unreported by the international press.

This program is co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

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April 3 (Saturday) 7 pm

The Agronomist

Directed by Jonathan Demme
US, 2003, color, 90 min.

A strong advocate of human rights, director Jonathan Demme has produced and directed a number of documentaries about Haiti. The Agronomist, his most recent work, tells the story of Haitian national hero Jean Dominique and represents a labor of love for the director, who first met and filmed the late journalist and freedom fighter in 1987. As owner and operator of his nation’s only free radio station, Radio Haiti Inter, Dominique was frequently at odds with his country’s various repressive governments and spent much of the 1990s in exile in New York, where Demme continued to film him over the years. Following the successful reinstatement of Haiti’s democratically elected government, Demme also filmed Dominique’s triumphant return to Port Au Prince. It was Dominique’s still-unsolved assassination in April of 2000 that gave the director the impetus to assemble more than a decade’s worth of original and archival material into a celebration of the man and his legacy.

This program is co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. Special thanks to Think Film.

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April 16 (Friday) 7 pm

Refugee

Directed by Spencer Nakasako
US, 2003, color, 60 min.

Spencer Nakasako has pioneered a powerful new form of camcorder diary in collaboration with young Southeast Asian refugees in youth video programs he mentored in San Francisco. For more than a decade, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian youths have produced short videos based on their personal memories and experiences. Here, three young refugees raised on the streets of San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin district (the “T.L.”) journey to Cambodia in this latest documentary from Nakasako. At the center of the film is Michael “Adoe” Siv, a gregarious 24-year-old who moves easily between the worlds of the street and the university, as well as Cambodian and American cultures. He and his mother escaped their native country during the 1979 Vietnamese invasion, but Mike decides to go back to meet his long-lost father and brother. Accompanied by long-time friends Paul Meas and David Mark, he sets off on a journey that takes him to a new Cambodia rising up from the killing fields, and ventures into the blurred entanglements of his family’s past.

Special thanks to Lucien Taylor and NAATA.

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