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Short Docs / Featurettes

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:17 am
by arsaib4
"WHITHER THE SHORT DOC? IN THE RISING TIDE OF NONFICTION FEATURES, IT IS EASY TO FORGET THAT DOCUMENTARY'S HISTORICAL CANON IS COMPLETELY DOMINATED BY SHORTS AND SO CALLED 'FEATURETTES' (LONGER THAN 34 MINUTES BUT LESS THAN AN HOUR). LEAVING ASIDE FULL-LENGTH CLASSICS BY FLAHERTY, VERTOV, AND RIEFENSTAHL, UNTIL THE SEVENTIES THE VAST MAJORITY OF AESTHETICALLY OR POLITICALLY SIGNIFICANT DOCS REQUIRED LESS SCREEN TIME THAN A TV SITCOM. OFTEN SHOWN IN NONTHEATRICAL SETTINGS -- CLUBS, UNION HALLS, GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED EVENTS -- OR SANDWICHED BETWEEN MORE FRIVOLOUS FARE IN COMMERCIAL MOVIEHOUSES, FILMS OF ACTUALITY FORGED A SEPARATE LANGUAGE IMMUNE TO THE SWEEPING DRAMATIC ARCS AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT OF FICTION FILMS" (Paul Arthur, Film Comment).

Re: Short Docs / Featurettes

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 6:30 am
by arsaib4
INDOCTRINATION (W. Germany/1987)

Commissioned for a television series called "Ziele," Harun Farocki's Indoctrination (Die Schulung) is an unassuming 44-minute documentary which recaps a five-day seminar involving a group of management executives who learn how to sell themselves better. Employing a "neutral," Wiseman-like approach the filmmaker ably captures the key moments when the students are taught intricate skills of communication (or, as some might say, manipulation). The smart, surreptitious instructor handles the proceedings in a most fascinating manner (his retorts are particularly provocative). Issues of race and class surface tangentially, but the primary draw here is a glimpse behind the psychology of power at the ground level.

Re: Short Docs / Featurettes

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:12 am
by arsaib4
THE MIGRANT WORKERS OF SHANGHAI (Germany-Den/2005)

Shot without an official permit from the Chinese authorities, The Migrant Workers of Shanghai depicts a few of the millions of peasant workers who've descended upon the country's largest city in search for better employment opportunities. No matter how educated they are, manual labor is the best they can hope for in most cases. Compared to their Shanghai-based counterparts, they usually make less than half for doing the same work. Until recently, the children of the migrant workers weren't allowed to be schooled in the city (the situation is still far from ideal). Most dream about starting their own business one day -- thanks to the booming economy, the sky is the limit for the select few who succeed. This 52-minute documentary from Christian Schidlowski is just as honest and unflinching as many of the films from Sixth Generation Chinese filmmakers.

Re: Short Docs / Featurettes

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:13 am
by arsaib4
A DAY TO REMEMBER (China/2005)

"Do you know what day is today?" This deceptively simple question is posed by videomaker Liu Wei to primarily Peking University students in A Day to Remember (Wangque de yitian), which was shot on June 4th, 2005. While most in the west don't know that the sixteenth anniversary of a major event in recent Chinese history took place on that date, they are most likely familiar with the incident itself: "Tiananmen Square," in which a large number of people -- mostly young students who were critical of CCP's policies and dared to protest -- were killed by the military. Liu's query goes unanswered: a few choose not to reply; others casually walk away from the camera. This 13-minute video goes a long way to show that the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same.

Re: Short Docs / Featurettes

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:42 am
by arsaib4
CHAVEZ: ON THE WAY TO SUCCESS? (France/2006)

One of Washington's biggest nightmares, Venezuelan president Hugo Chvez and his Bolivarian ideologies may not transform the face of Latin America anytime soon but, as this nearly hour-long documentary from Maryse Mano indicates, the grassroots effects have been mostly positive so far. (Chvez... cojones... OIL). While the country has come a long way since the violent Caracas-based protests of 1989, a large segment of the population still lives below poverty level. Chvez's administration is not only making progress towards legitimizing those who reside in the barrios, but is also attempting to establish education and health care centers for the poor. Elsewhere, land reforms are essential and the state-owned television stations are keeping everyone up-to-date. However, this is one side of the story because, as most reports suggest, the opposition, which has already been defeated on a couple of occasions, doesn't have much say in matters, political or otherwise.