“CHINA’S UNNATURAL DISASTER: THE TEARS OF SICHUAN PROVINCE”
Directors/producers: Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Production: Downtown Community Television
Uncertain World: In May, 2008 a catastrophic earthquake struck Sichuan Province in China, killing nearly 70,000 people, including 10,000 children. Alpert and O’Neill chronicle the parents’ agony and their outrage at officials who mismanaged the construction of schools and at the government that targeted rescue efforts elsewhere. It offers a rare glimpse at how the Chinese government reacts to civil unrest.
“LAST CAMPAIGN OF GOVERNOR BOOTH GARDNER”
Director: Daniel Junge
Producer: Henry Ansbache
Race against time: After a career of successful political battles, including his tenure as Washington state’s governor, Gardner, who’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, wants to legalize physician-assisted suicide. To do so, he and his colleagues must convince a majority of voters to vote yes on a ballot initiative. In his way are individuals and groups opposed to assisted suicide. An intimate portrait of a man fighting his own physical deterioration to pass this legislation.
“THE LAST TRUCK:CLOSING OF A GM PLANT”
Directors/producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Production: Community Media Prods.
Disassembly Line: The Ohio-based filmmakers put a human face on the decline of American industry as they follow workers during the last days of a General Motors plant in Ohio, which closed in December 2008. As a result, 2,200 workers and 200 management staff lost not only their jobs, but also their pride in their work and their camaraderie. Plus, the losses spread to other businesses in the community.
Director/producer: Freida Mock
Production: Chanlim Films
Conscientious Objector: Mock tells the story of Lt. Ehrun Watada, the only commissioned U.S. officer to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for publicly stating his belief that the war was illegal. A David and Goliath story, the film dramatizes what it means for a lone soldier to publicly challenge presidential war policy to follow his conscience.
“MUSIC BY PRUDENCE”
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Producer: Elinor Burkett
Production: iThemba Prods.
Enabling Experience: The harrowing but ultimately uplifting story of Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Prudence Mabhena, 21, who was born severely disabled and has struggled to overcome poverty and discrimination. Against the backdrop of a brutal and violent election, the film follows Prudence and her seven young band members, all disabled, as they play their music and inspire the people who once saw them as a curse.
“RABBIT A LA BERLIN”
“Director: Bartek Konopka
Producer: Anna Wydra
Production: MS Films
Rabbit Run: Told through the eyes of animals and shot like a nature docu with a wink to the story’s allegory, the film examines the unintended results of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Behind the barrier, the meadows of Potsdamer Platz had become a kind of rabbit reserve, its population safe from predators but unable to escape. When the wall came down the rabbits were suddenly freed.
“TELL THEM ANYTHING YOU WANT: A PORTRAIT OF MAURICE SENDAK”
Directors: Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze
Production: Sixty Six Prods.
Wild Thing: An intimate portrait of children’s book writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, an artist conflicted about his success and whose lifelong obsession with death has subtly influenced his work. Through his words, pictures and illustrations, the film opens a window onto a private, somewhat isolated man, now 81. Best known for “Where the Wild Things Are,” Sendak looks back on his career and the book that, to his chagrin, came to define it.
Director/producer: Kiran Deol
Production: Women Rebel Films
Long March: During a revolution in Nepal, 40% of the guerrilla army fighting against the government were women. The film follows the story of one of them on her unlikely journey from the jungle all the way to Parliament. First-time filmmaker and actor Kiran Deol got on a plane the day after graduating from Harvard to begin documenting this story.