The sound of a projector is heard as an old 8mm home movie is projected on to a screen. They show a young father playing with his children, making faces at the camera, laughing and enjoying his life. The camera pulls back behind an older couple watching the film from their couch. Then a close up. The older man is biting his upper lip then asks, “Who is that?” “That’s you honey” comes the reply. A pause then, “Oh, there I am.” And he laughs. Another pause, “Who’s that with me?” “That’s your daughter. Your first daughter Debbie.” And so begins this 2014 documentary on the life of Glen Campbell, now in his 70’s, struggling with Alzheimer’s and preparing to go on one last farewell tour. Read more about Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.
In the early 60’s I remember going through atomic bomb drills in school. We were dutifully herded by our teachers down to the depths of Roger’s Elementary school here in Bloomington, past the furnaces, and seemingly below the floors to the area in which we were to remain until the radiation levels dropped enough for us to come out. I can still remember the big storage cans of water stacked along the walls and under stairwells marked with the Civil Defense emblem. I assume, though I can’t really remember seeing them, that there were food rations that were available for us to eat as well. Along with the television advertisements for cereal, candy and toys we saw public service announcements with “Burt the Turtle” teaching us how to “duck and cover” if we should ever see the flash of an atomic bomb. How naïve these advertisements and steps seem today when more accurate information about atomic blasts and radiation is common knowledge. We know for example that we can’t survive an atomic blast by hiding inside of a refrigerator. Read more about Atomic Café
The Amish are most often thought of in regards to their strict religion, quality workmanship, and their horse and buggy culture. One aspect of their culture and beliefs that has not been well known until recently is the practice of “rumspringa” [running around]. This is a rite of passage given to Amish teens in which they are allowed to experience the ways of the world, or as the title of the documentary suggests “The Devil’s Playground,” for a period of one year. These young adults are allowed to experience the enticements of living in a technological word but they are often also exposed for the first time to the world of drugs, alcohol, sexual pleasure and crime. At the end of the year they choose whether to return to the Amish culture and its lifestyle or to remain in the outside world and its ways. Read more about Devil's Playground
The Way We Get By is a documentary that starts out focusing on the work of the “troop greeters” in Bangor, Maine. This group of senior citizens goes to the Bangor International Airport at any hour of the day or night to greet outgoing and incoming US troops. Oddly enough, Bangor is the main departure and return point for those serving overseas . The greeters, some retired military themselves, offer service men and women a warm welcome, snacks and free cell phones to call their loved ones. Those arriving at 3 am receive the same enthusiastic greeting as those coming at 11 am, rain, sleet or snow. This seemingly small gesture has a big impact on those returning from overseas, many unsure of how they would be received or concerned about returning to life in the US.
But there’s another layer to the story, one that’s possibly even more touching- that of the lives of the greeters themselves. Focusing on three of the senior citizens the film becomes a study of aging, loneliness, and the universal search for a sense of purpose in our lives. Read more about The Way We Get By
It’s the collective sigh huffed by every adult generation in history: our youth have no respect, no direction, no values. Fortunately examples like Only the Young (Oscilloscope Laboratories), the debut feature-length documentary from Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, remind us that today’s teenagers are more than pop-cultured iPhone zombies—that perhaps they’re even human, and not so hopeless, considering the world they’re growing up in.
Only the Young follows skateboarders Garrison and Kevin as they navigate their high school years in a small town outside of Los Angeles. Thanks to the rapport the filmmakers earn with the boys, we’re able to roll right along with them—to an abandoned house, to the skatepark, and into their homes and their social circle. We meet Skye, who as the boys’ cohort, confidante, and sometimes-girlfriend becomes an integral character in the film herself. Read more about Only the Young
This is the story of a band that everyone has heard and yet most people don’t even know their name. They played on more hit records than Elvis, than The Beach Boys, than The Rolling Stones or the Beatles ….combined. They were responsible for the driving beat of the Motown hit factory. The riffs you remember to so many songs were arranged and performed by them; yet if I mentioned some of their names, James Jamerson, Richard Allen, Joe Messina, to name a few there would be no flash of recognition in your mind. Read more about Always Heard, Never Known