Orphans of the Genocide - Bared Maronian
I hold a major interest in the Armenian Genocide. I've studied the facts, raged against Turkey's refusal to recognize, apologize, and make restitution for, the murder of so many people. The documentary Orphans of the Genocide, tells the story of those left with nothing following the Genocide, and the way it's told in the form of a video you might see at a museum dedicated to the events of 1915, with strong interviews, and a detailing of not so much of the events or causes, but of the effects on families and the individuals who came after that first generation. There is a fine look at art that came from the Genocide, including the world of survivor Arshile Gorky, a survivor. There are so few survivors of the marches, a century on now, but there is a nice interview with a 105 year old, which gives us a strong view from the ground. Just as important, and perhaps more so, are the stories told by daughters and sons, stories passed on from one generation to another. The video performs a duty to set these stories down in the stone that is digital video, which is so important to keeping these tales circulating. It doesn't feel like a theatre documentary, it's more of a television work, but it is so important that these stories, these traditions, this TRUTH, is recorded and dispersed. You can find out more about Armenoid Productions at http://armenoidteam.com
And for the best resource on the Armenian experience, check out http://www.armenian-genocide.org/index.htm
Sahro Hassan: Fashioning Her Future by David H. Wells
David H. Wells may be Klaus at Gunpoint's favorite documentarian now that Les Blank's done come and gone. This is another strong effort of an important topic. Sahro Hassan is a young Somali woman who has started doing fashion, creating the kinds of designs she would like to wear and putting them out into the world. She has an infectious personality, and as we see her discuss her fashions, we grow to love her even more.While this feels more traditional and straight-ahead than I am used to, the combination of the personality that streams from Sahro, and the beauty of the clothing, make this an impressive effort.
13 Burmese Days - Garlen Lo
Myanmar/Burma is at a crossroads, and a difficult one at that. When Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at Oxford, she asked for students to come and visit her country, to experience what life there was like. In 2013, a group of 9 Oxfordians made their way there, and this is a combination travelogue/documentary of that journey. The first, and perhaps most important, thing to notice about this piece is not a persuasion piece, though at times it does present serious issues, it is more of a record of the students visiting the country. As such, it is at its best when the students are encountering the country as it is, not being presented to by groups on the view of homosexuality, sex work, or journalistic freedom. Shots of a soccer game, the ringing of a bell in Mandalay, an outdoor restaurant, glimpses of the tour, string being made from lotus, . Yes, we should be concerned for Myanmar the country, but it is when we encounter Myanmar the people, the culture, the way of life, that 13 Burmese Days is at its most effective. Simple scenes here are far more impressive than presentations and discussions, and perhaps that would seem to minimize the importance of those aspects, but to me, it says something even more important - that life moves, even under the weight. You can read more at http://www.garlenlo.com
Please Remove Your Shoes - Rob DelGaudio
It's odd. I support the TSA, but I understand that, at best, it's security theatre; it won't stop any but the least dedicated and intelligent issues from become disasters. This doc details the ways in which we are failed by the TSA, and the reasons for it. While this could be seen as a scare doc, it's far too artfully done to be dismissed as such. Yes, I believe the purpose of the piece was to get people thinking about how messed up the situation is, but I also think that was far from the only consideration. The way the thing unfolds is scary, but it's also thoughtful and artistic, which actually makes the landing that much more effective.
Aside From That - Richard Tilkin
There is nothing I fear more than death. In fact, if I'm afraid of something, it's because I associate it with death. Thus, watching Aside From That was a difficult thing for me, being a documentary about how we live knowing we're gonna die. The interviews are fascinating, and include some amazing stories with those who have stared closely at death personally, philosophically, and second-handedly. Also, it talks with fellow Emerson College alum Steven Wright! What was most remarkable to me was that I didn't leave my viewing depressed, and nowhere along the line did I find myself dwelling on my mortality. That's a task few films have managed! This is a wonderful doc that engages the brain, and not just the portion that is terrified of the big sleep.