BILLIE

By Dick Fregulia

When asked to review the new Billie Holiday documentary “Billie, ” my first concern was whether it would play as a Hollywood melodrama or as a true musical  testimony to the jazz vocalist legend. My preference was for the latter, but the film actually achieves an impressive balance between the gritty details of her life and the beauty of her singing.

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Alice Street: A Mural Becomes a Movement

BY C.J. Hirschfield

About my home town of Oakland, a recent Washington Post article wrote: “Protesters want to defund the police. Homicides and violence are spiking. In Oakland, ideology and practicality collide.”

It was a wonderful juxtaposition shortly thereafter to watch the excellent new documentary Alice Street, which shows Oakland at its multicultural, peaceful, protesting best.

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River City Drumbeat: An Urban Heartbeat

By C.J Hirschfield

Many fine films tell the story of charismatic teachers who change lives, and they serve to inspire.  The new documentary River City Drumbeat is one of these films. Promoted as “a story of music, love and legacies,” it follows a dynamic African drumming corps for kids founded and taught by the magnetic Edward “Nardie” White as he prepares to turn the operation over to a successor after a 30-year run in urban Louisville, Kentucky.

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Last Chance U: Laney Eagles Rising

By C.J. Hirschfield

 

Throughout the world, the phrase “Oakland football” conjures up images of Raider Nation, fans who glory in looking as terrifying and tough as they can. But while the Raiders are gone, the Laney College Eagles are still flying high.  And thanks to the latest season of a popular Netflix series, a new image of the city’s football can emerge: A kinder, gentler one, that better reflects what we locals call Town Love. And the coach is Hella Oakland, focusing on community and guiding his scrappy (read that working-class) team members to be successful—in sports, and in life.

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