American Justice on Trial

By C.J. Hirschfield

April 21, 2022 (updated April 23)

Just as the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary ATTICA effectively used historical footage and interviews with key participants to illustrate our country’s history of systemic racism, so too does the excellent new documentary AMERICAN JUSTICE ON TRIAL.

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BAD AXE

By C.J. Hirschfield

March 30, 2022

There is a serious discussion that takes place in the superb new documentary Bad Axe about whether the film is or is not a love letter to the eponymous town—or will its coverage of some of the town’s less savory Trumpian residents cause people to hate it? Not to worry, Bad Axe. Any town that can boast having raised a family like the one featured in the film has got to have a whole lot going for it.

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THE CZAR OF NOIR MAY NOT RING TWICE BUT HE ALWAYS DELIVERS THE GOODS

By Ben Terrall

After a two-year Corona Time hiatus, the Noir City film festival will return to the Bay Area from Thursday, March 24 to Sunday, March 27 at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. This year’s lineup, themed “They Tried to Warn Us!,” features twelve mid-twentieth century Hollywood movies that address social problems which are still all too present today.

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MR. BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS

By C.J. Hirschfield

March 14, 2022

Cinema junkies forgive iconic documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman for the length of some of his works that venture deep into American institutions; his most recent City Hall covering the government of Boston clocked in at four and a half hours. We absolve him because he is so good at taking us inside worlds that we don’t know, as his camera disappears and we learn so much by listening and observing, happy to have made the journey.

Comparisons to Wiseman’s work are inevitable as we describe the numerous joys of Maria Speth’s new documentary, Mr. Bachmann and his Class, the closing night film at Berlin & Beyond 2022, at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive. It is now streaming on MUBI. Continue reading

Try Harder!

By Risa Nye

For those whose memories of high school days are a bit clouded and sentimental, TRY HARDER!, Debbie Lum and Nico Opper’s documentary about students at San Francisco’s academic powerhouse, Lowell High, will be an eye-opener. Parents of toddlers who are already buying Ivy League sweatshirts in size 3T might do well to observe what happens when kids who try hard sometimes learn that they need to re-define what success means in the college admission process.

try harder!

While this film is about the students, it is also about the way support from caring teachers, parents, counselors, and peers has an enormous impact on the levels of stress these kids experience while trying to do all the things necessary to be competitive in a process with nearly impossible odds. As an example, the kids hear that Stanford’s acceptance rate is around 4%. They already know how hard it is, but some will try and beat the odds anyway.

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UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED AT ATTICA

Ashia Lance Interviews Stanley Nelson

Co-Directors Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry brilliantly reshape race narrative in ATTICA by giving voice to the unheard minorities and disrupting the dominant historical narrative. It is a strategy that Nelson has used in his many films including THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL, JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE and MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL.

Stanley Nelson Making 'America Revisited II' for Independent Lens - Variety Continue reading