Tag Archives: documentary

A Documentary That Kicks Ass

by Lewis Manalo

Ruel Antipuesto’s documentary Eskrimadors screens this weekend in Queens, NY at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center. Featuring interviews with some of most eminent grandmasters of Filipino Martial Arts, Eskrimadors will make you think twice about messin’ with a flip (aka, Funny Little Island Person).

Already available on DVD, this is more than just a History Channel special. Many of Cebu’s greatest teachers are featured here, in interviews and swinging sticks. Action fans will not want to miss it.

Reality and Restrepo

by Lewis Manalo

The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: we did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs. Beliefs are a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality.
Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger

In documentary we deal with the actual, and in one sense with the real. But the really real, if I may use that phrase, is something deeper than that. The only reality which counts in the end is the interpretation which is profound
John Grierson

It’s a fact of documentaries that audiences often have trouble separating a film’s subject from the film itself. If the subject is an attention-worthy topic such as poverty or political unrest, the film can bring useful attention to that subject, but very often the film won’t be judged on its own merits. Instead, the film will be judged by the opinions the audience has of its subject. The clearest example of this is in Michael Moore Hates America, when Moore’s fans admit that they’ll support what the filmmaker has to say despite ethically questionable editing decisions. With Restrepo, pretending to take the political issues away from their subject, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington have produced a rambling and unfocused documentary that patronizes its audience with political beliefs that it assumes its viewers already have.

Restrepo follows an infantry unit of the 173rd Airborne throughout their deployment to the Korengal Valley in Eastern Afghanistan. There’s lots of shooting, there’s lots of fatigue, and there’s some death. There’s no political discussion or context for any of the footage. The reasons for the war are never addressed. The result is a lot of action that’s completely devoid of motivation. We watch the spectacle of killing and dying with a voyeuristic eye. Continue reading

Screening: War Don Don

by Tony Nigro

Making its New York premiere at the Human Rights Watch festival this month is War Don Don, a documentary about the trial of alleged war criminal Issa Seesay in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  A friend of Split Edit spent three years as an attorney on the controversial trial, and the stories I heard during that time have only stoked my interest in the film, if only to better understand the area’s complex political climate.  If you’re in or near New York City, check it out with a panel discussion on June 12.

Freak of the Week: Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

by Tony Nigro

I know that from the title you’re thinking, “Not more zany Japanese pop culture!”  But I swear that Jessica Oreck’s Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo isn’t like Machine Girl or Banana Street.  It’s a documentary.  Seriously.  And it’s about bugs.

But of course it’s not just about bugs.  You notice those shots of crowded Tokyo streets?  You ever rushed around crowded streets yourself?  You ever see an ant farm?  Beetle Queen is about people, too.

DVD: Ozploitation!

by Lewis Manalo

I’ve been waiting for months for this to drop on DVD, and if I’m a week late with this post, I blame my cluttered Netflix queue.

Not Quite Hollywood tells the story of Ozploitation, the roaring wave of exploitation films that Australia gave a wet, groaning birth to in the 1970’s and 80’s. You’ll recognize some saints of exploitation films such as Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Lee Curtis in the trailer, but the film includes quite a few people who are not ashamed of their involvement. See the trailer, and resist the temptation to make a killer kangaroo flick of your own.