On Cable: GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF

going clearComing to HBO this Sunday, March 29: GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF

Alex Gibney’s unearthing of the secrets of the contentious organization had its world premiere at Sundance this year. Is has also screened at True/False, Big Sky, and Martha’s Vineyard, and has been released theatrically.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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In Theatres: FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM

Freeway-530x317Coming to NYC’s Maysles Cinema for a week run beginning today, Thursday, March 26: FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM

Marc Levin’s chronicle of one man’s pivotal role in the crack epidemic made its premiere at Los Angeles’ Pan African Film Festival. It also screened as part of NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction series and on Al Jazeera America.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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On Cable: DREAMCATCHER

dreamcatcherComing to Showtime tomorrow, Friday, March 27: DREAMCATCHER

Kim Longinotto’s candid look at a woman’s mission to help others out of exploitation had its world premiere at Sundance this year, winning the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award. It has gone on to screen at Rotterdam, Glasgow, ZagrebDox, Thessaloniki, and One World.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD: GATES OF HEAVEN

Now available on DVD and Blu-Ray in a new edition: GATES OF HEAVEN

Errol Morris’ poignant meditation on pet cemeteries screened in the New York Film Festival in 1978. The film went on to a successful theatrical release, despite Werner Herzog’s playful chiding, as documented in the late Les Blank’s WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE. Criterion now re-releases the film in a “director-approved” box set edition with special features, including Blank’s short, together with the Morris’ 1981 VERNON, FLORIDA.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: THE THIN BLUE LINE

Now available on DVD and Blu-Ray in a new edition: THE THIN BLUE LINE

Errol Morris’ pioneering murder investigation study debuted in 1988. Its theatrical run via Miramax made it a success with critics and audiences, and helped result in a re-examination of the case. Criterion now re-releases the film in a “director-approved” edition with special features.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: SIN FRONTERAS/WITHOUT BORDERS

sin fronterasComing to DVD today, Tuesday, March 24: SIN FRONTERAS/WITHOUT BORDERS

Giorgio Serafini’s look at the plight of deported individuals in Mexico had its premiere at the Atlantic City Cinefest last year.

Mexicali, near the US/Mexico border, is one of the major sites in Mexico where people deported from the US are released. Recognizing that many have no means to make it out of Mexicali, no contacts there, and often not even anywhere else to go to – making them easy prey for criminals – Sergio Tamai opened the Hotel Del Migrante to offer support and shelter. Newly deported individuals may stay for a brief time to get their bearings, or, should they wish to remain on, become volunteers for the hotel and the support group Tamai founded, Angeles Sin Fronteras/Border Angels. When Serafini stays focused on Tamai and the hotel, his doc is its most successful, though still workmanlike at best, but he unfortunately attempts to expand his remit to tackle larger issues around immigration and deportation. The result is a well-intentioned but scattered treatment of a topic that has already been covered extensively elsewhere.

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On TV: JAMES BAKER: THE MAN WHO MADE WASHINGTON WORK

james bakerComing to PBS today, Tuesday, March 24: JAMES BAKER: THE MAN WHO MADE WASHINGTON WORK

Eric Stange’s portrait of the political life of former Secretary of State debuted at Worldfest Houston last year. It now comes to PBS stations around the nation.

Stange and producer John Hesse pull together a remarkable number of political heavy hitters for this interview and narration driven biography, including George and Barbara Bush, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Lesley Stahl, Condoleeza Rice, Mikhael Gorbachev, Thomas L Friedman, Colin Powell, Shimon Peres, and narrator Tom Brokaw. While very conventional in its approach, the film is comprehensive and watchable as it recounts Baker’s influential, if often behind-the-scenes, roles in the halls of Washington DC power, including Ford, Reagan, and both Bush administrations, from overseeing the negotiations of the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany, to the beginnings of a would-be peace in the Middle East and the strategy that saw George W Bush contentiously claim the White House.

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