Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Acquisitions - December 2012

As the university gets ready for another month of hibernation, we're working through the last of our new acquisitions for 2012. We're ending the year on a high note with big new blockbusters (Cabin in the Woods, The Dark Knight Rises), some old favorites (Risky Business), new seasons for popular television shows, and a slew of high-quality documentaries that you might've read about recently. Consider it our present to you in this Capitalist Wintertime Gift-Giving Season.

The university is closed starting on Saturday, December 22 until Wednesday, January 2. The blog will go dark until then. Enjoy the break! Read on for a full list of our newest titles.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

National Film Registry adds new films for 2012

The National Film Registry, a subset of the Library of Congress, preserves a collection of American films deemed culturally or historically significant. Each year, the NFR adds 25 new films to their archives, ranging from major recent hits to silent shorts from the 19th century.

The Library of Congress has released this year's batch, and their diversity streak continues. New inductees include The Matrix, A Christmas Story, a silent adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a documentary about the 1939 World's Fair, and an early experimental color film test. See the National Film Registry for the rationale behind their picks, or read on for a full list...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hot Docs: The Witches of Gambaga

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

The Witches of Gambaga (DVD 10635) exposes the town of Gambaga in northern Ghana where women are branded as witches and forced to live in exile. Hundreds of "witches" now live in this town. Their stories are harrowing. This documentary hopes to show this social atrocity to the world at large and drive this practice to an end.

Official description from the film's website:
The Witches of Gambaga is the extraordinary story of a community of women condemned to live as witches in Northern Ghana. Made over the course of 5 years, this disturbing expose is the product of a collaboration between members of the 100 strong community of ‘witches’ and women’s movement activists determined to end abusive practises and improve women’s lives in Africa. Painful experience and insight come together to create an intimate portrait of the lives of women ostracised by their communities. Told largely by the women themselves, their incredible stories and struggles are conveyed to a wide range of audiences by the director’s narration.

Hot Docs: abUSed: The Postville Raid

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

abUSed: The Postville Raid (DVD 10615) examines what happens to immigrants after a wave of mass deportations. The city of Postville, Iowa heavily relied on undocumented workers for its well-being; when the federal government arrested those workers, the town's economy dropped into a freefall. This documentary reveals the government's perceived overreach of power and the aftershocks felt throughout the disintegrating Postville community.

Official description from the film's website:
Presents the devastating effects of US Enforcement Immigration policies on communities, families and children. The film tells the gripping personal stories of the individuals, the families and the town that survived the most brutal, most expensive and largest immigration raid in the history of the United States and serves as a cautionary tale of government abuses.

Hot Docs: Syria: The Assads' Twilight

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Syria: The Assads' Twilight (DVD 10636) tells the story behind the ongoing crisis and Syria and the end of the legitimacy of the Assad presidency. The situation in Syria is only now becoming a major story in American news media, but the current conditions did not start spontaneously. This documentary recaps four decades of oppression and social unrest that is now exploding into a dangerous, destabilizing war.

Official description from the publisher's website:
During the 1970s, Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, turned Syria into one of the world's most secretive and repressive dictatorships. But Bashar was supposed to be different. A doctor who had lived in London, he vowed to fight corruption and embrace globalization in his inaugural address as president. He was supposed to be a modern, liberal leader.

Just over a decade later, the Assad regime is reeling. It has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of its citizens—protesters no longer willing to accept repression and insisting on the same freedoms that other nations have gained through the revolutions of the 2011 Arab spring.

What happened?

SYRIA: THE ASSADS' TWILIGHT is a history of the Assad regime, from its origins to its teetering, possibly final days in 2011.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hot Docs: The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

The Light Bulb Conspiracy (DVD 10648) is less about conspiracy than a shrewd, deceptive business model. For decades, companies have been manufacturing products with planned obsolescence. That is, they are designed to fail after a time and need replacement. This documentary discusses light bulbs, which can last for hundreds of years of properly designed, but also newer technologies that are designed to be repurchased and that contribute to our growing electronic waste problem.

Official description from the publisher's website:
The Light Bulb Conspiracy uncovers how planned obsolescence has shaped our lives and economy since the 1920’s, when manufacturers deliberately started shortening the life of consumer products to increase demand. The film also profiles a new generation of consumers, designers and business people who have started challenging planned obsolescence as an unsustainable economic driver.

Hot Docs: The Hungry Tide

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

The Hungry Tide (DVD 10632) makes us think about global climate change from the perspective of those who might be the most affected. We may still be estimating the realistic chances of those coastline projections from An Inconvenient Truth happening, but for the people of Kiribati, the threat of rising coastlines is immediate and frightening. The film uses a personal approach, telling the stories of a few specific people affected by climate change rather than pure science.

Official description from the film's website:
The central Pacific nation of Kiribati is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change.  Sea level rise and increasing salinity are threatening the lives of  105,000 people spread over 33 atolls in this remote corner of the Pacific.  It’s the same ocean, which for generations has sustained the country that is now the source of its destruction.
The latest prognosis for climate change appears grim.  Pledges made by industrialized countries at the Copenhagen and Cancun Climate Change Conferences to cut carbon emissions have fallen far short of their targets.  Scientists currently predict temperature increases of between 3 and 6 degrees, and sea level rises of well over a metre, by the turn of the century. Only decisive global action will save Kiribati and its culture from disappearing.

Hot Docs: The Greenhorns

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

The Greenhorns (DVD 8957) challenges conventional wisdom about agriculture during a time when few are considering careers on farms. The documentary, which was produced as part of an awareness program for agricultural reform, follows the lives of new, young farmers becoming acquainted with their chosen... fields. (Sorry, the pun was far too easy to make.)

Official description from the film's website:
The Greenhorns documentary film, completed after almost 3 years in production, explores the lives of America’s young farming community – its spirit, practices, and needs. It is the filmmaker’s hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture – to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Docs: Cape Spin!

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Cape Spin! (DVD 10647) covers the ongoing battle over the installation of wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod. The issue resulted in one of the oddest political battles in recent memory, dividing political coalitions and forming alliances between unlikely partners. Cape Spin has no qualms about its roots as an environmental film but does justice to this most unusual situation.

Official description from the film's website:
Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle tells the surreal, fascinating, tragicomic story of the battle over America’s most controversial clean energy project. Cape Wind would be the U.S.’s first offshore windfarm…But strange alliances formed for and against: Kennedys, Kochs, and everyday folks do battle with the developer and green groups over the future of American power.
With full access to both sides, a commitment to impartial storytelling and fueled by a satiric ‘revolutionary’ soundtrack, Cape Spin!  is “a gripping and entertaining study of eco-capitalism and grassroots democracy”. “It proves that environmental films can be crowd pleasers, and not at all just about the environment.”

Hot Docs: Call of Life

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Call of Life (DVD 10345) tackles the hot subject of declining biodiversity. Across the world, thousands of species are going extinct as a result of human global development. This documentary examines not only why so many creatures are disappearing but the effect they may are having on physical, cultural, and psychological levels.

Official description from the film's website:
All over the world species are becoming extinct at an astonishing rate, from 1000 to 10,000 times faster than normal. The loss of biodiversity has become so severe that scientists are calling it a mass extinction event.

Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction is the first feature documentary to investigate the growing threat to Earth’s life support systems from this unprecedented loss of biodiversity. Through interviews with leading scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and indigenous and religious leaders, the film explores the causes, the scope, and the potential effects of the mass extinction, but also looks beyond the immediate causes of the crisis to consider how our cultural and economic systems, along with deep-seated psychological and behavioral patterns, have allowed this situation to develop, continue to reinforce it, and even determine our response to it.

Call of Life tells the story of a crisis not only in nature, but also in human nature, a crisis more threatening than anything human beings have ever faced before.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hot Docs: Default: The Student Loan Documentary

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Default: The Student Loan Documentary (DVD 10634) needs little introduction for American University students. Massive student loans, paralyzing debt, and the risk of defaulting or sliding into bankruptcy are real fears. Default tells the stories of students saddled with this financial burden and how they are trying to change the system.

Official description from the film's website:
The film chronicles the stories of borrowers from different backgrounds affected by the student lending industry and their struggles to change the system. No matter when their loans were taken, many borrowers find themselves in a paralyzing predicament of repaying two, three or multiple times the original amount borrowed, with no bankruptcy protection, no cap on fees and penalties and no recourse to the law. The consequences are dire, with stories of borrowers in financial and emotional ruin.

Hot Docs: Where Soldiers Come From

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Where Soldiers Come From (DVD 10604) examines the lives of two high school graduates who enroll in the National Guard with the promise of college tuition. After four years, they return home as soldiers, battered by the war and unsure of their place at home. Rather than discussing war as a political phenomenon, Where Soldiers Come From tells the personal story of two young adults whose worlds and lives are changed by a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Official description from the film's website:
From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, Where Soldiers Come From follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war. [...] Where Soldiers Come From looks beyond the guns and policies of an ongoing war to tell a human story about family, friendship, and community and how they all change when young people go off to fight

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Hot Docs: A Sentence Apart

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

A Sentence Apart (DVD 8956) is one of the shorter documentaries in our collection, but by all accounts, it packs a punch. The film examines the often tense, fractious relationships between inmates and their families by following the three stories of children whose parents are incarcerated. The focus is not on why these people are in jail but on how prison has shaped their families.

Official description from the film's website:
A Sentence Apart follows three stories of people coping with a family member in prison, attempting to bridge broken relationships, and diligently working to break the generational cycle of incarceration.

Hot Docs: Terra Blight

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Terra Blight (DVD 10630) shines a light on the hazardous environmental impact made by discarded personal electronics. Terra Blight challenges the myth that computers are making the world "greener." In fact, our constant consumption of new tech may be filling our planet with toxic wastelands. Events like the computer game convention QuakeCon are shown in a dour perspective given the negative environmental impact its attendees will have once they eventually dispose their computers.

Official description from the film's website:
Terra Blight traces the life cycle of computers from creation to disposal and juxtaposes the disparate worlds that have computers as their center. From a 13-year-old Ghanaian who smashes obsolete monitors to salvage copper to a 3,000-person video game party in Texas, Terra Blight examines the unseen realities of one of the most ubiquitous toxic wastes on our planet.

By the film’s end, the audience will never look at their computer the same way again.

Hot Docs: Facebook Follies

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Facebook Follies (DVD 10640) tells the other side of the social media story. Whereas others focus on how social media rose to dominance, this documentary focuses on the consequences of our addiction to instantaneous sharing. The effects are felt everywhere, from the downfall of politicians to people reconnecting with lost relatives.

Official description from promotional material:
An engaging journey — and cautionary tale — through one of today's most pervasive forces of social communication. Facebook Follies looks at some of the unexpected results and impact, negative and positive, of people sharing their personal information on social media sites.

Hot Docs: Mr. Cao Goes to Washington

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington (DVD 10616) challenges the political status quo with a look at Joseph Cao, a representative with an unconventional life story. Congressman Cao was Congress's first Vietnamese-American, a non-white Republican elected by an African-American majority in New Orleans, and the only member of his party to support the Affordable Care Act. This documentary about Cao's brief career on Capitol Hill is a compelling story that exposes the infighting and partisan bickery that characterizes current-day Congress.

Official description from the film's website:
What happens when the naiveté of a political rookie clashes with the realities of racial and partisan politics of the South?

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington is a fascinating character study of Congressman Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese American Republican elected by surprise in an African American Democratic district in New Orleans. Will Cao make it through his term with his idealism intact?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

At last! Free legal services for independent filmmakers

One of the most worrying parts of working on a big independent film project is the potential legal woes. Large producers tend to have lawyers on retainer, but for someone working on their capstone or getting feet wet in the world of independent filmmaking, a cease-and-desist over copyright or trademark infringement can be disruptive.

A fairly new group called New Media Rights is offering a solution. New Media Rights offers free literature and some legal services for aspiring filmmakers, YouTube mash-up artists, video game developers, and other independent creative content producers. This is a great resource for anyone having trouble navigating the murky world of fair use law.

Of course, you always could've gone to see Professor Aufderheide, but this is pretty good too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A. O. Scott: Film is alive and well

Back in September we posted an article asking if television had overtaken film as the medium of our time. It was part of a long string of opinion pieces writing the obituary for film culture. It seems only fair to post a rebuttal. 

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott has a new piece declaring that film culture is, in fact, alive and well. "I hate to ruin a good funeral," he says, "but all of this is nonsense." Scott doesn't really contest that film is losing audience to television, but he sees film as an increasingly vibrant medium that continues to envelope culture. He gives a litany of examples, from Moonrise Kingdom to Lincoln. All popularity issues aside, film isn't losing any energy.

Don't expect this to be the last word on the current state of film, especially once awards season enters full swing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

See Elf on campus TONIGHT!

The AU United Methodist-Protestant Community has always been good about holding monthly movie screenings, and this time around is no different. In the spirit of the season, the AU Methodists will by showing Elf at 9pm in the Mary Graydon Center, Room 200. Finals have yet to rear their ugly head, so enjoy the holiday-themed campus events while you still have the chance!

If you can't make it to the screening or just want to see it on your own, we also have a copy of Elf available to check out in Media Services. (HU DVD 9658)

Monday, December 03, 2012

Hot Docs: Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement

Hot Docs highlights interesting new documentaries we've recently added to our collection.

Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement (DVD 10618) follows the story of Julian Bond, a civil right activist whose life story spans from the first marches on Washington and the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to the classrooms at American University. In this documentary, Bond shares stories from his experience at the forefront of the most tumultuous decades in modern American history.

Official description from Filmakers Library:
This enlightening portrait joins African American social activist Julian Bond as he traces his roots back to slavery. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond was among the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leader of the 1963 March on Washington, and a Georgia legislator for twenty years. Now in his seventies, Bond recalls the experience of growing up in the segregated south, where his parents’ belief in hard work and education lifted the family out of what he describes as an apartheid system. An erudite, well-spoken man, audiences visit his classroom at the University of Virginia where he shares with a new generation the turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement.

Julian Bond’s recollections chronicle several turbulent decades of American history, as society was evolving to allow more opportunity to African Americans. An essential documentary for African American Studies, American History, and Sociology courses.

Julian Bond. Filmakers Library Trailer from Heritage Film Project on Vimeo.