March 6, 2013 |
Reading her grandmother's diary descriptions on the way to Philadelphia, Susan Gibbs imagined the great ship in its heyday: ladies in their mink stoles, ballroom dancing, indoor pool, champagne, luxurious spa, and pleasant sea breezes. Her grandfather, William Francis Gibbs of Rittenhouse Square, had designed the world's fastest, safest, and most technologically advanced ocean liner - the SS United States - and saw its launch in 1951. His "queen of the seas" represented, for many, America's optimism and can-do spirit after World War II. The 2,000-passenger ship still holds the transatlantic speed record.
March 4, 2013 |
A Place at the Table is a documentary - a documentary about hunger in America. But if it were a feature film, one of its main subjects - Barbie Izquierdo , a young single mother from Philadelphia's Hunting Park section - would be a star. She has a speech late in Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush's film, which opened Friday at the Ritz at the Bourse, that will inspire, and give you goosebumps, make you cry. It starts like this: "You are where you come from.
March 1, 2013
THE WOMEN behind the hunger documentary "A Place at the Table" are making the publicity rounds this week - cable news shows, Jon Stewart, etc. But perhaps their most important stop was in Philadelphia a few years back, before they'd picked up a camera, when their documentary was just a hopeful idea. That's when they met Christina and Jeffrey Lurie, the co-owners of the Eagles, who've quietly become kingmakers in the field of documentary film. "Christina and Jeff have a history of helping documentaries that they know can make a difference," said "Table" director Kristi Jacobson.
February 22, 2013
By Steve Hallock This year's menu of Oscar-nominated short documentaries offers not only compelling viewing but also hope for those who despair over the decline of a robust, independent press that serves as investigative watchdog over government, business, and society. Not only are some newspapers going out of business, but those remaining - other than a few major city dailies - are eliminating investigative reporting teams and closing foreign and national bureaus. Broadcast television, meanwhile, long ago saw its special reports and foreign bureaus wither as the networks and the cable brethren exponentially increased sports and entertainment fare.
February 7, 2013
I HAD THE PLEASURE of interviewing activist/filmmaker Byron Hurt recently about his new documentary, "Soul Food Junkies. " Hurt will screen and discuss the film Thursday during a free event at Community College of Philadelphia. More than a documentary, "Soul Food" explores a son's deep love for his father, who refused to abandon the culinary tradition's high-fat and calorie-heavy dishes even when his health was threatened. Hurt's film takes a historical, cultural and culinary journey to the origins of soul-food traditions and their complex connection to black identity.
January 28, 2013 |
COME OSCAR night, the favored "Lincoln" may not be the film making a speech. Ben Affleck 's "Argo," co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov , followed up its Golden Globes win by taking the top honor at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday. Other nominees were "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Silver Linings Playbook," and "Skyfall" - or basically every good movie that came out this past year.
January 23, 2013 |
PITTSBURGH - FrackNation is a new documentary that attacks opponents of fracking for oil and gas, but it also raises a bigger question: Is it possible to criticize environmentalists without being a tool for big industry? Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is a method of stimulating oil and gas from deep underground that has led to a historic boom in U.S. production while also stoking controversy over its possible impact on the environment and human health. FrackNation , an independent documentary produced by Los Angeles-based filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, addresses the issue from an unusual perspective.
January 6, 2013 |
JERUSALEM - The Mideast conflict has done little to help Israel's image in the world, but the way local filmmakers deal critically with the Israel-Palestinian issue has won wide international praise - and this year, recognition from the top of the movie industry. Two Israeli-produced documentaries about the conflict have been shortlisted for possible nomination in this year's Academy Awards. Few Israeli films have contended in the Best Documentary category before. The shortlisted films represent rare recognition of foreign entrants in a category dominated by American productions.
January 6, 2013 |
On the first day of 1863, as the Civil War raged on, President Lincoln proclaimed all the slaves in the rebellious Confederate states to be "forever free. " With his Emancipation Proclamation, whose 150th anniversary the United States celebrates this week, Lincoln made the end of slavery a Civil War goal. As PBS's ambitious documentary miniseries The Abolitionists shows, Lincoln's words came at the end of a decadeslong antislavery campaign led by a tiny group of activists whose fervor alienated them from the mainstream of American life.
December 14, 2012 |
"THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE" makes the sardonic point that exoneration rarely gets the same frenzied publicity as conviction, and takes a small step toward redress. Its documentary subjects are the five boys-turned-men (Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray) railroaded in 1989 for the beating and rape of the so-called Central Park jogger, and of course there is much shame to be conferred in this story on police and prosecutors. They buried evidence, coerced confessions, and proceeded with prosecution even when it must have been obvious to them (the DNA didn't match)