February 7, 2014 |
"THE HUNGER Games" is just sci-fi, set in a future we'll probably never see. Right? No decent society would allow its leaders to throw working-class teens into a deadly meat-grinder in order to create an authoritarian public spectacle designed to keep the rabble in line. Keep telling yourself that as you watch the hair-raising documentary "Kids for Cash," based on the notorious case of Luzerne County judges convicted of sending juveniles to a new for-profit prison that they endorsed building and whose developer paid them under the table.
February 5, 2014 |
What will they think of me? The question brought Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. to tears. For years, Ciavarella, a former Luzerne County Court judge, had defiantly fought charges that he took kickbacks to sentence thousands of young offenders to private juvenile detention centers. During a moment of reflection while awaiting sentencing for corruption in 2011, Ciavarella broke down, imagining how his own grandchildren would perceive him. "I would hope that they understand that their grandfather screwed up big-time," he said, tears welling in his eyes.
January 24, 2014 |
Since its beginnings, the Sundance Film Festival has been where documentary films come to be born. And this year, three docs with Pennsylvania ties are making news. Amir Bar-Lev's documentary Happy Valley focuses on the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In one sequence, we see a standoff between tourists trying to take a picture by the statue of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, and an elderly man with a handwritten sign accusing Paterno of covering up for a child molester. As the tourists verbally abuse the old man, some pushing him aside as he tries to spoil their shots, the battle over the legacy of Paterno and Penn State devolves into a shoving match from which neither side emerges touched.
November 29, 2013 |
WHEN ALEX GIBNEY started to follow Lance Armstrong around to document his pro-cycling comeback in 2009, he noticed something strange. Cycling insiders with cameras and microphones, looking askance at him, promising to make the "real" Lance Armstrong documentary. Gibney, a respected and decorated documentary filmmaker, was naturally confused. If they were making the real documentary, what, he wondered, was he making? You get the complicated answer in "The Armstrong Lie," Gibney's examination of the disgraced cyclist, whose hypercompetitive personality has many facets.
October 4, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA Trade unions have taken their dispute with developers Michael and Matthew Pestronk to a new level, producing a sleek documentary that accuses the brothers of safety and health violations at their signature project, the unfinished Goldtex building. The 20-minute documentary, unveiled Wednesday at a campaign-style event at the headquarters of electricians union Local 98, includes videos, photos, and interviews with two unidentified "undercover workers" at the job site, just north of Chinatown.
September 26, 2013 |
HALL OF FAME linebacker Lawrence Taylor hasn't played since 1993. But he's still going after quarterbacks. Taylor is the subject of a Showtime documentary titled "LT: The Life & Times," which premiered Friday. In the film, former QB Boomer Esiason was critical of Taylor, saying the 10-time Pro Bowler, who spent his entire 13-year career with the Giants, was given preferential treatment by the team and then-coach Bill Parcells. It's nothing Esiason hasn't said before, but LT took exception to Boomer being included in the documentary.
September 10, 2013 |
The Italian film Sacro GRA , a documentary by director Francesco Rosi about life on the highway encircling Rome has won the Golden Lion for best film at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival. This was the first year documentaries were included in the main competition. The Silver Lion for best director went to Alexandros Avranas of Greece for Miss Violence , a disturbing look at sexual violence and abuse perpetrated by a grandfather. During Saturday's ceremony, Greek actor Themis Panou won the best actor prize for his leading role in Miss Violence , and Elena Cotta of Italy won the best actress award for her role in Emma Dante 's A Street in Palermo . Bruno Mars drafted Grammy winner Bruno Mars will highlight halftime at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the NFL announced Sunday.
July 21, 2013 |
Sandy Selfridge was one in a thousand. In April 2009, she was diagnosed with scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease involving the skin. By September, at age 58, she was gone. Her death led Christy McCaffrey, her daughter, to produce a documentary about the disease. The 45-minute film, Project Scleroderma: Beneath the Surface, which took two years and $40,000 to make, is narrated by comedian Bob Saget, who lost his sister to the disease. It's slated for a Thursday premiere at the Ritz East Theatre, 125 S. Second St., at 8 p.m. "At first, it was difficult for me to be sharing something that is obviously so personal," said McCaffrey of Havertown, a hairstylist who partnered with Bill Connell and J.C. Costa of New Pace Productions in Ardmore.
June 17, 2013 |
DeSean Jackson, who has built a career on creating highlights, has lived much of his life in front of a camera. The by-product is a new documentary, DeSean Jackson: The Making of a Father's Dream, compiled from thousands of hours of footage taken by his brother, Byron Jackson, since Jackson was a child. "At first, being young, I used to always tell him to stop filming me," Jackson said. "But [Bryon] used to tell me, 'One day, this is all going to be needed.' " Available Sunday for Father's Day on inDemand, the film is ostensibly about DeSean Jackson.
June 12, 2013 |
"THE TRIPTYCH" is the title of a new documentary co-directed by Barron Claiborne and Terence Nance , and produced by AfroPunk Pictures. The documentary explores the behind-the-canvas lives of three artists who run in the same circle but whose very different lives contribute to their work. The project came together when Nance, who was profiling unknown artists, teamed up with Claiborne, a self-taught photographer who was working on a similar project on better-known artists, including himself.