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DVDs : Documentaries
This guide highlights DVDs in the SUNY Old Westbury Library. View trailers and synopses for selected, recently acquired DVDs in the "Documentaries" and "Feature Films" sections. Click on "All DVDs" for a list of all our DVDs.
With unprecedented access, this behind-the-scenes chronicle follows director Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents that provide evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency.
Publication Date: Originally released as a documentary film in 2013.
It’s the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. The rules of the game and of engagement have fundamentally changed. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government targeted killings occur in corners across the globe, killing untold numbers of civilians. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history, exposing operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. No target is off-limits for the JSOC "kill list," not even U.S. citizens.
Publication Date: Originally released as a documentary in 1983.
This new, updated version of the 1983 classic on war and social revolution in Guatemala is a vigorous and persuasive documentary. It describes the struggle of the largely Indian peasantry against a legacy of state and foreign oppression. Centered on the experiences of Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, a Maya K’iche indigenous leader, the film knits a variety of forms— interviews, direct address, re-enactment, video transmission, and on the spot footage shot at great hazard— into a wide-ranging and remarkable cohesive epic canvas of the Guatemalan struggle.
The Day the 60s Died chronicles May 1970, the month in which four students were shot dead at Kent State University. The mayhem that followed has been called the most divisive moment in American history since the Civil War. From college campuses, to the jungles of Cambodia, to the Nixon White House, The Day the 60s Died takes us back into that turbulent spring 45 years ago.
A feature length documentary inspired by nostalgia and a romantic idea of family legacy, IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE follows acclaimed hip-hop artist Che "Rhymefest" Smith as he decides to purchase his childhood home on Chicago’s South Side and raise his new family in the same house where he grew up. Through this journey, Che realizes the importance of reconnecting with his estranged father and finds him living on the streets as a homeless alcoholic just a few blocks away. Through authentic sharing and storytelling, this powerful film shines a light on systemic issues facing our nation today -- like fatherhood and homelessness -- as Che hesitantly sets out to reconnect with the man who abandoned him over 25 years ago.
In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers on the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. The trial of the nine falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 2012.
Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar, Rodriguez's sound struck two renowned producers and they signed a recording deal. But when the album bombed, the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero.
Director Errol Morris—winner of the Academy Award®, Best Documentary Feature for THE FOG OF WAR (2003)—offers a mesmerizing portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, the larger-than-life figure who served as United States Secretary of Defense and as the principal architect of the Iraq War. Love him or hate him, you cannot take your eyes off Rumsfeld in this unique kind of cat-and-mouse game of argument and counterargument, evasion and evidence. Morris takes us where few have ever been—beyond the web of words into the unfamiliar terrain of Rumsfeld’s mind. THE UNKNOWN KNOWN presents history from the inside out. It shows how the ideas, the fears, and the certainties of one man, written out on paper, transformed America, changed the course of history—and led to war.
Publication Date: Originally released in theaters in 2013
In 1968 a young college drop-out named George A. Romero directed "Night of the Living Dead," a low budget horror film that shocked the world, became an icon of the counterculture, and spawned a zombie industry worth billions of dollars that continues to this day.
"Birth of the Living Dead," a new documentary, shows how Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers — policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner — to shoot, with a revolutionary guerrilla, run-and-gun style, his seminal film. During that process Romero and his team created an entirely new and horribly chilling monster -- one that was undead and feasted upon human flesh.
Archival footage of the horrors of Vietnam and racial violence at home combined with iconic music from the 60s invites viewers to experience how Romero's tumultuous film reflected this period in American history. "Birth of the Living Dead" shows us how this young filmmaker created a world-renowned horror film that was also a profound insight into how our society really works.
Publication Date: Originally released as a motion picture in 2014.
On March 8, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, a town just outside of Philadelphia, took hundreds of secret files, and shared them with the public. In doing so, they uncovered the FBI’s vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. Despite conducting one of the most thorough investigations in its history, the FBI never solved the mystery of the break-in.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 2008.
Explores the U.S. commercial food industry, examining corporate control of supply and market. The film seeks to demonstrate how the incentive for corporate profit can overwhelm consumer health needs, as well as the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and the environment. Reveals various details of food ingredients and additives, and how contemporary mass production methods of food affects U.S. culture.
Publication Date: 2016 (Sequeal to the 2012 film: The Act of Killing)
The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer's powerful companion piece to the Oscar nominated The Act of Killing. Through Oppenheimer's footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions.
Twelve-chapter documentary series, created and executive produced by Academy Award-winning writer/director Oliver Stone. Do Americans really know and understand the country’s shared and complicated history? How are the small details and forgotten players that influenced some of the biggest events from America’s past recalled? Will children actually get the whole story from reading history books? And how will it affect the future of the country?
Wilhemina’s War is the story of Wilhemina Dixon, a daughter of sharecroppers who becomes a force in helping her granddaughter survive the health risks and social stigma of living with HIV in the South, where HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among black women. The film bears witness to the resilience and determination of the human spirit in the face of tremendous adversity.
In the Mexican state of Michoacán Dr. José Mireles, a small-town physician known as "El Doctor," leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel. Meanwhile, in Arizona’s Altar Valley, Tim "Nailer" Foley, an American veteran, heads a small paramilitary group called Arizona Border Recon, whose goal is to stop Mexico’s drug wars from seeping across our border. Heineman embeds himself in the heart of darkness as Nailer, El Doctor, and the cartel each vie to bring their own brand of justice to a society where institutions have failed.
Film version of the bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies including the effects of a name, cheating in sumo wrestling, cause and effect of crime rates, and incentives for grades.
Finding Vivian Maier is the critically acclaimed documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and, discovered decades later, is now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.
Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.
Publication Date: Originally released as a documentary in 2001.
A film about the American photographer James Nachtwey, about his motivation, his fears and his daily routine as a war photographer. If we believe Hollywood pictures, war photographers are all hard-boiled and cynical old troopers. How can they think about 'exposure time' in the very moment of dread?
Swiss author, director and producer Christian Frei followed James Nachtwey for two years into the wars in Indonesia, Kosovo, Palestine... Christian Frei used special micro-cameras attached to James Nachtwey's photo-camera. We see a famous photographer looking for the decisive moment. We hear every breath of the photographer. For the first time in the history of movies about photographers, this technique allowed an authentic insight into the work of a concerned photo-journalist.
An entertaining and provocative look at Hollywood’s depiction of Native Americans, Reel Injun journeys through a century of cinema to set the record straight. Traveling through the heartland of the U.S., to the Black Hills and Monument Valley, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond examines how the myth of the movie "Injun" has influenced the world’s understanding -- and misunderstanding -- of Natives. With clips from hundreds of classic and recent films document the shift from nuanced silent-era heroes to the Western’s "noble savage" stereotype, leading up to the bourgeoning Native independent scene of Smoke Signals and The Fast Runner. Containing candid interviews with celebrated directors, writers, actors and activists, including Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson, Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell, and Russell Means, Reel Injun is an insightful and essential compendium for understanding the racial politics of Hollywood and the continuing artistic vibrancy of Native peoples.
Publication Date: Originally produced as a motion picture in 2003.
Now, for the first time, Tupac tells his own dramatic life story. Narrated entirely in Tupac's own voice, this major motion picture is the only film made in collaboration with Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, and the only film to feature Tupac's music and electrifying concert performances.