Documentaries

TIME's 100 most influential images

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In this unprecedented exploration of 100 photographs that shaped the human experience, TIME goes behind each spectacular image to reveal how and why it changed the course of history (via).

There is no formula that makes a picture influential. Some images are on our list because they were the first of their kind, others because they shaped the way we think. And some made the cut because they directly changed the way we live. What all 100 share is that they are turning points in our human experience (via).

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

You can explore the stories behind the top 100 photographs, or you can watch short documentaries of the top 20 OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PHOTOS OF ALL TIME.

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The Tables, a short film by Jon Bunning

A look at the powerful connection between a pair of outdoor ping pong tables in the heart of New York City and the unlikely group of people they’ve brought together, from homeless people to investment bankers to gangbangers (via).

Love this documentary. The cinematography for sure is fantastic, but also it's message.  It reminds me a bit of the kids in Detroit who are waging paintball wars as a way to battle against gang violence. Give people something to do, a purpose, and a way to find community, and they will (I believe) stop destroying neighborhoods, their neighbors, and themselves. 

Also, Sergio is my favorite. 

 

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-N- Stuff  :  Documentaries  :  Short Films

The Fallen of WWII : A Short Documentary of War and Peace

This video, at various points, made me sick. The graphs, of each figure equaling 1000 people who died, and that red line of Russian casualties . . . goodness. I thought it would never end. 

Yet, when it came to the midway point, when Halloran said, "More people died in WWII than in any other world in history. For comparison, here are twenty or so of the very worst wars we have on record," I couldn't help but think of a quote from a book I recently read, Born a Crime.

Trevor Noah, an American comedian born in Apartheid South Africa writes

The thing Africans don't have that the Jewish people do have is documentation. The Nazis kept meticulous records, took pictures, made films. And that's really what it comes down to. Holocaust victims count because Hitler counted them. Six million people killed. We can all look at that number and rightly be horrified.

If you look at that infographic closely (minute 13:13), only two African countries are mentioned, "The Congo" listed at 8 million and Mideast Slave Trade at 19 million. And these are just the millions that "count". And they mights simply be guesses. 

. . . When you read through the history of atrocities against Africans, there are no numbers, only guesses. It's harder to be horrified by a guess. When Portugal and Belgium were plundering Angola and the Congo, they weren't counting the black people they slaughtered. How many black people died harvesting rubber in the Congo? In the gold and diamond mines of the Transvaal?

As the film spans out and the graph of millions dead shrinks, the title, "Worst Atrocities on Record" appears. 

How many more have died who haven't been recorded? How many more are still dying today, during the "Long/New Peace"? Because even though we are better than we were, can we honestly call this a time of peace, just because the major powers (dare I say important powers) aren't fighting each other? 

If people are still dying, needlessly, at the hands and minds of others, and if people are still fearing for their lives and losing their homes, can we really call this a time of peace?

What about the refugees that are spread all across this world? The wars and genocides that have plagued Africa and the Middle East, what about the thousands of deaths that are growing daily in shit-hole countries? . . . oh. Right. Now I get it.

That's why we're allowed to be content. Because we're only counting the countries that count. 

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Documentaries  :  Infographics that say more than what they say  :  WWII

Featured Photographer : Sebastiao Salgado

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Sebastião Salgado’s early influences included Lewis Hine, W Eugene Smith and Walker Evans. Much like his heros, Salgado developed a style in black and white that found beauty in brutal subjects of poverty, hardship and oppression of various cultures under the wake of industrialization to the native landscape (via).

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With a photojournalistic, monochromatic style that combines complexity with a high sense of drama, his work is dedicated to awareness of conditions of both wildlife and humans (via).

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Salgado’s work raised global awareness to varying human conditions which revealed "the often harsh conditions of large scale industrial sites including oil fields and commercial fisheries" (via).

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In 2004, after decades of seeing and capturing the worst humanity has to offer, "his work shifted to landscape and wildlife as he began his work on Genesis, a collection of images from some of the most remote parts of the world."

"Salgado aimed to capture landscape that is completely untouched by humans" (via). 

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For forty years, Salgado documented deprived societies in hidden corners of the world, and the images, the people, and the experiences slowly yet methodically took its toll - his soul became sick, "I no longer believed in anything," Salgado found, "in any salvation for the human species."

It was then that he returned to his Brazilian home to began a new project: restoring the rainforest and mending his soul. 

For a deeper, more intimate glimpse into Sebastiao Salgado's heart and mind and camera, check out The Salt of the Earth, a film directed by Salgado's son that explores the life and loves and work of the brilliant Sebastião Salgado.

Here's a trailer of the film.

Little did I know that I was going to discover much more than just a photographer.

And so will you.

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-N- Stuff  :  Photography  :  Inspiring art  :  Salgados's Instagram  :  Documentaries

 

"To feel alive again" : The Boho's Lament

A tribute to Phillip and his storytelling that celebrates the New York City he once knew - via

A tribute to Phillip and his storytelling that celebrates the New York City he once knew - via

"I want to sing the song of my life to the world with a guitar and a park bench.

I wanna get crazy, get high, get excited, get happy, get creative, get arrested.

I just want to feel alive again.

I've been to New York a few times. The last time I was there, I bought an "I (heart) NY" t-shirt. I regret it.

Because it was just a facade. 

Because I didn't actually feel a thing.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Documentaries  :  Photos of NY from the early 1920's   :  The people Joseph Rodriguez saw through the windshield.

 

 

 

Young@Heart : A documentary

YOUNG@HEART chronicles seven weeks in the lives of the members of the chorus as they prepare for a one-night-only concert in their hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. The group is made up of two dozen spirited seniors — former schoolteachers, executives, doctors, and food service workers — who specialize in reinterpreting rock, punk, and R&B classics from a unique perspective. What ultimately emerges in the film is a funny and unexpectedly moving testament to friendship, creative inspiration, and expectations defied (via).

And it's one of my favorite documentaries. 

Not because its highly entertaining or expounds upon some new or fascinating idea, but because its devoid of it. 

It's simple, yet extremely personal and human, and it just about brings down the house. Like this scene with Fred Knittle who is supposed to be singing this as a duet, but when his partner falls ill, he has to push through and perform it alone. 

He nails it.

 

Or here, as they perform live at Hampshire County Jail.

Damn.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiring films about Humans  :  Inspiring Art  :  Documentaries 

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

Been wanting to watch this for a while. It didn't disappoint.

You may not agree with Jim Carrey on everything he says - or maybe nothing, I know I didn't. But his brilliance is unmatched. 

Good God he and this was good.

 

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SAMSARA : The ever turning wheel of life

Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders.  By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern (via).

The following is a fusion of SAMSARA and BARAKA, a film of similar purpose and design.

That ending scene, of the monks destroying their brilliant masterpiece, is so fantastically powerful. And I can't decide where my own inner interpretation lands. Is it meaningless meaningless all is meaningless? Is it that I am here, that life exists. And identity. That the powerful play goes on and I may contribute a verse?

Or is it something else entirely? 

I kind of like the idea that all humanity is a different color, making up a much larger work that will, inevitably, be destroyed - whatever that means.

But not yet.

Because "SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means 'the ever turning wheel of life,'" and at least for now, there is a lot of Life left for us to dance.

 

Even in jail.

 

Yet, there are some that never will. Or if they do, it won't be for life.

Because that too is part of the our reality and inner interpretation that I just quite understand.

 

"SAMSARA was filmed in 25 countries and produced over the course of almost 5 years." You can watch the full length movie on Amazon.

 

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiring films about Humans  :  Inspiring Art  :  Documentaries 

Heritage and Hate : Mississippi's State Flag

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In contrast to Charlottesville: Race and Terror, Heritage and Hate: Mississippi's State Flag is a case study of how patience, curiosity, and the power of seeing things from another's perspective can change hearts, and possibly flags.

I truly appreciated this documentary because it changed the narrative a bit, because when I think of the stars and stripes of the confederate flag, I think white supremacists, radical racists, and gun-totting, right-wing extremists. 

Or, at the very least, those who relate to them but are too afraid to attend rallies or shoot up churches. 

Which is probably completely unfair. Or, at the very least, fully incomplete. 

But still, the argument of, "This is my heritage" doesn't hold much water. In fact, it probably proves the point. Because if heritage is the basis for making decisions, then the flag must come down. Because to some, to many, it's a reminder of the brutality and hate that their ancestors had to endure. Because their heritage isn't white. 

I mean, isn't that just being hospitable? Caring for others and making them feel at home?

Because to many, the Confederate flag is the antithesis of southern hospitality.

Yet, Sometimes, seeing things from another's perspective is the most difficult task we are asked to do. 

And that means me too.

I don't understand the Confederate flag, why anyone would fly it anywhere, or why keeping it around, especially at government buildings, is even up for discussion. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to understand. Because I should. Especially because I don't understand.

Seeing things from another's perspective means sitting and talking and listening to those who hold a perspective different than my own. It means disagreeing, respectfully, but also changing. Maybe not in beliefs and convictions, but for sure in perspectives and opinions of those who live on the other side. 

Because they too are human. And I need them, their differences, and their hardheadedness. Just like they need mine.

Arthur Brooks, in a discussion with Guy Raz, says it this way:

A majority of our people in our country today who are politically active believe that they are motivated by love, but the other side is motivated by hate. Think about it. Think about it. Most people are walking around saying, you know, my ideology's based on basic benevolence. I want to help people. But the other guys, they're evil and out to get me. You can't progress as a society when you have this kind of asymmetry. It's impossible - irreconcilable differences, right? We'll never come together - wrong. That is diversity, in which lies our strength. We need each other. In other words, if we want to help people, there's no other way.

I love that, "no other way," because it reminds me that if everyone thought like me, had my strengths, my opinions, my perspectives and convictions, not only would this country and world turn to shit and suffer deeply, it would never grow or learn or do anything other than die. 

Because my thoughts and ideas are fully and completely incomplete, they need unity with diversity, but they don't need a flag. 

And neither does this country.