Editor’s note: This is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Shane from Film Actually.
Searching for Sugar Man tells the story of the search for a mysterious 1970s American musician Rodriguez, who unknowingly became a superstar in South Africa while remaining virtually unknown at home. Presumed to be dead, the film follows the fascinating journey of two South Africans who set out to find information on their beloved rock ‘n’ roller. What follows is a wonderful documentary filled with mystery and intrigue, as we get a sense of the man and his unusual legacy. Despite utilizing the “talking heads” style of documentary filmmaking, the plot is so rich that it fully engages you. It was amazing to find out about his mythology (record producers often compared him to Bob Dylan), his failures and his far-reaching influence.
The Invisible War is an investigative documentary about the prevalence of rape within the US military. The film looks into the traumatizing experiences of numerous women (and men), whose lives have been ruined by these vile acts. Since it relies mainly on their confessions, the visual storytelling isn’t as creative as other contenders in this category. However, their stories are so horrifying that it will certainly stir up your emotions. The military cover ups are seriously infuriating and I commend these brave individuals for exposing the truth. As this film clearly shows, there needs to be significant cultural and institutional changes in order to fight this issue. This is a timely and vital work from director Kirby Dick.
5 Broken Cameras tells the story of a Palestinian farmer and his nonviolent efforts to resist the occupation of Israeli settlers in his small village. This grassroots film is a shining example of the power of modern technology as it allows people to share their seemingly insignificant life experiences with the world. Although his situation relates to the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s primarily a specific local concern.
How To Survive A Plague is the fiery chronicle of the fight against AIDS during the early years of the epidemic. It’s a powerful documentary that takes us back in time to those terrifying years when sufficient treatment was unavailable and the disease was a sure death sentence. The film is very well-edited, using old footage to take us through 10 pivotal years in this crisis. You can feel the urgency as the death toll rises and you get a good sense of the politics hindering the development of treatment. Set during the 1980s and early 1990s, this film is as much about AIDS research as it is about gay rights and affordable health care. The blindness-inducing, lesion-causing manifestation of AIDS seems like a dated issue, but the underlying societal implications are still relevant today. One can just look at the debates around gay marriage and ObamaCare today and see a link to the setbacks that AIDS activists faced during this period.
The Gatekeepersis a documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see this one (it doesn’t release in theaters until February 1), so I have no thoughts to share. I’ve heard great things though, so I suspect it will be one to watch for in this Oscar race.