This international independent series samples the best of international documentary.
Oil & Water (#717) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Shot over 6 years, this documentary is the true story of 2 boys coming of age in the middle of one of the world's worst toxic disasters. Hugo fights for the survival of his Amazonian tribe, while David attempts to revolutionize the oil industry.
When Hugo Lucitante was 10 years old, the Cofan tribe of Ecuador made a desperate decision. Fearing extinction, they sent Hugo to be educated in the US, in hopes that he would return to lead them into a better future. A decade later, Hugo returns to the Ecuadorian Amazon to meet his destiny, armed only with a high school diploma.
David Poritz was just a 6th grader when he learned of the oil disaster in Hugo's homeland. With the blessing of his mother, David started a humanitarian aid project that led him away from his home in Amherst, Massachusetts to spend much of his youth in the Amazon.
The two teenagers meet by chance during a shared canoe ride, and then again to tour Hugo's ancestral lands where 18 billion gallons of oil waste was dumped, leading to unexplainable rashes, childhood deformities, and ballooning cancer rates.
While still a college student, David launches the world's first international company to certify oil as "fair-trade," meaning that it is drilled in a safer way. David's approach could be a game changer for the oil industry. Meanwhile, Hugo struggles with culture shock, the demands of learning to be a Cofan tribal leader, and also becoming a husband. Financial pressures cause him to shoulder two minimum wage jobs, even as oil prospectors push deeper into the rainforest.
Will Hugo become the leader his tribe so desperately needs? Will David clean up one of the world's dirtiest industries? This film follows the twists and turning points in their lives to bring a powerful conclusion to the story.
Last Train Home (#718) Duration: 1:26:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos, all at once, as a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are in the rural villages where they left behind family to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance.
This visually striking debut film from Chinese Canadian director Lixin Fan draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. 16 years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitterly ironic twist, the Zhangs's hopes for the future are undone by their very absence.
Qin, the child they left behind, has grown into adolescence crippled by a sense of abandonment. In an act of teenage rebellion, she drops out of school. She too will become a migrant worker. The decision is a heartbreaking blow for her parents.
In classic cinema verite style, this film follows the Zhangs's attempts to change their daughter's course and repair their ruptured family. Intimate and candid, it paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China. We identify with the Zhangs as they navigate through the stark and difficult choices of a society caught between old ways and new realities. Can they get ahead and still undo some of the damage that has been done to their family?
Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls (#701) Duration: 53:24 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This film mirrors the remarkable change that has taken place in Myanmar (Burma) since shooting began over two years ago. Through its exploration of 5 young women breaking free of tradition in their search for an original voice, it provides a powerful metaphor for a country suddenly thrust onto the world stage.
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Street Ballad: A Jakarta Story (#521) Duration: 53:34 STEREO
Titi Juwariyah, 27, is a street singer in Jakarta, Indonesia. She leads a challenging, conflicted life - from her migration to Jakarta as a lost teen from the Java countryside to her heartfelt quest for identity and acceptance in her adopted city.
Armed with just a battered guitar, a soulful voice, and a desire for a better life, Titi composes catchy folk tunes to entertain passengers on Jakarta's teeming buses. She dreams of making a career in music but is overwhelmed by the pressures of supporting her troubled family.
When personal crisis strikes, Titi finds herself alone and on the edge of despair. An emotional journey to see her ailing parents in their remote countryside village provides Titi with important perspective and new determination to turn her life around.
Back on the streets of Jakarta, Titi embarks on a brave new quest for independence and legitimacy. But in the process of chasing that dream, she stands to lose the very thing that is closest to her heart.
In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee (#702) Duration: 52:52 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her "double," the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.
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Family Portrait In Black and White (#520) Duration: 53:38 STEREO
lga Nenya, from a small Ukrainian town, is raising 16 black orphans in a country of Slavic blue-eyed blondes. The reality of growing up as a bi-racial child in Eastern Europe - a rare and truly visible minority - is not for the faint of heart. These children always have to be on guard against the world that surrounds them.
I Will Be Murdered (#703) Duration: 53:53 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
This documentary portrays the astonishing, real-life story of a lawyer who launched a personal crusade in search of justice, and brought his country to the brink of chaos.
In May 2009, Rodrigo Rosenberg, a wealthy, charismatic lawyer went cycling near his home in Guatemala City and was murdered. Nothing unusual, as tragically Guatemala has a murder rate four times higher than Mexico's. What was extraordinary is that Rodrigo Rosenberg knew, for certain, he was about to be killed.
Two of Rosenberg's clients had been murdered a few weeks before. He was driven to investigate a case which, he told his friends, he feared would lead to his death. A video he recorded days before he died accused the president of his murder. Uploaded to Youtube, it nearly brought down the government. A special prosecutor began an investigation, a journey into Rosenberg's soul and Guatemala's hell, that after multiple twists and turns, reached a stunning revelation.
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I Was Worth 50 Sheep (#514) Duration: 52:57 STEREO
Following a long practiced tradition in Afghanistan, 10-year-old Sabere was sold to a man in his fifties. For the next six years she was both slave and wife, miscarrying four times. Now at sixteen, she is fighting for her freedom.
The Fighting Spirit (#704) Duration: 56:46 STEREO (Secondary audio: none)
There aren't a lot of ways to leave Bukom. A poor village in Ghana, its main industry is fishing, with a paltry annual salary of $300. So its young people are fighting their way out -- literally. Thanks to tenacious coaches who turn rough street fighters into money-churning professional boxers, the village has produced several champions, and is looking for its next big winner. Twenty-two year-old George is excited to box overseas for the first time, but has girlfriend troubles back home. Known as the first lady of boxing, Yarkor is using the memory of her cheating ex-boyfriend to fuel her fire, but is struggling to win her first big fight. Having already achieved international success, Joshua is training for the world featherweight title, with the help of dodgy manager Vinnie Scolpino. A spirited look at Ghana through the eyes of those fighting for their dreams.
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Milking The Rhino (#515) Duration: 55:10 STEREO
Everyone has seen a nature documentary with a ferocious kill on the Serengeti Plain. Well, here's a different story about villagers navigating the dangers and costs of living with wildlife. After a century of "white man's conservation," the Maasai of Kenya and Namibia's Himba people are vying to share a piece of the eco-tourism pie. But can they fulfill the expectations of Westerners without abandoning their native culture?