Posted by: kdeversblog | August 12, 2012

Documentary DVDs worth watching

I have found that our public library is an amazing source for documentary DVDs that are fun to watch. Here is a list of the DVDs I have found most thought-provoking and enjoyable. Some of them are available on Netflix as well as the library. Even if you have some them before, many have been updated and well-worth watching again. It is also interesting to see how events have unfolded and compare our current situation with the information in the DVDs.

I also highly recommend watching the “behind the scenes” parts of the movies. Sometimes how the movie was made is every bit as fascinating as the movie itself. I hope you find this list useful and will add any that you like in a comment. (Please just documentaries that deal with issues relating to this website, not feature films.)

The People Speak: Based on Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History of the United States.” The theme of this movie is “democracy is not a spectator sport.” This DVD is a treasure and I actually purchased it to add to my home stash. Howard Zinn died in 2010 at age 86 and he was still doing this performance at age 84. He was an inspiring person and a committed, life-long activist. This movie combines his narration with the dramatic readings by all my favorite actors.

Here’s a bit of the description from the DVD package: “The People Speak is a beautiful and moving film. . . [that] . . . features the actual word of rebels, dissenter, and visionaries from our past and present. These dramatic moments from our history are brought to life by a group of remarkable musicians and actors.”

Here’s the link:

Money as Debt I, II, and III. by Paul Grignon. I got the first two DVDs from the library and ended up purchasing the the third one. These DVDs are animated and the content really helped me understand the origins of money, how it works, and why we are in such a mess at this time. I also like the way Grignon presents a very cohesive alternative.

Here’s a bit of the description of the third DVD: ” . . .[it] presents a comprehensive picture of how money could work in the future. it is a blueprint full of surprising specifics for creating a whole new system applied with technologies that exist right now. Money as Debt III demonstrates in simple terms why our primitive concept of money is the ROOT cause of money system dysfunction.”

Here’s the link:

Considering Democracy: 8 things to ask your representative. The young woman film maker, Keya Lea Horiuchi wondered how the US was viewed by people in other countries. Everyone in the US talks about democracy but how is it practiced in other countries? This is a fun movie to watch, especially when you see the astonishment of people in other countries when they recognize how much better their social programs are than ours. The questions that Horiuchi raises are excellent and well-worth pondering.

Here’s a quote from the website: “Shot in ten countries, Considering Democracy weaves together seemingly different topics into an interconnected tapestry. People from around the world act as a mirror for Americans to see a reflection of political power in the United States.”

Here’s the link:

Water Wars: When drought, flood, and greed collide. Clean water is one of the essentials of life on earth. This astonishing movie shows how too little, too much, or undrinkable water is an urgent world issue. In the Pacific Northwest we have a generous supply of clean water but it is essential that we understand what is happening to water in the rest of the world, including the US. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“We have filmed on location for over two years: in Bangladesh, flood, drought and near-violent protest; in India the struggle of Indian activists against the prevailing dam mentality of the Indian Government and vested interests; in New Orleans after Katrina where the Dutch Crisis Team and its hi-tech pumping systems made a difference; in Holland where we examine its state-of-the-art canal/levee system. . . . . Can the Dutch – whose crisis teams and hi-tech pumps helped drain New Orleans after Katrina – pass on their hard won knowledge to Bangladesh and the rest of the globe where the ice caps are melting, the seas rising daily, and 80% of its fresh water is at risk from pollution and poison? Can the global community work together to deal with the impending calamity and perhaps avert it?”

Here’s the link:

The Corporation. The film is based on the book, The Corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power by Joel Bakan. Many of us watched this movie when it first appeared. The newest version includes a lot of additional interviews, etc. Here’s a quote from the website:

“To assess the “personality” of the corporate “person,” a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social “personality”: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a “psychopath.””

Yes, corporations are very sick “people” indeed. Here’s a link:

Inside Job: The global economic crisis of 2008 cost tens of millions of people their savings, their jobs, and their homes. This movie has won many awards because it presents the financial crisis in a logical way with engaging interviews. It will hold your attention because it is so well done but also because we are still living the results of the disaster.

The website is worth checking out, but I’ve included a wikipedia site because it is easier to access a description of the movie:

Dirt: the movie. My favorite part of this movie is the scene in India where an elderly man takes clay from his yard, places it on a pottery wheel, adds water, turns the wheel by hand, and forms it into a graceful clay urn. Delighted neighborhood children watch him from nearby windows. As he carefully sets the pot on the ground, we see a dozen other pots of varying sizes and shapes and we realize that this man turns dirt and water into lovely, functional items and has probably been doing this all his life. Unless you garden or farm you are probably not aware of the value of dirt. This movie broadens our understanding of dirt in its essential quality and as a source of joy as well.

Here’s a link:

Building with Awareness. This movie shows what happens when an architect decides to use traditional and alternative building materials and techniques to build a “hybrid” home – and it makes me want to do the same. I’ve watched other DVDs on this topic and this is by far the best. I love the “straw bale” work party run by the guy with dangle earrings and a mohawk/pony tail. Here’s a quote from the website:

“Learn about green building by watching the construction of this straw bale house. This hybrid home generates all of its own electricity and incorporates passive solar heating and cooling. The aesthetics are influenced by the green construction materials, the use of natural materials, and basic solar design principles. Aesthetics are an important element of green building as a structure that looks good is more likely to be preserved for years to come”

Did I mention the home and setting in Arizona are beautiful as well? Here’s the link where you can get building plans and lots of great info:

South of the Border – a film by Oliver Stone. My knowledge of South America is worse than spotty, but I learned a lot from this movie. The names of the leaders that we hear in the news and the countries came alive for me. It is a fascinating place and current events are more meaningful after watching this DVD. Here’s a quote from the website:

“There’s a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn’t know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media’s misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner  (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Nėstor Kirchner,  Fernando Lugo  (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro  (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region.”

And the link:

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): Part of the “Oregon Experience” OPB production. I almost didn’t take this one out of the library, but I’m glad I did. I’ve watched so many great DVDs about current issues but this movie resonated in a different way. We can learn a lot by seeing what previous generations have done to solve problems. This program solved several problems: it taught young men useful skills because they were carefully mentored and supervised; the young men were paid but their families were also paid which helped families stay in their homes; the environment was protected because the people running the program ensured that good husbandry techniques were employed and taught; the public areas were enriched through the projects that made them more accessible. Here’s a quote from the website:

“Five days after his 1933 inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called an emergency session of Congress to install one of his most popular New Deal programs – the Conservation Civilian Corps. It was known as the CCC. The program targeted unemployed young men, veterans and American Indians hard hit by the Great Depression. The CCC boys, as they were called, were required to send a portion of their wages home to their parents. The boys also received free education, healthcare and job training. Throughout its nine-year existence, the program put millions to work on federal and state land for the ‘prevention of forest fires, floods, and soil erosion, plant, pest, and disease control.’ Nationwide, enrollees planted three billion trees and came to be known as the Tree Army. Oregon hosted dozens of CCC camps all over the state. Enrollees fought fires on the Tillamook Burns, helped build ski areas on Mt Hood, built telephone and electrical wires, and improved farm lands. Today, Oregonians continue to enjoy the CCC legacy at parks and forests around the state. ”

It makes one wonder, why can’t we do something like this today? Here’s a link:

Fuel. I really like this movie because it reflects the film maker’s personal journey as he tried to make sense of the energy issue. His thinking reflects the struggle many of us have had as we try to understand what in the world brought us to our current situation, why we willing to kill for oil, and what alternatives exist. Here’s a quote from the website:

“Eleven years in the making, FUEL is the in-depth personal journey of filmmaker and eco-evangelist Josh Tickell, who takes us on a hip, fast-paced road trip into America’s dependence on foreign oil. Combining a history lesson of the US auto and petroleum industries and interviews with a wide range of policy makers, educators, and activists such as Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Animated by powerful graphics, FUEL looks into our future offering hope via a wide-range of renewable energy and bio-fuels. Winner of the Sundance Audience Award.”

Here’s a link:

Now it’s your turn – what are your favorites?

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