The New York Review of Books recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding (previously), growing out of an alliance between Harpers editor Robert Silvers and writer Elizabeth Hardwick to find a place for what she called "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." Known as the New York Review or the NYRB, it is also known to fans as the best magazine in the world. Next Monday, HBO will air The 50-Year Argument, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the history of the magazine and what makes it special. [more inside]
On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. In 1964, Peter Watkins wrote and produced a docudrama for the BBC, from the perspective of a documentary crew on the ground, depicting the battle and its aftermath: Culloden. [1:12:14]
Wattstax [SLYT] is a 1973 documentary film about the 1972 Wattstax music festival, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Featuring performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, The Emotions, The Bar-Kays, and other greats of soul, R&B, and gospel, Wattstax also incorporates relatively unknown comic Richard Pryor's musings on life for black Americans in 1972, "man-and-woman-on-the-street" interviews, and audience footage. [NSFW] [more inside]
Les Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride is a collection of found photographs by film-maker Sébastien Lifshitz showing (mostly anonymous) gay couples together in the early years of the 20th century. 'He found most of his collection in the US and western Europe, but none in the UK: “Maybe the British think such photographs have no value, or are too private to sell.”'. In 2012, Lifshitz released Les Invisibles, a related documentary exploring the lives of 11 gay and lesbian individuals over the age of 70. [more inside]
I.F. Stone's Weekly, a 1973 documentary about one of the greatest American journalists of the 20th century (Part 1). Part 2 of 6 here (incomplete). Isidor Feinstein "Izzy" Stone discusses how he exposed widely-accepted fictions about the Vietnam War and the escalation of the Cold War—merely by reading what the government published. He was blacklisted in 1950 and began his own newsletter, which railed against McCarthyism, racial discrimination, and the complacent establishment media. [more inside]
“The way the poem sits on the page does not necessarily tell you anything about how to read it.” Explains Hugh Kenner of radical modernist poet and New Jersey general practitioner Williams Carlos Williams. The series features archival footage, animation, and interviews with critics, poets and and neighbors, among them Helen Vendler, Marjorie Porloff, James Merrill, and Anthony Hecht. Also, Elizabeth Bishop, Hart Crane, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Robert Lowell, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman. Produced by the New York Center for Visual History, 1988. Previously [more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The critically-acclaimed BBC production The Story of the Jews, written and presented by historian (and foodie) Simon Schama, can be viewed online by people with access to BBC iPlayer TV programs. It will be shown in the USA on PBS later this year. [more inside]
In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer ( 2 3 4 5 ), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
Makers: Women Who Make America is a sweeping 3-hour documentary of the movement for women's equality in the last half of the twentieth century. Airing this month on US public television, it's accompanied by an online archive of videos of interviews with individual women in leadership across a variety of fields. Leaders and activists, celebrities and pioneers, and everyday women retell the story of their awakening, organizing, and world-changing efforts.
"Used to be that the idea was 'once every two years voters elected their representatives.' And now instead it's 'every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.'"
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority, undermined Obama's mandate, set the terms of the sequestration fight, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade. It's not a new problem. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act, it could get a whole lot worse. And the electoral college may be next. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia. Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded, the lost, the torched, the almost lost, the repurposed, the reborn, and the unbounded. [more inside]
In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
Victorian Farm | Edwardian Farm -- 18 hours of BBC experimental archeology/historical documentaries, online. Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman spend two years living the life of rural country farmers.
We've all seen variations on the personal time-lapse video -- a snapshot every day for six years, or a look at a young girl's first decade. But nobody's done it quite like Sam Klemke. For thirty-five years the itinerant freelance cartoonist has documented his life in short year-end reviews, a funny, weary, eccentric, and hopeful record dating all the way back to 1977. Recently optioned for documentary treatment by the government of Australia, you can skim Sam's opus in reverse in the striking video "35 Years Backwards Thru Time with Sam Klemke," an ever-evolving home movie montage that grows grainier and grainier as it tracks Sam "from a paunchy middle aged white bearded self deprecating schluby old fart, to a svelt, full haired, clean shaven, self-important but clueless 20 year old."
Grierson believed strongly that the filmmaker had a social responsibility, and that film could help a society realize democratic ideals. His absolute faith in the value of capturing the drama of everyday life was to influence generations of filmmakers all over the world. In fact, he coined the term "documentary film." [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
The Burton Holmes Archive has information about Burton Holmes, the travel writer who became the first person to make filmic travelogues. More importantly, they also have a lot of film clips by Holmes and his associate, André de la Varre, who was also a great travelogue maker himself. Watching these clips is not quite time travel, but it is as close as we can get. Take a look at Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1926, Lake Michigan in 20s, Cairo in 1932 and the 1955 Rio de Janeiro carnival. The later films have sound and narration, but I prefer the silent ones. [Burton Holmes previously, André de la Varre previously, and the Travel Film Archive, which runs Burton Holmes site, previously]
The Reel History of Britain, a BFI/BBC co-production, brings archive film into the nation’s living rooms. The footage shown in the series has been selected from the hundreds of thousands of films and programmes preserved in Britain’s film and television archives. We are complementing the series by making many of the films featured in The Reel History of Britain available online in their entirety, alongside expert commentary from the nation’s archive curators.
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth
Style Like U features an exhaustive video archive of people talking about their clothes and history and what personal style means to them and the power of self transformation. [more inside]
Finnish YouTube user Ishexan has uploaded seven English subtitled movies in parts: Broken Blossoms (1919), Aelita (1924), The Gipsy Charmer (1929), The Tragedy of Elina (1938), The Activists (1939), The Wooden Pauper's Bride (1944), and Sampo (1959), which is based on the epic poem The Kalevala. The films are mostly Finnish, though Aelita is a silent Russian sci-fi film, and Sampo was a joint Finnish and Soviet production. More film clips inside (mostly Finnish documentaries and "dorky musical numbers"). [more inside]
802 Prisoners attempted escape from Auschwitz. 144 were successful. Kazimierz Piechowski, a Polish boy scout, was one of them. Today, at age 91, he tells his story. [more inside]
Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside (Vimeo link; possibly triggering) is a 2011 short film by Alejandro Zuluaga and Harsha Walia, based on a concept by the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group (TRT 32:00). [more inside]
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
The American Festivals Project takes you along on two guys' National Geographic-funded 2008 tour of the "small, hidden, and bizarre" festivals celebrated all over the United States. Through photos, video, and a blog, discover Rattlesnake Roundup, Okie noodling, an American Fasnacht, the Idiotarod, and plenty more. [more inside]
IN Gear, swinging London of 1960s and SOHO bohemian Coffee Bars of London, 1959. These are a few of the 500+ vintage documentary shorts called "Look at Life" that ran at the Odeon and Gaumont cinemas during the 50s and 60s. (via Dangerous Minds) [more inside]
RussianFilter: Historical Chronicles with Nikolai Svanidze is an ongoing Russian television documentary series which, starting with 1901, picks out one person per year, every year, of the 100 years of the 20th century in Russia. It's entirely in Russian, of course, but for them as speaks it, it's one fascinating perspective on Russian history, with excellent narration, copious detail, and fascinating interconnections of events, people and places. All of the episodes that are available through Google Video and various other sources, and [more inside]
From the BBC blog of documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis: Experiments in the Laboratory of Consumerism 1959-67: "I have quite a lot of film from the archives that was shot in the Madison Avenue agencies in the mid 1960s, and I thought I would put some sections up. It is great because it shows some of the major advertising men and women of the time, many of whom are the real-life models for characters in Mad Men." Includes a 9-minute video interview with the late Herta Herzog. [more inside]
Wild Film History is a guide to over 100 years of wildlife filmmaking, highlighting landmark films (1959's Serengeti Darf Nicht Sterben, aka Serengeti Shall Not Die - Clip 1, Clip 2) as well as historical relics (1910's The Birth of a Flower - Clip). Check out the links on the Key Events page for an overview of how the genre developed. The site also features biographies and oral history interviews with pioneers (mostly U.K.-based) in the industry. A project of Wildscreen.
MOONWALK ONE - A surprisingly groovy look at the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in a full length documentary that contains a lot of rare and not often seen footage of the preparations and launch of the first manned mission to the moon. Warning: Also contains lots of theramins, trippy optical effects, faux bohemians and some really blowy narrative.
Uneven Terrain is a series of short documentaries about urban exploration, about 10-15 minutes long each. There are six so far, about monumental ruins in New York, Centralia, the Pennsylvania town where an underground coalseam has been on fire since the 1960s, abandoned missile silos in the US and how they're being turned into homes, oil drilling in Los Angeles, the Teufelberg listening station and the abandoned bunkers under Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and pirate radio in London and on the old Redsand sea forts. Each short doc has a different presenter. All have accompanying photo galleries. [These are produced for the bootmaker Palladium, but it's pretty low-key]
The national record (PDF) for the most career points scored in high school basketball is held by a woman: Lynne Lorenzen from Ventura High School. Lorenzen and her sisters played six on six basketball, a fast paced and high scoring game. Six on six was a great tradition in Iowa, surviving until 1993, when Oklahoma became the last state to have games. There is both a documentary and a book detailing the nuanced history of the game in Iowa.
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans premieres Thursday, January 29 on PBS. Faubourg Tremé is considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Trailer for Faubourg Tremé
The Year 3000 looks back on the Beatles: A future-documentary on the world-changing impact of the Fab Four. (via)
A treasure trove of gay and lesbian documentaries to watch online. Our course begins with a brief overview. (9m05s) [more inside]
Gallipoli: The First Day [flash] An ABC documentary site about the WW1 ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915.
SpaceTimeTV collects and lets you watch all the best educational videos online from full length documentaries (such as the 50 minute long Is There Life on Mars) to short video clips such as this one on glaciers and global warming. There are hundreds of videos on topics including history, space, technology, and nature.
Clips from the BBC documentary, The African Rock n' Roll Years - Part 1 l Part 2 l Part 3 l Part 4 l Part 5 l Part 6 - a six-part series mixing interviews with key artists, concert footage and news archives, the series examines and explains the "styles that make up the continent's music, and the political and social pressures that led to their development." BBC documentary details. Found in YouTube member, Duncanzibar's, good collection of mostly African music videos. [more inside]
The Tone Generation is a radio series by Ian Helliwell 'looking at different themes or composers in the era of analogue tape and early synthesizer technology'. The original globe-trotting series: Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, USA, Canada, Rest of World. Bonus programmes: Expo 58, The RCA Synthesizer. All links are to MP3 files, except the first one. Alternatively, you can slurp down the lot in one go by subscribing to the podcast feed.
Spiegel TV has tracked down rare Nazi TV footage, complete with everything from bizarre cabaret acts to interviews with people like Albert Speer. Pop culture done by Nazis, the banality of showbiz evil. [more inside]
Page: 1 2