9th Annual Full Frame Doc Festival: Rest in peace

News & Politics
This post was co-written with Kevin Greer, co-founder of the Brooklyn Community High School of Communications, Arts and Media.

Not only did we NOT get to see most of the films we said we were looking forward to, but we hardly saw any of the films that won awards, (one and a half, to be exact). We offered an analogy about that on day two which we won't repeat, but suffice it to say that you can’t have it all, it's quality not quantity, and we were extremely satisfied with what we got.

Here's some of what we got:
Anne Makepeace's "Rain In A Dry Land," we only got some of (missed the first half hour), but it was still enough for us to agree it deservedly won the Full Frame Working Films award. This prize is given to the film "that has the greatest potential for supporting serious grassroots organizing and social change." "Rain" chronicles the life of two Bantu families, brought to the U.S. from the Kakhuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, as they struggle to adapt to the American way, come to grips with what they thought that was compared to the harsh realities, and still manage to hold on to their own identities. It is a sensitive and moving portrayal and sheds light on some of the often conflicting notions and realities of what it means to be (and become) an American.

On being American: Julie Anderson's "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater," (co-produced by CC Goldwater, Barry's granddaughter), is a fascinating portrait of the man --- a gifted photographer, friend of the Hopi Indians, loving yet aloof father and grandfather, patriotic Arizonian cowboy, handsome, and downright charismatic man. Oh, and he seemed to have thought it a good idea to deforest (and depopulate?) South Vietnam with a low-grade nuclear bomb. While you get a sense of how his Libertarian belief system could be an outgrowth of his love of the Arizona desert, from a political standpoint the merely film skims the surface, and the result is a light look at the roots of conservatism. There are very few, if any, subjects interviewed who seriously challenge his ideology or critically assess his political legacy, which is odd considering just how much vitriol he managed to inspire when he was alive. There is a bite from Al Franken, who relates that his father switched to democrat when Goldwater ran for prez because he was not a supporter of the civil rights movement, but on the whole, the film seems to want to present Goldwater, as he predicted he would be, as a proto-liberal. He was, in fact not opposed to abortion, nor was he opposed to gays in the military, nor was he fond of Tricky Dick Nixon or the religious right. But he was also stridently pro-business, anti-union, and pro-military.

For a real liberal, look no further than "Al Franken: God Spoke," (directed by Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob) which serves up a good, old time roasting of the Republican party and its systematic, bald-faced (albeit frighteningly successful) campaign of LIES. Tragically, the doc doesn't stay funny all the way through. As the 2005 elections approach and Franken and his cohorts contemplate ways of gloating in victory . . . well, we all know how the story ends. But not to lose heart, compatriots, the film ends with Mr. Franklin considering a bid for Minnesota Senator, and the sober realization that he'll never again be able to tell the Buddy Hackett joke about the man who wakes up one morning with a penis growing out of his forehead.

What about waking up one morning to be faced with the fact that you may never again be able to hang with your homies, blow your trombone, or sing and dance down Bourbon Street?

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