Monday, 9 January 2012

Four Documentaries that Rocked my Socks in 2011

Gasland: There’s Something in the Water, by Josh Fox. Actually, I’m lying when I say I watched this in 2011 because I actually watched it less than a week ago after checking it out from my local video store. When Fox was offered something like $100,000 to allow natural gas wells to be put on his land in rural Pennsylvania, he started asking questions. And his questions ultimately led him on a quest (with a digital camera) that took him across America to explore the impact of fracking—hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas—on water supplies and the people who depend upon that water. What he found was not good news. (Move over, Erin Brockovich!) This compelling and disturbing 2010 doco has picked up a basket full of awards. It’s not available free on line, but you can get the gist of it in this 24-minute PBS interview with Fox which includes extracts from the film. This is a major environmental issue that is just breaking into public consciousness thanks, no doubt in part, to this film.

Burzynski, the Movie: Cancer is Serious Business is the extraordinary story of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a Texas medical doctor, and his legal battle to be allowed to patent his remarkably effective (and without side effects!) antineoplaston treatment for many types of cancer including child brainstem glioma which has never been cured with any other treatment. It seems there was no precedent for an individual (rather than a pharmaceutical company) to patent what is surely a paradigm-shifting medical breakthrough, and the pharmaceutical companies and USFDA weren’t about to let it happen either. After 14 years of legal wrangling and persecution, permission has now—finally!— been approved for Phase III trials. By the end of the film, I was spitting tacks! Inspiring and moving, and guaranteed to get your hackles up, this 2010 award-winning documentary film was written and directed by Eric Mercola and is available in full, on line, for free here.

Zeitgeist: Addendum. Last January I spent a month up in Auckland attending an NLP training, and I shared a house with four (sometimes five) other course participants. One of my house mates had a DVD of this video, and one evening several of us sat and watched it and talked about it. It’s clearly “alternative” and “far left”, with a pacy 1950’s-black’n’white-jazz-arthouse sort of style, but the story told, especially in the first half or so, changed my whole perspective and understanding of the world economic crisis! As the narrator says, “Understanding [the] institution of monetary policy is critical to understanding why our lives are the way they are,” and he goes on to call our monetary system “One of the most socially paralyzing structures humanity has ever endured.” I’ve watched the first part of this film a couple of times since then—the ideas are complex and it bears repeat viewing—and I’ve shared it with others who want to really understand how our financial system works. The latter part of the film goes on to examine international government corruption (for example, why do South American dictators keep dying or getting killed?) and then religion. Written and directed by Peter Joseph in 2008, the film is part of a series of films; I haven’t watched the others. Available on line, for free here.

Poisoning Paradise: Ecocide New Zealand is a gut-wrenching (quite literally!) award-winning 2008 documentary by the Graf Boys exposing the story of 1080 use in New Zealand. I’ve written a couple of blogs on 1080 that include reference to this documentary. 1080 is a highly-toxic indiscriminate poison that is banned in most countries. New Zealand, however, which advertises itself to the rest of the world as “clean” and “green,” aerial drops around 85% of the world’s total production of 1080 on our native forests in a seemingly bizarre (to me anyway) campaign to eradicate the NZ (Australian) possum. Never mind the other wildlife, insects, birds, livestock, and pet dogs that may suffer the consequences, or the potential damage to New Zealand’s pristine tourist image. This is a film to make you sad, make you mad, and make you cry. Don’t be put off by the “cheesy” 1980’s-style tourist infomercial at the beginning—it’s only a contrast to the meat of the film. Available at the usual outlets, or free online.