American Studies

Showing all 77 results

  • film_155

    All for the Taking: 21st-Century Urban Renewal

    This timely and thought-provoking documentary provides an insightful case study of the uses and abuses of the power of eminent domain by the city of Philadelphia as it attempts to redefine itself through "urban renewal" and planned gentrification.

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  • film_183

    Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi

    This beautifully crafted, poignant, and timely documentary explores the power of art to heal the trauma of torture. The film follows exiled Chilean musician Quique Cruz from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chile and back as he creates a multimedia installation and musical suite in an effort to heal the emotional wounds inflicted on him by the state-sponsored torture of the Pinochet regime.

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  • film_210

    Autumn’s Work

    This is the third of the four films that make up the series, Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods. This beautifully shot and edited film follows Bill Coperthwaite as he prepares for winter in the woods.

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  • film_127

    Backbone of the World

    Set amid the majestic splendor of the northern Rockies, this innovative and inspiring documentary interweaves two compelling parallel stories: film director George Burdeau’s journey home to live and work on the Blackfeet Reservation, and his tribe’s determined struggle to protect its sacred lands and forge a new identity.

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  • film_65

    The Band

    When filmmaker David Zeiger spends a year documenting his son Danny&quot high school marching band in Decatur, Georgia, he gets a crash course in love, friendship, and marching in formation. Featuring refreshingly candid student commentary on everything from anorexia and Ritalin to divorced parents and race relations, "The Band" is a lively, engrossing look at the ups and downs of all-American teenage life, 1990s style.

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  • film_83

    Bear’s Hiding Place: Ishi’s Last Refuge

    This documentary journey into the past follows a contemporary archaeological expedition to find and confirm the location of Wowunupo’mu Tetna, or Bear’s Hiding Place, the last refuge of the Yahi and of Ishi before his dramatic appearance in 1911.

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  • film_178

    Beyond Our Boundaries

    This engaging documentary explores a wide array of issues faced by international and American students when developing working relationships and friendships with one another. It serves as an excellent discussion-starter on interchanges between students of varying nationalities and ethnicities, as well as a thought-provoking illustration of how intercultural contacts help break down cultural stereotypes and ethnocentrism.

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  • film_166

    Beyond the Politics of Life and Choice: A New Conversation About Abortion

    This timely and exceptionally thought-provoking documentary moves the divisive and highly emotional debate over abortion away from politicized battle lines and into a compassionate and sensitive space, where people with opposing views can better understand the deep concerns of one another.

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  • film_167

    Birdsong and Coffee: A Wake Up Call

    This incisive and multifaceted documentary powerfully demonstrates how coffee drinkers in this and other developed countries hold in their hands the fate of farm families, farming communities, and entire ecosystems in coffee-growing regions worldwide.

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  • film_47


    This fascinating and thought-provoking documentary chronicles the many challenges faced by Suquamish families in the fireworks business and explores the complex and often thorny issues of tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness in Indian Country.

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  • film_50

    Brownsville Black and White

    This poignant and powerful documentary explores the complex history of interracial cooperation, urban change, and social conflict in Brownsville, a neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, from the 1930s to the present.

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  • film_200

    Butte, America

    This "beautifully told and eye-opening account of the legacy of industrial mining in the American West" recounts the sometimes glorious, often sorrowful, but always fascinating story of Butte, Montana, once the world’s largest producer of copper.

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  • film_160

    California and the American Dream

    This incisive, thought-provoking four-part series explores the dynamics of culture, community, and identity in California, one of the most diverse places in the world. Each film provides a trenchant and highly discussible case study of divergent California social trends that are keenly evident all across America.

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  • film_156

    California’s “Lost” Tribes

    This insightful documentary explores the conflicts over Indian gaming and places them in the context of both California and Native American history. The film examines the historical underpinnings of tribal sovereignty and the evolution of tribal gaming rights. It illustrates the impact of gaming on Indian self-determination, and the challenges that Native people face in defining the identity of their people for the future.

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  • film_80

    Can You See the Color Gray?

    This unique and provocative documentary examines the development, expression, and communication of racial and ethnic prejudices and stereotypes.

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  • film_8

    Chronicle of an American Suburb

    This fascinating, multifaceted documentary is an extraordinary portrait of one of America’s quintessential postwar suburbs, Park Forest, Illinois, from its founding to the present.

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  • film_175

    Circle of Stories: Native American Stories from the Four Directions

    This unique and engaging documentary explores the extraordinary diversity and profound contemporary relevance of Native American storytelling. A feast for the eyes, ears, and mind, the film presents eight varied stories from the four directions and seasons.

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  • film_118

    Confederacy Theory

    This powerful and thought-provoking documentary explores the complexities of a controversy steeped in American history and racial divisiveness: the debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina, the last state to fly the flag on its capitol.

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  • film_126

    Contrary Warriors

    This widely acclaimed documentary chronicles the Crow Indian’s; century-long battle for survival. In spite of every effort by the U.S. government to assimilate the people and acquire their tribal land, the Crows have persisted — their language, family, and culture intact.

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  • film_188

    Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice

    This thought-provoking documentary explores the life and achievements of a man who felt the sting of injustice while growing up and later, as a lawyer, judge, and educator, fought for more than five decades to eradicate discrimination and inequality in American life.

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  • film_46

    The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy

    This exceptional and compelling documentary, narrated by Alec Baldwin, examines the life and legacy of legendary community organizer Saul Alinsky.

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  • film_37

    Discovering Dominga

    This unforgettably dramatic and powerful documentary relates the extraordinary story of a young Iowa housewife who discovers she is a survivor of one of the most horrific massacres in Guatemalan history, committed in 1982 against Maya Indian villagers. The film follows her remarkable journey of transformation and discovery as she returns to Guatemala in search of her heritage and ultimately joins efforts to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to justice.

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  • film_64

    Displaced in the New South

    This remarkable documentary explores the cultural collision between Asian and Hispanic immigrants and the suburban communities near Atlanta, Georgia, in which they have settled.

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  • film_101

    The End of an Old Song

    Filmed in the mountains of North Carolina, this acclaimed documentary by renowned filmmaker John Cohen revisits the region where English folklorist Cecil Sharp collected British ballads in the early 1900s.

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  • film_107

    Fifty Miles from Times Square

    A colorful portrait of life in Putnam County, New York, with its "old-time fiddlers, farmers, commuters, and hippies," where an earlier, more traditional, relaxed style of life continues.

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  • film_10

    Flag Wars

    This profoundly compelling and thought-provoking documentary is the best case study available of the social and human consequences of urban gentrification in contemporary America. Filmed over a four-year period in Columbus, Ohio, "Flag Wars" explores with eye-opening candor and unforgettable poignancy the effects on a long-established black neighborhood when gay white professionals move into and begin to transform the area.

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  • film_66

    Funny Old Guys

    Frank Tarloff was a man for whom there were "no more victories." This poignant and deeply affecting documentary, filled with the sparkling humor of its subjects and a perceptive eye for compelling moments of revelation, follows Frank and his friends through the last months of his life.

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  • film_102

    The High Lonesome Sound

    This classic documentary, by renowned filmmaker John Cohen, evocatively illustrates how music and religion help the rural poor of Appalachia maintain their dignity and traditions in the face of change and hardship.

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  • film_40


    Shot over the course of several years, this rich and engaging documentary weaves together the stories of four Lakota Indian families from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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  • film_12

    Ishi, the Last Yahi

    This widely acclaimed film recounts one of the most extraordinary and important stories in American history and explains its contemporary relevance with power and eloquence.

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  • film_59

    Laid to Waste

    This acclaimed documentary is the best case study of environmental injustice and racism available on video. It exposes the ugly underbelly of environmental racism and provides an excellent illustration of grassroots organizing and networking.

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  • film_72

    The Last Stand: Ancient Redwoods and the Bottom Line

    This powerful and thought-provoking documentary explores the dramatic history of the 15-year battle to save the last remaining ancient redwoods in northern California’s Headwaters Forest. This riveting history is one of junk bonds and endangered salmon, car bombs and clear-cuts, corporate takeovers, collusion, corruption, greed, and murder. It is also one of courage and conviction, vision and values.

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  • film_134

    Madres Unidas: Parents Researching for Change

    This unique and inspiring documentary follows five immigrant mothers who became involved in an effort to start a new small school for their children, and later became researchers and videographers to document their journey.

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  • film_193

    Men at Work: Voices from Detroit’s Underground Economy

    Detroit, which recently came in first on Forbes magazine’s “Miserable Cities Index,” is viewed as the national reference point for all that has gone wrong in urban America. But abandonment and decay are not the only stories in the poorest, most dramatically shrinking major American city. Detroit is also a tale of ingenuity and reinvention born of necessity. This is the story of how, in an economic climate apparently designed to ensure their failure, some resilient men find work on their own terms, get food and shelter, and raise their children -often making up the means to do so as they go along.

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  • film_90

    Mi Puerto Rico

    This wide-ranging and much-honored documentary explores Puerto Rico’s rich cultural traditions and untold history, revealing the remarkable stories of its revolutionaries and abolitionists, poets and patriots.

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  • film_153

    Monkey Dance (PBS Version)

    This extraordinary documentary provides an illuminating and richly discussible case study of immigrant acculturation in contemporary America.

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  • film_152

    Monkey Dance (Director’s Version)

    This extraordinary documentary provides an illuminating and richly discussible case study of immigrant acculturation in contemporary America.

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  • film_93

    Monuments Are for Men, Waffles Are for Women: Gender, Permanence and Impermanence

    The unwritten rules governing the traditional activities of men and women are sharply but subtly defined. Women’s work has traditionally been repetitive and ongoing, and its end result short-lived and impermanent. In contrast, the activities of men are traditionally long-lived, durable, or permanent.

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  • film_207

    Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods

    An eloquent and thought-provoking meditation on time and process, this “intense, revelatory” four-part series presents an unforgettable portrait of a remarkable life – one shaped by nature, work, poetry, and the rhythm of changing seasons.

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  • film_103

    Musical Holdouts

    This classic, entertaining documentary on American traditional music features varied individuals and groups who have not become part of the “melting pot” of American society.

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  • film_195

    My Louisiana Love

    Every few years a new documentary comes along that so powerfully resonates both emotionally and intellectually that it can truly be deemed unforgettable. “My Louisiana Love” is such a film. This profoundly poignant exploration of environmental injustice and loss focuses a revelatory light on an otherwise invisible American tragedy.

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  • film_158

    The New Los Angeles

    This engaging documentary explores the complexities of inclusion in Los Angeles — the nation’s largest "majority-minority" city and the city with the nation’s largest divide between rich and poor.

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  • film_79

    No Place Like Home

    This brilliant documentary explores eight months in the life of a broken family in Seattle and powerfully depicts the cycles that keep families tied to poverty and violence from one generation to the next.

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  • film_14

    Orphans of Mathare

    This powerful documentary examines the lives of former street children now living at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home, an orphanage and school in the sprawling Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Although it focuses on one orphanage in Mathare, the film lays bare the complicated relationship between poverty, violence, disease, Christianity, tradition, and the orphan crisis in Kenya and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • film_130

    The People Today: Closing the Circle

    Filmed on the Couer d’Alene and Flathead reservations in Idaho and Montana, this unusual documentary explores the impact of Christian missionaries on the Native peoples of the northwestern Plateau and examines the ongoing tensions and dialogue between Christianity and traditional religious practices.

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  • film_105

    Pericles in America

    This musical portrait of immigrant clarinetist Pericles Halkias and the Epirot-Greek community explores the aspirations and ambivalences of Greek-Americans.

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  • film_144

    The Peyote Road: Ancient Religion in Contemporary Crisis

    This widely acclaimed, landmark documentary was instrumental in the campaign to have Congress overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 "Smith" decision, which denied the protection of the First Amendment to the traditional sacramental use of peyote by Indian people.

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  • film_116

    Playing House

    This incisive and compelling documentary chronicles the lives of five seventh- and eighth-grade girls through their first year at the elite Fay School, the oldest junior boarding school in America. With great sensitivity to individual nuance and a sharp eye for significant moments of interaction, the film reveals how deftly these 12- and 13-year-olds learn and practice “womanly” arts of psycho-social warfare while dealing with complex personal issues such as body image, class and sexual identity, family dysfunction, and self-worth.

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  • film_164

    The Pornography of Everyday Life

    This trenchant and provocative documentary essay incorporates more than 200 powerful images from advertising, ancient myth, contemporary art, and popular culture to demonstrate how pornography (defined as the sexualized domination, degradation, and objectification of women and girls and social groups who are put in the demeaned feminine role) is in reality a prevalent mainstream worldview.

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  • film_106

    Post-Industrial Fiddle

    This deceptively simple but profound film explores the importance of music-making in the life of a pulp mill worker in rural Maine. His "Down East" fiddling style is homemade music, influenced largely by local traditions.

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  • film_157

    The Price of Renewal

    What are the challenges in crafting a vibrant urban village from an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse population? This perceptive documentary examines complex issues of community development, philanthropy, and civic engagement by chronicling the long-term redevelopment of an older, deteriorating neighborhood called City Heights, often referred to as the Ellis Island of San Diego.

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  • film_49

    Primates Like Us

    In 1998 a group of primarily American undergraduate students went to Bali as part of a new Balinese Macaque Project field school to experience Balinese culture, study macaque monkey behavior and document the process with on-location video footage. After compiling and reviewing the footage, however, it became clear that what was actually captured was an ethnographic account of a group of undergraduates who were experiencing simultaneously a new culture, the rigors of anthropological fieldwork, and the conflicts of living and working with each other as a team.

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  • film_187

    Radical Disciple: The Story of Father Pfleger

    Regarded as a hero by many and a renegade by some in the Catholic Church hierarchy, Michael Pfleger, longtime pastor of Chicago’s St. Sabina parish, has consistently used the power of his pulpit to battle social inequity and engage in high profile campaigns to end drug-dealing, prostitution, and the exploitation of the poor by liquor and tobacco companies.

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  • film_73

    Rancho California (Por Favor)

    This thought-provoking, widely acclaimed visual essay provides a troubling journey through migrant farmworker camps in suburban southern California.

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  • film_174

    Record Store

    As the American music industry struggles to find its place in the digital world, many music enthusiasts continue to buy and collect vinyl records, sometimes to their financial and emotional detriment. This remarkable documentary explores the various urban subcultures at an independent record store in Philadelphia, focusing on the store’s owners, employees, and customers.

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  • film_146

    The Red Road to Sobriety

    The contemporary Native American Sobriety Movement is flourishing throughout the Indian communities of North America. This vital social movement combines ancient spiritual traditions with modern medical approaches to substance abuse recovery.

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  • film_159

    Ripe for Change

    This fascinating documentary explores the intersection of food and politics in California over the last 30 years. It illuminates the complex forces struggling for control of the future of California’s agriculture, and provides provocative commentary by a wide array of eloquent farmers, prominent chefs, and noted authors and scientists.

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  • film_84

    Roots of Beauty

    This richly detailed documentary illustrates the complex processes utilized by Pomo Indian weavers of northern California to cultivate, manage, harvest, and prepare the indigenous plant materials used in their world-famous baskets.

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  • film_180

    Roots of Health

    This thought-provoking and insightful documentary employs incisive case studies from around the world to explore how people’s health and well-being is primarily determined by where they live, their educational, social, and economic status, and the degree of control they have over their lives.

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  • film_104

    Sara and Maybelle

    A rare filmed performance of two members of the original Carter family, whose recordings helped found the country music industry. Here Sara and Maybelle demonstrate their famous guitar picking and harmony singing on "Sweet Fern" and "Solid Gone."

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  • film_85

    Science or Sacrilege: Native Americans, Archaeology and the Law

    This provocative, in-depth documentary examines the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), its underlying moral and political issues, its practical consequences, and the prospects for science in the post-NAGPRA world.

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  • film_129

    The Seasons of the Salish

    Shot on location in Idaho and Montana, this lyrical documentary follows the traditional annual round of the Native peoples of the Northern Rockies and Inland Plateau.

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  • film_143

    A Seat at the Table: Struggling for American Indian Religious Freedom

    Professor Huston Smith is widely regarded as the most eloquent and accessible contemporary authority on the history of religions. In this thought-provoking documentary he is featured in dialogues with eight American Indian leaders.

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  • film_94

    Sexism in Language: Thief of Honor, Shaper of Lies

    Designed for use in a broad range of educational settings and disciplines, this lively and provocative video analyzes the gender bias that permeates our everyday language.

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  • film_208

    Spring in Dickinson’s Reach

    This is the first of the four films that make up the series, Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods. This film establishes, literally and metaphorically, the scope of Bill Coperthwaite’s world as it explores the unique environment that he has crafted in the Maine forest.

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  • film_60

    Still Revolutionaries

    This compelling documentary explores the lives of two women who were members of the Black Panther Party between 1969 and 1975.

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  • film_209

    A Summer Task

    This is the second of the four films that make up the series, Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods. This tightly-focused film examines the rhythm and tempo of work in the forest. It follows Bill Coperthwaite and his cousin, Steve, as they fell and haul trees to build a bridge and begin charting a new trail through the woods.

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  • film_197

    To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

    This thought-provoking and powerful documentary follows Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus as he brings his revolutionary microfinance program to the United States, establishing Grameen America. The first stop: Queens, New York, 2008, just as the financial crisis explodes and the American economy plummets.

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  • film_149

    True-Hearted Vixens

    This remarkable documentary follows the fortunes of two women during the Women’s Professional Football League’s inaugural season of six exhibition games. One of the women is a young political consultant-turned linebacker and the other is an elite amateur basketball player and single mother taking a shot at wide receiver. Both traveled from afar, trading security and leaving jobs and loved ones for this long-shot at stardom.

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  • film_61

    Unfinished Symphony

    No public topic can ever be more timely than the debate over the nature and limits of liberty and the means by which citizens may oppose the policies of the government. And no documentary in recent memory so clearly and with such heartfelt eloquence poses the key questions and issues of this always-vital debate as does "Unfinished Symphony."

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  • mary_frank_comp_web

    Visions of Mary Frank

    This intimate and revelatory documentary, by the noted filmmaker, photographer, and musician John Cohen, profiles the life and art of New York artist Mary Frank. In the words of Tom Huhn, Chair of Art History and Visual and Critical Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, “This beautiful film is a profound demonstration of the continuity from art to life to art-making…” and “one of the most powerful and intimate portraits of an artist that we had ever seen.”

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  • film_154

    Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law

    This provocative and powerful documentary explores the conflict over the legalization of medical marijuana in the United States. Ten states have passed legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana. Yet all marijuana use, cultivation, and possession — for any reason — remain illegal under federal law.

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  • film_41

    Who Owns the Past?

    This outstanding documentary relates the powerful history of the American Indian struggle for control of their ancestral remains.

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  • film_211

    Winter Days

    This is the fourth of the four films that make up the series, Mr. Coperthwaite: A Life in the Maine Woods. This evocative film reveals the stillness and quietness of the forest in winter.

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  • film_142

    Wiping the Tears of Seven Generations

    In December 1990, 300 Lakota Sioux horseback riders rode 250 miles, in two weeks, through bitter, below-zero winter weather, to commemorate the lives lost at the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.

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  • film_179

    Woven Ways

    Filmed amid the dramatic landscapes of the Navajo reservation lands in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, this multifaceted documentary incisively explores the profound relationships between the Navajo people, their land, and their livestock, and examines how environmental issues now threaten the Navajo’s health, culture, and well-being.

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  • film_145

    Your Humble Serpent: The Wisdom of Reuben Snake

    Reuben Snake was a unique and compelling American Indian leader, visionary, and activist. Filled with rich and revealing examples of his storytelling prowess, this inspiring biographical portrait explores his life and philosophy and examines his provocative views on ecology, sacredness, intuitive thinking, and "the rebrowning of America."

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