Saturday, February 21, 2015


Citizenfour - Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier - John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam - Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth - Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Virunga - Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

Citizenfour is the insider's view of the much publicized leak of NSA practices by Edward Snowden. He and his journalist partners are followed through their interviews, and we learn more about why he decided to do this, and we see him instructing the journalists and filmmakers about ways that people can be tracked and followed, even in ways that we wouldn't expect.  Snowden is a mild mannered and thoughtful person, and whether you agree with what he did or not, the film is a different view of the person who was represented in the media (much of which is shown, as well).  His journalist partners are also key figures in this story, with their own view on their responsibilities to the public.

Finding Vivian Maier
Finding Vivian Maier is an unexpected treat of a film.  It follows the discovery of a collection of over 100,000 superb photographs by a woman who worked as a nanny and housekeeper for upscale families in New York.  As the mystery is solved and we discover who took the extraordinary photos, we meet the people for whom she worked, and we discover darker elements of her personality.  The baffling thing is that though everyone knew she was obsessed with taking photographs, they never knew how truly talented she was.

Last Days in Vietnam
This is a powerful story as those who were in Vietnam and those serving in the American government at the time recount their experiences as Americans were being airlifted from a country being taken over by the North Vietnamese.  The Americans understood that the South Vietnamese who has worked for them and with them would most certainly be tortured, imprisoned, or killed, but that the number was far too many to help leave.  We see the obligation that those on the ground and those in President Ford's circle felt to the people - many of whom would be left behind.

The Salt of the Earth
The Salt of the Earth follows the remarkable life and photography career of Sebastiao Salgado through wars, famines, international conflicts, massacres, and later in his life, a commitment to environmental beauty and its rebirth in Brazil.  We see his priorities unfold as we review his work, and the striking photographs that are shown in the film are a retrospective of the last 40 years of world events.

Virunga follows an area of the Congo that houses mountain gorillas, and the people who risk their lives every day to preserve their habitat and the animals themselves.  As the film progresses, militants who seem to be working for a foreign company looking for oil get closer and closer to the national park.  It's a complex story of aggression, money, and who is really threatening the park.  The leader of those defending Virunga is a Belgian-born Prince who understands the politics and the money better than most, but is unyielding in his commitment to preservation.  Those who work directly with the gorillas are brave and kind - some of whom escaped their lives as child soldiers and are now proud to be doing good in the world.  This film is touching and meaningful, and is one of the best I've seen.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait till I watch The Salt of the Earth. That is going to be a really good documentary. I love good photos and I hope I will enjoy watching it.