DoubleTake Redux

After seeing almost twenty long and short documentaries, I'm ready to report. The best and brightest moments:

Best Short Doc.: My favorite three minutes of the festival was Andrey Paounov's Lucy Tsak Tsak, the story of a woman who has clicked the film marker so many times that she has appeared on 328 hours of film--and not in a single feature. In just three minutes, your appreciation for all those names in the credits and all the unsung heroes of filmmaking (the people who do all the innovation for which directors often receive undue credit) is re-realized in that "click-click" sound.

Best Long Doc.: Two Towns of Jasper. Despite its tiny population of 7,160--Jasper, Texas, represents the racial divide that spans America. When James Byrd, Jr., was chained to a pickup truck and horrifically dragged to his death in 1999, the real story was not the trial that the media gave us--it was the atmosphere in this divided town that allowed such a thing to happen. The filmmakers used two camera crews to capture the town's reaction to the three trials--a white crew talked to white people; a black crew talked to black people. What we will say to each other inside our racial bubbles is often despicable, but at one point was a moment of hope--when a young white girl turned the tables on her racist grandfather, informing him that she had friends of all colors. Shocking, moving and often frustrating to the point of exclamation, the final product of months in Jasper is nothing short of compelling.

Saddest Moment: During Journeys with George, Alexandra Pelosi's home movie of the 2000 Bush campaign, it became all too clear that our worst nightmare--media more interested in the celebrity of the candidate than the content of the issues--had come true. Across the country, in print and on television, our press did us a disservice by painting Bush as a lovable frat-boy, instead of an inept, Cheetoh-chomping, baloney-filled class-clown.

Happiest Moment: In The First Year, a film about five newbie Los Angeles teachers, a young student was held after class to discuss his behavior. His parents and grandparents came to the meeting and actually helped the teacher try to straighten out their son. Who says that real family values are confined to white suburbs? This film will shake your perceptions of the problems in our schools, and you'll realize that both sides of the aisle have parts of the solution correct: Fixing our schools will take discipline, parental involvement, better teachers--and funding, funding, funding.


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