Documentary Films from American Library Association’s Notable Videos

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April 7, 2020, 12:44 p.m.
American Library Association’s Film and Media Roundtable’s selections of top titles in 2019 and 2020.
orange video camera icon over blue sepia photo

by Michael Pasqualoni, librarian for the Newhouse School, film connoisseur, and member of the ALA Film and Media Roundtable

The following videos are available online and drawn from the American Library Association’s Film and Media Roundtable’s selections of top titles named in 2019 and 2020. These are recommended for high school and adult viewing.

After Auschwitz (2017, dir.  Jon Kean) 83 minutes.  Passion River Films.  Chronicles the inspiring story of six Jewish women who survived the Holocaust.  A testimonial to their struggles and accomplishments following liberation from the camps, and migration to new lives in a post-war America. Available at SU via Kanopy database

The Departure (2017, dir.  Lana Wilson) 87 minutes.  Allied Vaughn.  A Japanese Buddhist monk counsels suicidal people.  His empathy and devotion to helping others takes a toll on his health, well-being and family. Available at SU via Kanopy database

Finding Kukan (2016, dir. Robin Lung) 75 minutes.  New Day Films.  A look at the life of Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited female film producer who co-produced Kukan, the 1942 Academy Award-winning documentary film on China that was lost for years. Available at SU via Kanopy database

Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes and Feeling (2018, dir. Tracy Heather Strain)  118 minutes.  California Newsreel.  A look at the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright and activist. Available at SU via Kanopy database

McQueen (2018, dir. Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui)  111 minutes.  Bleecker Street Media.  Follows the life and career of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen and his rise from tailor to helming his own successful fashion house before taking his own life. Available at SU via Kanopy database –Age restricted – Age 18 and over.

My Love Affair with the Brain (2016, dir. Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg) 57 minutes.  Bullfrog Films.  [The late] Dr. Marian Diamond, a barrier-breaking neuroscientist, shares her love of the human brain and its limitless potential. Available via Docuseek2

Quest (2017, dir.  Jonathan Olshefski) 104 minutes.  First Run Features.  An intimate portrait of a North Philadelphia African-American family and their community filmed over a period of years. Available at SU via Kanopy database

Rebels on Pointe (2017, dir. Bobbi Jo Hart)  90 minutes.  Icarus Films.  Celebrate “the world’s foremost all-male comic ballet company” with a look into Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.  Shares the ups and downs of the professional and personal lives of this tight-knit troupe. Available via Docuseek2

Rumble:  The Indians That Rocked the World (2017, dir. Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maoriana) 103 minutes.  Kino Lorber.  This film reveals the contributions of pioneering Native American musicians to popular music. Available at SU via Kanopy database

Untouchable (2016 dir. David Feige) 105 minutes. Blue Lawn Productions. After discovering his daughter had been sexually abused, a Florida lobbyist works to pass some of the toughest sex offender laws in the nation. The film interweaves the heartbreaking stories of men and women who are caught in the struggle of being branded sex offenders and trying to reintegrate into society.  Available via Kanopy database

Michael Pasqualoni also encourages checking out the unique aesthetic used in this unusual exploration of intersections between animal life and humans in cities:

Rat Film (2017, dir. Theo Anthony). 83 minutes.  Cinema Guild.  A documentary that uses the rat as a passageway into the dark, complicated history of Baltimore. Available via Kanopy database

Want to nominate a documentary film that has moved you during this time of COVID 19 life at home? American Library Association’s Film & Media Roundtable, Notable Videos Committee, encourages nominations toward 2021’s curated list of top 15 titles.  Documentary films that explore the sciences, medicine, performing arts or experimental cinema are especially welcome.  Visit the  committee’s suggestion form for nomination criteria and to recommend one or more titles.

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