In the first two decades of the 20th century, coal miners and coal companies in West Virginia clashed in a series of brutal conflicts over labor conditions and unionization. Known collectively as the “Mine Wars,” the struggle included strikes, assassinations, marches, and the largest civil insurrection in the United States since the Civil War.
Coal was the engine of American industrial progress at the beginning of the 20th century. It powered locomotives, factories, and home furnaces, and it helped to purify the steel used in erecting skyscrapers all over the U.S. Nearly three quarters of a million menacross the country spent 10 to 12 hours a day in coal mines blasting, hand-picking, shoveling, and loading the indispensable rock onto railway cars bound for destinations across the country. Miners everywhere suffered deplorable working conditions, but between 1890 and 1912, miners in West Virginia suffered the highest death rate in America. Local business management was also not favorable to the miners; coal operators ran both the mines and the local towns, or camps, and often paid workers in company currency, forcing mining families to shop exclusively at the local company store, where operators set the price of everything to assure a profit.
Find The Mine Wars in our library catalog.
Michael Pollen’s incredible and accessible documentary, In Defense of Food for PBS on how to eat. No diets, no fasting, no starving. Just eat: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” From PBS,
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With that seven-word maxim, US-based journalist Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) distills a career’s worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people’s health by today’s industrially driven Western diet. In Defense of Food debunks the daily media barrage of conflicting claims about nutrition. Traveling the globe and exploring the supermarket aisles to illustrate the principles of his bestselling “eater’s manifesto,” Pollan offers a clear answer to one of the most confounding and urgent questions of our time: What should I eat to be healthy?
Find In Defense of Food in the library catalog.
Criterion recently released The Kennedy films of Robert Drew & Associates. From Criterion,
Seeking to invigorate the American documentary format, which he felt was rote and uninspired, Robert Drew brought the style and vibrancy he had fostered as a Life magazine correspondent to filmmaking in the late fifties. He did this by assembling an amazing team—including such eventual nonfiction luminaries as Richard Leacock, D. A. Pennebaker, and Albert Maysles—that would transform documentary cinema. In 1960, the group was granted direct access to John F. Kennedy, filming him on the campaign trail and eventually in the Oval Office. This resulted in three films of remarkable, behind-closed-doors intimacy—Primary, Adventures on the New Frontier, and Crisis—and, following the president’s assassination, the poetic short Faces of November. Collected here are all four of these titles, early exemplars of the movement known as Direct Cinema and featuring the greatest close-up footage we have of this American icon.
Check out The Kennedy Films from our library catalog.
Now that the awards have been handed out, the big question remains, when do those films get released? Here’s a quick list of all the nominated films and their release dates. ? simply means a date has not been announced yet.
45 Years (?)
The 100-Year Old Man (?)
The Big Short (3/15)
Boy and the World (?)
Bridge of Spies (available)
Cartel Land (3/29)
The Danish Girl (3/29)
Embrace of the Serpent (?)
Ex Machina (available)
Fifty Shades of Grey (available)
The Hateful Eight (3/29)
The Hunting Ground (available)
Inside Out (available)
The Look of Silence (available)
Mad Max: Fury Road (available)
The Martian (available)
Racing Extinction (3/7)
The Revenant (?)
Shaun the Sheep Movie (available)
Son of Saul (?)
Straight Outta Compton (available)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (?)
A War (?)
What Happened, Miss Simone? (?)
When Marnie Was There (available)
Winter on Fire (?)
In Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,
Filmmaker Brett Morgen uses material from the Cobains’ personal archives in an in-depth examination of the Nirvana frontman’s childhood, music career and untimely death.
Kurt Cobain, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Nirvana, remains an icon 20 years after his death. (Rotten Tomatoes 97% rating)
Here, we take a journey through Cobain’s life and his career with Nirvana through the lens of his home movies, recordings, artwork, photography, and journals. (Google)
Find the DVD at either location.
Check out the HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief on the Church of Scientology now available on DVD in the library. From HBO,
Directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney and based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, Going Clear profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology-whose most prominent adherents include A-list Hollywood celebrities-shining a light on how the church cultivates true believers, detailing their experiences and what they are willing to do in the name of religion. One of the most talked about films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, this powerful documentary highlights the Church’s origins, from its roots in the mind of founder L. Ron Hubbard to its rise in popularity in Hollywood and beyond. Going Clear is a provocative tale of ego, exploitation, and lust for power.
Check out Going Clear at either branch in our library.
We hosted Fairfield filmmaker Brean Cunningham this week for a screening of his documentary, Dogs on the Inside. From the film’s website,
Dogs on the Inside follows the relationships between abused stray dogs and prison inmates working towards a second chance at a better life. In an attempt to re-build their confidence and prepare for a new life outside, these prisoners must first learn to handle and care for a group of neglected strays. This heart-warming story reconfirms the timeless connection between man and dog, showing the resiliency of a dogs’ trust and the generosity of the human spirit in the unlikeliest of places.
Learn more about Dogs on the Inside.
Check out Dogs on the Inside in our library catalog.
Laura Poitras’ Oscar winning documentary Citizenfour was released this week on DVD. We have copies at both locations. Citizenfour is a must-see documentary on privacy, freedom and liberty no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall.
Find Citizenfour in the library catalog.
From the film’s official website,
MONK WITH A CAMERA chronicles the life and spiritual quest of Nicholas (Nicky) Vreeland, who for the past twenty-eight years has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The son of a United States Ambassador, grandson of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, and a photographer by trade, Nicky left his privileged life behind to follow his true calling. He moved to India, cutting his ties with society, photography, and his pleasure-filled world, to live in a monastery with no running water or electricity. There he would spend the next 14 years studying to become a monk. Then in one of life’s beautiful twists, Nicky went back to the worldly pursuit of photography in order to help his fellow monks rebuild their monastery, one of the most important of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His journey from being a photographer to becoming a monk and, most recently, to being appointed as the abbot of the monastery he helped to rebuild, are the core of the story.
Find Monk with a Camera in our library catalog.
In honor of Memorial Day, we recently acquired this year’s Academy Award nominated documentary, Last Days in Vietnam for our film collection. From Indiewire’s Best Documentaries of 2014,
You probably peripherally remember the story of the U.S.’ mass exodus out of South Vietnam in 1975 from history class, and you’ve maybe seen some iconic photography resulting from the exit. But you’ve never seen the story told as wrenchingly as in “Last Days Of Vietnam.” Like a thriller moving to the sound of a ticking clock, director Rory Kennedy’s gripping documentary sets the stage for a heartbreakingly clear-eyed account of a betrayal of ideals and of people: with Gerald Ford in office cleaning up Nixon and Kissinger’s mess, political concerns shift and the U.S. evacuates, abandoning the defense of the South Vietnamese from their Northern communist invaders. As the various aspects of that occupying force pack up to leave, it’s with the full knowledge that thousands of citizens now designated as collaborators will likely be killed or imprisoned. What ensues are the firsthand recollections from soldiers, officers and civilians from both sides of the war, recounting how several key figures disobeyed direct orders in order to save as many South Vietnamese citizens as they could. Kennedy constructs an utterly spellbinding story that ultimately provides context instead of pointing fingers. The Vietnam war has been covered ad nauseum by movies and documentaries, and this is another chilling memento of the cost of war, but it’s also a reminder of the exceptional humanity, bravery and honor of some men and women on the ground in that ugly, fucked up war, of human decency revealing itself in the most indecent of circumstances. A must-watch, up there with greats like “Hearts & Minds”
Find Last Days in Vietnam in our library catalog.
We gratefully thank all our patrons who served their country.