Moebius documentary

Here's a one-hour BBC documentary on Moebius, the French comics artist whose passing we lamented this weekend. The doc, "Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures," includes interviews with Stan Lee and Jodorowsky.

Moebius – a life in pictures

Looking for Lenny: Lenny Bruce, comedy and free speech

Looking for Lenny is a new documentary about Lenny Bruce and the way that free speech issues still resonate today. It's packed with comedy/spoken word legends talking about Bruce, from Robin Williams to Phyllis Diller, Mort Sahl, and Henry Rollins.

Looking for Lenny (Thanks, Dustin!)

1964 World's Fair documentary raising funds on Kickstarter

The 1964 NYC World's Fair is legendary -- birthplace of animatronics and Belgian waffles, the zenith of exuberant goofy corporate futurism and the beloved coming-of-age for millions who entered a modern world filled with promise. Documentarians are raising funds to produce "After the Fair," a doc featuring any amount of droolworthy archival footage of the great fair.

Videophones, space satellites, computers, color television. Today, these technologies are everywhere. For millions of people though, their first experience with these innovations came in Queens, at the 1964-65 World's Fair.

The fair also marked the debut of Belgian Waffles, and for many, the first foray into different cultures and ethnic foods.

In our documentary, we will travel the country to reveal the cultural, technological, and physical relics of the fair. We will travel to over 30 locations, with dozens of interviews looking at not only what the fair meant in 1964-65, but more importantly, what it means to all of today.

Our first teaser trailer gives you a taste of the wonderful archival fair footage we've found, along with our trek across the country to visit dozens of relics (and people) from the fair so far.

After The Fair: The Legacy of the 1964-65 NY World's Fair by Ryan Ritchey — Kickstarter (via DVICE)

Documentary about inventor of giant 3D printer that can print a house

The Man Who Prints Houses is a documentary about Enrico Dini, an Italian roboticist who switched tracks to design and build enormous 3D printers capable of outputting houses:

Having built his printer – the world’s largest – from scratch, there’s no shortage of work offers for this highly-skilled and imaginative engineer. Throughout the course of the film, we see Enrico embark on an array of innovative projects: constructing the tallest printed sculpture in existence, working with Foster + Partners and the European Space Agency on a programme to colonise the moon, solidifying a sand dune in the desert, and printing the closest thing to an actual house: a small Italian dwelling known as a trullo.

The long-term nature of these projects and the current financial climate take their toll on Enrico and his team of workers, as contracts fail to be honoured and the infant technology stutters. Travel back to 2008 and it’s a different story, as Enrico describes how he was staring a €50m investment in the face. Just as he’s about to sell up and move to London, the stock market crashes… he must rebuild his business all over again.

The Man Who Prints Houses (Thanks, gaiapunk!)

Kidnapped for Christ: documentary about children whose parents rendered them to offshore militarized discipline camp

Here's a trailer for a documentary-in-progress called "Kidnapped for Christ," which tells the stories of children whose evangelical Christian parents pay military-style boarding school to render them to an offshore facility, where they are subject to inhuman treatment in the name of reforming their wicked ways, from "discipline problems" to simply being gay:

The film centers on the story of David, a straight-A student from Colorado who was sent to Escuela Caribe in May of 2006 after coming out to his parents as gay. Like many others, David was taken in the night without warning by a “transport service” and was never told where he was going or when he would be brought back home. While at Escuela Caribe, David had no way of communicating with any of his friends or family back home until the filmmakers arrived and he decided to ask them if they would smuggle out a letter that he had secretly written to his best friend. Once word got back to David’s community about what had happened to him, many people sprung to action and formed a plan to get him released. Getting David out of this school, however, turned out to be a much more difficult task than anyone had thought, and the trials they went through to get David released revealed just how far Escuela Caribe would go to prevent a student from leaving.

David was not the only student whose life was impacted by the school’s severe approach to discipline. The filmmakers followed many other students who also experienced degrading punishments and who struggled to understand what was happening to them. The film also features interviews with former students, including Julia Scheeres, whose 2005 New York Times Best Selling memoir Jesusland tells the story of the disturbing physical and physiological abuse she witnessed and suffered at Escuela Caribe during the 1980s.

The growth of the troubled teen industry, especially therapeutic boarding schools located in the United States and abroad, has given rise to many other allegations of the inhumane treatment of youth and the exploitation of families who are desperately seeking help for their teenagers. The goal of Kidnapped for Christ is to tell the stories of the students at Escuela Caribe and to give them a voice so that they may make people aware of the broader industry of schools like Escuela Caribe and the potential danger they constitute for our youth. We hope that the film will be entertaining, shocking, thought provoking and will ultimately inspire change in the way these types of schools are run and regulated.

You can help us finish the film and advocate for the rights of teenagers who are sent to boarding schools like Escuela Caribe by making a tax-deductible donation to our IndieGoGo Campaign here

Kidnapped for Christ (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Understanding Rupert Murdoch in five minutes

Charlie Brooker presents an insightful, 5-minute mini documentary by Adam Curtis on Rupert Murdoch: how did the media baron come to be, what drives him, and where is he headed?

Adam Curtis on Rupert Murdoch

South African musicians can't get radio play, turn to taxis

Neil sez, "A cool video from VICE Magazine about how musicians in South Africa used taxi drivers to make their own form of Kwaito House music popular in Johannesburg and around the world."

And because the new Kwaito artists couldn’t get any airplay on the local radio stations, they decided to take their music to the people by using the hundreds of township taxis to promote their music. Smart thinking given a recent Pretoria University study estimated that between five and 10 million South Africans use taxis every day.

Taxi stands or Kombis, are the main source of public transportation in South African townships, since many residents can’t afford to own cars. Taxi drivers played a pivotal role in breaking new Kwaito artists by playing and selling their CDs to their captive taxi audience.

South Africa - Taxi Hit Squad

Update: I just nuked the embedded video, which autoplayed an obnoxious ad for Shlock Holmes. Apparently, Vice's video embeds do this. Argh.

Update 2: Thanks to Vice for providing a non-autoplaying version!

Scientists: How do ethics and culture shape your work?

Recoding Innovation is a National Science Foundation-funded documentary that's basically about the anthropology of science and engineering.

If you're a scientist or an engineer, you can participate. How does your culture, values, and beliefs make your work happen? The idea here is that ethics aren't something that hold science back. Instead, applying ethics helps scientists and engineers be innovative. It's a cool idea, and I'm looking forward to watching the finished documentary. The video above includes a short example of the kind of stories the editors are looking for.

Submit your story by January 1.

Video Link

Kickstarter for documentary on the global protest movement

Taghi Amirani, who's running a Kickstarter for a documentary called "We Are Many," writes, "The film is about the global protest movement linking the massive global Iraq War protests of Feb 15 2003 to the Arab Spring and now the Occupy movement. It tells the remarkable story of people power taking center stage. Actor and activist Danny Glover is a contributor and Executive Producer. Jesse Jackson and Brain Eno are featured. And writer of The Rocky Horror Show Richard O'Brien has become our biggest donor so far."

We will bring you the real story, the people's story, including interviews with those whose protest experiences catapulted them into founding 'people powered' campaigning movements. Most of the people who helped create the biggest human gathering ever seen in one day are unknown ordinary people reaching for the extraordinary.

We will demonstrate the remarkable links between the 2003 protests and the Arab Spring, as well as with the occupation of cities across Europe, and now in America too. The Occupy Movement in America and rest of the world is the latest chapter of one of the great untold stories of people power. Our cameras are there to capture the historic moments.

We Are Many

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors: documentary on the net's hidden physical infrastructure

Ben sez, "I want to share a short documentary that I recently produced about the hidden Infrastructure of the Internet called Bundled, Buried and Behind Closed Doors. The video is meant to remind viewers that the Internet is a physical, geographically anchored thing. It features a tour inside Telx's 9th floor Internet exchange at 60 Hudson Street in New York City, and explores how this building became one of the world's most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity."

Lower Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street is one of the world’s most concentrated hubs of Internet connectivity. This short documentary peeks inside, offering a glimpse of the massive material infrastructure that makes the Internet possible.

Featuring interviews with Stephen Graham, Saskia Sassen, Dave Timmes of Telx, Rich Miller of datacenterknowledge.com, Stephen Klenert of Atlantic Metro Communications, and Josh Wallace of the City of Palo Alto Utilities.

Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors (Thanks, Ben!)

Highrise: a documentary built with WebGL and other open standards


Brett sez, "What does citizenship mean in a transnational, globalised context? One Millionth Tower, the latest strand of the multi-media, multi- award-winning HIGHRISE project from National Film Board of Canada, teams a group of highrise residents in Toronto with architects and animators to re-imagine their surroundings and transform their dilapidated highrise neighbourhood into a vibrant, resident-led community.

"Using cutting-edge open-source technology, this interactive documentary enables a 3D storytelling environment within a web browser, incorporating the magic of cinema, architecture and animation. A hyper-local story with a global resonance in its vision for a more human-friendly urban planet – and world wide web."

This thing is built in WebGL, which replicates the functionality of OpenGL, a popular open standard for drawing and animating 3D objects, using brwoser-only technology. It's exciting stuff on the tehcnical side, but it's also a damned cool and well-thought-through documentary that goes beyond a mere tech demo.

High Rise

Documentary on 50 years of The Phantom Tollbooth

Beloved kids' book The Phantom Tollbooth turns 50 this year (commemorated by a new edition introduced by Michael Chabon) and an oversubscribed Kickstarter campaign has been funded to produce a documentary about the extraordinary book and the impact it's had over its half-century.

With conversations - and banter - from Norton and Jules, this documentary explores the educational, political and linguistic back-story and lasting impact of “one of the great works of fantasy in American Literature” (Leonard S Marcus, author of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth).

We follow Norton and Jules as they return to the house in Brooklyn Heights where Norton began writing a little story "to get his mind off of what he had to do." Working as an architect, Norton was awarded a grant for a book on Urban Perception, which he promptly didn't write. Instead, he created Milo. When he showed his notes to his neighbor, a young political cartoonist bent on overthrowing the government, Jules began sketching – and The Phantom Tollbooth was born.

Through the lens of Milo and his adventures, we get to know Norton Juster – an incorrigible punster with a "delight in glorious lunatic linguistic acrobatics" (Maurice Sendak, in his appreciation to the 35th Anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth). Bored as a kid, wondering why he had to learn so many useless facts, Norton is Milo. And we get taken into Norton’s personal Phantom Tollbooth: where his imagination gets him in trouble for demoralizing the Navy battalion with his drawings of elves; where his friendship with Jane Jacobs and her critique of American cities shows up in Digitopolis and Dictionopolis; where “beyond expectations” takes on a personal meaning for Norton’s daughter and granddaughter as they confront their learning disabilities.

The Phantom Tollbooth Turns 50 - A Documentary (via IO9)

Being Elmo: documentary on Elmo's human

Being Elmo is a documentary on the live of Kevin Clash, who was raised on Sesame Street and dreamed of being a Muppeteer with Jim Henson. He went straight from high school to New York to throw himself at the Henson studios, came up with Elmo, and the character became his life. The film has received an incredibly positive reception on the festival circuit, and will be in wide release on Oct 21.

(via Kottke)

1968: when Britain's Daily Mirror tried to overthrow Parliament

Ben sez, "This Adam Curtis documentary (he posted the rough cut of his new one) is pretty incredible. It features the story of the head of the Daily Mirror in 1968, attempting to organize a coup of the British Parliament, partially by spreading financial panic rumors through his newspaper. He is abetted by the head of the Bank of England, and his psychic wife who convinces him that he has super powers.
Many in the Labour Party have believed ever since that Cecil King was conspiring with members of MI5 to destroy the democratically elected government, but there appears to be no hard evidence for this.

The truth is that King was in league with more familiar "rogue elements" - senior City of London bankers, including the Governor of the Bank of England, who wanted to force the Labour government to slash the financial deficit. But the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was refusing to bow to their demands.

At the same time as this was happening, many of the journalists in Fleet Street were filled with a terrible doom about the future of newspapers. As a result the BBC got excited and went and made all sorts of films about newspapers - recording Fleet Street before it died. Some of the material they filmed is just wonderful - it is full of both touching and silly moments of an old world of journalism.

EVERY DAY IS LIKE SUNDAY (Thanks, Ben!)

Documentary about environmental direct-action: JUST DO IT!

Emily sez,

Since being featured here last year as an upcoming project, Just Do It- a tale of modern-day outlaws has now become a feature length documentary. This latest film from acclaimed filmmaker Emily James, has been met with sold out screenings and rave reviews from press and audiences alike. It's even inspired the impromptu occupation of a flagship Nike Town after a central London screening.

The film follows a cohort of activists from environmental direct action groups Climate Camp and Plane Stupid, whose efforts have proven to radically shift the UK climate debate. Granted unprecedented access, James follows as they blockade factories, attack coal power stations and glue themselves to bank trading floors to halt environmental catastrophe. Just Do It's narrative is funny, poignant and inspiring- prompting Danny Leigh of the Guardian to call it the remedy to the eco-doc's reputation as unwatchable.

Deviating from convention at every turn, Just Do It is part of a new wave of film making. It's crowd funded, crowd sourced and is being shown outside the corporate distribution machine. After storming the UK, Just Do It now sets it's sights on the US. With North American climate movements inching toward radicalism, Just Do It's message of resistance comes as a welcomed push. Adbusters and Rolling Stone have already called it a wake up call to the North American activist. You can support the project's American release now on their Indie Go Go page here.

Just Do It (Thanks, Emily!)