Why For-Profit Academic Publishers Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank

If you’re not an academic or scientist, then you probably have no idea how off kilter research scholarship has become.  Read the rest

To do in America, next Wednesday: See the "People's Premiere" of Michael Moore's Trump takedown, "Fahrenheit 11/9"

Michael Moore's latest documentary is a scorching Trump takedown called Fahrenheit 11/9; next Wednesday, all over the USA, theaters will screen a "People's Premiere" of the movie: just indicate your willingness to buy tickets for a nearby screening and once enough of your neighbors sign up, the screening will "tip" and get scheduled (Angelenos, help me get a screening in Alhambra!). The site for doing all this is creaking under the load at the moment, so keep hitting that reload button! Read the rest

Documentary about The Slenderman

The Slenderman is a boogeyman born from the Something Awful forums that manifested in the real world in 2014 when two pre-teen girls stabbed their friend 19 times to please The Slenderman. "A Self-Induced Hallucination" is director Dan Schoenbrun's documentary about The Slenderman that he made entirely from archival footage.

"The Slender Man. He exists because you thought of him. Now try and not think of him."

-Username "I," posted June 15th, 2009 on the Something Awful forums. (User was later banned for "post(ing) like a weird fucker.")

"Why I Spent Months Making An Archival Documentary about The Slenderman" (Filmmaker Magazine)

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Watch: Mini documentary about Interpol's "Turn On the Bright Lights" anniversary tour

Last year, Interpol set out on a reunion tour celebrating the 15th anniversary of their fantastic debut "Turn on the Bright Lights." Here is a mini-documentary about their post-punk revival revival. Sleep tight, dream right.

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Exploring the politics and history of alternate universes at the Templin Institute

If you haven't seen any of the videos produced by the Templin Institute, then you are in for a real treat. Templin is a shadowy online organization of deep sci-fi, fantasy, and game geeks who post a prolific number of extremely well-done documentary video essays covering the histories, politics, factions, cultures, and characters behind dozens of sci-fi and fantasy universes.

I have binge-watched dozens of episodes covering aspects of Star Wars, Star Trek, Fallout, Mad Max, Dune, Harry Potter, Warhammer 40,000, Aliens, and many more. They do a really impressive job of putting together these essays using film clips, screen caps, concept and fan art. The writing and narration are also well-done and extremely informative. I learned a lot, even about fictional universes that I already know way too much about.

Recently, the Templin Institute has announced a crowd-contributed sci-fi universe that they are creating themselves. They are going to allow their viewers to submit planets, races, factions, and the like, and the best/most popular ones will be incorporated into the world and future videos. I love this idea. I just hope it doesn't take too much away from their weekly coverage of existing fictional worlds.

You can follow them on their YouTube channel, Twitch, and Facebook. And you can support them on Patreon, if you like what they are doing. Read the rest

Watch intense trailer for Patti Smith's new concert documentary

High priestess of punk poetry Patti Smith assaults us with her epic 1975 jam "Land" in this trailer for her new concert documentary "Horses: Patti Smith and her Band," celebrating 40 years of her seminal album. The documentary screens tonight as part of the Tribeca Film Festival and the band performs following the movie. Wow.

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Hiring a scammer to be a documentary filmmaker

A man from Nigeria named Tobi tried to pull an online scam on a guy in the United States. The would-be victim hired Tobi to make a short documentary of life in his town. The scammer accepted the job. Here's the Gofundme campaign to fund Tobi's documentary.

Here's a similar story. Read the rest

Documentary on the DRM-breaking farmers who just want to fix their tractors, even if they have to download bootleg Ukrainian firmware to do it

Motherboard's short documentary, "Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech's Repair Monopoly" is an excellent look at the absurd situation created by John Deere's position that you can't own your tractor because you only license the software inside it, meaning that only Deere can fix Deere's tractors, and the centuries-old tradition of farmers fixing their agricultural equipment should end because Deere's shareholders would prefer it that way. Read the rest

Haribo: sweetened with forced labor and abused animals

In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery." Read the rest

Watching Jane Goodall watching chimps makes for a splendid time

In 1957 famed anthropologist Louis Leakey received a $6,000 grant to study wild chimpanzees in Africa, in the hope that observing their behavior would reveal something about early man. In his stead, he sent his secretary, a 26-year-old named Jane Goodall. She had no experience as zoologist, and didn't even have a college degree, but as we now know, she became the world's greatest primatologist. At age 83, she still spends much of her time at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania pursuing her passion of studying chimpanzees.

Director Brett Morgen's new documentary, Jane, focuses mainly on Goodall's earlier work in Tanzania, where she made many groundbreaking discoveries about chimpanzee behavior. We also learn about her personal life -- her mother served as her escort on her first stay in Gombe, and she married wildlife cinematographer Hugo van Lawick, which National Geographic had hired to film her in the early 1960s. She had a child with van Lawick, named him Grub, and sometimes kept him in a spacious, well-ventilated cage to prevent the chimps from eating him.

Narrated by Goodall herself, Jane is an intimate profile of a fascinating person I've admired since I was a child. It was a thrill to see old Flo and her child Flint, which I'd read about in her 1967 book, My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees. It was also interesting to see how the chimps slowly got used to Goodall, to the point that they would allow her to play with their babies. Read the rest

Fantastic trailer for new Jane Goodall documentary

I can't wait to see Jane, the new National Geographic documentary about the inspiring primatologist Jane Goodall who famously lived with chimpanzees in Tanzania for decades and has worked tireless on conservation and animal welfare issues her entire adult life. The film, containing unseen footage of Jane in the jungle, was directed by Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) with music by minimalist master Philip Glass!

This photo below of Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, taken by her mother Vanne Morris-Goodall, was encoded on the Voyager Golden Record launched into space 40 years ago:

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A petition to demand accountability from the NSA

Fritz Moser, director of the documentary A Good American, about NSA whistleblower Bill Binney who blames the 9/11 attacks on the NSA's capture by corporate contractors who sold it an expensive, useless, self-perpetuating mass-surveillance system, writes, "Since 6 Sept A GOOD AMERICAN is on Netflix and since then I am getting between 10 and 20 emails per day of people telling me how shocked they were by the film and how angry they are, asking what they could do to help. So we came up with this petition. The petition is hosted by a member of Sascha Meinrath's cross-party Civil Liberties Coalition we are working with in Washington DC, backing the cross-party anti-surveillance Caucus in Congress on a grassroots level." Read the rest

Escaping prison with D&D

"Escaping Prison with Dungeons & Dragons" is a moving, 10-minute documentary about prisoners who used tabletop role-playing games to survive their incarceration. Read the rest

The Lost Arcade: documentary about Manhattan's last arcade

The Lost Arcade, a documentary about the encroachment of gentrficiation upon the last real video arcade in Manhattan, is now available to watch online.

Directed by Kurt P. Vincent, the story is as much about the Chinatown Fair's community as the games, celebrating the final years of a pop culture phenomenon that moved into our homes so slowly we never realized what we were losing.

"I wanted to create a film that would capture the spirit that hit me the first time I walked through those doors," writes Vincent. "There was a melting pot of a community that congregated there, where all walks of life came together and shared one common interest: video games. It was a microcosm of what New York was all about. Not the overpriced New York we've come to accept, but what this city originally stood for and still does when you look deep enough."

The Lost Arcade sheds a behind-the-scenes light into the demise of arcade culture, as it coincided with the rise of home console and online gaming, and showcases the dichotomy of how gamers connected then vs. now. But more importantly, it highlights the diversity and camaraderie among the competitive gamer community that arcades like Chinatown Fair were so uniquely able to foster.

View links: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VHX, Vimeo, and Vudu.

Previously: The Lost Arcade: doc about rebirth of legendary NYC arcade Read the rest

New documentary in production about electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick is an 84-year-old avant-garde composer whose pioneering electronic music, and approach to musicmaking, influenced the likes of Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Four Tet, and countless techno artists. Subotnick helped Don Buchla design what was likely the first analog music synthesizer and used it to create his seminal psychedelic masterpiece, Silver Apples of the Moon (1967), the first electronic music work commissioned by a major record company, Nonesuch/Elektra. (Fan-made video below.) Just a few years before, Subotnick co-founded the iconic San Francisco Tape Music Center that became a creative home for Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, and so many more incredible composers. And he's still making sounds. Now, Toronto's Waveshaper Media, the production company behind “I Dream Of Wires" and the forthcoming “Electronic Voyager" film about Bob Moog are working on a documentary about Subotnick. Support it on Indiegogo.

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'Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché' - Last chance to back biopic on '70s female punk icon of X-Ray Spex fame

Leonardo Faierman points us to an article he wrote for BlackGirlNerds about a crowdfunding campaign for a biopic on female punk rock icon Poly Styrene. The Indiegogo ends tomorrow and is very close to its goal at the time of this blog post. Read the rest

Documentary about influential experimental 90s indie band Brainiac

Brainiac was a fantastic experimental indie band that emerged from the 1990s Dayton, Ohio music scene that gave us Guided by Voices, The Breeders, and other great post-punk, no wave, and noise pop groups. Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I caught many of Brainiac's crazed live shows in the area. (Bassist Juan Monasterio went to fashion design school with my wife Kelly and after we moved to San Francisco, the band stayed at her apartment when they came though the Bay Area.) Their stars rising fast, Brainiac released two LPs on Grass/BMG before signing with Touch and Go Records and collaborating with the likes of Steve Albini, Kim Deal and Jim O'Rourke. Then on May 23, 1997, with their major label debut set for Interscope Records, charismatic frontman Timmy Taylor was killed in a car crash near his home. He was 28. Now, filmmaker Eric Mahoney is telling the Brainiac story through a new documentary. Please support it on Kickstarter.

This film will explore the 90's Dayton music scene, Brainiac's legacy and how people survive and cope with the loss of loved ones. Over the past 20 years Brainiac has been cited as a massive influence on the likes of Nine Inch Nails, The Mars Volta, Death Cab For Cutie and countless others. You'll hear from the band, family members, fellow musicians and label heads.

Steve Albini, Wayne Coyne, Buzz Osbourne, Cedric Bixler, David Yow, Eli Janney, Fred Armisen, Jim O’Rourke, Gregg Foreman, John Schmersal, Juan Monasterio, Tyler Trent, Michelle Bodine, Linda Taylor And Many More…

Brainiac Documentary (Kickstarter, thanks UPSO!)

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