74 min., USA, dir. Brett Ingram

Ingram, in 1998, worked with 76-year old Renaldo Kuhler, a scientific illustrator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He found him to be eccentric but immensely talented, and as they got to know each other, Kuhler disclosed a secret to him: an illustrated history of an imaginary country he called "Rocaterrania", a tiny nation of eastern Euorpean immigrants in upper New York state, along the Canadian border.. He had invented a language which was a mixture of Slavic, Spanish and Yiddish, and the name is his Rocaterranian translation of Rockland, in upstate New York, where he originally comes from. He studied Russian History in his university years, and this "saga" of Rocaterrania mirrors Russian historical figures such as Lenin,Stalin and Khruschev. This is a truly inventive documentary from this award-winning filmmaker.


Home Grown

52 min., USA, dir. Robert McFalls

A father and his three children, living in the heart of urban Pasadena, California, harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce a year on less than a quarter of an acre. McFalls' documentary is quite inspiring and asks the question: Is this the way of the future? With global warming and the prediction that the things we take foregranted like electricity, water and supermarkets will no longer exist, shouldn't we start learning the ways of the past, like farming and living off the land? This film serves as a model that possible of survival, using the skills, patience and ingenuity of these four people.. They have a website, "Path to Freedom", which was originally set up to share farming tips, and in one of the scenes, the family debates on whether they should sell ad space and make an easy $10,000 a month, or carry on getting their hands dirty.


91 min., Israel/Austria/USA/Denmark, dir. Yoav Shamir

In this controversial documentary which asks if anti-Semitism is as prevalent as some think, director Yoav Shamir who claims that he has never experienced any prejudice poses uncomfortable questions, on whether anti-Semitism does exist. He follows and interviews Abe Foxman of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) who, in the interview, claims that the ADL gets as much as $70 million donations from Jewish Americans. An interesting interview was from Professor Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust victims, who claims that the Holocaust was an exaggeration. Scholars Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer were also interviewed. They released their book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" which shows how the Israel lobby in Washington is quite influential. An interview which I found really funny was his grandmother in Jerusalem who claims she's the real Jew, and not all those American Jews who think of making money all the time through interest rates and liquor. I spoke to a woman from Israel after the film and asked what she thought of it, and she said she was upset and that the filmmaker didn't do justice to the Jews. I could see her point, despite the fact that I found this documentary quite objective. At the end of the film, Shamir makes a statement which is more in tune with the bible's New rather than the Old Testament: Forget our past and think of our future.


106 min., Turkey, dir. Özcan Alper

Although I found this feature film cinematographically well-executed, the storyline wasn't very interesting. It's a story of a former political prisoner who, returns to his tiny village on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey and has a relationship with a Georgian prostitute. Furthermore, the directorial technique wasn't, in my opinion, to my liking. In these days when we are bombarded left and right with all kinds of media, especially the internet, an Ingmar Bergman approach to filmmaking with the long takes, long pauses, etc. doesn't seem to fit in today's fast-lane society.

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© 2009 Ed Farolan