Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

For the films of 2012
anonymous1980
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:12 pm

I just saw 5 Broken Cameras. I'm pretty sure I'll be rooting for this over Searching for Sugar Man, which I've also seen.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:16 am

I complete agree you cannot compare the US with countries with much smaller populations. I don't even think the sort of subsidies that wealthy countries with small to medium populations (i.e. Australia, West European Countries) are possible in countries with much larger populations, even a country as wealthy as the U.S. The larger the population, the larger the underclass and the more costly to maintain free healthcare for all. I wish Obama luck but it's going to be very difficult for him to achieve, if that is his plan.

And the reality is that the models in Australia and much of Western Europe are straining and unsustainable.

We pay just 1.5% on top of our taxable income and it has been this way for as long as I can remember. I won't go into all the dreary details but I doubt very much of our healthcare will continue to be subsided into the future without an increase of the 1.5% which no political party has the guts to initiate.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby criddic3 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:02 pm

I would imagine for someone on welfare the cost would be even lower (like well under $100 a year). It got me thinking back to people who can't afford the cost of these drugs in the respective countries where medication is not subsidised by the Government as ours is in Australia (where most medications are very cheap including sleeping pills).


This is a problematic argument to me. In some countries, like mine, even if you have insurance it can be expensive to maintain. Even subsidized people have trouble because there are limits to one's living conditions in order to receive such subsidies. You also can't compare a country of 22,927,260 with one of 315,544,000. You didn't mention the U.S. by name but inevitably that comes into any conversation about health care. How does a government pay for so much of a person's medication over a long period of time, times the population numbers, without eventually going broke? If everyone has to pay into the plan, in theory, some think it will work. However, if everyone is being subsidized doesn't that eventually cause a strain on the funding as well as the people relying on the cheaper cost? Unfortunately, in my country, the plan that will go into effect in 2014 will not cover everyone, while at the same time raising everyone's taxes and premiums and hurting businesses. A specialized medication like the one you are talking about will only get harder to afford, not easier. At least, that's the way I see it right now.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:39 am

I may as well weigh in on these as I have seen 4 of the nominees, rather surprising as it is a category that I don't actually make any attempt to see all, if any, of the nominated films.

I just finished watching The Invisible War and whilst the subject matter is very worthy and terribly disturbing (and it's not a problem that exists solely in the U.S. by the way) it felt like a rushed and hastily cobbled together piece that needed more background on the military in general and the roles that women have played in it (maybe WW2 to date).

Looking at Kirby Dick's work, he is a very ordinary filmmaker, with only one masterwork on his resume: Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist one of the very best documentaries from the 1990s.

Watching it I couldn't help but think of the sex scandals engulfing the Christian world at the moment (and for the last couple of decades), which these attacks on women. In both cases the victim is sidelined and the perpetrator protected by the institution (be it clerical or military).

Dick's film is really so ordinary and simply doesn't do these women (and men) justice. He has an important message but it rather conventionally articulated.

Whilst Searching For Sugarman is very entertaining it's rather limited in it's scope. I kept having to remind myself that the film was from a South African perspective, cut off from much of the rest of the world for decades. The film gives the impression the Rodrigeuz was a huge star in South Africa but nowhere else, which simply wasn't the case. He toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1970's and then again in the 1990's. If you have seen Sugarman you might be shocked to here that. It's a classic example of how the truth can be manipulated, simply by leaving out parts of Rodrigeuz's story and only leaving in the parts the play well within the manipulation. I enjoyed the film and went out and bought the soundtrack which may have been one of the prime objectives of the filmmakers. Anyway I think this will win because it has an uplifting, hopeful and feel-good conclusion. But it's hardly worthy of a nomination, not to mention the main award.

5 Broken Cameras would be my choice, despite the repetitive nature of the film which does tend to drag it down from time to time. Over the years I've seen I number of people dying, sometimes very violent deaths, in documentaries and it never gets an easier at watch (once a life is taken, it's gone forever and there is no coming back, I find that very chilling in itself). That it gave some insight into life in that region of the world that we only tend to read about in the daily news papers was also a rare opportunity to experience the community's plight first hand.

I haven't seen The Gatekeepers but am keen to and hope to catch up with it sometime between June and August this year. It sounds like it could be a companion piece to another documentary from 2012, The Law in These Parts.

Finally to How to Survive a Plague. This could be the Sugarman's spoiler, though I hope not. Whilst How to Survive is a valuable record of the fight AIDS activists had in the U.S. with the then Government to combat the onslaught of AIDS, including the funding of medical research. The film also goes further into the in-fighting and the eventual breakup of the various AIDS activists organisations (i.e. ACTUP).

Where the film lost me was right towards the end, when one of the talking heads gave the impression that in 1996 everything was soundly fine. They have found suitable treatment and no one was going to die anymore. My partner and I rarely comment to one another during films but this was on of those rare exceptions when I whispered to Colin 'What fucking planet is this guy on'. Maybe I'm making mountain out of a mole hill with this, but people where still dying in 1996 (including a good friend of mine that very year) and have continued to die. The drugs don't work on everyone and the long term effects of the drugs remain unknown. True death rates have plummeted in Western countries where people can afford the drugs, but the film did make me question: Can everyone in the U.S. afford this medication? What if they don't have insurance? What if they are a low income earner or are on welfare. Do they have access to these drugs? I'm just curious because the talking heads in How to Survive where all well educated middle case men who could clearly afford the drugs - no issues there for them. But what of the growing poor in the U.S. Does anyone know how much these drugs cost a year in the U.S. or any other Western countries for that matter.

Funnily enough a few weeks after seeing this film I saw a segment on a nightly current affairs program on TV whilst I was cruising the internet about a man in his late 30's who has been recently diagnosed with HIV and he spoke of the medication and the cost of this medication. The yearly cost in Australia 2012 for these AIDS wonder drugs is about $230 (US $228). I would imagine for someone on welfare the cost would be even lower (like well under $100 a year). It got me thinking back to people who can't afford the cost of these drugs in the respective countries where medication is not subsidised by the Government as ours is in Australia (where most medications are very cheap including sleeping pills).

Anyway I was disappointed with the narrow vision of the interviewees, then didn't seem to recognise the bigger picture and are living in denial if they think that popping a magic pill means the AIDS epidemic is over, because it is far from over and ten of thousands of people a year all over the world keep dying.

It will not be over until a cure is found (highly unlikely there) or they can vaccinate and completely cure HIV from those infected. So I hope this film doesn't win because whilst it does cover important history (and I lived through the AIDS days but in a different manner then in the U.S) some of the interviewees came off at the end as smug and self satisfied. They have alot to be proud about but there is still alot to be done.

It's funny seeing this film get nominated when last year the far superior We Were Here failed to even make the final 5. It dealt with 6 people and their experiences during the height of AIDS in San Francisco in the 1980s. It was the most moving documentary I have seen to deal with AIDS since Common Threads and the way that it brought all the horror back to me was astonishing as it was a period of my life that I tend to look back at all the good things that happened to me and I never dwell on the terrible things going around me at the time. I really would not want to go through all that again and it was a credit to this fine film that it did all come flooding back because really the death and despair from the era should never be forgotten.

All in all this is not a particularly impressive line-up and there may have been one or two films shortlisted that deserved a place on this list but I can't recall. I don't think 2012 was an outstanding year for documentaries. My two favourites (Outing & Hitler's Children) where probably not eligible. Hitler's Children may be a contender for next year but we will never see Outing on any Academy shortlist, much less the final five. The subject matter is too dark, shocking and confronting in a film that provokes mixed emotions in the audience such sympathy and disgust at the same time. I don't recall see people shuffling out of a cinema literally picking there jaws up from the floor after sitting through Outing.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:13 am

I've seen all five nominees and, yeah, I don't get the Searching for Sugar Man dominance of documentary prizes either. It's like Argo, only times twenty...given the available options, why is this just running the field?

Which isn't to say I disliked the movie. I found it an entertaining story, definitely engaging in a "what will happen next?" way. But I don't really feel like it's about all that much. Its win wouldn't be down there with March of the Penguins for me, but I'd never vote for this.

5 Broken Cameras is a powerful account of one man's very personal account of the conflict that rages in his own community, and as such distills Palestinian-Israeli tensions into a very specific depiction of how those tensions affect individual lives. It's pretty startling to watch actual people being killed in this film. I can't say I was as high on the film as some, though -- I thought it started to grow a little repetitive as it went on.

Of the nominated films on this subject, I'd rank The Gatekeepers higher. It, too, lacks a distinct structure, but some of the ideas articulated in the movie were quite fascinating to me, namely the idea that the Israeli security forces feel that they are winning every battle, but still losing their war because their tactics merely foster conflict with the Palestinians.

The Invisible War is strictly within the Kirby Dick documentary model (at least since the wilder Sick) -- subject matter that provokes genuine outrage, fairly traditional presentation. But his subject matter -- rape in the military -- is pretty blistering, and the portraits that form of the women (and man) whose lives were shattered when trying to serve their country stick in the mind.

But my vote would be with How to Survive a Plague. I understand that it's mostly a triumph of editing, because the bulk of the movie features footage from the 80's and 90's, but I think the final effect is devastating, enraging, and inspiring. It's very hard for someone of my generation to fathom how, not all that long ago, Americans could be dying in mass numbers like this and the government could essentially shrug. The fact that it's such an important documentation of a very tragic time in our nation's history makes it the most significant nominee, in my opinion.

But the given the overall high quality of the movies on this list, I'd really love to see the frontrunner upset on Oscar night.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby dws1982 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:34 pm

Just watched Searching For Sugarman and I really don't get the appeal of this movie. Like, not at all. How to Survive a Plague and The Invisible War are both very problematic, but they're much more interesting and much more probing than this trifle. It's ridiculous that This Is Not A Film got overlooked in favor of this, but it wouldn't be an Oscar year without an embarrassment from the Documentary branch, would it?

Still need to see Five Broken Cameras (which I can see before the Oscars) and The Gatekeepers (not going to happen) to finish this category.

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Categories One-by-One: Documentary Feature

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:25 am

With the way they are voting on this category and the fact that it's the lightest and the most enjoyable of the group, I'm expecting Searching for Sugar Man to triumph here.


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