Powerful films progressives will want to see

Progressive Cinema: Toronto International Film Festival 2009, Part 4

Published on People’s World, by Bill Mexer, Oct. 28, 2009.

Among the more than 350 films shown this year at the Toronto International Film Festival, several are of importance to a progressive audience. In addition to titles mentioned in previous columns (”The Time That Remains, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” “The Informant!” “Men Who Stare at Goats” and others), the following are just a few of the many at the festival that draw interest for progressive filmgoers.

Of course one of the most famous political activists in American history, Daniel Ellsberg, receives his very own personal documentary, “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” This is the tag Richard Nixon affixed on Ellsberg when he exposed the Pentagon Papers. The film recounts the events in detail and is a thoroughly engrossing account of how Ellsberg enlisted his friends (and son) to photocopy thousands of pages of classified Pentagon documents. His actions certainly shortened the war in Vietnam and Ellsberg went on to support antiwar causes to this day. He and his wife, Patricia, received a five-minute standing ovation from the sold-out Canadian showing … 

… And one more well known historical event is addressed in the film “Jean Charles.” After the 2005 London subway bombings, a young Brazilian man was tracked down and shot as a suspect in the alleged terrorist plot. The film follows his arrival in London and experiences in finding employment and housing. Jean Charles became well liked in his community and was just making headway when he was fatally shot by the police. The rest of the film follows his friend’s attempts to prove his innocence and find consolation for his Brazilian family.

Another of the many titles that warrant viewing is “Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags,” by Marc Levin, director of “CIA: America’s Secret Warriors” and “Slam.” “Schmatta” beautifully tells the story of the New York garment industry and the workers and unions that kept it going. Loaded with political awareness, the film is a testament to the working class and its rich history.

And finally, to briefly mention a few more films that should be of interest to progressive viewers: “Max Manus,” the epic adventure film about the famed Norwegian World War II resistance fighter; “Moloch Tropical,” a Haitian allegory on the abuse of power, by Raoul Peck (who also did “Lumumba”); and “Balibo,” which relates the chilling murder of five Australian journalists during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. (full text).

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