May 3, 2012 More Hotdocs! We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Black Block, Tchoupitoulis

Posted in Cultural Mining, documentary, Italy, Music, New Orleans, Uncategorized, US by CulturalMining.com on May 9, 2012

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Toronto is right in the middle of spring festival season. Starting today it’s TJFF – the Toronto Jewish Film Festival – which runs through next weekend, screening movies both downtown and north of Toronto. There are cool documentaries like Cabaret Berlin the Wild scene, and A People Uncounted about the genocide of Roma and Sinta people; comedies like the funny and quirky French Let My People Go; and coming-of-age dramas like “My Australia”. And there’s also a unique sidebar series this year called ‘The Sound of Movies” that’s screening classic films like Planet of the Apes, Coppola’s The Conversation, and the seldom seen indie flick “Something Wild” specifically highlighting their musical scores, by composers like Aaron Copeland, and Lalo Schiffrin. And free rush tickets are available for students, right before all the screenings. So check it out (TJFF.com)

And Hotdocs, Toronto’s documentary film festival is still going strong, with almost all titles showing again this weekend. Here are some documentaries you might not have heard about.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

Dir: Brian Knappenberger

Who are the web-based activists group Anonymous? Well, they’re not exactly a “group”. This excellent documentary clears up the oft-repeated mainstream media misconceptions using uncensored interviews with some of its members and other online pundits.

It all started with the inventive and disgusting posters on the site 4chan — those kind souls who gave us lolcats and other online memes and detritus. Whenever they put up their chat comments without a nickname they were automatically labeled “anonymous”. But after years of competitive trolling, they encountered the Scientologists who were using their power to silence online criticism.

But no one tells a troll-hacker to shut up, so the apolitical peeps on 4chan fought back and the “capital A” Anonymous was born. They were represented online using the Guy Fawkes masks from the comic book and movie V is for Vendetta. Soon, diverse hackers across the globe were lending their anonymous power to international political activism, shutting down sites like paypal, who were trying to isolate and silence Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Along with the suave and brilliant Lulzsec, they’ve become a third, major player in the online political sphere, formerly completely controlled by vast government and corporate interests. This is a great movie.

(One thing puzzled me — the filmmaker chooses to include images of bandana-ed Black Block activists alongside the Anonymous masked protesters as if they were one and the same.)

Who are the Black Block? Where did they come from? Are they ust a bunch of violent kids breaking windows? Another movie…

Black Block

Dir: Carlo A. Bachschmidt

…talks about one such group and what happened to them.

In 2001, political, environmental and other activists from across Europe gathered for what they thought would be peaceful protests and marches at the 2001 Genoa G8 conference. That didn’t happen. The police reacted in an unexpectedly violent way, shooting protester Carlo Giuliani point blank in the face, killing him instantly.

The police left a trail of blood across the city. The marchers ran in fear, disbanded and bunked in an empty building – the Diaz School. This filmmaker got the protesters – from Germany, Spain, Holland, France and the UK – who were there to give their account of what happened. And it’s really shocking and upsetting to hear. The police broke in, dragged sleeping women down hallways by their hair, punched, kicked, bludgeoned and beat the kids nearly to death, threw them down staircases, stripped them naked… the riot police even formed a line to spit on them.

This movie uses period news footage, and videos by the protesters to show what happened to them. It’s very shocking.This was possibly the worst police violence directed at protesters in contemporary European history.

I was expecting a normal documentary. It was not. This one is a testimonial history told plainly, unembellished, by the protesters themselves. And it’s devastating.

So, isn’t it time for something… nice?

Tchoupitoulis

Dir: Bill & Turner Ross

… follows three young brothers for the night in New Orleans. They walk past strip bars and gay bars, hiphop bars and jazz bars, blues singers and street performers. With their dog Buttercup they explore the lanes and alleys, wide-eyed, taking it all in, talking abut their dreams. But they miss the last ferry back to Algiers, so they’re there for the night. Walking through the empty city. The camera stays back, occasionally taking detours into the places the kids can’t go. With a non-stop, seamless  blend of music and singing, flutes and jazz, bass and drums meld from one song to the next, all shot in an early-70’s style of unbelievable coolness. The whole movie feels like an early Sesame Street episode, without muppets: kids living in a safe, adventurous unvarnished urban space. They talk about their wishes, feelings and dreams as they wander in and out of abandoned boats and empty alleys. It’s all totally contemporary but somehow nostalgic. I love this low-key but exciting movie and want to see and listen to it and experience it again and again. Tchoupitoulas!

All the movies I mentioned — Tchoupitoulas, Black Block and We Are Legion: the Story of the Hacktivists — are all playing at Hotdocs through the weekend.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my web site CulturalMining.com.

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  1. […] ReelAsian Film Festival, which starts next week. And don’t miss the excellent documentary We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists that opens at the Bloor on […]


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