Archives for category: Film

I don’t think CDTR had foreseen the KONY 2012 spectacle when they planned their screening of “The Redemption of General Butt Naked.” But they certainly did not refrain from using Kony’s name on their promotional materials when the film did not even mention a word about warlords from countries other than Liberia–probably because they know very well that “Redemption” is the perfect contrast to the one-sided, unrealistically simplistic propaganda documentaries made by Jason Russell, who regrettably broke down recently on the streets of San Diego.

Joshua Blahyi, or the infamous “General Butt Naked”, was a man of great wickedness during the war. He was brutal but energetic, fanatic but charismatic. He had committed war crimes of practically all kinds, and he was a living legend–of evil. Read the rest of this entry »

Race to Nowhere (2009)

Directed by Vicki Abeles

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The United States is known to have one of the best higher education institutions in the world, and yet its primary and secondary public education systems are in dire conditions. Directed by Vicki Abeles, “Race to Nowhere” is a harsh critique of the American public school system, focusing on the problem of stress. The film argues that students today are subjected to unreasonable amount of homework, unreasonable expectation of students’ academic ability, and unreasonable emphasis on teaching to the tests that, in some cases, has led to suicides of young teenagers. I am very sympathetic to these issues, and therefore it is especially troubling that I do not enjoy the film at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Two weeks ago I attended Barnard College’s second annual Athena Film Festival, which definitely exceeded my expectations, especially in their ability to invite the actual makers and main characters of the films to come and speak to the audience. The films were of genuine high quality, and  I definitely had a few sobbing moments during all of the films I watched. Read the rest of this entry »


Twelve incomplete sneak peaks at the commoners’ modern China

“This country is shit.”

During last Sunday’s screening of Xiaolu Guo’s 2009 documentary “Once Upon a Time Proletarian”, the first of twelve discrete snapshots of the lives of average Chinese people begins with an old farmer boldly criticizing the country for its moral decay and rampant corruption. Plowing through the wheat field, the old farmer speaks with a heavy northern and a tint of humor. The harvest isn’t so good, he says as he takes out a cigarette.

According to the director, Once Upon a Time Proletarian was, more or less, a previously unintended side project conceived during Luo’s production of her feature film. It is meant to be subjective and spontaneous; it is intended to capture the moment, and the moment only, when the subjects’ eyes meet the camera.  Though fragmented, universal themes of dreams, life, ambition, and reality still reverberated throughout the film. Read the rest of this entry »