Category: Political Documentaries

Peace Officer

Peace Officer explores the ‘militarization’ of police forces in the U.S. The documentary takes you through a few cases where S.W.A.T. were used in situations that didn’t require them, with outcomes that involved death or near-death.
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The Internet’s Own Boy

Opening Hot Docs 2014 was The Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about the life of internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. It takes you through the life of Aaron (as an incredibly smart kid, the creation of RSS, the creation and sale of Reddit, etc.) and, in that, Aaron’s development as a person dedicated to making information available to everyone — i.e. allow everyone to gain knowledge free online.

It was during this process to make information available to everyone, that he was caught downloading information from JSTOR (an online holding of academic journals and such) via MIT’s connection, however the end intention of that information wasn’t actually known. Some surmised that he was going to study the data and find a corruption link between study donors and the journal findings.
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The Kill Team

You’re out fighting in Afghanistan. Your new superior is all about killing innocent civilians for no reason – and covering it up. The rest of your platoon buys-in. If you don’t play along, you could be dead. What do you do.

The Kill Team documentary is about such a case — a young American soldier faced with such a predicament and ends up discharging his weapon when the rest of the group are ‘setting up’ a kill of an innocent Afghan. It’s unknown whether his bullet was the one that killed the man, but he’s charged with murder regardless.
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Putin’s Kiss

November’s Doc Soup at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema was actually a good one (sorry, most aren’t from my experience?!). It’s a documentary about Putin’s government in Russia and a “youth movement” that they have created to brainwash/control the messaging. Think fun camps and such – and thus a bunch of kids who grow up very much pro-Putin and Putin-policies, marking everyone who disagrees with Putin as ‘enemies’. It’s quite the propaganda machine. The documentary focuses on one young lady who has moved up through this youth movement (to an upper level) and, upon making a new group of friends, starts to see things very much less black and white. I thought it was quite well done, and very interesting. I recommend! There was a Q&A with the director after the showing as well.
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An Unreasonable Man

Yeeeeeeeears after it being released, I finally watched the Ralph Nader documentary (“An Unreasonable Man“). I didn’t really know too much about Nader other than him running for election and the fact that he’s “pro-consumer” (for lack of a better description). An Unreasonable Man takes you back to Nader’s first point of activism — namely, car safety — the introduction of seat belts and air bags. It finishes with the Al Gore election loss to Bush – and many of Nader’s supporters eventually turning on him.
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Obama Campaign Documentary

Times are tough in the US… You’re up for reelection. How do you get across that you started your time in office having to clean up the mess from the previous administration… and that you have succeeded in cleaning some things up. You make a documentary… I guess:
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Street Fight

This was the first documentary I ever saw at HotDocs (Toronto’s documentary festival). If you like politics like I do, you’ll love it. It’s a bit dated now — and, yes, many of you *now* know of Cory Booker, but this was back when he was running for the job of mayor of corrupt (and poor!) Newark, New Jersey. His opponent was the incumbent, Sharpe James, who would use intimidation and city resources to dissuade voters from voting for Booker. The trailer, below, actually doesn’t do it justice. It’s a great story and a great doc.
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