Inspired by producer Patrick Lovell’s own personal experience with fraudulent mortgage lenders, The Con is a five-part docuseries that explores the intricacies of the 2008 financial crisis and how greed led the powers at be to steal from the poor to give to the rich. The financial crisis, the stock market crash and the subsequent days of the Great Recession didn’t just materialize out of thin air. It was the direct result of a banking and mortgage industry that was rife with corruption and allowed to spiral out of control. Predatory lending practices, deregulation, criminal bankers and banks that became too big to fail caused catastrophic economic damage. And it was the average Americans who bore the brunt of it. Homes foreclosed all over the country and some Americans, who were misled the financial institutions they trusted, were left in dire straits.
Directed and written by Eric S. Vaughan, The Con unpacks all of these details and examines the integrated system of fraud and all of the key figures who made this happen. This docuseries is frighteningly revelatory and offers viewers a warning of the future: this can and will happen again if we don’t recognize that greed is in fact bad.
The docuseries interviews whistleblowers, journalists and financial experts to get at the truth of what really happen. I don’t pretend to understand all of the particulars, and you don’t need to in order to grasp the concepts. The Con offers case studies of real people who were adversely affected by these predatory practices.
Visit the official website for more information and to watch the first episode.
“The vote is still the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool we have in a democratic society and we must use it.”
We live in turbulent times and it’s difficult to stay optimistic when the future looks grim. One man in particular has been able to sustain a sense of hope and determination that things will change for the better. Over the course of nearly 60 years of public service, this man has paved the way forward with his philosophy for non-violent protest and his own indestructible resolve for doing good. That man is Civil Rights leader and U.S. Representative for Georgia John Lewis. And he has one piece of advice for you: “get into good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Directed by Dawn Porter, John Lewis: Good Trouble chronicles the life and political career of an extraordinary man. Something that is key to making a good documentary is access. In this film there is seemingly unfettered access to John Lewis himself. We also hear from his brothers and sisters, his staff and many big names in politics. Talking heads include Elijah Cummings (to whom the film is dedicated), Hillary and Bill Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Holder and others. The film conveys a sense of gratitude and appreciation for John Lewis’ work and we hear this through the words of politicians and every day people who approached Lewis to offer words of gratitude and appreciation. At the center of it all is Lewis who guides the viewer through his life’s journey.
Porter’s documentary covers the broad spectrum of Lewis’ career in civil service and politics. Lewis got an early start in the Civil Rights Movement when he wrote a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. at the age of 17. Soon he was a member of the Freedom Riders and was one of the key figures protesting on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. He was arrested 45 times, often severely beaten by aggressors. Lewis’s transition to politics was a natural one. He studied non-violence as a philosophy and has been a staunch believer in that form of protest ever since. He’s been a member of Congress since 1987 and as the film so aptly demonstrates, Lewis is still as active in politics as when he first started.
“John Lewis has consistently delivered a message of doing your best, being honorable, and respecting others for the past 65+ years. I think it’s really needed at this particular moment in history.”
John Lewis: Good Trouble serves as a much needed call-to-action during troubling times.
John Lewis: Good Trouble is available in virtual cinemas and on demand today. Visit Magnolia Pictures’ website for more information.
“The most traveled, the most colorful, the most efficient, the most highly decorated bomb group of WWII.”
Michael Cudlitz, Band of Brothers
The 93rd Bomb Group, part of the Eighth Air Force, executed some of the most daring missions of WWII. Their base camp was in Hardwick, England, a hamlet just north of London and south of Norwich. They completed 396 missions, were instrumental in Operation Torch and have been celebrated for their bravery and ingenuity. Every year the 93rd Bomb Group reunites in the U.S. to reconnect, share memories and keep their history alive. Some years they trek to where it all started and Hardwick embraces the 93rd with open arms. Locals share stories, meet with the surviving members and there is even a small museum that exists in their honor. The reunions also serve as an opportunity for family members to learn more about their loved ones who have since passed on. The annual 93rd reunion is an important example of how we must keep history going and how it is imperative that we preserve these memories so they are never forgotten.
Directed by Michael Sellers and narrated by Band of Brothers star Michael Cudlitz, Return to Hardwick: Home of the 93rd Bomb Group is a loving tribute to one of the most extraordinary strategic bomb units of WWII. The documentary includes interviews with historians and family members but most importantly the surviving 93rd members themselves. We hear from a dozen different pilots, waist gunners, tail gunners and navigators. Their stories make this film an important time capsule.
As a documentary, Return to Hardwick is nothing groundbreaking. In fact it’s fairly rudimentary. One interesting thing it does it superimposes computer imagery over footage of Hardwick to demonstrate how the 93rd would have used the airbase. Military history buffs will love the extensive information about the 93rd’s missions. Casual history buffs like myself might find themselves a bit overwhelmed by this. However, this documentary really checks off all the boxes of what a good film that preserves the history of WWII can really do. I hope it will be shown in museums and that future historians will refer to it as the valuable source of information it is.
Return to Hardwick: Home of the 93rd Bomb Group is available on VOD.
Migraines are not created equal. Everyone has a different experience with them; all traumatic, all painful, but very different. A severe headache is only one aspect of the condition. Some suffer nausea, sensitivity to light, indigestion and fatigue. Others have slurred speech, partial paralysis, vision disturbances and even temporary blindness. Migraines are debilitating. To those who have never suffered from them, they cannot fully appreciate how one can take their target prisoner and make their life a living hell. Migraines are triggered by many things. Sometimes it’s food, smells, stress, anxiety, or emotional trauma. Sometimes it’s completely unpredictable and strikes at the worst times.
I’ve suffered migraines for well over a decade. During a migraine attack I get a pain so severe that it feels like someone stabbed me in the head. My migraines come with a flare up of IBS, a feeling of disorientation and often lack of concentration and sometimes coordination. Painkillers dull the experience but no longer make it go away. After years of trying to pinpoint my triggers I recently discovered that it’s anxiety. As soon as I went on anxiety medication for another condition (undiagnosed severe physical anxiety) my migraines have for the most part gone away. The medication seems to calm the chaos in my brain that triggers these episodes. But I’m just one case. Every migraine sufferer has a different story to tell. And one film gives them a platform to share their pain.
Written and directed by Susanna Styron and produced by Jacki Ochs, Out of My Head helps migraine sufferers feel validation for their condition and helps legitimize their experience to those who cannot fully comprehend the pain their loved ones are going through.
Styron’s daughter Emma suffers from migraines that cause temporary blindness. She was inspired to make this documentary not only to tell the her daughter’s story but also to shed some light on this mysterious and often misunderstood condition. The film includes extensive interviews with a variety of subjects including real migraine sufferers, doctors, professors, sociologists and headache specialists. Interwoven throughout the documentary are animated sequences that follow Emma on her migraine journey.
Every aspect of the migraine is explored from the scientific, to the sociological to the personal. Migraines disproportionately affect women. 75% of migraine sufferers are female. It can strike at a young age with a different presentation of symptoms. It can be hereditary. And by and large, it is highly misunderstood.
Out of My Head cracks open the mystery behind migraines and gives those with this condition a voice. The biggest takeaway from this film is that migraines need to be taken seriously.
Watch it. Share it. Out of My Head is an important documentary.
Out of My Head will be available on DVD and video on demand through Kino Lorber on June 9th.
Amos Carlen and Aline Robichaud’s new documentary Shadows of Freedom tells the story of the organized Jewish resistance movement in Algiers during WWII and its involvement in Operation Torch, an Allied invasion of French North Africa in 1940. Over the years more information about Jewish resistance has come to light. But the Algerian story is not one that is often discussed. It’s been swept under the rug because this event, an attack on the Vichy French in an effort to support the Free French, is considered low point in French history. The history of Operation Torch has also been eclipsed by other more celebrated invasions including the one on Normandy. However, Operation Torch, which was part of the Anglo-American alliance, was key to giving Allied forces an advantage in future battles with Nazy Germany.
Shadows of Freedom serves an important role in enlightening and informing its audience about Jewish persecution in Algiers as well as the staged coup that successfully ousted Vichy Admiral François Darlan. The resistance movement was made up of young Jewish French men, motivated by persecution to fight back. The documentary offers archival interview footage of various key players in the movement. Several experts, professors, policy makers and historians, offer key insights into this little known movement. The history of Jews during WWII often focuses on the Holocaust and rightly so. However, it’s important to know, understand and appreciate how Jews fought back against oppression.
Shadows of Freedom is informative and enlightening but doesn’t offer anything beyond the usual documentary fare. Archival footage, talking heads, narration and talking head interviews make up the basic structure. The history of Operation Torch itself is convoluted and hard to follow. If you’re interested in WWII history and want to learn something new, Shadows of Freedom will be worth a watch.
Shadows of Freedom is available on VOD through iTunes, Google Play and other platforms.