Out in the Silence captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson's wedding to another man ignites a firestorm of controversy in his small Pennsylvania hometown. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson's journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it.
The year was 1775 in Concord, Massachusetts when colonists fired the infamous 'shot heard round the world' that began the American Revolution. One hundred years later, the work of local resident Henry David Thoreau began the environmental movement. And now, the spirit of revolution has returned to town. Jean Hill, a fiery 84-year-old widow and mother of four, wants to ban the sale of bottled water from Concord. Her path begins when her grandson tells her about the disastrous environmental effects of the empty plastic bottles Jean presents a bylaw to ban the sale of single-serve plastic bottles at the 2010 and 2011 Town Meetings. After losing by seven votes in 2011, she vows to continue the crusade with neighbor and Harvard Law Grad, Jill Appel. If enacted, the law would be the first of its kind in the world. But all are not in agreement with the ban. Merchants are wary of the bylaw. Philanthropist, mother, model and celebrity publicist Adriana Cohen takes the fight to the spotlight, calling the ban an attack on freedom. With billions of dollars at stake, The International Bottled Water Association sends in the cavalry. The town is abuzz as Patriot's Day celebrations begin. War re-enactors take the field, cannons fire at dawn, and the parades commence. April's Town Meeting provides the stage for Concord's latest battle. From the town that began America and Environmentalism, springs a new Revolution.
An Elegy for South Louisiana looks at the disappearing culture and environment in Southwest Louisiana: its marshlands and man's calamitous engineering mistakes, and the unique habitat that gave rise to the Cajun and Creole, music, culture and people left in its wake. With compelling footage and expert commentary from Bob Marshall, a local Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, among others, the film documents the facades and interiors of a good number of famed but decaying dance halls. Riveting performances by leading Zydeco proponents such as Clifton Chenier and Beau Jocque are juxtaposed by thorough and thoughtful explanations such as the rapacious dredging of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet through wetlands to give oil tankers direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana, a major source of energy for the nation, is being destroyed bit by bit and the region's eco-system and marshland continues to be damaged by flooding due to both storms and river reconstruction. Like the famed music of the region, the documentary is both a love letter and a lament over the destruction of the region and by association, the decline of its culture and way of life.
At the edge of the world, the Inupiaq people are fighting for survival. Kivalina documents life on this namesake island that teeters on the edge of the North Pacific. Once a nomadic people, the Inupiaq were relocated to Kivalina, Alaska, by the US government more than a century ago. Today, the community struggles to maintain itself in the face of forces largely beyond its control. Climate change threatens to drown the village under rising ocean levels. The neglect of a government thousands of miles away delays repairs to the crumbling sea wall that routinely fails to protect the island from the flooding caused by ever more frequent storms. And, as the melting ice opens up the north to resource extraction and tanker traffic, an oil spill would wipe out the whales and with it the community. The everyday lives of the Inupiaq people carry on under the weight of these impending disasters. Director Gina Abatemarco and her crew document traditional hunting and food preparation, coexisting with the frustrations of teenage boredom and bureaucratic intransigence. Kivalina shows the consequences of colonialism, economic exploitation, and bureaucratic neglect for this community while foregrounding the voices of the people themselves. Intimate and unflinching, the film shows the cultural as well as the environmental consequences of climate change.
Musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial, determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth. He has discovered a movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing toxic, wasteful funeral practices engineered to preserve the body at the ecosystem's expense. Clark, a spirited and charismatic advocate, sets out to save a tract of forest with the help of green burial pioneers and a compassionate local cemeterian.
Some think an in-vitro fertilization contest sounds crazy, but countless Americans desperate to start a family believe this social media experiment is their only hope. This film follows several aspiring parents who desperately want to have a baby but are struggling with infertility and the high cost of treatments. They place themselves in the hands of a Las Vegas doctor and his annual contest, which offers a prize of a free round of in-vitro fertilization with no guarantee of success. Contestants post their video entries on YouTube, counting on the votes of strangers to make their dreams of parenthood come true.
This program is an illuminating account of events too often relegated to footnotes in U.S. history -- the black urban rebellions of the 1960s. Focusing on the six-day Newark, New Jersey, outbreak in mid-July, "Revolution '67" reveals how the disturbance began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America's struggles over race and economic justice. Voices from across the spectrum -- activist Tom Hayden, journalist Bob Herbert, Mayor Sharpe James and other officials, National Guardsmen and Newark citizens - recall lessons as hard-earned then as they have been easy to neglect since.
Tucked in the Appalachian mountains of Southern West Virginia, Oceana, is a small, once thriving coal-mining town that has fallen victim to the fast spreading scourge of prescription painkiller Oxycontin. As the coal industry slowly declined and times got tough, a black market for the drug sprung up and along with it a rash of prostitution, theft and murder. Soon its own residents had nicknamed the town Oxyana and it began to live up to its reputation as abuse, addiction and overdoses became commonplace. Oxyana is a harrowing front line account of a community in the grips of an epidemic, told through the voices of the addicts, the dealers and all those affected. It is a haunting glimpse into an American nightmare unfolding before our eyes, a cautionary tale told with raw and unflinching honesty.
A charismatic artist destroyed her digestive system during an unmedicated bipolar episode. Over four rocky years she struggles to accept her physical condition, her inability to eat, and her emotional state - only to reinvigorate her artistic voice in the process.