By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
There are many streaming services, and OVID.tv offers a competitive alternative for those who are interested in a vast selection of independent films from all over the globe. There are special interest categories that include dance, concerts, arts and culture, directors, countries, issues, narratives and documentaries, among others.
The following films have been recently released on this platform.
Ghosts of Attica
Narrated by Susan Sarandon
Directed by Brad Lichtenstein; Icarus Films; Documentary
Attica. Like Watergate and Vietnam, it is an icon of recent history. Gov. Rockefeller’s brutal re-taking of the prison – a nine-minute, 1600-bullet assault that took the lives of 29 inmates and 10 guards – put an end to the four-day rebellion. But the struggle for justice, by both prisoners and guards, has endured for three decades. Only last year, inmates wrested an historic $12-million settlement from the state, and that bittersweet victory spurred a new round of agitation by guards and their survivors.
This stirring documentary features extensive interviews with Attica survivors, including former inmate Frank ‘Black’ Smith. When the riot broke out, the inmates, who respected his level head, imposing size, and maturity, appointed him Chief of Security. After the prison was stormed, Black was singled out for vicious treatment by the guards, who tortured him for hours with cigarettes, Russian roulette, and threatened castration and death. In the years since his release, Black overcame a drug habit, married, and became a drug counselor for juveniles.
Also interviewed is Mike Smith, who, then 22 years old and married with a child, was a guard who was taken hostage and subsequently wounded by police fire. But more recently, he took on a new role: that of political agitator. He went on to lobby Governor Pataki for compensation, counseling, and an apology from the State.
Elizabeth Fink, the attorney who headed the inmates’ decades-long legal battles against New York State, is also interviewed. Fink has devoted her entire career to the surviving inmates. Other interviews include those with New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, Congressman Herman Badillo, Assemblyman Arthur Eve, and civil rights lawyer William Kunstler.
Chisholm ’72 – Unbought and Unbossed
Directed by Shola Lynch; Women Make Movies; Documentary
Recalling a watershed event in U.S. politics, this compelling documentary takes an in-depth look at the 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first to seek nomination for the highest office in the land.
Following Chisholm from her own announcement of her candidacy through her historic speech in Miami at the Democratic National Convention, the story is a fight for inclusion. Shunned by the political establishment and the media, this longtime champion of marginalized Americans asked for support from people of color, women, gays, and young people newly empowered to vote at the age of 18. Chisholm’s bid for an equal place on the presidential dais generated strong, even racist opposition. Yet her challenge to the status quo and her message about exercising the right to vote struck many as progressive and positive.
Period footage and music, interviews with supporters, opponents, observers, and Chisholm’s own commentary all illuminate her groundbreaking initiative, as well as political and social currents still very much alive today.
“An inspiring tale of someone who made a difference.” —The Hollywood Reporter
Black is the Color
Directed by Jacques Goldstein; Icarus Films; Documentary
Highlights key moments in the history of African-American visual art, from Edmonia Lewis’s 1867 sculpture Forever Free, to the work of contemporary artists such as Whitfield Lovell, Kerry James Marshall, Ellen Gallagher, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“In a movie that packs a 100-year sweep of history, the focus is razor sharp.” —Artblog
Love and Diane
Directed by Jennifer Dworkin; Women Make Movies; Documentary
Presents a searingly honest and moving examination of poverty, welfare and drug rehabilitation in the United States today. Filmed in New York City over a five-year period, Dworkin documents the struggles of three generations of the Hazzard family as they face a myriad of emotional, financial and personal challenges.
“This epic documentary is destined to become one of the touchstones of American nonfiction cinema.” —New York Film Festival
My Friend From The Park
Directed by Ana Katz; Monument Releasing; Feature
When Liz, a lonely stay-at-home mum, forms a liberating alliance with the spontaneous Rosa, she gets sucked into a world of stolen cars, unstable sisters, and paranoia.
“[An] extremely clever premise and unique sense of unease.” —Screen International
-Winner, Special Jury Award for Screenwriting, Sundance 2015
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