To Live and Write in LA

Archive for Documentary

‘Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks’ Debuts on HBO

I have been moved, inspired, and touched by documentaries before. “Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks” is the first documentary ever to bring me to tears

Anthem Film Festival: Three Short Film Jewels About Dreams, Trauma, and Mules

(First published on Three short films at the Anthem Film Festival, part of FreedomFest, billed as the world’s largest gathering of free minds, July 13-16, in Las Vegas, deserve special mention. All less than fifteen minutes long, they each shed light on what it means to be an individual and how we experience the […]

Anthem Film Festival: Police are Coming to Take Your Stuff and Kill You Dog

‘Seized’, winner of Anthem’s Best Short Documentary award, explores a police practice called civil asset forfeiture. ‘Of Dogs and Men’, winner of Best Libertarian Documentary Feature tries to explain why 10,000 pet dogs are killed by police every year.

Anthem Film Festival: ‘Deep Web’ Explores Silk Road, Looking for the Dread Pirate Roberts

Ross Ulbricht received two consecutive life sentences plus 40 years. He must have done something terrible, right? The film Deep Web, which explores his crime, capture and prosecution screened at the libertarian themed Anthem Film Festival, part of FreedomFest, July 13-16 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Anthem Film Festival: Do Right-Wingers Have a Sense of Humor?

Do right-wingers (meaning conservatives, libertarians and anyone who would not be caught dead wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt) have a sense of humor? You might not think so, if your main sources of news have been John Stewart and Lena Dunham piped into your safe space on a politically correct campus. I have, however, seen right-wing humor in the wild, often at previous iterations of the Anthem Film Festival, and I have laughed and survived.

SXSW: ‘The Bandit’ – Burt Reynolds, a Bra, Fast Cars, and a Deep Film

‘The Bandit’ documents the story behind the making of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ and of the relationship of star Burt Reynolds and his close friend, stunt double, and creative force behind the film, Hal Needham.

Anthem FilmFest: ‘Searching for Eddie Running Wolf’

Searching for Eddie Running Wolf, a feature length documentary by director Thomas Hartmann, defies easy classification.

Anthem Film Fest: County Charges Farmer $15,000 for Hosting a Birthday Party

Eight little girls at a birthday party on their neighbor’s farm; what could be more innocent than that?

Anthem FilmFest: Putting People Back Together

At the Anthem Film Festival, part of the libertarian FreedomFest conference July 8-11, 2015, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, I was discussing films with a young woman who commented, “I like documentaries, but so many of them are so depressing. I want to see positive stories.” She was in the right place.

Anthem Film Fest: Help Me, Obi Penn Jillette – You’re My Only Hope

Producer Ted Balaker said, “There has always been outrage, but now with technology, we can supercharge outrage.”

LA Film Fest: Talking to Morgan Spurlock about Ice Cream

Morgan Spurlock made a name for himself eating burgers. His film ‘Supersize Me’ was an indictment of the fast food industry. Now he’s moved on to ice cream, and Häagen-Dazs in particular, but, not to convince you not to eat it. Spurlock’s new film ‘Crafted’ debuted at the Los Angeles Film Fest, June 10-18. ‘Crafted’ aims to take us into the mindset of modern craftsmen who choose quality and personal involvement over mass production.

‘Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World’ – ‘Alien’ and a Ticket for a Tat

(Originally published on If you were at the NuArt Theater in Los Angeles on May 15 or 16, you could have gotten a ticket for a tat. If that tattoo was based on the work of H.R. Giger, that is, and you wanted to see the premiere of Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World. H.R. […]

SXSW: William F. Buckley, Asteroids and Al Qaeda

SXSW presents three documentaries: “Best of Times,” “They Will Have to Kill Us First,” and “Disaster Playground.” They are all about what makes us human and vulnerable.

SXSW: ‘The Last Man on the Moon’ and ‘Love and Mercy’

Two remarkable biographies premiered on the screens of SXSW this year. ‘The Last Man on the Moon,’ profiling Astronaut Gene Cernan, and ‘Love and Mercy,’ which brings us into the life of Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

The Price of Following Your Dreams

(Originally published on Two films debuting this spring explore the challenge and cost of following your dreams. Documentary My Way (theatrical release on Febrary 20) follows rock musician Rebekah Starr as she leaves her Pennsylvania home for Los Angeles to make a music video. Narrative drama Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (U.S. release in March) […]


Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall when history was made? CITIZENFOUR gives you that opportunity. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras has created a truly unique documentary in her film about Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) employee who felt morally obligated to expose surveillance being done on Americans. The film is special in several ways: how it came about, its structure, and its subject.

Anthem Film Fest: Countryside vs. City – Two Wars

An attack on Vietnam veterans – I suddenly felt like I was back at UCLA in 1971. Beyond Courage: Surviving Vietnam as a POW brought back questions, controversies, and anger from a war which was the model for the Chinese Communist vision of the peasants in the countryside rising up and overcoming the city. Empire State Divide brought viewers into the world of today and a war by the city on the countryside.

Anthem Film Fest: Mind Reboot

Two of the documentaries at the Anthem Film Festival caused my brain to do a reboot.

Anthem Film Fest – ‘America: Imagine the World Without Her’

It is a rare experience to have a documentary film move you emotionally as narrative films often do. New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza’s defense of America did just that.

Anthem Film Festival – Yes, the NSA is Listening

If you thought Edward Snowden was the first NSA whistle blower, you need to see this film.

An exploration of film and filmmaking