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Speaking Freely Volume 5: Hugo Chávez (2008)

Speaking Freely Volume 5: Hugo Chávez (2008)

Now that one of Latin America’s most controversial figures has died, it is interesting to look back at his actions, actions that will reverberate in the western hemisphere for some time to come. This is a short piece (about 52 minutes) that is clearly a love letter from the maker, Cinema Libre Studio. The whole […]

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The Devil’s Miner (2005)

The Devil’s Miner (2005)

“The mountain that eats men.” That is what Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”) is called. The mountain in Potosi, Bolivia has yielded a tremendous amount of silver since the Spanish empire began mining it hundreds of years ago. This documentary follows the daily life of 14 year-old Basilio Vargas, who works long shifts in the silver […]

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Ecuador (2011)

Ecuador (2011)

Since Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador in 2006, the country has become a study in new socialism. It is new because it combines the social aspect of socialism while also relying on market forces. Ecuador, like many developing countries, has suffered from the ill effects of “dependencia,” a system that keeps the nation […]

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

This film is riveting. It is a fictional look at the hunt for and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden, the man who is believed to have masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Jessica Chastain rightfully won the best actress in a drama at the Golden Globes. She has also […]

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The Other Side of Immigration (2009)

The Other Side of Immigration (2009)

It’s the economy, stupid. That mantra from Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential race pretty much sums up the core issue when it comes to immigration from Mexico to the United States. Many Mexicans abandon the countryside in their native country to seek a better life in the United States. The main reason: they cannot compete with […]

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Lumumba (2000)

Lumumba (2000)

While the subject matter is fascinating, this film falls short in at least a couple of ways. First, the music doesn’t seem to sync up with the action, being loud and dramatic during quiet scenes and being almost silent during the high drama that takes place. It also presupposes that the viewer is familiar with […]

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The Wave (2008)

The Wave (2008)

Could Nazi Germany happen again? Could an autocracy take hold in a democratic country? These are the questions posed by a teacher in modern Germany, a teacher who is forced to teach about autocracy to high school students for one week. When he asks those questions, many of his students say they believe the sway the Nazis […]

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In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)

In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)

This film is not only powerful but also excellent in every way. It centers on a Muslim woman, Ajla, and a Serb soldier, Danijel, during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. Ethnic tensions, long suppressed by Tito, come to a head as Yugoslavia disintegrates. The brutal ethnic cleansing of Muslims by Serbs is shown […]

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Pictures from a Revolution (1991)

Pictures from a Revolution (1991)

Who won the war in Nicaragua? Apparently, no one. Pictures from a Revolution examines photographer Susan Meiselas’s journey to find the people she photographed in Nicaragua during the 1970s and 1980s. She uses the photos to reach out to people, many of whom are blunt about their shattered hopes. Both supporters of the Sandinista government […]

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Grace, Milly, Lucy…Child Soldiers (2010)

Grace, Milly, Lucy…Child Soldiers (2010)

This documentary is excellent. It documents the after effects of war on three young women who were abducted as children and forced to serve in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). That rebel Ugandan force, led by Joseph Kony, is notorious for kidnapping and forcing those captured to fight. For more than 20 years his group has abducted […]

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The Listening Project (2008)

The Listening Project (2008)

Four Americans traveled to 14 countries to find out what ordinary people think of the United States. The responses were predictable: most professed admiration for Americans but vehemently disliked the United States government. There were few surprises in this documentary, which was filmed in “pre-Obama” time. The more touching scenes involve an Afghan woman who lost […]

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Latino (1985)

Latino (1985)

The production values are terrible. The acting is bad. But this is a movie worth watching. Set in the early 1980s, Latino follows a Chicano soldier recruited to train Nicaraguan counterrevolutionaries along the Honduras side of the border. They were called “contras.” Whether the contras were a home grown group or one created and funded […]

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Paradise Now (2005)

Paradise Now (2005)

This film tackles head on the situations modern Palestinians face every day. It revolves around two West Bank friends who have been recruited to become suicide bombers in Tel Aviv. The anguish and self doubt they experience brings the viewer closer to the minds of the would-be martyrs in the hours before they are to […]

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Kippur (2000)

Kippur (2000)

This film is almost a documentary. It follows two Israeli medics who are sent to the front lines during the 1973 Yom Kippur war that began when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. This movie, which is in Hebrew with English subtitles, is not political. Rather, it is a study of life in wartime and the […]

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War Made Easy (2007)

War Made Easy (2007)

While a bit outdated, this documentary addresses the practice of spinning acts of war to be more palatable for citizens of the United States in the last half century. Every United States president has said he wants peace and that war is only used as a final option. That couldn’t be further from the truth. […]

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About the Author

Sean Patrick Murphy
Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;

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