October 14, 2014 (Booklist Online).
Sandy beaches and beautiful ocean views are the dreams of many. But dreams can become nightmares when severe weather, eroding sand, and rising water levels decimate the shoreline. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast, wiping out neighborhoods and scattering possessions. Interviewed survivors in New Jersey talk about seeing their household goods “on the curb” and making decisions about rebuilding. In North Carolina, Outer Banks residents worry about disappearing shorelines yet decry attempts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to put in artificial barriers to curb erosion. Efforts to restore beaches with costly sand-reclamation projects are wiped out when devastating storms hit the region. Experts debate questions of who should finance beach-replenishment projects and the wisdom of continuing to develop and build houses on endangered coastal regions. This thought-provoking video sparks discussion for environmentalists and those directly affected by beach erosion. Extras include an interview with director Ben Kalina. Candace Smith
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November/December 2014 (Volume 29, Issue 6)
Reviewed by Tom Ipri, Drexel University
Ecology, Environmentalism, Global Warming
Date Entered: 3/2/2015
Focusing mainly on the New Jersey and North Carolina shore lines, Shored Up examines the troubled relationship between nature and those who want to build beach homes and communities. Taking Hurricane Sandy as a starting point, Ben Kalina’s film traces the history of shore development with an emphasis on the more recent trend of building expensive homes in flood and erosion prone areas.
Shored Up presents a short but effective overview of the history of shoreline development along the east coast. This growing development clashes with the effects of climate change and communities are forced to keep rebuilding. Some areas enlisted the Army Corp of Engineers to extend their beaches.
Scenes of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy provide a timely and moving example from recent history. Interviews with longtime residents of select coastal towns put a human face to the threat of property destruction.
The film cumulates with the shocking and disturbing decision by North Carolina politicians to ban discussion of the accelerated rise of sea level. Shored Up excels at showing the conflicting interests at play. It provides a great overview of the effects that climate change is having on coastal communities and provides a disturbing portrait of how those who have economic interests in these areas have their heads in the sand, so to speak.
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The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Early in this film, author Armistead Maupin asserts that he is not a gay writer, but rather a writer who is gay. But it’s quickly evident from the film that his personal story encompasses many of the plot arcs of the larger story of LGBT+ people in San Francisco and beyond.
The AIDS crisis, hepatitis, friendships with straight women, open relationships, coming out, chosen families, censorship, San Francisco as promised land: all of these topics appear in the film. To its credit, the film explores these issues as parts of Maupin’s story, rather than trying to generalize them to all gay men. Yet, also to its credit, the film allows space for Maupin’s friends and acquaintances to voice their own stories, as when fellow author Kate Bornstein explains her objections to Maupin’s outing actors Rock Hudson and Lily Tomlin.
Untold Tales is, in fact, a frustratingly difficult film to summarize, because rather than following a definite plot, it is like a day-long visit with a new friend, learning about his life and the people therein. Happily, it is a consistently interesting one, and one that demonstrates the humanity underlying those aforementioned social issues.
It is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
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Filmmakers Patrick Daly and Joel Fendelman examine the global plight of migrant workers by telling the unhappy story of Marie (Angela Barotia), a Filipina wife and mother who leaves her husband, sons, and daughter for a job as a housekeeper to a well-to-do Singapore family so that she can send money home. Although not a documentary, the script is based on the experiences of Barotia and other non-professionals in the cast, and the directors stage the action—shot in Singapore and the Philippines—in a gritty style. Marie discovers that her salary will be reduced to cover the costs of her training and transportation, so she has to take on additional jobs to meet the needs of her family. And they, in turn, undermine her efforts: her philandering husband spends the cash she sends on another woman rather than repairing his taxi, and her daughter gets pregnant before she is able to finish school. As a result, Marie is forced to return home, her hopes of opening a hair salon dashed. Once back, Marie’s situation deteriorates further in what clearly appears to be a sad cycle. A realistic and timely film that carries the ring of truth, this is recommended. (F. Swietek)
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Co-directors Marcus Barberry and Sam Russell tell the story of the “freedmen”—African Americans who trace their lineage to freed slaves who became members of various tribes, including the Seminole and Cherokee Nation—in this troubling documentary. The filmmakers focus their inquiry specifically on Oklahoma, where Jon Velie—an attorney who majored in Native American history at the University of California at Berkeley—has been representing freedmen since they were disenfranchised by their tribe in 1999. One of his clients, Sylvia Davis, is an African American woman of Seminole descent. After being disenfranchised she lost access to tribal benefits including healthcare and housing assistance. In 2003, freedmen also lost the right to vote in tribal elections. Although Velie’s litigation helped to overturn that restriction, benefits remain elusive. And even though a lay advocate named David Cornsilk won his case on behalf of Lucy Allen, the Cherokee Nation proceeded to amend their tribal constitution in order to disenfranchise African American members again. The film’s title, By Blood, comes from a section of a turn of the century census which was used to make the restricting amendment (as opposed to the Treaty of 1866, which recognizes freedmen as tribal members). In 2008 a bill was introduced that aimed to withdraw federal funds until such time that the Cherokee Nation recognizes the freedmen, but by 2009, this bill—which the Cherokee Nation fought with all their might—was dead. As the documentary ends, legal battles on behalf of the freedmen continue, but it’s hard to tell if they will receive the recognition they seek. A thought-provoking film—with extras including bonus scenes—this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)
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