Tag Archives: documentary

Making The Boys, a Pride movie event with Stonewall

Thursday June 2
Gateway Film Center
1550 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio
Reception at 7 pm, film at 8pm
Free Appetizers and Cash Bar with Drink Specials – Tickets $6
Benefiting Stonewall Columbus and the Columbus International Film+Video Festival

MAKING THE BOYS tells the story of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play “The Boys in the Band” – from overnight sensation on Broadway, to Hollywood’s first gay movie, to cultural landmark and worldwide phenomenon – all the while having a complicated and sometimes controversial relationship with the gay community. No one could have guessed the impact that a small Off-Broadway production would have on the social climate of the 1960s… not to mention how important and monumental it was to gay people at the time, many of whom were still in the closet. MAKING THE BOYS features illuminating and entertaining footage from the period, interwoven with extensive interviews with Crowley, William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director of the BOYS movie, and a host of luminaries inluding Dominick Dunne, Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, Edward Albee, Dan Savage, Robert Wagner and many others.

CRITIC’S PICK! “Captivating and entertaining…sometimes you don’t have to go very far into the past to be amazed at how drastically things have changed. ‘Making the Boys’ is fascinating recent history and a fascinating personal story as well.”
– Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times


Strong Coffee: Fair Trade and Feminism in the World of Coffee


Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009
7:00pm – 8:30pm
Studio 35 Cinema & Draft House (here)
3055 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH

Film Review By Roger Landes

As with millions of Americans, my day begins with a large, piping hot cup of coffee. No cream, no sugar. Or, on days when I wake up late, I’ll throw in a couple of ice cubes so that I might slide it down my gullet while running out the door. I tend to buy the second-least-expensive bulk coffee I can find at the grocery store and only in the most basic flavor available. Even in coffee shops I usually just go with the most basic flavor, mainly for fear of lacking some sort of lingo necessary to order without the baristas rolling their eyes at me. In short, my coffee purchases have been based upon the ease of the transaction and not having to think about my choice whatsoever.

And that, I have learned, has been a mistake.

It’s not that I didn’t understand what organic food was. It implies that the food was held to a higher standard of production and quality. It also means it is more expensive. So my confusion was not in what was organic, but why choose organic.


And here we find the most important message of Strong Coffee. Coffee is second only to oil as a traded commodity, and is primarily produced in Africa and South and Central America. The average coffee farmer makes about $2 a day, while big business brings in billions of dollars through imports and exports. The documentary chronicles the creation and management of Café Femenino, a coffee co-op that aims to redirect the balance of money towards the farmers of the actual coffee.

For over 40 years, Isabel Latorre and her husband Victor Rojas have been working to aid female coffee farmers in Peru who were being abused by a chauvinistic society and economy. Abuse of women was climbing to the rate of 70%, and a machismo attitude kept women from having an education or being able to make any real money. Latorre began educating the female farmers to improve their production to organic standards. She got into contact with Garth Smith, an organic coffee importer from Washington. With the help of his wife Gaylene, they started Café Femenino, made up of exclusively female farmers and administrators. At the heart of the group were two ideals: fair trade and feminism.

Café Femenino demonstrates all of the best aspects of both of these concepts. The farmers must meet strict criteria to be classified as organic, which sells at a much higher price on the international market. In order to make sure that these proceeds are indeed coming from the women farmers, the farm land that the farming is occurring must be owned by a woman. This helps restructure the family economic model; by bringing in more capital, the women have more pull within the family structure. Also, the roasters must to sell the beans with 2% of profits must be donated to women’s crisis centers. The film shows several different locations in Washington where women’s shelters have been sustained solely because of the sale of Café Femenino coffee in their area.
The film displays the painstaking process that these women go through in order to provide for their families, as well as showing the incredible benefits of their hard work. The film also shows the dedication of the administrators and the roasters have for supplying great coffee to the public, while still holding the integrity of the company. And this is where the message truly resonated for me. I find the commitment to making a better life for people, and the sacrifices made to be very moving.

Why organic? I don’t know. Maybe because going to Stauf’s and buying Café Femenino instead of Folgers isn’t really that much of a sacrifice for me to make. And neither is paying the extra coin. But the result can be tremendous.

Review: Children of Armageddon

Children of Armageddon:  Or how I learned to hate the bomb again!

By Roger Landes

One of the most difficult aspects of making a good political documentary is finding a subject matter interesting enough in order to not only captivate an audience, but also to persuade them to believe in the position taken by the film. In other words, it better make people care.  And at first glance, Children of Armageddon is in a very difficult position.

coaPeople seem to have made their choices for what are the most important issues in the contemporary world, and activism in anything else seems to be trite.  Global warming, the war in the Middle East, health care, and genocide in Darfur take up the upper hierarchy of pertinence, and everything else is considered to be of a lesser need.  These issues are clearly the most crucial problems in our world today.

Children of Armageddon digs up an argument that has been stewing for over half a century.  The so-called “nuclear issue” has been pushed to the back burner to make room for the aforementioned other causes.  Children of Armageddon brings the conversation back to pertinence by raising the question: “Who are the real victims of nuclear war?”  It begins showing us the obvious answer.  The Hibakusha, survivors of the Atomic Bomb droppings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fight to keep their tragedy relevant in a Japanese culture that is trying to forget their own history due to their reliance on America’s nuclear deterrence umbrella.  Maki, a third generation Hibakusha, works to bring the fear of nuclear weaponry back into the youth of Hiroshima to raise awareness.  She is faced with a resistant populous who would simply rather forget than accept a tremendous situation.

The effects of nuclear warfare effect areas outside of Japan as well.  The U.S., France, and Great Britain have been testing nuclear warheads for decades.  The test detonations for these warheads contaminate the land and cause horrible side effects to the surrounding peoples.  The Marshall Islands, an American colony located between Hawaii and Guam, was host to nuclear tests for American bombs in the 1950s.  In 1954, a bomb was detonated to close to the coast of Rongelap, a village near the coast.  The entire town was contaminated with radioactive powder.  This caused gene mutations in the women of Rongelap.  These mutations have caused massive amounts of miscarriages and infant deformities.  The mutations have transgenetic effects, so even 55 years after the testing, young women are still being affected by the bombings.

These lingering effects can be seen in other parts of the world.  France did its nuclear testing in French Polynesia, but claimed there would be no repercussions because it was done underground. What they failed to realize is the movement of the radioactive materials through the soil into the water and soil.  Due to this, French Polynesia has an incredibly high rate of leukemia, as well as thyroid and kidney cancer.  Maurea, a young Tahitian woman, fights to end nuclear testing in order to raise her family in a healthy atmosphere.  In the 1995, French President Jacques Chirac ignored protests by locals like Maurea as well as environmental groups and claimed that he would resume the nuclear testing at French Polynesia.  He was met with such an opposition from the people that he almost immediately recanted his comments and disposed of a massive amount of nuclear warheads.

Children of Armageddon attempts to tackle an incredibly complex and difficult topic.  Nations like the U.S. and France claim that their nuclear arsenal is a deterrent against other nations to use their weapons against them.  The film states that even this is an inappropriate use of their power.  The mere existence of a single nuclear warhead is too dangerous to the survival of the human species.  Even its use as a deterrent is merely one country threatening all others.  The films most interesting contribution is from the issues oldest and loudest opposition, Noam Chomsky.  He states that at the very essence of the nuclear issue is that it is “the only threat to the species that can be immediately solved.”  The message of Children of Armageddon is very much idealistic, but it is exactly what is needed in order to wake the public up to the importance of the topic.

Children of Armageddon is screening Tuesday September 22 at 7.30 PM at the Drexel. Admission is free, donations accepted.


A Powerful Noise – Drexel Screening Tuesday August 25th!

A Powerful Noise at the Drexel tomorrow, Tuesday the 25th at 7:30pm

The sun has come out for a momentary “good afternoon,” and August in Ohio seems inordinately cool & comfortable. Its been a few months since the last Festival/Free Press event, so we are all looking forward seeing you at the Drexel Theater, Tuesday evening, for this late summer shindig.

The drexel is blocks away from fresh sushi, an irish pub, and the spectacular Jeni’s ice cream in Bexley! Call it the last screening of summer vacation, mothers bring your daughters! Fathers, sons, brother’s and sisters make an evening of it.


Many films emphasize the glaring differences between developing and developed nations, creating an “us/them” perspective that minimizes the relevance to Western audiences. However, this documentary captivates viewers because it speaks to the common aspirations, the common abilities that all women share. “A Powerful Noise” is a meditation on the inherent potential of women to change the world. “A Powerful Noise”. The impact of one voice. The power of many.

Please consider joining us tomorrow evening for a powerful film, with powerful consequences.

Film reviewed by Roger Landes, here.

Plus… whats not to love when Admission is free!

Review: A Powerful Noise


Putting the Power in A Powerful Noise

By Roger Landes 

A Powerful Noise asks nothing from its viewers.  At least, not directly.  It’s not that kind of documentary.  To put it quite simply, it doesn’t need to be. 

Sure, it’s an activist film with a strong feminist message, but not once will it demand anything from you.  But that is not to say it isn’t affecting.  Hell it’s inspiring.  The inspiration of the film comes not from a manipulative director, but from the characters presented.  This is where the brilliance of the film is found.

The film follows three women with backgrounds as different as their locations.  Hanh is a HIV-positive widow from Vietnam.  Nada is survivor of the Bosnian war.  Lastly, the wonderful Madame Urbain is a social activist in Bamako, the largest city in one of the poorest countries, Mali. 

Although these women at first glance have little in common, their struggle is the same: they must reform the societies that seem to have no interest in changing.  The film chronicles their hardships, and successes.

Hanh works in Vietnam to combat the growing number of HIV/AIDS in Vietnam.  The disease is spreading at the same rate as the amount of heroin use in the country.  Hanh’s husband transferred to her the disease which was spread to her young daughter, who died not a year after contracting the disease. 

Hanh now tackles the difficult task of educating the public on safe sex and not sharing needles.  Hanh passes out condoms and literature to locals and gives speeches to the masses.  This is particularly difficult in her home country, as its society has intense social stigmas on the disease.  As much as she tries, she is met with great difficulty from factory owners who refuse to let her speak to the workers. 

Hanh also sets up support groups for those affected by the disease.  The film does a remarkable job at showing the shame, fear, and hope found in the people of Vietnam.

The Bosnian War is arguably the most misunderstood travesty of the past 30 years.  The war occurred due to the clashing cultures of the Bosniaks and the Serbians.  In the aftermath of the war, the people found their economy completely destroyed, over a million people displaced, and over 50% unemployed. 

Nada is a survivor of the war who works to help local farmers to find a place to sell their crops.  Without an economy of imports and exports, farmers have no place to sell their goods.  Nada helps to create co-ops and connect families in order to collect their stocks and sell them.  She struggles with the still fallen economy, and remaining clashes between the two cultures.  She flows freely around both the Bosniak people and the Serbs.

Of the three women, Madame Urbain shines as not only the most moving, but entertaining as well.  Mme. Urbain is a social worker in the West African country of Mali.  The countries immense poverty reaches out to the villages, where men and woman have no ability to get any form of education. 

The only option for many girls is to move to the countries biggest city, Bamako, in order to find work.  But, without any education or skills the only option for them is to become domestic servants.  Mme. Urbain works to end this practice.  She has offices that work to take protect these domestic servants, making sure that their employees don’t take advantage of them and pay them properly. 

Mme. Urbain works foremost to set up schools and encourage the education of young women. “To educate a woman is to educate a village is to educate a nation.” 

But she is met with resistance, especially from the male villagers, as the society maintains its emrace on women’s past subserviant role.  Mme. Urbain knows the great weight on her shoulders, but she accepts it with grace and humility, even when confronted with difficulties.

The truly inspirational part of the film: with so much resistance and so many hardships, where can these women find hope?  The film shows us, three women with no place in society, yet they reached out and claimed a place for their own.




A Powerful Noise screens on Tuesday August 25, at The Drexel Theater, 7:30 – 9:00pm.

This screening is co-sponsored by the Free Press. Admission is free. Donations accepted.

This is the first contribution to OH! Film by guest blogger and CIF+VF volunteer Roger Landes. Without the generous support of people like Roger, the reach of the CIF+VF and OH! Film would be severly stunted.

Homemade Documentarians Take Note!


The Columbus International Film + Video Festival is pleased to announce a new Division geared towards short form experimental and documentary works.

The Basement Division:

[special reduced entry fee & Entry deadline]

Basement films division seeks videos made inexpensively by people interested in documenting the world and people around them. These works can be of any topic, no matter how local or modest. Basement videos are works of authenticity and immediacy and are to have no distribution deals. These works should have a run time under 10 minutes.

While we seek videos made by non-professionals and meant mostly for the people around them, works of vision and quality will be rewarded.

A special reduced entry fee of only $20 will apply only for this division. While there is no Chris Award for this division we are awarding software prizes from Showbiz Software for the top winners in this division.

Entry deadline has been extended without penalty to July 15, 2009.

For entry forms and more information:


Documentary on Columbus Homeless

Join us at the Drexel Theater, Tuesday, May 26th at 7:30pm

Join us at the Drexel Theater, Tuesday, May 26th at 7:30pm

“Swept Out”

A Film By Mary Howard

— With filmmaker Q & A!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Time: 7:30pm – 9:30pm (73 minutes).
Location: Drexel East
(2254 E Main St. Bexley, OH)

The Columbus International Film + Video Festival is pleased to announce they will be re-screening Mary Howard’s “Swept Out”, on May 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM at the Drexel East, 2254 E. Main Street in Bexley, Ohio. (map)

Filmed and edited by sociology/anthropology professor Mary Howard, Ph.D., “Swept Out” takes viewers behind the scenes into several tent and shanty communities in downtown Columbus. The documentary was shot over four seasons in 2006.  The filmmaker will do Q & A after the film. The screening is sponsored by the Free Press, Drexel Theater and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund Film. Admission is free, donations accepted.

Contact: 253-2571, truth@freepress.org.