Senator Obama Goes to Africa (2007)
First Run Features

Part personal odyssey and part chronicle of diplomacy in action, this timely and poignant documentary follows Senator Barack Obama as he travels to the land of his ancestry. From South Africa to Kenya to a Darfur refugee camp in Chad, Obama explores the vast continent that is gaining increasing importance in this age of globalization.

Broadcast in over 100 countries, and available for purchase from First Run Features.

 

 

 

 

Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006)
First Run Features

A bold and thought provoking documentary about a shocking act of forgiveness by Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor and the firestorm of criticism it has provoked. Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were victims of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele's cruel genetic experiments—an experience that would haunt them their entire lives. The film follows Eva's metamorphosis from embittered survivor to tireless advocate for reconciliation. This unexpected transformation was sparked when Eva, in an attempt to get information about the experiments, met with another former Auschwitz doctor and was stunned to learn that he also suffered from nightmares about Auschwitz. Eva's ideas about justice, revenge and the possibility of healing through forgiveness—as well as the passionate opposition from other survivors—become a window to a larger discussion of the many ways people define forgiveness.

"Surprisingly uplifting and, at times, even lighthearted…Whether or not you agree with her decision to forgive her torturers, it's impossible not to be moved by her fierce capacity for life." –New York Times

"Riveting… Mengele heads for true importance." –Village Voice

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Slamdance Film Festival. Available for purchase from First Run Features.

 

 

The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and his Legacy (1999)
Berkeley Media

"The Democratic Promise movingly resurrects the memory and legacy of Saul Alinsky, the father of modern-day citizen movements.  The tactics of neighborhood organizations to consumer and environmental grops have roots in Alinsky's passionate belief in the power of ordinary peole to effect change.  This is an invaluable historical remembrance, and is a must-see for anyone concerned with contemporary political movements."

- Alex Kotlowitz, author, There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River

 

"A powerful and revelatory documentary on one of the pioneers of grassroots organizing . . . could never be more timely than now."

- Studs Terkel, author Division Street America

 

"At a time when community activism is needed more than ever, this film will give both guidance and inspiration to young people wanting to advance the cause of justice and equality.  The experience of the extraordinary Saul Alinsky can instruct us all, and we are fortunate that it has been captured so engagingly in this film."

- Howard Zinn, author, A People's History of the United States

Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Philadelphia International Film Festival and the Special Jury Award at the USA Film Festival. Available from Berkeley Media.

 

Times Beach, Missouri (1994)
The Video Project

Times Beach, Missouri was a small, low-income town of 2,240 residents in St. Louis County. In 1973, roads in rural Times Beach, Missouri were sprayed with oil to control the dust. Ten years later, it was discovered that this seemingly harmless oil contained the hazardous chemical waste dioxin. It was the largest civilian exposure to dioxin in the United States.

People in white insulated spacesuits with an array of testing devices descended on the town and the residents were "treated like pariahs...don't go near 'em." Eventually, the federal government was forced to condemn, totally evacuate, and buy its first toxic town.

Through archival footage, interviews with former residents, government officials, media and legal analysts and others, the story of the town's fate is told and significant questions are raised about judgments made by the government, chemical industry, and media.

Available from The Video Project.

 

 

Did They Buy It: Nicaragua's 1990 Elections (1991)

"A fascinating 45-minute video documentary by Chicagoan Bob Hercules, filmed on location with a crew of four, that concentrates largely on the U.S. media coverage of the Nicaraguan elections. What emerges is not only a sharp piece of alternative news coverage that helps to explain the outcome (a matter that most mainstream coverage tended to obfuscate) and an informative account of the various powers at play, but also a revealing and multifaceted (and alternately funny and chilling) look at how the U.S. news about Nicaragua actually gets "created." Particular attention is given to journalists from NBC Newsweek, and National Public Radio as they put together their reports, but many other observers (including many Nicaraguans) are heard from; especially lucid and eloquent are Ed Asner and a couple of Nicaraguan women speaking about their sons in the army."

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic, The Chicago Reader

 

 



 

 

 

Eva Kor revisiting Auschwitz.

Co-Directors Cheri Pugh and Bob Hercules.