This review, originally written in May 2019 has been reposted in Jan 2020 for the screening of the “Slay the Dragon” documentary at the NYC CineMatters Social Justice Film Festival. Please pardon the dated TV references, but the gerrymandering issue is more urgent than ever as we approach the 2020 elections.
Soleimani Stress Shopping Guide. Whatever political party you claim as your own, no one feels good about the recent escalation of tensions with Middle Eastern countries. Iran vows violent retaliation for the American drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander, Qassim Soleimani. The world is up in arms, literally, and as we wait to see what form retaliation will take, our anxiety rises. Recent surveys reveal the majority of Americans say the future of our nation and the current political climate is a significant source of stress. Symptoms can include emotional irritability, headaches, insomnia, stomach problems, depression, fatigue and high blood pressure. What to do? Here are some products that can help alleviate the pressure:
We have a special program to thank for two excellent indie films in the past two years – “Lucky Grandma,” by Asian-American filmmakers Sasie Sealy and Angela Cheng, and “Nigerian Prince,” by young, Nigerian-American filmmaker Faraday Okoro. Both films were winners of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories, which is an alliance between AT&T and the Tribeca Film Institute. Now in its third year, the program awards a $1 million cash prize, mentorship and distribution to under-represented filmmakers with a story to tell. Helen Highly Recommends both “Lucky Grandma” and “Nigerian Prince.” Helen also Highly Contemplates the benefits and drawbacks of corporate sponsorship in filmmaking and in Pride parades.
It’s Gay Pride month, and we’re coming up to July 4th and Independence Day, so HelenHighly discusses three new documentaries whose hearts beat the drums of freedom, passion and change, and how in each film, art is the catalyst that brings those concepts to life. Helen Highly Recommends “A Night at Switch n’ Play,” “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” and “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.”
The world celebrated when Myanmar’s military government transferred power to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi after her landslide election in 2015. But how is political responsibility passed down in a country whose new democracy is founded on 50 years of dictatorship and entrenched ethnic discrimination? Karen Stokkendal Poulsen’s new film, On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship, shows the ways in which she has had to contend with an atmosphere of total distrust and collaborate with the same men who kept her under house arrest for a total of 15 years.
Helen Highly Vindicated. In the last two days I’ve heard at least two pop-culture references to an ancient play by Aristophanes. As someone who can’t seem to stop writing commentary about popular culture by comparing it to classic theater, it is refreshing to hear someone else finally do it – two people no less! Alyssa Milano and Bill Maher, thank you very much for making me feel less out of touch with the world.