What’s the relationship between documentary and democracy?

Now more than ever, filmmakers are fighting to give a voice to the disaffected, the poor and the oppressed.

Remember the furore around Blackfish? The gut-churning horror of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s 2013 documentary about the controversial practices of catching and keeping whales in captivity led to mass protests and petitions against SeaWorld and other aquariums. Real change was brought about directly because of this film and people exercising their democratic rights in response to it. Engendering activism is one of the strengths that documentary has over narrative film; we see real people and real situations, secrets are exposed and unpleasant truths are brought into the light so that we can no longer ignore them.

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Golden Girl – first look review

Director Susanna Edwards captures the emotional complexity of a brutal sport in this intimate portrait of ‘the female Rocky’.

Golden Girl, Susanna Edwards’ film about Sweden’s first WBC world title holder in women’s boxing, Frida Wallberg, opens with a quote from legendary boxer Rocky Graziano: “The fight for survival is the fight.” It shows us just that. Starting in 2010, not long after Wallberg won her first title, the film follows her training and working towards more fights; trying to retain her status as the world number one and keep the belt in Sweden. Not only a champion in what is still seen as a man’s world, she is also a single mother trying to provide for her young daughter. Needless to say, Wallberg is extremely tough. We see her training to the point of tears, the agony written across her face. But she refuses to give up.

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Speed Sisters

This documentary invites you into a world you might not have known existed. Marah, Betty, Noor and Mona are members of an all-woman speed racing team, the first in the Arabic world. Team manager Maysoon is based with them in Palestine and we get to see not only the exciting world of racing but the realities of life under occupation.

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Stutterer (short film)

Having already picked up a slew of awards and now selected for the Oscar shortlist (see the others nominated below), Stutterer is a film about a young man with a speech impediment looking for love. Ironically Greenwood works as a typographer and loves words, he just can’t seem to get them out when he needs them. With a generous budget (for a short) of 5k the film stars Matthew Needham in the main role and has very high production values.

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Hollywood Banker

Frans Afman was a respectable banker from the Netherlands who he saw an opportunity to fulfil a dream of working in films; by financing them. Not a well-known figure outside of the industry he was responsible for funding over 900 films; many of them Oscar winners such as Dances with Wolves and Platoon and popular blockbusters like Superman, Terminator and Total Recall.

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