Part of Apr 2012 by
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Best Documentaries from Tribeca 2012

In addition to The Revisionaries (check out David DArcys review), the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival (April 18 – 29) featured a slew of other top-notch documentaries (the narrative film selection was not bad either). Here is the rundown on three of the Tribeca 2012 documentaries that stood out above the rest.

Ballroom Dancer

Vyacheslav “Slavik” Kryklyvyy is an award-winning ballroom dancer who comes out of a long retirement to compete alongside Anna Melnikova, a much younger female partner with whom he is also in a relationship. Ballroom Dancer skillfully discusses the never-ending dance between age and competitiveness, when one’s body can no longer keep up with the lofty ego of one’s self. Slavik may prance around like a peacock, but in actuality he is no longer in control of his own destiny. It used to be that Slavik could do whatever he wanted on the dance floor; but now Slavik’s 34-year-old body is holding him back. Slavik’s partners also used to obey his every whim; but modern women — including Ania – are less inclined to put up with his patronizing and machismo attitude. It is as if Slavik has been in a time capsule for most of his retirement. The roles of women have changed and as has the competitive world of ballroom dancing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnHYJhXXJS0

High Tech, Low Life

Zola is a cocky young blogger who represents the “new guard” of Chinese revolutionaries. His unassuming appearance allows him to pass as just another bystander taking photos, rather than attracting attention to himself as a journalist. Zola’s goal is to document newsworthy events and tell the Truth before the government has a chance to cover-up the facts; he then relies upon his notoriety and fame to communicate the Truth to the legions of loyal fans who follow his blog.

Tiger Temple is part of the “old guard” of Chinese revolutionaries. He functions as an investigative reporter, interviewing people in order to document the ways in which they have been wronged by their government. Whereas Zola just blogs about events, Tiger Temple goes beyond just blogging; he actively assists his downtrodden subjects in a concerted effort to improve their situation.

Stephen Maing’s documentary reveals the life-changing possibilities of the internet and social networking. High Tech, Low Life looks at the Chinese government’s tyrannical control over the dissemination of information via the unique perspectives of these two bloggers; by proxy, High Tech, Low Life also functions as a smart compare and contrast piece on the ways two different generations attempt to change their situation.

Off Label

With Off Label, directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher dive headfirst into the moral, economic and scientific dilemma of human guinea pigs. Palmieri and Mosher concurrently explore the way pharmaceuticals have become ingratiated into everyday American life as well as our culture’s addiction to taking pills for anything and everything.

Cross-cut between the lives of human guinea pigs, industry insiders and drug consumers; Off Label observes the multitude of effects that drugs has on our modern society. From the subjects’ varying perspectives on the pharmaceutical food chain, we learn how and why they participate in the testing, marketing, selling, and consuming of prescription drugs in the United States. Off Label is frustrating to blood curdling levels. If you do not already detest the big pharma-industrial complex, you certainly will after watching Palmieri and Mosher’s documentary. The inherent greed of capitalism is at the root of all the evil. People’s lives are at stake, so is the future of the human race yet all big pharma cares about is money.

Multiple variations on the Carter family song ”No Depression In Heaven” guide us along Palmieri and Mosher’s artistic yet journalistic documentary. More poetic, illuminating and thoughtful than Michael Moore’s Sicko, hopefully Off Label will have a better chance at convincing people that the health care industry in the U.S. is totally jacked-up.

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