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Jennifer Merin

First Run Features Releases DVDs on August 23, 2011

By August 22, 2011

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August 23, 2011, is the day when First Run Features releases DVDs of two compelling documentaries that present unique perspectives on history and racism.

In Dear Uncle Adolf filmmakers Michael Kloft and Mathias von der Heide use fan letters written to Adolf Hitler during the years 1932 to 1945 to present a stunning study of the German people's mind set and their attitude towards their beloved Fuhrer.

The original documents, handwritten or typed in the German language, are shown on camera -- along with relevant archival footage of Hitler addressing throngs of devotees or caressing the cheek of a child -- while their content is read in English as voice over narration.

For the most part, the letters are fanatically patriotic adulations, love poems, personal manifestos and celebratory greetings that express limitless gratitude and undying loyalty to Hitler.

There are subtle shifts in tone as the hardships of war are felt throughout the fatherland. But, without offering analysis or explanations, Dear Uncle Adolf leaves no doubt that the German people were very much a part of the creation of the Third Reich and the carrying out of its agressive and racist policies. This documentary is an essential addition to any list of films about the Holocaust, World War II and the Third Reich.

Read my full review.

The second First Run Features release is Wrong Side of the Bus, Filmmaker Rod Freedman follows South African ex-pat, Dr. Sidney Bloch, as he returns to Cape Town for his medical school class reunion. Bloch, now a prominent Melbourne, Australia-based psychiatrist, is determined to stage a formal reconciliation event at the reunion, so he and and his white classmates can seek the forgiveness of their non-white classmates -- including one Chinese student -- who were severely discriminated against under the laws of Apartheid.

It has been forty years since Bloch graduated from medical school and moved away from South Africa, but he continues to be wracked by guilt because he didn't protest Apartheid in general and, particularly, take action against the treatment of his non-white friends and classmates.

Bloch is clearly a person of substance and the film, which chronicles his very emotional and personal journey as he seeks to resolve the long-standing feelings of guilt that have influenced every aspect of his life, is very affecting.

Read my full review.

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