For starters, resolve to watch more documentary films during 2012, perhaps by signing up for a documentaries series such as the Stranger Than Fiction
series at New York's IFC Center, or attending a documentaries festival such as IDFA
or Sheffield Doc/Fest
or forming your own documentaries viewing club
And, then turn your attention to these inspiring documentaries about people and subjects that will convince you to resolve to make a difference during 2012.
Jennifer Arnold's inspiring documentary follows Chris Mburu, a United Nations human rights advocate who grew up in an impoverished household in rural Kenya, and who, after graduating from Harvard, established the Hilde Back Education Fund to pay for high school for deserving Kenyan children, as a way of paying forward the kindness of a Swedish woman who sponsored his education.
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who developed and defines Elmo the Muppet's very loving persona, applies his good nature and generous spirit to inspiring young puppeteers and those in need in Constance Mark's warm-hearted documentary.
Buck Brannaman, known as 'the original horse whisperer, has the calm and kind demeanor that can sooth troubled steeds, and their riders. His own life, as we learn in Cindy Meehle's compelling and inspiring documentary, hasn't be easy, and he has overcome a lot to become the gentle soul he is today.
Yoav Potash‘s Crime After Crime
follows the case of Deborah Peagler, a woman tried and convicted for the murder of her husband, whose life-threatening brutality towards her was never revealed at her trial. Presented by Oprah Winfrey's OWN Channel, the documentary is a powerful call for social justice and reform in our criminal justice system.
First Run Features
America's system of food distribution encourages waste. Items with expiration dates are tossed out before those dates arrive, entire cartons of eggs are tossed out when one egg is broken, baskets of berries are tossed out because a few berries have been squashed. Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert chronicles a practical solution that he and hundreds of others have adopted: dumpster diving for the perfectly good food that has been thrown away.
Ariel Small, now a teenager in suburban Chicago, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when he was a toddler. His Tourette-driven behavior -- including involuntary tics and outbursts of temper -- isolated him from other kids and made it difficult for him to get along in school. Still, with the help of his loving mother and father, who financed this film, Ariel has been able to lead a normal -- and in some ways extrarodinary and inspirational -- life.
Helen Whitney's fascinating and moving treatise on the human capacity for forgiveness has been a social and political force in the wake of past and present instances of genocide and other violent crimes agains humanity. Narrated by Jane Alexander, the film is calm revelation of private and public behavior.
About ongoing efforts to bring José Efraín Ríos Montt, the Guatemalan dictator responsible for genocide in that country, to justice before the international court of law, filmmakers Pamela Yates and Paco de Onis not only cover case preparation, including interviews with many of those who suffered at the hand of Rios Montt and his henchmen, but Yates also provides key evidence of his culpability, in the form of archival footage she'd shot of military actions when she was embedded with the guerrillas fighting against Rios Montt's rule. Yes, documentaries can make a difference!
Filmmaker Steve James
, acclaimed for his compassionate documentaries about people facing extreme challenges in their lives, and co-producer Alex Kotlowitz deliver a gripping feature about CeaseFire, a Chicago-based grass roots organization dedicated to teaching residents of impoverished, drug and crime-infested inner city neighborhoods to resolve their differences with peaceful negotiation rather than violence.
Filmmaker Catherine Tatge's historical documentary and biographical profile covers the life of John Muir (April 21, 1938 to December 24, 1914), the naturalist and inventor, from his early childhood through to his founding and advocating for many of America's wilderness preserves. Think of Muir and thank him whenever you enter an American national park or wildlife preserve.
Filmed during nine years after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center, Jim Whitaker's stirring documentary follows five survivors in their intensely personal processes of physical and emotional healing.
After years apart, the members of Houston, Texas' 1970s Kashmere High School Band reunite, picking up their instruments for the first time in decades to and play a tribute concert for their inspired and inspiring music teacher, Conrad O. Johnson, Sr., fondly referred to as Prof, and now in his 90s. Filmmaker Mark Landsman's documentary has a whole lot of soul!