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Pre-Election Day Documentaries

Documentaries to Be Viewed Before Election Days

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Whether you've decided to vote for a specific candidate or not, are following party lines or crossing them, or are still weighing the promises made by those seeking election, your vote will be a more accurate expression of your opinion and will if you are very familiar with the political, social, economic and environmental issues we are now facing. Documentaries offer accurate, in depth and mind-changing information about everything from health care and global warming to insider trading and homeland security. Here's a list of documentaries you should watch before voting in any election:

The End of America

Katahdin Productions/IndiePix
Throroughly researched by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, The End Of America sets forth the ten step blueprint that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms, and then compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States for the past eight years. Very convincing. Very scary. The film asks the question: Is the American Constitution At Risk? And then goes on to show clearly and irrefutably that it is. This documentary should be required viewing for anyone old enough to vote or join the army.

The Best Government Money Can Buy

Filmmaker Francis Megahy investigates the ways in which political lobbyists working for special interest groups -- including both nonprofits and private corporations -- influence policy making decisions and the enactment of specific laws by funding political campaigns. That's just the way things work in Washington, and it's time that the voting public has full disclosure about it. The extent of the practice of lobbying and buying influence may come as a shock to some viewers, but others who've been following the ongoing debate about limiting campaign contributions and/or changing policy so that campaigns are paid for by the public rather than funded by private interests will find this documentary a thoroughly researched and responsible representation of both sides of the coin. It is a must see before any election.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Sundance Selects
Although this film is about China and Ai Weiwei, the acclaimed Chinese artist who has been internationally recognized for his art installations and for his fight for freedom of expression in his homeland, it is a very provocative reminder that we must not take our right to freedom of expression for granted. It is guaranteed only as long as we are vigilant to prevent legislation that limits it -- especially during times of international tensions that challenge our consitutional way of life.

8: The Mormon Proposition

Red Flag Releasing
8: The Mormon Proposition in an insider look at the extraordinary political intrigue behind the Mormon's initiatives to reverse legislation allowing same sex marriages in California. Directors Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet reveal the church leaders' machinations and manipulations, as they show the devastating emotional effects that the Mormons-lead anti-gay campaign has had on LGBT couples, their parents and extended families -- many of whom are or were Mormon. And, the film raises questions about whether the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) has violated the 'apolitical' requirements of its nonprofit tax exempt status. A true political grinder!

Megamall

A shocking expose about how local govenrment doesn't always keep the interests of the voters in mind and action. Back in 1996, the Pyramid Companies of Syracuse (New York) broke ground on a toxic dump in West Nyack (Rockland County, New York) to begin construction on the Palisades Center, intended to be a massive shopping mall, second in size to the monstrous Mall of America. The construction site was in a residential area, and homeowners feared a huge and hugely unwanted change to their quiet suburban way of life. Despite ongoing citizen proteses and a long battle to prevent the establishment of the mall in their neighborhood, building permits were authorized and unpermitted expansions on those permits were tolerated without fine or question. Whose interests did the local authorities have in mind?

Chasing Madoff

Cohen Media Group
Chasing Madoff documents the efforts of an investments investigator named Harry Makopolos to call attention to the nefarious doings of ponzi master Bernie Madoff, long before his scheme collapsed, leaving thousands of his clients -- private investors and organizated investment funds -- in a state of bankruptcy. Makopolos' whistle blows were ignored by authorities, who gave Madoff free reign to continue his scams. The fascinating film, filled with drama, gives us another insightful view about what has caused America's economic woes, and what precautions should be taken to prevent anything like this from happening again.

An Inconvenient Truth

Paramount Classics
The film documents the lecture series in which former Vice President Al Gore discusses the dangers of global warming in clear, concise and easy to understand terms, raising awareness about the impending environmenal crisis that threatens life on Earth as we know it. Any candidate who is running for public office had better take a strong stand on protecting the environment, and this film is a good indicator of what specific points need to be addressed.

Inside Job

In Inside Job journalist and filmmaker Charles Ferguson presents a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Showing the intimate connection between government and corporate interests, the documentary focuses on specific events and presents the entire cast of characters -- public servants, government officials, financial service company employees, bank executives and academics -- involved in creating the crisis, and it indicates the results their actions had on the middle class and laborers around he world. Where do the candidates stand on the regulation and monitoring of investment firms?

Dive! Living Off America's Waste

First Run Features
Although filmmaker Jeremy Seifert documentary about how to live by rescuing food from garbage dumps will undoubtedly provide the indigent with survival tactics and enlist those who can afford to buy food in the cause of alleviating our nation's wasteful tactics, the film also points out that America is seriously mismanaging its resources. Automated processing, packaging and distribution of food creates huge and wasteful surplus supplies that wind up being dumped, which millions of people -- not only in the U.S., but around the world -- go hungry. Is there a way that elected officials and public policy could have an ameliorating effect?

The Business of Being Born

Red Envelope Entertainment
Public concerns about birthing challenge voters to look not only at women's right to choose issues, but also at the way children are brought into the world, how mothers and infants get medical care and who oversees the delivery industry. Director Abby Epstein and producer Ricki Lake (who also appears in the film as its protagonist, delivering her baby on camera) weigh the advantages of midwivery and homebirthing as opposed to the scheduled C-section and hospitalization. It's a fascinating and very personal film that calls attention to very specific issues that should be addressed by those seeking election to public office.

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