Film Reviews

Film & History publishes 10-12 reviews per issue of documentary films dealing with all aspects of history, with a particular emphasis on independent and foreign productions. It also publishes reviews of dramatic or feature films that focus on the film as a depiction of historical events, or an artifact or reflection of social history.

The films listed below are currently available for review, but Film & History welcomes reviews of history-related films not on the list. New reviewers, too, are always welcome, and a helpful set of guidelines for film reviews is available.

For more information, to request one of the films below to review, or to inquire about reviewing a film not on the list, contact film review editor Cynthia J. Miller at film.reviews.editor@filmandhistory.org


Films Currently Available for Review [PDF]

Adrift (Vietnam: Choi Voi). Directed by Bui Thac Chuyen. The story of four young people in modern-day Vietnam: newly-married tour guide Duyen, her husband Hai, her girlfriend Cam (for whom she realizes he has romantic feelings), and Cam’s (male) lover Tho, whose unexpected encounter with Duyen brings the plot to a head.

Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words. Directed by Yunah Hong. The life and career of the first Chinese American movie star.

Atomic Mom. Directed by M.T. Silvia. A documentary about two women, both mothers, who have very different experiences of the atomic bomb.

Atomic States of America, The. Directed by Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce. Memoir about growing up in a nuclear reactor community.

Black Fatherhood Project, The. Directed by Jordan Thierry. Explores the issue of the fatherless black home in America.

Brick City. Directed by Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin. A five-part, Peabody-Award-winning television documentary series exploring life in Newark, New Jersey through the eyes of the mayor, police commissioner, and citizens from all parts of society.

Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle. Directed by Robbie Gemmel and John Kirby. The battle over America’s most controversial clean energy project.

Carmen & Geoffrey. Directed by Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob. A portrait of the 47-year marriage and professional partnership of pioneering modern dancers Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder.

Eyes Wide Open. Directed by Haim Tabakman. Aaron, who runs a butcher shop in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, finds his well-defined world turned upside down by the arrival of a young man whose relationship with him challenges long-held assumptions about life.

Facebook Follies. Directed by Geoff D’Eon and Jay Dahl. Facebook’s far-reaching impact on our culture.

Family in History, A. Directed by Alfred Guzzetti, Susan Mieselas, and Richard P. Rogers. This 2-DVD set combines the 1984-85 film Living at Risk – about the five Barrios siblings and their support for the Sandinista government in Nicaragua at the height of the Contra insurgency – and The Barrios Family 25 Years Later, a collection of 20 interviews and short documentaries.

Getting Home (China: Luo Ye Gui Gen). Directed by Zhang Yang. A gently comic road movie about a middle-aged construction worker who travels hundreds of miles across China to fulfill a friend’s dying wish to be buried in the Three Gorges region of the country.

Gods (Peru: Dioses). Directed by Josue Mendez. A satire of wealth and privilege in present-day Peru, focusing on Elisa – the working-class fiancé of a wealthy industrialist – whose plans for a life of leisure are complicated by her rebellious stepchildren-to-be.

Hallowed Grounds. Directed by Robert Uth. The story of the 22 American military cemeteries, spread across eight countries, that hold the remains of 125,000 service members from the two world wars, and commemorate nearly 100,000 more.

Healing a Soldier’s Heart. Directed by Stephen Olsson. Four Vietnam veterans, all suffering from PTSD, return to Vietnam to face the sites of their trauma.

Hungry Tide, The. Directed by Tom Zubrycki. Follows the story of an environmental activist from the small Pacific island of Kiribati, as she attempts to win global support to protect her sinking homeland.

I Am From Titov Veles (Macedonia: Jas Sum od Titov Veles). Directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska. Three sisters take different paths in their efforts to escape from life in the picturesque but dying town of Veles in post-Communist Macedonia.

I Was There in Color. Directed by Avishai Kfir. The story of the birth of the State of Israel in 1945-1949, told for the first time in color, using 16mm footage shot by a Jewish-American businessman Fred Monosson who was both a chronicler of and a participant in the events.

In My Lifetime: A presentation of the Nuclear World Project. Directed by Robert E. Frye. A comprehensive history of the nuclear age, and the ongoing search for “a way beyond” a nuclear-armed world.

Into the Cold. (Arctic expedition) Directed by Sebastian Copeland. Follows two mens’ journey to the North Pole to commemorate the centennial of Peary’s 1909 trek.

Jewish Transit Berlin: From Hell to Hope. Directed by Gabriel Helm. Interviews with the last remaining eyewitnesses highlight the story of Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe and their experiences in Displaced Persons camps in Berlin in 1945.

Jews and the Longest Kiss in History. Directed by Frederique Cifuentes. The untold story of the small Jewish community in the Sudan, where the Blue Nile meets the White Nile in what is known as “the longest kiss in history.”

Korean War Stories. Directed by Robert Uth. Memories of the “Forgotten War” from veterans including former Secretary of State James Baker, former Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Wally Schirra, singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, and baseball superstar Ted Williams.

Leo's Room (Uruguay: El Cuarto de Leo). Directed by Enrique Buchichio. A dreamlike film about an aimless Uruguayan graduate student struggles to come to terms with his homosexuality and encounters an old school friend wracked by grief after the death of her child.

Light Bulb Conspiracy: The Untold Story of Planned Obsolescence, The . Directed by Cosima Dannoritzer. Traces the deliberate limiting of consumer products’ useful life, from its origin in 1920s America to its global effects in the present day, and consumers’ emerging resistance to it.

Living for 32. Directed by Kevin Breslin. The story of a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting.

Masquerades (Algeria: Mascarades). Directed by Lyes Salem. A comedy about a gardener in a small Algerian town who sees an impulsive lie – that his narcoleptic sister is betrothed to a wealthy stranger from outside the town – spin out of control and transform both their lives.

Mother: Caring for 7 Billion. Directed by Christophe Fauchere. An exploration of global population issues from a social justice perspective, which argues that the way forward lies in abandoning dominance for nurturing.

Mothers of Bedford. Directed by Jenifer McShane. An examination of mothers, motherhood, and family inside the Bedford Hills prison.

Mutum (Brazil). Directed by Sandra Kogut. Based on the famous Brazilian novel Campo Geral, this film, this film – conceived by the director as existing “on the border between documentary and fiction” -- follows the story of a shy, sensitive 10-year-old boy trying to make sense of life on a remote Brazilian farm.

My Fuhrer. Directed by Dani Levy. A controversial satire of Hitler and Naziism described by one commentator as: “The bastard love child of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Mel Brooks’ The Producers.”

My Tehran for Sale (Iran). Directed by Granaz Moussavi. An award-winning film about the life of a young actress, banned from theater work by the government, and her journey through the world of underground artists and musicians in present-day Tehran.

No Full Stop. Directed by Shlomo Slutzky. Returning to Argentina as a reporter covering the trial of a key figure in the military dictatorship of the 1970s, Slutzky reflects on his decision to leave Argentina for Israel during the dictatorship, and the fates of his friends who stayed behind and joined the guerilla movement.

No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII. Directed by Michele Midori Fillion. Documentary of three tenacious female WWII correspondents.

Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1. Political exposé of human radiation experiments in the Pacific Islands.

Nurses: If Florence Could See Us Now. Directed by Kathy Douglas. A documentary look at the changing world of nursing across American.

Ocean of an Old Man (India). Directed by Rajesh Shera. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, an elderly British primary school teacher faced with the closure of his school, searches for students – missing since the tsunami – who he believes must be alive.

Owls, The. Directed by Cheryl Dunye. Shot on location in Los Angeles for $20,000, this film documents how “Cheryl Dunye, Alexandra Juhasz, Candi Guterres and Ernesto Foronda invited a diverse but inter-connected group of lesbian/queer artists to come together to form The Parliament Film Collective and collaborate on a work that reflects their lived collective experience.”

People of a Feather (the Canadian Arctic). Directed by Joel Heath. Seven winters in the world of the Inuit of Hudson’s Bay.

Photograph, The. (Indonesia). Directed by Nan Achnas. Sita, a singer and prostitute, becomes the unlikely protégé of an aging portrait photographer from whom she rents a room, and who is desperate to find someone to carry on his work.

Room to Breathe (education reform). Directed by Gail Wallimson. Education transformation in a San Francisco middle school.

Sacred Science, The . Produced by Nicholas Polizzi and Dan Bailey. The story of eight individuals with a variety of illnesses who journey to the Amazon rainforest and work with indigenous healers in search of a cure.

Sex and Justice. Directed by Julian Scholssberg. Made in 1993, the year after the confirmation hearings, this film tells the story of Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against (then) Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Shaft, The. (China: Dixia de Tiankong). Directed by Zhang Chi. A feature film about the intersecting lives of a father and his two adult children – a son with a prison record, and a daughter living under a cloud of gossip – in a hardscrabble mining town in Western China.

Shirley Adams (South Africa). Directed by Oliver Hermanus. Set in Cape Town, this story of a single mother caring for a disabled, mentally unstable son uses the disintegration of a family to illustrate the tensions that run through South African society.

Sleepwalking Land (Mozambique: Terra Sonambula). Directed by Teresa Prata. In war-torn Mozambique, an orphaned boy and an elderly man discover a dead stranger whose story (told through his diaries) becomes intertwined with theirs. Based on the novel by Mia Coutou.

Street Days (Georgia: Quchis Dgeebi). Directed by Levan Koguashyili. A social-realist drama set in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, this film follows a down-and-out heroin addict as he tries to protect a friend’s son from corrupt police on the streets of Tblisi.

Surviving Hitler: A Love Story. Directed by John Keith Wasson. The story of Jutta and Helmuth – a teenaged Jewish resistance fighter and a wounded German soldier – who fall in love and become conspirators in the final plot to assassinate Hitler.

Tenants, The. (Brazil: Os Inquilinos). Directed by Sergio Bianchi. A Brazilian-made drama about a poor Sao Paolo laborer whose life is turned upside down when his neighbor rents out her half of the house they share to a gang of small-time criminals.

Those Three (Iran: An Seh). Directed by Naghi Nemati. Drama about the bonds of friendship that grow among three young conscripts to desert their Iranian army training camp and escape into the snowbound north of the country, with only themselves to rely on.

What a Wonderful World (Morocco). Directed by Faouzi Bensaidi. Feature film, set in modern-day Casablanca, about a prostitute whose best friend -- a traffic cop -- falls in love with her best customer – not realizing that he is a contract killer.

A Wild Idea: The Yasuni-ITT Initiative. Directed by Verónica Moscoso. Documentary about Ecuador’s unprecedented proposal for fighting global climate change.

Woman from Sarajevo, The. Directed by Ella Alterman. Zineba Hardaga, a Muslim, hid the Jewish Kabillo family from the Nazis in Sarajevo in 1944; fifty years later, the Kabillos saved the Hardagas from the inferno of the Bosnian civil war. This film follows Zineba’s daughter, Sara, as she returns to Sarajevo with her own daughter, to trace the families intertwined stories.

WWII Memorial: A Testament to Freedom. Directed by Robert Uth. The story of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC – from conception to dedication – interwoven with the remembrances of surviving veterans.

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