For a special 4th of July Docutopia column, I’ve written a list of 5 films that serve as a reminder of America’s values, and the values it’s betrayed. For those who think I’m being unpatriotic, you could toss off that familiar argument: the very existence of these films and their continued dissemination in our culture is a testament to our enduring and persistent democratic ideals. And I’m fine with that. You can read the full post at the link, or here’s a preview below.
Punishment Park (1971)
Peter Watkins’ landmark faux-doc is an angry cry of rebellion from the Vietnam era and a quasi-sci-fi political parable that has proven remarkably prescient 40 years later.
The Atomic Café (1982)
A look back at 1950s nuclear naiveté, Jayne Loader and Kevin Rafferty’s found-footage classic is by turns hilarious and horrifying, examining the propaganda behind fall-out shelters and duck-and-cover drills.
The Panama Deception (1992)
An Oscar winner in 1993, Barbara Trent’s incisive, provocative exposé of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama was a revelation in its time and a potent rebuke against the presidency of Bush I.
The Power of Nightmares (2004)
Adam Curtis’s monumental 3-hour examination of the War on Terror is one of the most compelling and entertaining documentaries about American hegemony. Scary and funny at the same time, Curtis’s work stands an essential piece of modern counter-propaganda.
Better this World (2011)
A bracing look at crackdowns on civil disobedience, the ubiquity of surveillance and the injustice of our justice system, Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway’s engrossing docu-thriller couldn’t be more timely in the wake of Occupy crackdowns, drone attacks, and America’s perennial way of suppressing dissent.