Tamsyn Venning wrote:
Hi, I used to listen to your interesting self on Kiwi FM when you had the interviews on a Tuesday, but when intending to write this email my mind went blank on the name of the magazine, except that there was a “c” in it! Thank goodness for internet search engines, eh? Anyway, I thought you might be interested in some details of films showing in this year’s International Film Festival. The Auckland festival is still going, with many others to follow. I’m the assistant publicist this year for the Christchurch festival so I’ve included the synopsis and Christchurch showing times below for some films I thought may interest you and readers of your magazine and website.
Thank-you very much,
Tamsyn Venning, Assistant Publicist
Christchurhc International Film Festival 2006

This film will also be of interest to uncensored readers – Admin
This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Road to Guantanamo
(Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross) Riatlo – 17/8 2pm, 18/8 6pm, 19/8 1.45pm, 20/8 6pm
The true story of four British Muslim boys who went to Pakistan for a wedding in September 2001 and ended up as tortured prisoners of the US Army is re-enacted as a modern horror story in Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross’ electrifying exposé.
“Ferocious, partisan, and moving… The filmmakers’ rage at what happened to their protagonists is palpable, while they are also alert to the absurdity and gallows humour of it all… [They] tell the story using reconstructions with actors, newsreel footage and interviews. At the outset, we hear President Bush solemnly telling the world that the Guantánamo prisoners are ‘bad guys’. Once we meet Ruhel, Asif, Shafiq and Monir, the irony becomes evident. The young Brits Bush seems to regard as the embodiment of evil are ordinary lads, neither especially political nor devoutly religious… The filmmakers don’t skimp on showing the sadism and stupidity of the US and British soldiers. The guards behave with the same cruelty you expect to see from SS officers in lurid second world war movies. It takes a moment or two to realise that these events are based on the testimony of the ‘Tipton Three’, not dreamed up by a screenwriter… The Road to Guantánamo is far more than just agit?prop. In amid the brutality, there is humour and lyricism. This is as much an account of youngsters on ‘a holiday in hell’ as a rant against the obscenity of Guantánamo.” — Geoffrey McNab, The Guardian
“Hair-raising… a warts-and-all reconstruction of a terrifying ordeal… The cartoon horror of being wrongly accused, and then tortured by American soldiers for two and a half years is worthy of our fury.” — James Christopher, The Times

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (Stanley Nelson) Rialto – 10/8 4.15pm, 11/8 11.45am, 13/8 8.15pm
Filmmaker Stanley Nelson traces the rise and catastrophic fall of the Peoples Temple movement and its charismatic founder Jim Jones, who convinced hundreds of his followers in Jonestown, Guyana to participate in a mass ‘suicide’ on November 18, 1978. More than 900 people died in the utopian community they had tried to create in the jungle. “Deeply affecting… Using a remarkable cache of vintage footage, as well as candid interviews with Peoples Temple survivors, relatives, and other eyewitnesses, Nelson examines the massacre with a journalist’s eye. Why the tragedy happened may never be explained, but seldom before has the how of Jonestown been so clearly delineated.” — Cheryl Eddy, San Francisco Bay Guardian
“How this silver-tongued devil wormed his way into Walter Mondale’s entourage, became chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority and convinced hundreds to fly down to South America and drink poisoned punch is hard to believe, but the calamity is made real and terrible and important to hear about in this definitive account.” — Aaron Hillis, Premiere

Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman) Rialto – 10/8 8.15pm, 11/8 12.15pm, 12/8 1.45pm, 13/8 4pm
This gleefully cynical satire blows the whistle on ‘untruthiness’, the black art of the 21st-century spin-doctor. Tall, blonde, handsome and pulsing with malevolent wit, Aaron Eckhart was born to play Nick Naylor, fast-talking Washington lobbyist and public affairs frontman for Big Tobacco. Teen smoking has taken a dive, but Nick’s determined to fight back. He loves his work, proudly comparing trophies with fellow ‘merchants of death’ – lobbyists for the liquor and firearms industries. First-time director Jason Reitman surrounds them with a superbly funny array of fancy sleazeballs (notably Rob Lowe as a Hollywood star maker touched by zen) and morally impoverished power brokers. The great cast also includes William H. Macy as an anti-smoking Massachusetts senator (so pious you want to light up) and Robert Duvall as a Southern tobacco tycoon. Katie Holmes does not hold back as a dedicated investigative journalist.
“First-time director Jason Reitman pulls off the miraculous feat of creating a single-issue comedy that retains its freshness and drive throughout… A bristling, wickedly smart portrait… Like most of us, Reitman (and novelist Christopher Buckley, on whose novel the film is based) has obviously wondered how someone could keep a straight face (and conscience) while actively propagandising for the morally indefensible. But instead of just shaking his head in bemused disbelief, he has constructed a hilarious, fast-moving Swiftian satire that skewers all in its path.” — Peter Brunette, Screendaily
“You’ll have to stretch back to 1997’s ultracynical Wag the Dog to find a sociopolitical satire as vituperative and downright exhilarating.” — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out.

Oil Crash (Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack) Rialto – 18/8 6.15pm, 20/8 6.30pm
“That sucking sound you hear is the last significant oil reserves being drawn from the earth. The very oil that makes our bloated, consumptive Western lifestyles possible is directly forcing our economic, industrial and environmental demise. In this well-constructed barrage of terrifying information and images, filmmakers Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack and Reto Caduff chisel away at our denial of imminent global oil collapse. Energy experts and oil industry authorities… detail just how close to the bottom of the barrel we are. The world’s supply has peaked, and the age of cheap and plentiful oil is over… With equal parts reason and fear, this highly energetic exposé vividly illustrates our fossil fuel addiction and perhaps even more harrowingly, reveals how little we seem to care.” — Myrocia Watamaniuk, Hot Docs.
“A terrific work of investigative journalism-as-film… I sat breathless through the final minutes of the documentary OilCrash, maybe the ultimate feel-bad apocalyptic film ever made.” — Andrew O’Hehir, salon.com

An Inconvenient Truth (Davis Guggenheim) Rialto – 6/8 3.15pm, 8/8 11.45am, 8/8 6.15pm
In a landmark year for hard-hitting activist cinema, this brilliantly straightforward – and devastating – film on global warming stands out as exceptionally well-honed and persuasive. It also signals the return of Al Gore, who has been far from idle in the years since the 2000 US presidential election was awarded to George W. Bush. Gore has devoted his time to delivering a multimedia slide show on the imminence of catastrophic global warming wherever he can find an audience. And this film is simply the best means possible to get that show to a wider audience. One thing’s certain: Gore will do more good for his country and the world with this movie than Bush ever did by beating him.
“You will see the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps melting. You will see Greenland oozing into the sea. You will see the atmosphere polluted with greenhouse gases that block heat from escaping. You will see photos from space of what the ice caps looked like once and what they look like now and, in animation, you will see how high the oceans might rise… I promise, you will be captivated, and then riveted and then scared out of your wits. Our Earth is going to hell in a handbasket.” — Richard Cohen, Washington Post.
“What Gore strives to make crystal clear to anyone in opposition is that the tools and methods to reverse these calamitous changes are at hand – no new inventions required – and that the economic consequences of tackling the problem are positive rather than negative. The idea that responsible environmental protection is bad for the economy is exposed here through facts and science for what it is – a Big Lie.” — Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

Departure and Return (Claudia Pond Eyley) Rialto – 13/8 4.15pm, 14/8 11.30am
Twenty years on, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior is commemorated at Matauri Bay. Claudia Pond Eyley frames her history of the ship with the ceremony and relates the story through the testimony of women associated with its campaigns – against whaling in the North Atlantic, against the dumping of nuclear waste in the Bay of Biscay and against nuclear testing in the Pacific. If their tales of courage and principle have a glow of romance about them – for several of them adventure on the high seas clearly came with true love attached – their recollections are bracingly without nostalgia. Remembering the evacuation of the Marshall Islanders from their radioactive atoll, Hanne Sorenson quails at the gravity of the offence against humanity as though the wound were inflicted afresh in the recollection. Likewise, Jane Cooper shakes her head in disbelief that the saboteuse Christine Marchand was her housemate. The evidence that these women have not been deflected from their ideals makes this remembrance of the French outrage an uncommonly calm and hopeful one.

Black Gold (Mark and Nick Francis) Rialto – 5/8 4.15pm, 8/8 2.15pm, 9/8 6.15pm
Black Gold is a persuasive and sobering investigation of the world coffee trade, from the hype and glitz of the World Barista Championships to the Ethiopian farmers who grow the world’s finest coffee beans yet live in near starvation. Since 1990, there has been an explosion in demand for coffee, to the point where globally, more than two billion cups of coffee are drunk each day. Over the same period, thanks to the fierce coffee commodities market and a collapse of international agreements governing the coffee trade, the price paid to farmers has fallen to a 30-year low. A comprehensive and beautifully shot account of the trade, Black Gold centres on the travails of Tadesse Meskela, who represents a co-operative of more than 70,000 Ethiopian farmers. Meanwhile, brokers for such coffee giants as Nestlé and Kraft – in tandem with the coffee commodity exchanges in New York and London, where daily prices are set – work to keep prices down and profits up. Coffee prices have fallen so far in Ethiopia (said to be the birthplace of coffee) that many families who have grown coffee for centuries are turning instead to more lucrative narcotic crops.
“As these hard-working people strive to keep the rich cultural heritage of their country intact by continuing to harvest some of the highest-quality coffee beans available, Tadesse travels the world in an attempt to find a fair price for the fruits of their labour. This seemingly Sisyphean endeavour takes him on an international journey to some of the biggest coffee marketplaces in the world, where he discovers that there are no easy solutions for the trade issues facing his impoverished countrymen.” — Adam Montgomery, Sundance Film Festival

The Waimate Conspiracy (Stefan Lewis) Rialto – 15/8 8.15pm, 16/8 3.45pm
This good humoured, deeply fanciful mock documentary about a land claim has a distinctively Cantabrian flavour. The 2005 discovery of a cannonball buried for 138 years in a paddock throws Waimate into turmoil. It’s all some locals need to confirm their long-held belief that local Ma¯ori were forcibly removed from their tribal lands in a bloody battle in the winter of 1866. The town is divided as a hotly contested claim eventually ends up in the District Court. Cameraman Dave is embedded with George Kepa (Jim Moriarty) and his wha¯nau – for whom the concept of ‘behind closed doors’ does not seem to exist: we’re privy to their every desperate strategy. This ‘vérité’ footage is intercut with candid interviews with townspeople, including the farmer at the centre of the dispute and with the crucial courtroom drama. Mark Hadlow and David McPhail provide expert caricatures of the white man’s law – and a good many other cast members appear to be having just as much fun playing themselves. Helen Pearse-Otene lends gravity as George’s niece whose legal training is sorely challenged in the fray. “This is an inspiring work. It’s as if the camera left the film-set for a bit and came out right amongst us. That’s exactly what we were seeking to achieve with Ngati” Barry Barclay.

China Blue (Micha Peled) Rialto – 10/8 11.30am, 11/8 6pm, 12/8 6.15pm, 13/8 11.30am
Life in a Chinese garment factory is seen through the gallingly cheerful eyes of 14 year old Jasmine, who from eight every morning until two the next, seven days a week, removes lint and snips the loose threads from the seams of denim jeans. Director Micha Peled, whose Store Wars featured at the Festival in 2002, continues his information campaign against America’s massive Wal-Mart chain by taking a very close look at who is manufacturing their jeans. His access to workers was disrupted several times by justifiably antsy Chinese authorities. They might have done better to silence factory bosses, whose contempt for an endlessly replaceable work force is barely concealed and whose idea of boosting “enthusiasm” is painting such slogans on the walls as this: “If you don’t work hard today, you’ll look hard for work tomorrow.”
“It’s everything we already know about sweatshop labor but prefer not to think about… But the sweetness of Jasmine’s friendships, her basic human longings for family and a better life – not to mention her diary musings about attaining kung fu powers and turning abusive factory managers into stone – made the film surprisingly intimate. Toward the end of the film, Jasmine ponders why the people she’s making the jeans for are so fat, and she smuggles a letter to them into a pair of jeans. So check your pockets and check your heads.” — Jyllian Gunther and Kevin Greer, AlterNet
“Peled spent several months with his two girls, even filming the day that the factory workers threatened a strike (illegal in China) after no one had been paid a cent in months. Victory! Wal-Mart got its jeans! The workers got their salaries, about 12 cents an hour!” — Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix

Scared Sacred (Velcrow Ripper) Rialto – 11/8 1.45pm, 12/8 6pm, 13/8 11.45pm
Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper takes us on an engagingly personalised tour of the planet’s dark side. The son of a Jewish-Baha’i family who gave him an expansive view of the world and its people, he searches for reconciliation and rebirth – for hope – in the wake of catastrophe. We visit the site of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal; the former Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia; Sarajevo; Palestine; Hiroshima; Afghan refugee camps, and New York soon after 9/11. Over the course of a five-year odyssey he unearths stories of resilience, activism and recovery. Ripper also incorporates the words of the Dalai Lama on the first dawn of the new millennium, at Sarnath, India, into his remarkably beautiful and unflinching documentary. Exploring what it means to be a global citizen today, he continues his voyage travelling the world to show and discuss his film. “Ripper’s odyssey yields a wealth of beautiful imagery, valuable observations, and most importantly, compassion… filled with moments of great power and grace.” — Jason Anderson, Eye Weekly

Who Killed the Electric Car? (Chris Paine) Rialto – 9/8 2pm, 12/8 1pm, 14/8 6.15pm
Fashioned as a tongue-in-cheek murder mystery, complete with funeral and celebrity victims, this disarmingly entertaining documentary looks at the optimistic rise and equally swift demise of the electric car in mid-90s California. Sleek, compact and fast enough to appeal to celebrity boy racers, the prototype EV-1 electric car was developed by General Motors to comply with California’s 1990 Zero Emissions Mandate, before being leased out to famous bods du jour, such as Mel Gibson, Alexandra Paul and Peter Horton, who all fell in love with their sexy and efficient, environmentally sound cars. For a brief moment it looked like the EV-1 was the vehicle the future had been waiting for. So why did it end up on the scrap heap? By the end of the decade, the sole remaining EV-1 was nothing more than a novelty item in the basement of a California motor museum. Whodunit is the question this documentary attempts to answer. As in all good murder conspiracies, the suspects – General Motors, oil companies, the US government and consumers – all end up with blood on their hands. A quick-witted documentary about a deadly serious subject, Who Killed the Electric Car? is a timely reminder that we have the technology to save the world, if only that were the aim of those in charge. “Who Killed the Electric Car? is a potent examination of what happens in the corridors of power and what those who hold the purse strings will do in the interest of maintaining the status quo. All we can hope for at this point is that someday the electric car will make a comeback.” — Nancy Shafer, Tribeca Film Festival
Website: www.nzff.co.nz

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Fri Jul 21 , 2006
Further to the article on MSG and Obesity in the new issue of UNCENSORED, this letter just in: Hi Jon, I have come across some new studies on MSG, published only last year, which could be included in the article, if it’s not too late. Here’s the paragraph, which would […]