Six of the Fest: Documentaries

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Want to see the world from a different perspective? EIFF shows you life through the eyes of an orang-utan, a poor Kenyan boy and much more.

Nicolas Philibert reminds us that we are all animals with her subtle documentary about 40 year-old orang-utan, Nénette. Look into her wise old eyes and admire her pudding-bowl hairstyle as she draws the most profound and absurd observations from the zoo visitors who divulge far more than they even realise.

Superhero Me
We all have a superpower and as intrepid documentary-maker Steve Sale embraces his inner superhero it becomes apparent that he does not possess superhuman strength, the power to fly or even spontaneously combust. But what use is that? Sale has the ultimate weapon, comedy.

A Small Act
Chris Mburu is a posterboy, or rather Harvard graduate and UN Human Rights lawyer, who proves the power of charity. When a Swedish woman, Hilde Back, sponsored a bright boy born in an impoverished Kenyan village she never imagined she would inspire Mburu’s scholarship programme. Jennifer Arnold’s life-affirming documentary is a reminder of the importance of education in a country blighted by race-fuelled violence.

Jeffrey Blitz, director of Spellbound, returns with more tales of human interest. Travelling the US far and wide, he tracks down lottery winners who have seen their lives transformed by a cheque from the Bank of the American Dream. Vietnamese refugee Qang has escaped the meatpacking factory and James can afford glasses that aren’t held together by paper clips but has this made them happy-go-lucky?

The Oath
Following the critically-acclaimed My Country, My Country (EIFF 2006), Laura Poitras returns with a formidable insight into the workings of al Qaeda. Abu Jandal was Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguard and Salim Hamdam was his driver. Their respective stories take in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the U.S. Supreme Court and contextualise events from a perspective very different from our own.

Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger really are on the frontlines of documentary making. Spending 15 months with Second Platoon, Battle Company and the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan, they give us an unwavering insight into the reality of modern warfare and show us the people beyond the casualties reported in the headlines.


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