10 Dangerous Documentaries

This Friday sees the release of documentary Burma VJ , a harrowing account of the 2007 bloodshed where military action against protesters saw hundreds of peaceful monks slaughtered.

Journalism is outlawed in Burma, so the footage, shot by guerilla video journalists (the VJ of the title), was taken and smuggled out of the country with the very real risk of death looming large.

Join us for a look at other documentaries that were dangerous, in a variety of ways, for the filmmakers to complete;

Deliver Us From Evil (2006)

Next: Dark Days [page-break]

Dark Days (2000)

The Film: British filmmaker Marc Singer explores the lives of New York’s homeless, and the community who live in the tunnels of the city’s subway system.

Hiring many of the homeless as his crew, Singer reveals the conditions in which the homeless live, how they have adapted to life underground, and their struggles to survive daily life.

The Risk: Singer was going to live amongst a sub-section of society that most people believe to be comprised almost entirely of drug addicts, criminals and the mentally ill. He could have been walking straight in Escape From New York, basically.

As it was, he met a group of people struggling to build a community from the things that they find. He was moved by their dignity.

The Result:
When AMTRAK, the national rail company, served eviction notices to those living in the underground, Singer campaigned on their behalf, and managed to get the Department of Housing to offer them apartments.

The film was finally completed in 2000 and won rave reviews and many awards. Singer emerged uninjured, but he had to squint a bit at first, what with all the daylight that’s around.

Next: An Inconvenient Truth [page-break]

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Next: Taxi To The Dark Side [page-break]

Taxi To The Dark Side (2007)

Next: The Atomic Cafe [page-break]

The Atomic Cafe (1982)

Next: This Film Is Not Yet Rated [page-break]

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Next: Super Size Me [page-break]

Super Size Me (2004)

Next: Who Killed The Electric Car? [page-break]

Who Killed The Electric Car? (2006)

The Film: A trial of the automotive industry, and their attempts to sabotage electric vehicles. The film also examines the role of oil companies, government and public opinion in the death of the electric car.

Focusing on the General Motors EV1, a car that was offered for lease in California, before being repossessed and crushed en mass, despite a dedicated following willing to buy the vehicles they loved.

The Risk: This goes to the very top. We see evidence that many of the Governement’s top officials were, or have previously been, on the boards of multi-national oil corporations, and it doesn’t end there.

Bush himself was involved, and when you’re telling the world that a lot of very powerful people are involved in a conspiracy to keep themselves rich, you may end up with your brakes cut.

The Result:
Well received by critics and festivals, the film may not have had the impact it expected to, with many companies and governments pressing ahead with Hydrogen and Bio-Diesel rather than EVs.

With the change in administration and the shaking up of the US Government’s lobbyist system, perhaps Obama and his team can make changes free from the constant hassle of big oil and auto industries.

Next: OutFoxed [page-break]

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War On Journalism (2004)

Next: Grizzly Man [page-break]

Grizzly Man (2005)

The Film: Timothy Treadwell is a well-meaning nature-nut who spends every summer in Alaska hanging out with a pack of bears.

The film highlights the beauty of the creatures, and the need for their conservation, albeit it by properly funded and professionally trained means.

The Risk: His life – he was hanging out with bears, how well can it end?

The Result: In an ironic tragedy nobody saw coming, Treadwell was killed by the very bears he sought to protect.

Experts say that a more vicious breed of bear had moved in to the area and it was this bear that was responsible for his death.

He was killed in his tent along with his girlfriend, the whole episode captured on the camcorder he had used to gather footage of his interaction with the majestic beasts. Director Werner Herzog declined to broadcast this footage.

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