A Few Good Documentaries

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Man, it’s been, like, four days since I talked about Burma. But this time I bring it up only as your helpful human rights TV guide. Burma VJ, the Oscar-nominated documentary (it lost to The Cove) about the underground video journalists from the Democratic Voice of Burma who captured and smuggled out footage of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, airs on HBO tonight at 9:30. Which reminds me to recommend also checking out Total Denial, an excellent film about Burmese civilians vs. a US oil company plundering the country’s vast resources that, as a bonus, does not end on a note of complete soul-crushing despair. And that recommendation led me to ask some MoJo staffers for other not-to-be-missed movies about human rights.

Jen Phillips suggested the exposé of NY’s subway-dwelling homeless, In Search of the Mole People, and Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, the film that kicked off more than a decade of activism around the West Memphis Three. She also recommended Born Into Brothels, as did several other staffers. For an amazing doc about South Africa, Dave Gilson submitted Amandla!, and The Farm for a look into life at Louisiana’s Angola prison, which has held several men of questionable guilt in solitary for several decades. David Corn brought up great oldie-but-goodie Vietnam pic Hearts and Minds, as well as the more recent Taxi to the Dark Side and Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke. Monika Bauerlein’s fave The Times of Harvey Milk is conveniently watchable on Hulu. Anna Pulley likes Border Echoes, a documentary about the Juárez women’s murders, for the will-make-you-cry-in-public win.

That’s a lot of quality TV-learnin’. And tonight’s HBO airing comes at a good time. Aye Chan Naing, executive director and chief editor of Democratic Voice of Burma, tells me the video journalists are still at it and have already started extensive coverage in the run-up to the coming elections—Burma’s first in 20 years. “We are broadcasting several different election-related programs per week, such as debate and round-table discussion with oppositions and politicians from inside Burma, interviews with journalists and writers, et cetera,” he says. Obviously, only freaks like me are interested in that kind of stuff right now, but if you’d like to meet the sources media will rely on for footage when the election shit hits the fan—and the front pages—later this year, Burma VJ will introduce you them.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate