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documentaries



  • A City At War: Chicago During WW II

    The documentary, narrated by legendary journalist Bill Kurtis, is a comprehensive telling of nearly everything that happened in Chicagoland during World War II. 



  • The Truth About Stalin’s Prison Camps

    Vera Golubeva spent more than six years in one of Joseph Stalin’s gulag camps. Her crime? “To this day, I still don’t know,” she says.


  • BBC Whitewashes U.S. Refusal to Bomb Auschwitz

    by Rafael Medoff

    The new BBC documentary about the question of bombing Auschwitz deserves an award—for creative fiction. Through omissions, distortions, and “re-enactments” of conversations with imaginary dialogue inserted for effect, the BBC has made a shambles of the historical record concerning this important issue.



  • Film airing on PBS recalls city's dark deportation history

    The filming of "Bisbee '17," a documentary about what happened July 12, 1917, was a history lesson for residents recruited to play historical figures in the production filmed exactly 100 years later that weds documentary and collective performance.


  • Why We Need a New Civil War Documentary

    by Keri Leigh Merritt

    The success and brilliance of the new PBS series on Reconstruction is a reminder of the missed opportunity facing the nation.



  • ‘Our Nixon’ uses hundreds of reels shot by staff members

    These days, Dwight Chapin shoots movies on his iPad. But in the Richard M. Nixon White House, he and his colleagues John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman were Super 8-wielding auteurs, capturing intimate moments that eluded the press corps: Tricia Nixon before her wedding; the president in Beijing enjoying a ballet about a workers’ insurrection; Pope Paul VI shot sideways (because Haldeman had smuggled his camera into the Vatican).The images, surreptitious and otherwise, are included in “Our Nixon,” the impressionistic documentary directed by Penny Lane that has its premiere Thursday on CNN. The film makes use of hundreds of reels of  home movies shot by Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mr. Chapin, some of which had been confiscated by the F.B.I. during the Watergate investigation. The footage remained largely unseen for 40 years.“They weren’t being hidden,” Ms. Lane said. “They were being ignored.”



  • Nixon's White House – caught on Super 8

    An administration under fire over covert wiretapping, whistleblowers hailed as heroes and lambasted as traitors, a president's reputation on the line … You could be excused for detecting a whiff of Nixon-era sulphur in the US political atmosphere these days. With the trial of Bradley Manning, the Department of Justice's pursuit of journalists who use national-security sources and, of course, Edward Snowden's revelations of NSA data harvesting filling the headlines, state-sanctioned subterfuge and divisive whistleblowing dominate US politics more than at any time since the days of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.



  • How a documentary changed Guatemala's history

    Most documentaries record and preserve history – only a few change the arc of history.In Guatemala in the early 1980s, a young American documentary filmmaker named Pamela Yates bore witness to massive crimes and atrocities at great personal risk to make her film.This year, a quarter-century later, her footage became critical evidence used to convict a military dictator of genocide. The Central American country had been torn apart by decades of U.S. funded civil war when General Efrain Rios Montt seized power in 1982 and launched a scorched earth campaign against the Mayans and leftist guerillas....

  • Making the Historical Documentary "Makers"

    by Robin Lindley

    Professor Betsy West on the set of Makers. Credit: Columbia University School of Journalism.Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.--Maya AngelouThis past February marked the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s now classic The Feminine Mystique, a study of what Friedan called “the problem that had no name” -- the widespread unhappiness of many women who felt stymied by traditional female roles and had few options for meaningful work outside the family.  Friedan’s trailblazing book, with her call for educational and occupational reforms, has been seen as inspiring the modern women’s movement, and the ensuing conversation led Friedan to found the National Organization for Women.



  • PBS Takes a Look at Henry Ford

    Henry Ford is the latest subject of “American Experience,” which will be broadcast on PBS stations on Tuesday from 9 to 11 p.m. Other subjects include Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.Ford is the only one of the three who left a company with his name. Carnegie and Rockefeller are better known for philanthropic foundations, although Ford also created a foundation with his name on it.If there’s a lesson from Ford for today’s entrepreneurs it is this: Don’t stay in charge of the company too long.