Documentary: “To Be Takei”

Star Trek alum and pop culture phenom George Takei is the subject of “To Be Takei” – a new documentary that covers his days on the hit sci-fi show as well as the time his family spent in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII, and his emergence as a pop culture icon.

Now in limited movie theaters as well as VOD and on  iTunes.

Video: Don’t Look Down On Me

This short video has already garnered over 800,000 views, with coverage on Inside Edition, BBC Trending, Yahoo, Huffington Post, The Gloss, Laughing Squid and many others.

The short film chronicles a day in the life of Jonathan, living in New York City, who was born with Achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. Jon uses footage from a hidden camera disguised as a button on his shirt to show what he has to deal with: mistaken identity, harassment, condescension, and bigotry.

Novick’s final question to the viewer is potent:

“The next time you see someone who is different than you, think about what their day might be like. Think about all the events of their life leading up to that point…and think about what part of their day do you want to be?”

The film was produced by DCTV’s program Media Enabled Musketeers. Media Enabled Musketeers is a media program for American and Russian citizens who have disabilities and for filmmakers who are interested in disability issues.

(via press release)

Documentary: “To Be Takei”

Over seven decades, actor and activist George Takei boldly journeyed from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans.

Join George and his husband Brad on this star’s playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.

Opens August 22nd in theaters and on iTunes.

More info at ToBeTakei.com

Trailer: “Citizen Koch”

What does it cost to buy an election? And who exactly is behind the money?

As Mitt Romney famously said “Corporations are people.”  And here are those “people.”

CITIZEN KOCH investigates the impact of unlimited, anonymous spending by corporations and billionaires on the electoral process, featuring stories of life-long Republicans whose loyalty is tested when their families become collateral damage in the GOP fight to take organized labor out at the knees.

Alternately terrifying and funny, CITIZEN KOCH is a powerful portrait of our political times.


Documentary: Dispatches – Hunted

While the PR machine in Russia is trying to put on it’s best face, Channel 4 in Britain has aired a chilling documentary detailing the violence and dehumanizing acts occurring in Russia at an unimaginable frequency to LGBT Russia citizens.

Footage includes some of the thousands of mental and physical acts of torture.

From the YouTube description:

On the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia is officially welcoming gay athletes and spectators. But in a country where it’s thought only 1% of gay people dare to live completely openly, it appears to be a hollow gesture.

This extraordinary Dispatches documentary has gained unique access to the vigilante gangs that target gay men and women. The film depicts a country troubled by disturbing violence and distressing intimidation.

Six months after the Russian parliament unanimously passed a law to protect children from ‘non-traditional’ relationships, this film explores the terror that gay people in Russia are calling ‘hunting season’.

You can watch the full report below. It may disappear at anytime though. If you think things like this don’t really happen – watch.

Documentary: Life According to Sam

“Life According to Sam”

Michael and I just finished watching this very touching, moving and thought-provoking documentary currently on HBO – Life According to Sam.

At the age of 2, Sam is diagnosed with progeria, a rare and fatal aging disease. The film documents the years in which he takes part in the first ever trial for a possible treatment, led by his mother.

Beyond the medical story, what is most emotionally compelling about the film is watching Sam do so much more than cope with this disease.  He achieves.  At his middle school graduation he wins honor after honor.  His dream of being in the high school drum corp becomes just one more challenge for him to conquer.

Sam shares his hopes and vision for his future throughout, as his mother works diligently to find a first ever treatment for progeria.

From Fine Films‘ description:

Life According to Sam follows one family’s courageous fight to save their only son from a rare and fatal ageing disease.

Eleven years of the parents breakneck research, (they both are doctors), has led to the first experimental drug trial for Sam and 28 other children from around the world, just as Sam has reached 13, the average age of death for children with progeria.

This highly personal and unexpectedly life affirming journey is championed by the captivating presence of Sam Berns himself.

Funny, perceptive and fiercely intelligent, Sam is the catalyst for his parents relentless drive to discover a medical breakthrough that may one day shed light on unlocking the aging process in us all. 

We all know there are more difficult lives than our own.  Somewhere.  Everywhere.

Watching the documentary, I marvel at Sam’s achievement after achievement – and then wonder “what did I do today?”  I think about the small slights or excuses so many of us hang onto, when we could have something REALLY big to cope with, like progeria or cancer, as many do.

The film is beautiful, thoughtful and honest in a very human way.  

Learn more about Sam and this powerful documentary at the official website here. 

And learn more about progeria and how you can perhaps get involved by visiting the Progeria Research Foundation.


Documentary – “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me”

Director Chiemi Karasawa crafts a candid portrait of the brash and brassy grand dame as she follows Stritch from rehearsals and a side gig playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on “30 Rock” to reveal the complex, wise and witty woman behind the legend in Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.
Intimate verité footage is paired with interviews with Stritch’s friends and admirers (including Nathan Lane, Tina Fey and Hal Prince) to capture the struggles and triumphs in the life of an Emmy and Tony-winning performer, resulting in a documentary that is hilarious, poignant and inspiring.

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is screening at festivals.

Sundance Selects will release the film February 21.

(h/t OUT)

Trailer: “We Cause Scenes – The Rise of Improv Everywhere”

Documentary chronicling the evolution of Improv Everywhere.

From the clip description: Since their humble beginnings in New York City in 2001, Improv Everywhere has grown from a small gang of restless jokesters into an internationally recognized prank collective and a viral video-making machine.

From the No Pants Subway Ride to Frozen Grand Central to the MP3 Experiment and beyond, their publicly staged scenes of chaos and joy are beloved by the hundreds who witness them, the thousands who participate in them, and the millions who watch and share the videos online.

We Cause Scenes: The Rise of Improv Everywhere is the inside story of this groundbreaking group and its founder, Charlie Todd, who has turned the world into a stage, inventing an art form for the Internet age.

More info: http://wecausescenes.com/

(h/t JMG)