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Monday, Nov 14, 2011

“At the heart of apartheid is the division of the land.” This opening title card for Promised Land introduces its focus. In 1994, South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) initiated a process of reconciliation. The government promised to reallocate ownership of a third of the nation’s land within 10 years. As Yoruba Richen’s Promised Land reveals, this plan was in trouble from its inception. By looking at two particular land disputes—claims made by the 9,000-member Mekgareng community and 1,000 descendants of Abram Molamu—this smart, subtly complex documentary shows essential complications in the process. These include the government’s assumption (or best hope) that changes might be wrought based on a “willing seller, willing buyer” model. In fact, most white owners are unwilling and many black buyers have been ill-prepared, their legal claims unrecorded (owing to decades of oppression, abuse, and exploitation) and their claims still stuck in a kind of first gear, grinding. The trouble is, land is never just land: it is a measure of citizenship, a means to civil rights and self-identity; it is multiply meaningful, across generations and immediately, an emblem of economic and mythic status, political and emotional well-being.


Promised Land screens at Maysles Cinema at 7pm on 14 November, part of “Doc Watchers Presents,” curated by Hellura Lyle. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Yoruba Richen.


See PopMattersreview.



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Monday, Nov 7, 2011

“You still have to be able to talk to people, and me and Adam, we work well together. We kind of go with the flow and make things up as we go along.” Detective Ronald Fountain, of the Troy. NY PD, describes interrogations as a process, means to ends. As he and his partner Adam Mason went through this process in the case of Adrian Thomas in 2008, they wanted to know if he killed his four-month-old son Matthew. As the documentary Scenes of a Crime shows, the “flow” in the Thomas interview is increasingly disquieting. From the first moments, the detectives see him as a likely suspect—even before they know a crime has been committed. The defense will end up arguing that Matthew died of an infection, that this was the reason he had trouble breathing. But while his baby is at the hospital, police bring Thomas in, noting that he’s unemployed and must be depressed, that he takes care of seven kids, that he’s “very cold when he talked about his children.” Screening at DOC NYC on 7 November, Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh’s remarkable film shows the many places where crimes can occur in this process. 


See PopMattersreview.


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Friday, Nov 4, 2011

With a new tour about to begin David Bazan fans can get a little taste of the man in action with bassist Andy Fitts and drummer Alex Westcoat via a new Daytrotter session (Bazan’s third) and an appearance on the venerable Austin City Limits. The Daytrotter session finds the band running through three tracks—“Eating Paper”, “Level With Yourself” and “Virginia” with an intensity that bodes well for the group’s upcoming performances.


With this year’s Strange Negotiations continuing to garner the onetime Pedro The Lion man critical acclaim, the road seems the perfect place for Bazan to connect with fans, which he will be doing straight through the middle of December, starting in Spokane, Washington and ending in Eugene, Oregon. Although those bookends might make it seem as though Bazan isn’t really traveling all that far, the tour winds through the middle of the country, to the south and southwest before he brings it all back home.


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Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011

If you were a fan of The Fling’s LP When the Madhouses Appear from earlier this year, then you’ll be excited to know that there is yet another release upcoming, complimented by a rather extensive US tour. What I’ve Seen will be released November 1, and their tour started October 18 in California. The rest of the year will be spent on the road in promotion of their new disc, so keep an eye out. Dates below the jump.


 

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Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

As part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the documentary Beyond This Place will be presented October 30 at 7:30 pm with the original score played live in the Opera House. The film follows director Kaleo La Belle as he attempts to reconcile a relationship with his estranged, drugged out father Cloud Rock. They embark on an ambitious 500-mile tour across the Pacific Northwest, looking for a way to connect after years of emotional distance. It has just been announced that La Belle will also be in attendance for a post-show Artist Talk, moderated by novelist Rick Moody.


Sufan Stevens is a childhood friend of La Belle’s (he and his brother Marzuki are the protagonist in Kaleo’s feature documentary film Crooked River in 2005). He collaborated on the soundtrack with Raymond Byron Magic Raposa, who records under the moniker Castanets. Together they created the soundtrack, capturing the various moods of the film. Sufjan re-recorded his song, “In the Devil’s Territory”, for the opening credits, while Raposa wrote an original song for the end credits called “Beyond This Place”.



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