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by Cynthia Fuchs

4 Nov 2011


In the burning season in Indonesia, farmers clear the land, in order to develop palm oil plantations. Achmadi is one of these farmers, introduced at the start of Cathy Henkel’s documentary The Burning Season, in 2007. Such deforestation destroys the habitats of endangered orangutans, and also comprises 20% of global carbon emissions. The film looks at the problem from multiple angles, including Achmadi’s and also 29-year-old Australian entrepreneur Dorjee Sun. A green activist and millionaire (owing to a successful recruitment software company and the creative agency, Joosed), Sun plans to “capitalize on climate change,” and help to save the planet at the same time, by selling carbon credits. Once Sun secures an agreement among three of Indonesia’s governors, the film follows him as he travels around the globe, pitching the idea to banks, Starbucks, eBay, and other corporations. His presentations appeal to their bottom lines: there is money to be made in such investments (a helpful bit of animation shows dollar signs hanging off tree branches). The film cuts back to Achmadi in tears, worrying about his family’s survival in the face of increasing restrictions and clampdowns on burning: “Who cares about us?” he worries. “They talk about arrests and bans on burning the forest. I’m already scared of losing my head.” Sun hasn’t forgotten: he hopes to put farmers to work in other ways and save the orangutans he remembers adoring as a child.

Following a premiere at the Tribeca Film festival in 2009, as well as a turn on PBS’ documentary series, Wide Angle in 2008, the film is now available on demand from FilmBuff.

See PopMattersreview of the film as it appeared on PBS’ Wide Angle.

by Cynthia Fuchs

3 Nov 2011


Debbie Peagler was shocked when her boyfriend, Oliver Wilson, revealed his intention to pimp her. It didn’t occur to her that when he offered to take her “somewhere special,” he meant she’d be turning her first trick. “I’m like, freaking out,” she says now, “I’m not gonna have sex with that man, I don’t know that man.” The pair of prostitutes who were supposed to instruct her urged Debbie to go along, otherwise, “Your pimp’s gonna beat you.” She didn’t believe that either, Debbie says. “Oliver would never do that.” Of course, he would. “He hauled off and slapped the crap out of me,” she says. And it wasn’t long before Oliver was beating her regularly, with a bullwhip, though he never hit her in the face. Debbie’s story is too familiar, the cycle too well known: her mother was battered, she was battered, and Oliver watched his father batter his own mother. She was convicted of killing Oliver in 1983, or more precisely, of leading Oliver to the place where two Crips gang members (neighbors who felt Oliver had stepped over a line when he “used to beat on [Debbie] like she was a guy”) beat and strangled him to death.

There are “thousands and thousands of Debbies across the United States,” as one lawyer puts it in Crime After Crime: The Battle to Free Debbie Peagler. Still, her story is also extraordinary. The film—airing on OWN Documentary Club this month—tells another story, concerning her lawyers Nadia Costa and Joshua Safran’s innovative legal strategies, including their decision to use Yoav Potash’s film to help make Debbie’s case more visible.

See PopMattersreview.

by PopMatters Staff

3 Nov 2011


Photo: Meghan Aileen Schirmer

Guitarist extraordinaire Keb Mo has made a bit of a shift in his career of late, taking up residence in Nashville and becoming celebrated on the Americana circuit. It’s truly a good home for him and offers up a wealth of new musical possibilities to the Compton born musician, steeped in the traditions of the Delta Blues. His recent performance at the Americana Music Festival brought the house down and was a breath of fresh air, breathing some blues grooves into the Americana mix. What Mo is up to at the moment is putting out a brand new Christmas record as a digital EP. We Call It Christmas is available now on iTunes and we’re pleased to present the online premiere of the title tune “We Call It Christmas” today to get you in the early holiday spirit.

by Timothy Gabriele

3 Nov 2011



Remember that Spike Jonze-helmed video for Wax’s California with the guy on fire? It’s like that, but with zombies. And the music’s as slow as the pan too. And prettier.

by Jedd Beaudoin

1 Nov 2011


With a new album dropping in November, Minneapolis rap stalwarts Doomtree have unleashed the single “The Grand Experiment”. This first taste of the upcoming long player No Kings follows relatively hot on the heels of the group’s Wugazi release and sets the tone for what will surely be an autumn filled with Doomtree activity. All of it is a celebration of sorts of the group’s first decade as a collective.

If the message behind the new release is a bit confusing-a call for both rebellion and respect(?) while “[obeying] no kings” and “seeking no thrones”, then at the very least the music is straightforward and filled with standard Doomtree touches. Other titles from No Kings include “Punch-Out”, “Little Mercy”, and what may or may not be an ode to the fashion industry, “Bolt Cutter”.

Best of all, this was all meant to be played loud.

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