In accepting the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature on Sunday night. Laura Poitras focused, as always, on the significance of transparency and visibility. As the film she made with Glenn Greenwald and Ed Snowden reveals, such democratic ideals remain at risk by the American government’s activities and attitudes. For all the daunting information Citizenfour reveals it asks you not only to see, but also to take responsible for what you see. Sometimes, the film offers long, nearly meditative takes of exteriors, the Hong Kong hotel from afar, implacably shiny, or distant views of dully thunk-thunking machinery at a new NSA data collection facility under construction in Bluffsdale, Utah, and near film’s end, a long shot of a kitchen window, showing Snowden and his partner Lindsay Mills, in their for-now home in Moscow, quiet, ordinary, perfectly framed.
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In this inaugural edition of PopTalk, a new podcast on PopMatters, Evan Sawdey and Brice Ezell take a look at the controversial slate of Oscar nominations for the 2015 ceremonies. From there, they examine the other problems that occur in large award ceremonies like the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. Topics include the limited rules for what constitutes a “Best Original Score”, the exclusion of minority artists by predominately white voting blocs, and the refusal of certain award ceremonies to break their predictable trends.
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Ready to feel inadequate? As if the achievements of the ten people listed below weren’t impressive enough on their own, many of them were accomplished before the artists reached the age of ten. That’s right: by the time the rest of us normal folks were preparing ourselves to deal with algebra for the first time, these preternaturally talented young people were already taking big steps into the spotlight. Building a talent, whether physical or mental, takes time and dedication, but some people are lucky enough that they have the raw materials to throw a ball long or nail a really difficult piece of music not long after the training wheels came off their bikes.
In BBC America’s six-episode series The Game (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET), the gray days of the Cold War, the fear of possible nuclear elimination by the Soviet Union is alive and well in the UK, and MI-5, the domestic counter-intelligence agency, is tasked with preventing it.
“Of course you don’t want an abortion. Nobody wants an abortion.”
Dr. Susan Robinson provides abortions, in particular, for women in their third trimesters who, for any number of reasons, need to end their pregnancies. Robinson is one of four such providers in the US who do this work, work they once did with Dr. George Tiller and work they now continue to do, after his 2009 murder in his church in Wichita. The work, and more importantly, the people who choose to do it, form the focus of Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s intelligent, conscientious documentary, After Tiller, premiering on PBS’ POV series on September 1.