Argun Ulgen is a public interest attorney, and a freelance essayist covering film and culture. In addition to contributing to PopMatters, Argun has also been published at The Rumpus and Salon magazine. Argun resides in New York City and he can be contacted on Twitter
@BrookylnCycles, or on his Facebook page Film4Freedom.
Hillbilly provides a cogent analysis of the connection between the United States' cultural supremacy over its own Appalachian region, and the nation's resultant economic and political exploitation of it.
Breaking away from Election 2016 diatribes, Director Frederick Wiseman visually acknowledges Monrovia, Indiana as a tranquil working-class Eden, while still rendering a subtly powerful critique of small town America.
RaMell Ross's melange of visuals capture the elucidative intersections between religion and poverty; between life as seen from a child's eyes, and as from those of a young adult; between the present and a horrific history still breathing through America.
Skate Kitchen gives an impressionistic presentation of city skateboarding as a gritty, tribal ritual where women roar as loudly as men and where wayward souls try to forge distinct personalities through loud dress, comic vulgarity, and the crisp imitation of spins and jumps.
Played with a provocative mix of caginess, fierce intelligence, anger and unpredictable vulnerability, Mary Elizabeth Winstead's interpretation of standup comedian Nina embodies much of #MeToo's desire to present female artists as wholly realized human beings.
These two entries consider the hate crime murders of Trayvon Martin and Jennifer Laude, reinterpret their deaths within historic frameworks, and explore why their stories fade without meaningful changes in US civil rights laws.
As The Final Year quietly argues, if the United States' electorate fails to elevate itself to a higher level of political vernacular than coarse tweets and reality TV-style colloquies, then 2016 may be the best year the US will have had for a long time to come.
Anchored by an unflinching cinéma vérité style and a powerful lead performance by Margita Gosheva, Glory (Slava) thrives as a grave parable on the social media economy's corrupting influences against ethics and morality.