Must See Films

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood DVD 2008 67 mins.
A frightening form of social engineering is increasingly invading our lives and, in particular, our children's living and learning spaces. It is not just adult themes and sexualized clothing marketed to girls six and younger or videogames and toys for young boys that model using extreme violence, domination, and power to solve problems and advance in life. It is also the hostile takeover of childhood and abduction of children into a kind of consumer slavery. The methods used to target children have become alarmingly more sophisticated and scientific and are being strategically deployed. Children are being hit with more than three thousand commercial messages every day through television, the radio, billboards and also less obviously and even covertly through a variety of channels: in daycare, at school (for example in info-mercial school materials distributed without disclaimer), on school bus radio and in videogames and adver-games, as well as on kids' cell phones and social networking internet sites. Advertising now targets toddlers: the new slogan is, "from the cradle to the grave." The children's marketing industry employs psychologists, neurologists, sociologists, and behavioral scientists to research patterns of colors, shapes and movement that kids will attract and hold children's attention in order to engineer advertising which will be impossible for the kids to ignore. Not only is this type of marketing powerful but it rewires children's developing brains in very dystopian ways. Though parents have been blamed for not protecting their kids, this film calls attention to the fifteen billion dollars commercial firms spend each year specifically to undermine the influence of parents and to increase their own influence with children. Parents cannot realistically monitor or combat the omnipresent commercial assault on their children without significant help. Sadly America is the only industrialized country in the world which does not protect children from this type of harmful marketing. Age: High School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation
Enemies of Happiness: Courage and Hope in Afghanistan DVD 2007 20 mins.*
Medicated Child DVD 2008 60 mins.
Starting in the 20th century, modern medicine became inebriated with the idea that almost any problem could be solved by a pill. When this idea spread to controlling the behavior of other human beings, obvious strong ethical reactions arose. Most recently, the controversy has carried over into the area in which adults (whether it is a teacher, parent or physician who briefly observes a child) have begun to use psychotropic drugs to control the behavior of children. This episode of 60 Minutes looks at the debate concerning children who being medicated, perhaps unnecessarily, to control behaviors which are arguably within the range of normal childhood behaviors. It also consider the problems which children with uncontested psychiatric symptoms are having with modern American healthcare practices. 60 Minutes looks at the experiences of three different families and covers: the problems of correct diagnosis of mental illness, the difficulties in correcting a misdiagnosis, the steady trend of children being medicated at even younger ages, the lack of research and knowledge about the efficacy and side effects drugs on children, the new most commonly diagnosed illness of bipolar disorder (which has increased 4000%), the treatment of those who are not yet adults with the same medications as fully grown adults, and the debate about possible conflicts of interest in research funded by the drug industry. What 60 Minutes considers challenges that American healthcare faces today because brain science is still in its infancy, and also because the goal of humane, effective and enlightened treatment of those exhibiting psychiatric symptoms is a relatively recent, modern goal. Age: Junior High School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation
Race and Politics in American's Cities DVD 2008 58 mins.
Originally aired on 3/28/2008. Bill Moyers of PBS interviews former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris who was one of the members of the Kerner Commission in 1968 created by President Johnson after the catastrophic urban riots in Newark, Detroit, and other cities in 1967. The Kerner Report detailed the institutional racism in our two societies, black and white, that are separate and unequal. Blacks were suffering from poverty and hopelessness, high unemployment, high infant mortality, inferior schools, and poor transportation. The only flourishing industry was the prisons. Three weeks after the Report was published, Martin Luther King was assassinated and cities again exploded. There was a white backlash, Reagan was elected, and progress in combatting racism stopped. The second half of the DVD features Cory Booker, the 38 year old mayor of Newark which has 33% of people living in poverty and 40% of the kids failing to graduate from high school. He speaks to his vision for change that does not depend on government, but rather on people being willing to take responsibility, and ask “what am I doing?” People face a system that has no room for blacks, who have a high probability of ending in prison, of being murdered, and of living in a world where 70% of children are born outside of marriage. Mayor Booker boasts of a reduction in murders and of more hiring by companies of ex-offenders. Some of his goals are: free legal services, greater Church involvement running programs, and better insulation of buildings. He asks people to turn to themselves, be willing to fight and not blame others. The information is limited, but the production and interviewing are excellent. Age level: high school to adult.
Unnatural Causes ... is inequality making us sick? DVD 2008 240 mins. (composed of shorter episodes)
This documentary series explores racial and social inequities in health. The four-hour series is divided into seven program segments (titles and descriptions given below). The main themes of the series are: health and longevity are correlated with socioeconomic status; people of color face an additional health burden; and our health and well-being are tied to policies that promote economic and social justice. Age: High School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation. EPISODE 1 -- In Sickness and In Wealth (56 mins.) How is it possible that in America, the wealthiest country in the world which alone accounts for half of all medical expenditures in the world, people in the United States die earliest, get sicker and have more infant deaths for babies in their first year of life than just about every other industrialized nation in the world? Looking into the matter further, this program demonstrates findings within the scientific community that explain the problem: wealth and wealth inequality. Where you live, your income and whether you graduated from high school predict how many years you will live and are better predictors than both diet and health habits. That is, the socioeconomic class a person is placed in determines how sick they tend to be and how long they will live in the United States as well as in countries where all citizens have guaranteed healthcare like England. (England is where the correlation between health and wealth inequality was first studied and where it has been studied for the past thirty years). "In Sickness and In Wealth" shows why and how in America wealth inequality sickens and shortens life and the pursuit of happiness for those without financial resources. Follow four individuals from different walks of life to see how their position in society - shaped by social policies and public priorities - affects their health. EPISODE 2 -- When the Bough Breaks EPISODE 3 -- Becoming American (29 mins.) Becoming American DVD 2008 29 mins. Part of the Unnatural Causes series. Despite often having the disadvantage of poverty and being one of the most marginalized segments of the American population, recent Latino immigrants have better health than even the wealthiest group of Americans. Though many Latino immigrants enter America with little education and low incomes while they are under increased pressure from the stress of adapting to a new culture, they have been found to have less psychiatric illness, less heart disease, and less cancer than many Americans. Two hypotheses explain why this is the case. The first is that perhaps the Latinos who come to the United States are healthier than those who choose not to come. The other, upon which this film centers, is that because Latino families tend to be very cohesive, to have a strongly integrated sense of culture, and a strong sense of community, members of Latino families have a social immunity which dispels the stress which causes disease. It is from social isolation that stress becomes aggravated, and it is the worsening of stress that causes disease and premature aging. The robust family structures found in Latino immigrant families differs from the general epidemic of isolation and social miscommunication that prevails in American society. Sadly, the immigrants and their families don’t stay healthy. Because immigrant parents work so much just to break even, they have less time to devote to their children and other family members. Consequently, the generation following the one that first came to the U.S. loses the traditions and family structure with which their parents immigrated. In addition, these families must deal with discrimination, bad schools, and bad housing. Without the family structure that protected them against the effects of these brutal realities, Latinos in America are in dire straits. Though many Americans may think that this problem is not theirs, the factis that by 2050 one in every four Americans will be Latino. This problem for Latinos is increasingly a problem for America. The questions raised are: whether or not the values of Latino culture which create health and wellbeing can survive.; and whether or not, increased American recognition of Latino culture’s positive aspects could help advance American society. Age: High School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation EPISODE 4 -- Bad Sugar EPISODE 5 -- Place Matters(29 mins.)Many locations put residents at disproportionately far greater risk for almost all serious medical disorders. Through no fault of their own, people who live in low income neighborhoods are subjected to certain political, economic and social forces that combine to make their lives unhealthier, shorter and more stress-prone. This episode shows how health-hazardous environments often develop in low income neighborhoods and how hard it hits individuals within these communities. The episode focuses not only on the deterioration of low income neighborhoods but also highlights the success that a particular community has achieved toward its goal of better health for itself: High Point in Seattle. Its success stands as a testament to the possibilities that exist for a renaissance in renewal for similar communities. EPISODE 6 -- Collateral Damage (29 mins.) Relates what happens to the health and well-being of native people in the context of colonialism and vast economic and political inequality. This is a case of what happens to the neighborhood when the rich move in next door. The white-washed affluent American suburb on the island of Kwajalein (which is within the independent country of the Marshall Islands and which houses the American employees of the American military base on the island) is set in blinding sharp contrast to the beaten up, claustrophobically overcrowded, tuberculosis plagued, Marshallese native community of Ebeye (which is more densely populated than Manhattan in an area of only one mile long by one mile wide). Presents a stark illustration of the class divide in the wealth and health because the islands are only about a half-hour's boat ride away for one another. The health and wealth on Kwajalein is the same as in almost any other middle class American suburb while on Ebeye the people suffer harsh poverty, malnutrition, and a tuberculosis infection rate twenty-three times that of its American counterpart. Infection rates for other major diseases among the Marshallese are also many times greater than the infection rates among the Americans. The differences in the quality of health are no coincidence. The differences were caused by political and other actions taken by the United States soon after World War II as it built its military base on Kwajalein. The base was built so that the United States could test and develop further nuclear weapons. The largest number of nuclear test devices ever exploded in history were detonated during the period from 1946 to 1958 not far from the northern-most Marshall Islands). In addition to revealing the destructive role that the United States has taken in the Marshall Islands, the program talks about the important influence the United States could have in the future well-being and health of the Marshallese people by instituting better policies. EPISODE 7 -- Not just a paycheck (30 mins.)In Greenville, Michigan, people are losing their homes, going bankrupt and from stress are developing serious cardiac, gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases. There have been many new cases of depression, attempted suicide and substance abuse having arisen after the town's largest factory shuts down. While in Vastervik, Sweden, where another factory owned by the same company, Electrolux, is based and where there are also large layoffs, the residents suffer no significant increase in direct physiological disease, depression, attempted suicide or substance abuse. The question is, when disaster blindsided these two places, what made the outcome on residents and the economy of the two cities so different? The answer --iIn America, you are given the freedom of laissez faire and a "free" market and in Sweden you are given 80% of the salary from your last job when you lose your job (as long as you are looking for a new job or furthering your education), free higher education, free healthcare, 5 weeks paid vacation each year, and 16 weeks paid leave for new parents. In Sweden taxes are high, but the government provides security and takes care of bodies and minds while maintaining an economy whose growth equals that of the United States.
View from a Grain of Sand DVD 2006 82 mins.
Three different women, school teacher, a doctor, and a women's rights activist, tell about their lives, their dreams and what has been happening to their world. This documentary tells Afghanistan's last half century of history through the eyes of people who experience the terrible consequences instability, dislocation and war. The narrative starts with a decade of hope in Afghanistan during the 1960s which ended after the overthrow of King Zahir Shah when living conditions and people's safety (especially the safety of women) deteriorated. Today in Afghanistan there is only unrest and uncertainty despite promises of rebuilding, freedom and democracy.Age: High School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation
Water World DVD
NOW 10/23/09
Who's Got the Power? DVD 2006 55 mins.
The consequences will be dire and the time gets ever closer to the tipping point when global climate change will not be reversable. This film discusses our current patterns of energy consumption and the effects of continuing to abuse our resources. The film speaks not only about what is wrong but also about how we can change things right now. We don't need new technology: existing solar and wind technologies can create all of the clean, renewable, safe, virtually unending, climate-friendly energy that is needed. Energy, however, is not just a matter of technology but also of power. Because powerful interests (fossil fuels are the biggest industry in the world) oppose the transition to solar energy, the world's future is in jeopardy. A major obstacle so far to the solar transition: people's lack of the knowledge of the practicality, feasibility and desirability of solar technologies. People's advocacy for solar can become the needed fuel for change. Age: Junior High School to Adult. Good quality of production. Very good quality of information. Donation
World of Ideas: Howard Zinn DVD 2006 55 mins.
Zinn finds optimism in history and hope in the future for the abolition of war and for the possibility that the United States will transform itself from the world's last military superpower to the world's premier humanitarian superpower. The program segment, an interview with Bill Moyers, is praiseworthy for the many momentous and exciting ideas about all of the opportunities that exist for our future if we will choose to learn from our past. Zinn describes how traditional textbooks often present false paper heroes and how, recognizing this we might, at first, feel lost without any heroes or past to guide us at all. But, disposing of false heroes, leaves us free to recognize and exalt real people in our history who triumphed over immoral power and yet acted with courage and integrity. Real stories about real people serve as a source of pride and inspiration because they exemplify the best in America and the world: our people and not our power. Zinn cites among these heroes, members of the Civil Rights Movement, the Labor Movement, and the African National Congress who decided to resist Apartheid with nonviolence. Age: Junior high School to Adult. Excellent quality of production. Excellent quality of information. Donation
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