This week’s new home video releases for documentary include only films I hadn’t heard of before now, for whatever reason. They are each globally minded with attention to changes in the world affecting whole societies, and two involve great, adventurous journeys. Here are three docs now available on DVD as of December 20, 2011:
As the trailer notes, this film is from “a maker of Hoop Dreams.” They mean director Frederick Marx, who was a producer and editor on the earlier film and shared in its Oscar nomination. This time he’s documenting Tibetan Buddhist monks from Zanskar, in Northern India, who have been dispatched by the Dalai Lama to gather children and escort them back to their monastery, where they will be taught their heritage and culture. As the area becomes more populated and modernized, the way of life for the traditional Tibetan society is dying, and this epic journey is hoped to be a way to continue and survive. Not surprisingly, Richard Gere narrates the film.
I remember when cell phones first started becoming widely available and people were concerned that they could give you brain cancer or affect your fertility if held in your pocket. 15 years later the worries have disappeared, as we all seem just fine and are so used to the convenience of mobiles. So here’s a documentary to make us cautious again. The feature debut of Talal Jabari, this doc seems more focused on the issue of cell towers, and includes interviews with scientists, activists, journalists and lawyers about the threats and effects of this “magic” technology around the globe.
An inspirational adventure that follows the global travels of wheelchair-bound Andrew Shelley. Don’t tell this young man what he can’t do! In spite of having a muscular degenerative disease, he quits his job and goes places and does things not easily suited for his condition. But the 90-pound Shelley manages to backpack through Thailand, India, Cambodia, New Zealand and the Middle East, all the while followed by filmmakers Dusty Duprel and Rachel Pandza. I feel lazy now.