Inspiring Documentaries I’ve Watched Over the Past 8 Days

Documentaries I’ve seen In the Past 8 Days:

  1. Food Inc. (2008) Robert Kenner 1hr 34mins
  2. Living On One Dollar (2013) Sean Leonard, Zach Ingrasci, Chris Temple. 56 mins.
  3. A Story about Living Small. (2013) 62 mins. Christopher Smith, Daryl Gibson, and others.
  4. Gideon’s Army. (2013) 1 hr 36 mins Directed by Dawn Porter.
  5. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. (2010) 1 hr 37 mins. Directors: Joe Cross, Kurt Engfehr.
  6. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011) 1 hr 20 mins Director: Constance A. Marks

I’m addicted!  I’m addicted to life!  I’m addicted to the events, struggles, challenges, insecurities, fears, and achievements of people.  I absolutely love that they have the balls to bleed (figuratively of course) on camera.  Some of these really weren’t that nail biting or gripping from beginning to end but there were definitely some powerful moments!  So, I’m going to tell you what I thought those moments were.

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!! 

Gideon’s Army is about Public Defenders and their personal and professional struggles.  It follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander, and June Hardwick who are young, urban, and driven. I really liked Travis who dressed professionally, absorbed himself in his work and fought hard for his clients whether he thought they were guilty or not.  He was committed to the job and he sacrificed time, sleep and a personal life to perform at his best.  His apartment was right next to the office!  The film delves a little into his “daddy issues” of abandonment and how he makes the attempt to resolve those issues. Brandy was a little more emotional. That disturbed me (talking to the TV the entire film) because it made her seem like the stereotypical woman who was too sensitive to toughen up for the tasks assigned. However, the film concludes with Brandy’s courtroom skills.  I had to bite my tongue and set aside all pre judgments. The emotion she had behind her work that I thought would cripple her actually helped her to win.  Brandy’s defense and her closing argument and her relationship with the defendant were touching and surprising because public defenders in the south handle over 100 cases at one time. They’re exhausted and they are like assembly line workers.  I loved it and I learned a lot. What bothered me to my core was the fact that they were BROKE!  There is a scene where Brandy is putting 3.00 of gas in her car to last her for the next two days!  These are lawyers and professionals but they are still living the “broke college life” at 30.  I felt for her because how many of us are already in our line of work but drowning in college loan debt and squeezing into small spaces?  How many of us are living check to check?  How many of us are still coming back from the recession and do not know if it is over yet?  Would you be able to do your job effectively and honorably with that kind of weight on your shoulders? 

For more information on this award winning documentary you can see the following link: http://gideonsarmythefilm.com/

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was great simply because it can be oversimplified.  If I break down the entire film, it is about poor habits, poor decisions, and addiction.  It shows what happens to the human body/our temple when we over indulge.  I love food but I have always been off and on in terms of discipline when it comes to diet and exercise. I have also always struggled with my skin off and on. This film convinced me that the coined phrase “you are what you eat” is very true.  When I am cooking at home, exercising, drinking water, removing toxins (i.e. alcohol, sugars, etc), and getting somewhat adequate levels of sleep…I FEEL AND LOOK BETTER.  It’s very simple.  The man in the film was able to come off of his medications and lose a lot of unhealthy weight in 60 days with a juice fast. I hate fads and I am not a bandwagon jumper.  I go to my local juice bar occasionally and I also get my teas and natural deodorant from them but it’s expensive. I will definitely try juicing at home NOT EVERYDAY but as a supplement.  The processed, genetically engineered foods that are making us artificial energy addicts are also making us susceptible to illness. MY FAVORITE PART of the film is when he is using animation to explain the juice fast and its effect on the body.  He shows the example of a child who scrapes his knee.  Knees are bleeding and they have bandages on them.  He shows the child tempted to remove the bandages and pick at the wounds or scabs.  He says, “The wound will heal as long as I get out of my own way.”  I thought that was really powerful.  How many times do we prevent our own healing because we are obsessed with whether or not we are going to be healed?  How many times do we try to expedite processes that need to happen organically?  All you need to do is move out of the way and let your body heal itself, fight off disease itself, and sustain itself.

For more information on this great documentary please see the following link:  http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey was a tiny bit creepy. There have been recent child molestation allegations but if you can get passed that, it’s an inspiring story.  Kevin Clash made his first puppet when he was 10 after watching Sesame Street over and over again. He put on shows for the neighborhood kids his mother used to babysit. By the time he graduated high school, he was off to New York to work with Jim Henson, his idol. You see this man who is chronically shy but comes to life in the puppets he creates. This is kind of a zero to hero story because he doesn’t encounter much adversity.  People take him in with open arms and mentor him. The important thing to remember is he embraced every opportunity and he surpassed his expectations.  We all remember people trampling one another in shopping malls to find Tickle Me Elmo’s.  I remember how popular Elmo was even when I was in 7th and 8th grade.  This is a success story. He was a young guy from Baltimore with two loving parents who had a dream and went for it.  He was determined and he was diligent and it paid off.  He visualized what he wanted until it manifested but in the meantime he was aggressively moving towards his goals. The film took me down memory lane and made me want to head to Michaels craft store and make a puppet!

Click the link for more information:  http://beingelmo.com/about.html

 

By: Shaun Nickens

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