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The documentary-invented by one Canadian (Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North, 1922), named by another (NFB founder John Grierson)-holds a long-standing grip on us. Here, seven picks for our local doc fest.
THE HUMAN SCALE
Half the world lives in cities-by 2050, it’ll be 6.5 billion people. How do we build settlements of warmth and connectivity? The Human Scale (Denmark, May 5) introduces Danish planner Jan Gehl, who’s been addressing that question since the ’60s. His interventions chronicled here-from Manhattan to Melbourne, Christchurch to Chongqing-provide fascinating fodder for discussion.
GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN
Conspiracy theorists and copyright lawyers battle knowledge liberators in Google and the World Brain (UK/Spain, May 8), a wake-up call about one search engine’s bid for dominance of markets, mind share, and, arguably, the future. Advocacy informs some of the finest docs.
Catch Black Out (UK, May 9), a look at Conakry, Guinea, where frequent power cuts force students to spend nights at the airport-the one source of light-as they struggle desperately to bootstrap through study.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD
Another great pick, Fire in the Blood (India, May 5), a celebration of Yusuf Hamied’s fight with Big Pharma to supply the world with cheap generic AIDS drugs.
OCCUPY THE MOVIE
Surprisingly entertaining, Occupy the Movie (Canada, May 3, 7, and 11) gives Econ 100 background to the 99 percent movement.
Musicwood (USA/Madagascar, May 4) gives liberal white guilt a face by profiling the role three guitar-making legends take in urging Alaska Natives to slow their clear-cutting.
Cap the week with magnificent Big Joy (USA, May 11), the story of midcentury San Francisco iconoclast (artist, bisexual, Cannes-winning filmmaker) James Broughton and his infectious exhortation to live large, be happy, and “follow your weird.”