I just came back from attending the ninth movie festival in Birmingham, AL called Sidewalk. What a blast! I have already reviewed the festival last year. The best stuff I saw this year came from the documentary genre. I caught three this year; Join Us, Lost and Found in Mexico, and The Paper.
Join Us documents the life of this family as it gets involved with a charismatic cult leader. It starts with the family getting out of the church and spending a few weeks in a deprogramming retreat. These folks basically signed away all their assets to this guy and worked for him for a dollar a day. He directed the parents to beat their children. Lest you started smirking in smug superiority, you would fall for it too unless you learn to recognize the eight signs of mind control by Robert Lifton. After the film was shown, various members of this family got on stage to answer some questions from the audience.
Lost and Found in Mexico was produced and directed by a psychotherapist who went to San Miguel for a week long vacation and resolved to move there which she did. Eventually, she video taped a collection of interviews of the U.S. ex-patriots living there to arrive at their motivations for doing this. Basically, we are talking about a pervasive mid-life crisis followed by a pattern interrupt of new people, places, and things. The director also got up after the film and answered questions from the audience.
The Paper follows various students working in a large, daily college newspaper (circulation 20000) who have the same issues as a professional newspaper but lack the basic political skills to keep it hidden. The paper answers the question why are so many newspapers such muck rakers? Because they need to keep their readership high in order to charge more for advertising. They tried all kinds of things but what they found out was that controversy and scandal motivate people to get and read the paper. Hey, maybe if they hired more psychotherapists, they could figure out what their readership wanted without having to resort to fomenting outrage.