“Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops” shines a light on the compassionate policing practices of the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit

“Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops” shines a light on the compassionate policing practices of the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit

Source:  Deadline

In the trailer for “Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops,” a voiceover states: “On average in a police academy in this country, they spend 60 hours or more learning how to shoot a gun, and they spend eight on mental health and communication.  We need to shift that.”

Directed by Jenifer McShane, the HBO documentary gives a different perspective on law enforcement in a time when law enforcement is being scrutinized for unwarranted police violence.

The film, which won the Special Jury Prize for Empathy in Craft at SXSW earlier this year, follows the titular Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, two police officers in San Antonio, Texas who are diverting people from jail and into mental health treatment.

The duo, part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, puts compassionate policing practices into action.

The film chronicles Ernie and Joe’s daily encounters with people in crisis, showing how their innovative approach to policing – which takes mental health into account – is having a dramatic effect on the way police respond to these challenges.

“Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops” premieres November 19 on HBO.

Read the story at Deadline.


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Austin Davis has only eaten mac and cheese for the past 17 years

Austin Davis has only eaten mac and cheese for the past 17 years

Source:  VICE

For most people, eating nothing but mac and cheese seems like a childhood fantasy.  But for 20-year-old Austin Davis, who has been eating nothing but mac and cheese for the past 17 years, it’s not a fantasy — it’s his reality and has become his affliction.

For Austin, it’s about much more than just liking mac and cheese.  Austin suffers from Selective Eating Disorder, also known as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

It’s an anxiety disorder that’s characterized by the persistent refusal to eat specific foods or refusal to eat any type of food due to a negative response from certain sensory characteristics of that food.

VICE traveled to Florida to meet Austin to learn more about the origins of his eating disorder and join him as he embarks on his journey toward recovery

Watch “Addicted to Mac & Cheese above and read the story at VICE.


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“Born to Be” provides an intimate portrait of a pioneering transgender surgery center

“Born to Be” provides an intimate portrait of a pioneering transgender surgery center

Source:  Variety

In “Born to Be,” Tania Cypriano’s moving and fascinatingly forward-looking documentary about the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, we meet a handful of eager, at times desperate people who are engaged in the existential medical conundrum of doing everything they can to become the people they are.

Making the person you are on the outside match the person you are on the inside is the mission of the Mount Sinai CTMS, the first medical center of its kind in America.

In 2015, the state of New York passed a law requiring health insurance to cover transgender-related services; it’s the ninth state in the country to have such a law.  That tells you, in raw numbers, how new all of this is — not trans culture, which is as old as human nature, but the treatment of trans culture as a proud and healthy dimension of our society.

The film gives viewers a glimpse of what’s coming: a time when, in all of America and the rest of the world, trans people, and the medical care and procedures they need, cease in any way to be exotic.

“Born to Be” recently made its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.

Read the story at Variety.


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Netflix docuseries “Unnatural Selection” explores the promise and peril of the gene-editing revolution

Netflix docuseries “Unnatural Selection” explores the promise and peril of the gene-editing revolution

Source:  Wired

Odds are, if you’re like most Americans, you probably first came across the most significant scientific discovery of the 21st century in a passing moment onscreen.  Perhaps you saw a mutagenic bioweapon unleash a trio of monsters on the city of Chicago in last year’s “Rampage.”  Or you watched as a scientist made a man part-abalone, giving him supermollusk strength and unbreakable skin, in 2016’s “Luke Cage.”

The tool used in both, known as Crispr, has been steadily creeping into mainstream pop culture, injecting new genetic engineering twists into speculative fiction.  But the true story of Crispr, while less fantastical, is no less dramatic.

That’s the takeaway from a trailer released last week for Netflix’s new four-part docuseries “Unnatural Selection,” which promises to take even the most casual viewer inside the revolution that has been brewing in labs, companies, and garages around the world.

Using the bacterial quirk that is Crispr, scientists have essentially given anyone with a micropipette and an internet connection the power to manipulate the genetic code of any living organism.

“Unnatural Selection” premieres October 18 on Netflix.

Read the story at Wired.


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Nobel Prize winner Jim Allison takes on cancer in “Breakthrough”

Nobel Prize winner Jim Allison takes on cancer in “Breakthrough”

Source:  The New York Times

Documentaries about innovative figures don’t always offer correspondingly innovative filmmaking.  But even coloring within the lines of conventional biographical storytelling, “Jim Allison: Breakthrough” provides an accessible introduction to James P. Allison, who, along with Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries in cancer immunotherapy.

Allison developed an antibody to keep T-cells, the white blood cells that attack viruses, in attack mode when faced with tumors.

Allison’s mother died of lymphoma, and a brother’s experience of prostate cancer from which he ultimately died, is chronicled throughout.

We’re told that Allison raised the prospect of the immune system’s cancer-fighting potential at a speech at the Texas Legislature in 1981, when he advocated teaching evolution in the state’s schools.  For Allison, who grew up in Texas, that issue was a long-term fight, too.

The film explains the barriers — justified skepticism, professional groupthink, the high cost of long-term research — that Allison faced in proving that a new kind of cancer treatment could work.

For cities and showtimes, visit the “Jim Allison: Breakthrough” website.

Read the story at The New York Times.


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What finally convinced Dr. Orna Guralnik to star in Showtime docuseries “Couples Therapy”

What finally convinced Dr. Orna Guralnik to star in Showtime docuseries “Couples Therapy”

Source:  Refinery29

“Couples Therapy,” a new Showtime documentary series premiering turns four couples’ actual therapy sessions into riveting TV.

Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg had the ambitious goal of capturing the therapeutic process on camera — but they weren’t sure it would work.

There’s never been a show like “Couples’ Therapy” before, but there wouldn’t be a “Couples Therapy” without Dr. Orna Guralnik, the accomplished New York-based clinical psychologist and author who patiently shepherds couples toward difficult, hard-won plateaus of mutual understanding.

Guralnik gives the series its sense of forward momentum, despite the sessions’ seemingly constant back-and-forth.

With her background in film and psychology, the 55-year-old Guralnik was fascinated by the project from a theoretical standpoint.  Could the therapeutic process, so intensely private, be captured on camera with the knowledge that it would later be shown to millions?

“Couples Therapy” is available now on Showtime.

Read the story at Refinery29.


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