“The Poison Squad” premieres January 28 on PBS

“The Poison Squad” premieres January 28 on PBS

Source:  American Experience

By the close of the Industrial Revolution, the American food supply was tainted with frauds, fakes, and legions of new and untested chemicals, dangerously threatening the health of consumers.

Based on the book by Deborah Blum, “The Poison Squad” tells the story of government chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley who, determined to banish these dangerous substances from dinner tables, took on the powerful food manufacturers and their allies.

Wiley embarked upon a series of controversial trials on 12 human subjects who would become known as the “Poison Squad.”

American Experience’s “The Poision Squad” premieres January 28 on PBS.

Read the story at American Experience.


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“Chichinette: The Accidental Spy” recalls the story of French Resistance fighter Marthe Cohen

“Chichinette: The Accidental Spy” recalls the story of French Resistance fighter Marthe Cohen

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

You might want to think twice the next time you offer to help a little old lady cross the street.

Not only might she not need the assistance, but she may actually be tougher than you.  She might even have been a spy working for the French Resistance during World War II.

That’s the case with the central figure in Nicola Alice Hens’ “Chichinette: The Accidental Spy.”  Marthe Cohn, 96 years old at the time of filming, travels the globe recounting the wartime experiences she hadn’t discussed publicly until the release of her 2002 book “Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.”

Cohn’s fascinating story proves once again that truth can sometimes be more compelling than even the most carefully plotted fiction.

“Chichinette: The Accidental Spy” begins playing in select cities on December 25.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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Discovery acquires TV rights to Warsaw Ghetto documentary “Who Will Write Our History”

Discovery acquires TV rights to Warsaw Ghetto documentary “Who Will Write Our History”

Source:  Deadline

Discovery has acquired the global television rights to Warsaw Ghetto documentary “Who Will Write Our History” from Abramorama, the film’s distributor.

Featuring narration from actors Joan Allen and Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”), “Who Will Write Our History” begins in November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, when a secret group of journalists, scholars, and community leaders decide to fight back.

Led by Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, the clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper.

“Who Will Write Our History” mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage, and dramatizations (shot on location in Lodz and Warsaw, Poland) to transport viewers inside the Ghetto.

“Who Will Write Our History” is scheduled to air in the U.S. on the Discovery channel in January 2020.

Read the story at Deadline.


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A new documentary exposes the dark truth of a west Texas massacre

A new documentary exposes the dark truth of a west Texas massacre

Source:  Texas Monthly

Tensions along the border ran high in the final years of the Mexican Revolution.  Violence spilled across from northern Mexico into the Texas frontier, where recent Anglo settlers clashed with Mexican-Americans who had lived there for generations.  The complex dynamics between newcomers and longtime residents often led to retaliatory attacks—then everything came to a head.

On the morning of January 28, 1918, a band of Texas Rangers, U.S. cavalry soldiers, and a group of local ranchers entered the small farming community of Porvenir—a town in Presidio County with a population of roughly 140.

They forced several residents from their homes before leading away 15 unarmed men and boys to a nearby hill where they were executed.

The massacre went unreported for weeks, and didn’t come to light until Captain J. M. Fox, of the Texas Rangers, told command that they’d been ambushed by locals suspected of having ties to a raid at a nearby ranch a month earlier; he characterized them as “thieves, informers, spies, and murderers.”

For nearly a century, Fox’s account was widely accepted as fact.  But in recent years, researchers and descendents of the massacre began unraveling the truth of what transpired that day.

In “Porvenir, Texas,” late director Andrew Shapter examines the dynamics that led up to the tragedy, along with the scars it left behind, that reconsiders something that’s long been deemed historical truth.

“Porvenir, Texas” is streaming on PBS until October 19.

Read the story at Texas Monthly.


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“Mike Wallace Is Here” uses only archival footage to tell the story of modern broadcast journalism

“Mike Wallace Is Here” uses only archival footage to tell the story of modern broadcast journalism

Source:  IndieWire

After the newspaper reporting drama “Spotlight” won the Oscar for best picture in 2016, and just before Donald Trump was elected president and “fake news” was slapped on everything, “Mike Wallace is Here” documentarian Avi Belkin recognized journalism was at a tipping point.

“I was still living in Tel Aviv — I’m from Israel — and the idea was to address the Genesis story of broadcast journalism.  I was kind of obsessing about the question, ‘how did we get here?’” Belkin said.

To find answers, Belkin focused on longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace, whose six-decade career in the field began in the earliest days of broadcast news and ended shortly before his 2012 death.

Using raw footage of Wallace both as interviewee and interviewer — with the likes of Ayatollah Khomeini, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin — Belkin stitched together a film using only archive footage to tell both the story of Wallace’s career and the trajectory of journalism into the modern era.

For cities and showtimes, visit the “Mike Wallace Is Here” website.

Read the story at IndieWire.


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HBO produces short documentary to help kids understand 9/11

HBO produces short documentary to help kids understand 9/11

Source:  AP

For students from elementary to high school, the Sept. 11 terrorist attack isn’t a memory.  It’s history.  A new HBO documentary that premieres on the event’s 18th anniversary treats it that way.

The necessity of her project, “What Happened on September 11,” struck filmmaker Amy Schatz when a third-grade girl told her about a playdate where she and a friend Googled “Sept. 11 attacks.”

“When a child does that, what he or she finds are some pretty horrific images that are not necessarily appropriate for kids,” Schatz said on Tuesday.  “So I felt a responsibility to try to fill that void and try to give kids something that isn’t horrifying and kind of fills in the gap.”

“What Happened on September 11” premieres today at 6:00 pm on HBO.  A companion piece, “In the Shadow of the Towers: Stuyvesant High on 9/11” focusing on the memories of former students at a high school near ground zero, premieres three hours later.

Read the story at AP.

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