The Horrors of ICE’s “Trans Pod”

The Horrors of ICE’s “Trans Pod”

Source:  The Atlantic

“I decided to come to the U.S. to save my life,” says Luz, a transgender woman from Honduras, in Sylvia Johnson’s short documentary “Luz’s Story.”

Luz entered the United States via an official port of entry and asked for protection through political asylum.  She was promptly imprisoned.

Since early 2018, New Mexico’s Cibola County Correctional Center has incarcerated more than 180 women in its “transgender pod”—the only known ICE-run detention facility for transgender-identifying women.

Johnson, who works part-time at the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, told The Atlantic that the women in the trans pod face extraordinary hardships and obstacles to winning their cases.

“While in custody, they face a shocking lack of medical and mental-health services,” she said. “They are put in abusive solitary confinement, they experience high levels of sexual assault, and they face discrimination from the government and the corporation that detains them.”

Johnson cited the deaths of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez in 2018 and Johana Medina Leon this year as grave evidence of ICE’s inability to detain trans women safely.

Watch “Luz’s Story” above and read the story at The Atlantic.

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Magnolia Pictures acquires timely gerrymandering doc “Slay the Dragon”

Magnolia Pictures acquires timely gerrymandering doc “Slay the Dragon”

Source:  Deadline

Federal judges are withdrawing from the gerrymandering debate, but Magnolia Pictures is jumping into the fray.  Magnolia has acquired the North American rights to “Slay the Dragon” from Participant Media.

Directed by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, the documentary couldn’t be more timely given the ruling on Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court that federal judges must stay out of gerrymandering disputes.

It’s a decision that effectively gives state legislatures unfettered authority to redraw electoral maps as a tactic for consolidating political power.

Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles said the film illuminates a genuine menace that could undermine the political process in every corner of the country.  “Gerrymandering is one of the biggest threats to our democracy and “Slay the Dragon” is a fantastic primer to what’s at stake, in addition to an incredibly cinematic, emotional film.  Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance have done a marvelous job telling this story.”

Magnolia is eyeing a spring 2020 theatrical release for “Slay the Dragon.”

Read the story at Deadline.

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FBI surveillance of Muslims-Americans hits home in “The Feeling of Being Watched”

FBI surveillance of Muslims-Americans hits home in “The Feeling of Being Watched”

Source:  Los Angeles Times

When director Assia Boundaoui begins investigating the FBI surveillance of her family’s Arab American neighborhood, one of her mother’s friend’s lovingly calls her a “troublemaker.”

But with the digging that leads to the startling and effective documentary “The Feeling of Being Watched,” the journalist catches the eye of some powerful people and finds herself enmeshed in that trouble.

Boundaoui brings her skills as a reporter for the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, VICE, and CNN back to her hometown of Bridgeview, Illinois to examine why the Muslim-American community in the Chicago suburb was a target of the FBI’s suspicion in the 1980s and 1990s, and if their mosques, homes, and schools are still under watch today.

Fear and shock float off “The Feeling of Being Watched,” and it evokes a few genuine gasps at the audacity of its villains.

You feel like you’re watching a 1970s conspiracy thriller, but this is today and it’s nonfiction.

“The Feeling of Being Watched” is playing at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills, CA through June 27.

Read the story at the Los Angeles Times.

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“The Edge of Democracy” is an edge-of-your-seat dive into Brazilian politics

“The Edge of Democracy” is an edge-of-your-seat dive into Brazilian politics

Source:  Los Angeles Times

With our own round-the-clock political circus to contend with, Americans may be forgiven for thinking we have a lock on dramatic, disturbing political theater.  Not so, “The Edge of Democracy” insists.  Not so at all.

Directed by Petra Costa, this completely fascinating documentary provides an unexpectedly compelling inside look at the political earthquakes that have been roiling Brazil for several years.

More a thoughtful film essay than a classic documentary, the film takes viewers through the shocks and aftershocks that have seen one president impeached, another imprisoned, and a third elected despite (or maybe because of) being a vocal supporter of torture and dictatorship.

“The Edge of Democracy” is available now on Netflix.

Read the story at the Los Angeles Times.

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“Supreme Revenge” goes inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court

“Supreme Revenge” goes inside the no-holds-barred war for control of the Supreme Court

Source:  FRONTLINE

The bitter partisan battle that played out during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings seemed unique to America’s current political and social moment.

But as a new FRONTLINE investigation reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process — and conservatives’ grip on the court itself — reflect a shift many years in the making.

In “Supreme Revenge,” FRONTLINE investigates the decades of consequential political brinkmanship that shaped the court’s current makeup, and how one major player — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — has prevailed.

“The Supreme Revenge” is available to stream now on PBS.

Read the story at FRONTLINE.

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In Netflix’s “After Maria” families struggle to return home to Puerto Rico

In Netflix’s “After Maria” families struggle to return home to Puerto Rico

Source:  Rolling Stone

Three families from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria struggle to rebuild their lives and return home in the trailer for “After Maria.”

The short documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and will arrive May 24 on Netflix.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, countless families were told by FEMA that their houses were too unsafe to live in, forcing them to relocate to transitional shelters set-up in various hotels in New York City.

The trailer for the film captures the difficulty of living in a cramped hotel room and adjusting to life in a completely new city while also showing the continued indifference of the federal government as aid is slashed and the families’ FEMA housing assistance nears expiration.

“I don’t know if we will have that help at hand,” one woman says. “If they will help us get a place, or if we’re going to be in the streets.”

Read the story at Rolling Stone.

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