Refugee survival story “Love Child” is one of the most absorbing documentaries of the year

Refugee survival story “Love Child” is one of the most absorbing documentaries of the year

Source:  IndieWire

Sahand and Leila weren’t asking for much when they fled their native Iran in 2012.

As Leila explains during one of many interviews during Eva Mulvad’s aching and intimate documentary “Love Child,” the couple wasn’t looking for a good life elsewhere; they just wanted the chance for a normal one, where their relationship and the very existence of their son Mani wasn’t a death sentence.

Nearly a decade ago, the couple and Mani left behind everything and everyone they knew to escape to Turkey, convinced that their adulterous relationship was going to get them killed.

As Sahand explains in the film, he can still remember incidents during his childhood when people guilty of his same apparent crimes were stoned or hung in public, murdered by the Iranian government for their life choices.

Yes, they were right to run, but were they right to believe that life elsewhere would be at all better?

“Love Child” recently screened at DOC NYC.

Read the story at IndieWire.


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“Saudi Women’s Driving School” explores a new freedom in Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Women’s Driving School” explores a new freedom in Saudi Arabia

Source:  Forbes

In “Saudi Women’s Driving School,” director Erica Gornall profiles the women of Saudi Arabia as they move towards gender equality and freedom.

Saudi Arabia rarely allows foreigners access to film in the Kingdom, so the unprecedented entry that Gornall and her crew received provides a rare insight into these women’s lives and the political changes taking place now in Saudi Arabia.

In June 2018, a law went into effect there that removed the ban on women drivers, resulting in the opening of one of the largest driving schools in the world, operated by and created for women.

The school is located in the capital city of Riyadh.  Even with 250 cars and 700 instructors, it still struggles with the high demand of women anxious to sign up for classes and get behind the wheel.

“Saudi Women’s Driving School” is available now on HBO.

Read the story at Forbes.

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Meet the artists in the most militarized region in the world

Meet the artists in the most militarized region in the world

Source:  The Atlantic

“It is a paradise that has been set ablaze.”

That is how Masood Hussain, a renowned Kashmiri artist, describes his homeland.  The transmogrification is reflected in his paintings.

While Hussain once painted the idyllic rural landscapes of his childhood, his artwork now depicts the reality of Kashmir—a place of perpetual conflict, where normal life has been upended by death, forced disappearances, and the omnipresence of armed forces.

The decades-long struggle between India and separatist militants has transformed Kashmir into the most militarized region in the world.  Gone are the flowing rivers and Himalayan mountains of Hussain’s early art; a recent piece portrays a child with no eyes, invoking the victims of the Indian army’s pellet-gun attacks last year.

Hussain is one of four artists profiled in Niyantha Shekar and Mukti Krishan’s short documentary, “Art in the Time of Conflict.”

The film also introduces Hina Arif, Zeeshan Jaipuri, and Mujtaba Rizvi—young Kashmiri creatives whose artistic development was deeply influenced by the trauma of growing up in a war zone.

Through their stories and art, they convey the human cost of the enduring conflict.

Watch “Art in the Time of Conflict” above and read the story at The Atlantic.


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The extraordinary “Cave” portrays the incalculable cost of the Syrian war

The extraordinary “Cave” portrays the incalculable cost of the Syrian war

Source:  Los Angeles Times

When caves appear in movies, they tend to be sinister, life threatening locations.  The extraordinary documentary “The Cave,” however, focuses on a place where just the opposite scenario is playing out.

The latest film by Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”), “The Cave” does not technically take place in a cave but in an underground hospital which has taken that name.

This network of labyrinthine tunnels and rooms served for more than five years — until it was overrun in 2018 — as a place of refuge for the besieged, completely surrounded city of El Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.

While Russian warplanes supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad systematically attempted to bomb the area into rubble, the doctors and other medical personnel of the cave followed two simple goals: Be of service and survive.

“The Cave” opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 18.

Read the story at the Los Angeles Times.


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In “Ghosts of Sugar Land” friends discuss the disappearance and radicalization of Warren Clark

In “Ghosts of Sugar Land” friends discuss the disappearance and radicalization of Warren Clark

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

A group of young Muslim Americans in Texas discuss the disappearance and radicalization of their friend, Warren Clark, suspected of joining ISIS, in the trailer for “Ghosts of Sugar Land.”

The film won the Short Film Jury Award for non-fiction at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The short documentary provides a haunting account of how the young teacher became radicalized and traveled to join ISIS in 2018, only to be captured in January by U.S.-backed forces in Syria during the campaign to liberate the last pockets occupied by the terror group.

“Ghosts of Sugar Land” premieres October 16 on Netflix.

Read the story at The Hollywood Reporter.


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Hong Kong’s summer of unrest has been drawing inspiration from Oscar nominated doc “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Hong Kong’s summer of unrest has been drawing inspiration from Oscar nominated doc “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Source:  TIME

Just outside a Hong Kong subway station, dozens are gathered around a projector screen, transfixed.  They watch footage of riot police advancing towards protestors.  After 16 weeks of protests, many in the audience know this type of scene well.

They are gathered — along with people at about a dozen street corners, parks and other public spaces across Hong Kong — for screenings of “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about Ukraine’s anti-government protests of 2013.

The three-month-long protest, centered on a square in the capital Kyiv, successfully toppled the country’s pro-Russia leadership.

Hong Kong residents are drawing parallels between the Euromaidan movement, as Ukraine’s uprising was called, and their own struggle for democracy.  Both were sparked by a single controversy — in Hong Kong, from a now withdrawn extradition bill; in Ukraine, from the president’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

But each quickly snowballed to include much broader demands for greater political freedom.

Read the story at TIME.


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