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Entries in Documentaries (19)


A Farewell Letter to HSBC - Bankrolling Human Rights Violations at Standing Rock is Unacceptable

Dear Group Chief Stuart Gullive and fellow HSBC Executives,
As a longtime customer of HSBC, I am appalled that your bank is providing $189 million in revolving credit to Energy Transfer Equity and its subsidiary, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Not only has the construction of DAPL desecrated burial grounds and related sacred sites on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, it also endangers the drinking water for 18 million people living downstream on the Missouri River. 
While these actions alone are enough to give me pause about doing business with HSBC, the civil liberty violations that Energy Transfer Partners have made are among the issues I find most disturbing.
Private DAPL security and militarized police have used excessive force including unleashing dogs, pepper spray, water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to attack Native American tribe members and their allies who have united in prayer and peaceful direct actions to halt construction of this unjust, hazardous pipeline. These attacks on water protectors in North Dakota have continued to escalate to the point of severely injuring Indigenous and non-Native women.
In the film Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock, Cody Hall, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe asks "what is your spirit telling you to do?" Mine leads me to take action on a number of fronts including severing ties with any bank that prioritizes investments in oil pipelines such as DAPL over the safety of people. Today I'm writing this to inform you that I'm closing my account with HSBC and moving my money to a financial institution that is not bankrolling brutality against people, particularly Native Americans, who are exercising their rights to protect the earth and its natural, finite resources. 
Until your bank pulls out of its deal with Energy Transfer Equity and Energy Transfer Partners, terminate its contract with them and halt all further funds from being dispersed to these companies, I will encourage other HSBC customers to withdraw their money and close their accounts as well. You and fellow decision makers have an opportunity to demonstrate that you all have a soul. If like me, you believe crimes against humanity is unacceptable, the time for HSBC to rise as the world's ethical bank is now.

'Mni Wiconi' Film Illustrates The Power of a Mother's Prayer

Yesterday, I watched Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock, a short film about water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies who are trying to stop the 1,100-mile Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The completion of this project – also known as the Bakken Pipeline – would damage sacred Native American burial grounds and poison the water supply for 17 million people across four states including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Maybe you’ve recently come across a brief news story about some aspect of the resistance. Maybe you heard about the group of U.S. veterans headed there this week to protect the citizens who are under attack at the hands of the Morton County Police Department, on the government’s watch. One of the biggest takeaways from Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock, however, is that this spiritual awakening that has brought so many citizens from around the globe together – especially during a time when the world is so divided -- began with a woman named Ladonna Allard.

“I wasn’t an activist. I’m a mom,” expresses Allard in the film as she describes the beginnings of Sacred Stone Camp after finding out the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was taking place where her son is buried, in North Dakota. In April 2016, Allard asked her relatives to come and stand with her to protect the water and the land. Today, several hundred tribes are united on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, a historic gathering with prayer demonstrations to prevent the “black snake” (referring to DAPL) from destroying the earth.

Mni Wiconi: The Stand at Standing Rock is a must-see film. Please watch it, share it and honor tribal sovereignty and the Earth we inhabit by telling President Obama to deny the easement by calling 202-456-1111.

We need every person to call Obama this week before Dec. 5th!


Muhammad Ali, Mexican Culture and Murder Mysteries Headline Urbanworld's 2015 Film Slate

"Carmín Tropical" is among the movies playing in the Narrative Feature Film competition at Urbanworld 2015.Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ, a biographical tribute to the former heavyweight boxing champion will serve as the opening night film at the 19th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival, presented by BET Networks (BET) with founding sponsor HBO.

Directed and executive produced by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, this documentary features exclusive interviews with a who’s who of the sports and entertainment world including Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard. “We are excited to launch BET's original news documentary series with the film,” says Constance Orlando, Senior Vice President of Music, Specials and News for BET Networks. Muhammad Ali: The People’s Champ connects the fighter’s boxing prowess as well as his social media activism, to the millennial audience to reveal Ali’s meaning in the world today. It also headlines a fierce program lineup as Urbanworld, the nation’s largest competitive multicultural film festival, announces its 2015 slate.

The festival will screen over 80 films September 23-27, 2015 at Manhattan's AMC Empire 25 on 234 West 42nd Street in New York. An underlying quest for victory is the name of the game, as Urbanworld showcases stories about people fighting for redemption in one way or another. In the psychological drama Carmín Tropical, a transgender woman named Mabel returns to her hometown to investigate the murder of her friend Daniela. Directed by Mexican filmmaker Rigoberto Perezcano, this narrative feature explores gender and culture while taking the main character on a journey of revisiting the life she left behind in a town plagued with senseless violence, homophobia and intolerance.

"In Football We Trust" is among the select documentaries in the 2015 Urbanworld lineup.Urbanworld’s documentary lineup features the New York Premiere of In Football We Trust, about four young Polynesian athletes struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and near poverty as they enter the high stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of professional sports. Directed by first-time filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, the movie explores how professional sports play a role in the “American Dream” phenomenon that fascinates our society.

“I believe In Football We Trust will illuminate how our country’s infatuation with chasing the ‘American Dream’ can often leave people entrenched in the very conditions they are striving to overcome,” says Cohn. Famed wrestler and Hollywood actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson mentioned the film is close to his heart and also helped produce it.

The documentary 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets is among the Spotlight selections at Urbanworld. Directed by Marc Silver, it follows the journey of unraveling the truth behind Michael Dunn’s claim of self-defense in a shooting that led to the death of 17 year-old Jordan Davis. In what IndieWire calls “A harrowing exploration of criminal justice gone awry,” 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets reconstructs the night of the incident and reveals how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy. Forgiving Chris Brown joins the narrative short films that are in abundance at this year’s Urbanworld film festival. Directed by Marquette Jones, this dark comedy about a group of heartbroken friends who unite over plans to get revenge on their boyfriends, is set in the hot desert.

Performing arts also takes center stage as A Ballerina’s Tale, a documentary focusing on a crucial period in the career of principal dancer Misty Copeland, is slated to close the festival. Directed by Nelson George, the movie examines issues of race and body image in the elite ballet.

Following Misty’s triumphant lead performance in Igor Stravinsky's Firebird at New York's Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, through her painful injury and recovery that followed, to her return to ABT and subsequent pop star status, A Ballerina's Tale  is the story of how great talent and a powerful will combined can open doors within a very cloistered world.

What are YOU watching this weekend?