Documentary treasure hunt

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Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

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Notre Dame graduates have been busy with documentaries. They’ve also been busy showing them at film festivals, from Sundance to Slamdance—and, when they’re lucky, scoring a deal to release the film to theaters. When you can’t catch them at your local multiplex, we suggest an Internet search for the following films, which generally are available on DVD.

  • I.O.U.S.A. was directed by Patrick Creadon ‘89, whose 2006 film, Wordplay, made crossword puzzles exciting. This 89-minute documentary aims to incense viewers about America’s dismal fiscal practices. That phrase might promise to cure your insomnia, but critics have called the doc “poignant, terrifying and engrossing,” “alternately amusing and alarming” and “crucial viewing for anyone who cares about America.”
  • Song Sung Blue tracks the struggles and dreams of a Midwestern couple—they call themselves Lightning & Thunder—who pay tribute to the music of Neil Diamond. Written and directed by Greg Kohs ’89, the 85-minute film won both the Grand Jury and the Audience award at the 2008 Slamdance film festival.
  • The Road to Fondwa combined the skills of three Notre Dame alums—director Dan Schnorr ‘05, co-director and editor Justin Brandon ’04 and executive producer Brian McElroy ’05—to showcase members of a rural Haitian community who have taken the cause of development into their own hands. Proceeds from sales of the 40-minute DVD and its extras will be donated to Haiti’s University of Fondwa.
  • Bhutan: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness takes viewers to the remote Himalayan kingdom where sudden modernization threatens the country’s cultural goal of inner contentment. Written and co-produced by John Wehrheim ‘69, the film’s 60-minute DVD includes a bonus feature with the Dalai Lama discussing his views on happiness.
  • CSNY Déjà Vu, written by Neil Young and the Emmy-winning journalist Mike Cerre ’69, mixes a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Freedom of Speech tour concert film with anti-war vignettes. The 93-minute film has an R rating.
  • Body of War, an 87-minute film produced and directed by Phil Donahue ’57 and Ellen Spiro, follows two tracks: the heart-wrenching story of an injured soldier struggling to deal with his paralysis and the Congressional debate about the war in Iraq.

Carol Schaal is managing editor/web editor of this magazine.

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