LAFF 2011 Documentary Reviews: PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES & SALAAM DUNK
The 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival came to an end yesterday. I’ve already reviewed a few documentaries and wanted to add two more to the pile : Page One: Inside the New York Times & Salaam Dunk:
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Synopsis: In the tradition of great fly-on-the-wall documentaries, the film deftly gains unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom and the inner workings of the Media Desk. With the Internet surpassing print as our main news source and newspapers all over the country going bankrupt, Page One chronicles the transformation of the media industry at its time of greatest turmoil. Writers like Brian Stelter, Tim Arango and the salty but brilliant David Carr track print journalism’s metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay vital and solvent, while their editors and publishers grapple with up-to-the-minute issues like controversial new sources and the implications of an online pay-wall. Meanwhile, rigorous journalism is thriving—Page One gives us an up-close look at the vibrant cross-cubicle debates and collaborations, tenacious jockeying for on-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching that brings the most venerable newspaper in America to fruition each and every day.
Thoughts: If you were ever curious to see how a renowned newspaper operates, then Page One: Inside the New York Times is a documentary you should watch.
In a pretty effective manner, the film exposes the individuals, politics and the mechanics behind the editorial current powering the NY times. We see an inside view of the many discussions that go into creating the in-depth articles that are the signature of the journal while also posing a critical look on the newspaper industry as a whole. It was well done, well-executed but ultimately failed in one respect: it didn’t manage to make me care.
I came in expecting Page One: Inside the New York Times to be an incisive look into this legendary institution. In the end, all I got was at best a documentary with more style than substance. The focus is clearly put on how awesome the institution and the people running it are than anything else. There is some feeble attempt at criticism when they talk about Judith Miller but it felt forced to say the least.
If you read the New York Times on a daily basis, this might be of interest to you. If you don’t, then I would suggest you approach this documentary with caution as you might ultimately end up being disappointed like I was.
Favorite moment: Any scene with David Carr, the media columnist at the New York Times. A fascinating individual with a magnetic personality. They should have just made the documentary about him.
You can watch the trailer for Page One: Inside The New York Times below.
Synopsis: After struggling through a winless first season, the women’s basketball team at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani (AUIS) works tirelessly to improve. Due to the violence, danger, and limited opportunities in their hometowns, many of the young women on the team had never played basketball or participated in extracurricular activities before coming to AUIS.
Thoughts: In a conservative Iraq where women are treated like second class citizens in some parts of the country, Salaam Dunk is an inside look at a group of girls composing a women’s basketball team at the American University of Iraq, as we follow their struggle to win after a season of losses.
The film does a good job of portraying the individuals on the team and showing how the team progresses as a whole. It could have felt disjointed but the director David Fine did a great job weaving both threads into a fascinating story of an underdog team triumphing despite social and cultural adversity.
I highly recommend this documentary to anyone who wants to see how life in a war torn country can bring its unique set of challenges and opportunities for young women.
Favorite moment: Coach Ryan staying with one of the girls to help her make a shot in pouring rain. It was a beautiful moment.
You can watch a clip from Salaam Dunk below.