LAFF 2013 Documentary Reviews: ‘Code Black,’ ‘The New Black’ & ‘Black Out’
The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival is still going strong and we have a lot of thoughts to share with you. Up next, three compelling documentaries that are not reviewed side-by-side because they share the word “Black” in their title but because they all follow individuals struggling to overcome incredible odds with very little means.
Official Synopsis: CODE BLACK is about the idealistic and adrenaline-seeking ER residents at the Los Angeles County Hospital, the birthplace of emergency room medicine.
Thoughts: Imagine waiting 12-15 hours to see a doctor because you have no insurance. Imagine being the doctor who has to spend an ungodly amount of time filling out forms before they can even treat a patient. That is what Code Black is all about.
This fascinating documentary does a fantastic job of taking you into a journey into the world of emergency medicine. If you are anything like me, it will simply blow your mind as it reveals how fragile we all are and how miraculous it is that these doctors manage to function in this chaotic situation. Often the best thing you can expect from a documentary is for it to inform you and give you food for thought; you rarely expect it to change the way you see the world around you. I am happy to say that Code Black is that rare exception.
Highlight : The reaction of an unemployed attorney waiting hours to see a doctor when asked: “What’s next for you?” Her reaction was simply heartbreaking.
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
You can watch a trailer of Code Black below.
Official Synopsis: The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.
Thoughts: The New Black delves into a serious and meaningful topic and does an excellent job of highlighting all the sides of the issue in a fair and balanced way. At times revolting, at times hilarious, this film manages to take you through a journey into the heart of a vibrant part of American society like no other film has ever done. A must-see for anyone, regardless of where you stand politically.
Favorite moment: You can’t help but fall in love with the fascinating and engaging Karess, one of the pro-equality activists featured in the documentary.
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
You can watch a trailer of The New Black below.
Official Synopsis: A literal and metaphorical journey towards enlightenment, BLACK OUT shows how children reconcile their daily lives in Guinea, one of the world’s poorest countries, with their desire to learn.
Thoughts: Black Out is a film that seems intent on exposing what happens when a society fails its children. Unfortunately, that attempt fails due to the often slow and monotonous filming. The documentary has a running time of 47 min but it felt more like 2 hours. It’s not a bad documentary per se; but it’s not for anyone who enjoys structure and narration in documentaries.
Highlight: It is a chilling scene to see what seems like hundreds of children huddled around lights trying to study for their exams.
Rating: 4 out of 10 stars
You can watch a trailer of Black Out below.