When the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature were unveiled on Thursday, Democracy Now! saw that we had interviewed the directors and subjects of three out of five selected films. Last year, we sat down with filmmakers who tackled topics ranging from rampant sexual assault in the U.S. military to the historic efforts of the early AIDS movement, to the nonviolent struggles of Palestinians against an Israeli separation wall. Watch our interviews with the makers of The Invisible War, How to Survive a Plague and 5 Broken Cameras.
How to Survive a Plague documents the remarkable history of early AIDS activism and how it transformed the United States. The film recounts the heart-wrenching yet deeply inspiring story of people organizing, marching and lobbying to curb a plague that vast swaths of society saw as just punishment for allegedly immoral acts. One of the activists featured in the film is Peter Staley, a founding member of ACT UP — the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power — and one of the longest-surviving people with AIDS. We spoke with Staley and the film’s director, David France.
The Invisible War examines the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. It also looks at the institutions that cover up the violence, and the profound consequences it has for its victims. We interviewed director Kirby Dick as well as two of the film’s subjects, Kori Cioca and Trina McDonald. Cioca, who served in the Coast Guard, was beaten and raped by a supervisor, and then charged with adultery because he was married. McDonald was drugged and raped by military police on a remote Naval station in Alaska. We aired the interview in January on the heels of a military survey showing the number of reported violent sex crimes jumped 30 percent in 2011, with active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21 accounting for more than half of the victims.
5 Broken Cameras tells the story of Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who got a video camera to record his son’s childhood, but ended up documenting his village’s resistance to the Israeli separation wall. Over the course of the film, one camera after another is smashed or shot as Burnat films the growing resistance movement in the West Bank village of Bil’in. Focused largely on the experience of Burnat and his family, the film explores the intersection of their lives with Palestinian and Israeli politics. Back in June we recorded a two-part interview with Emad Burnat and the film’s Israeli co-director, Guy Davidi.
Watch Part One