Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Candidate Films For Social Justice Film Series (by Brooklyn’s First Unitarian Universalist Weaving Social Justice Committee)

The following is a list of candidate social justice films that is being aggregated for discussion and consideration to create a Social Justice Film series to be sponsored by the Weaving social justice committee of Brooklyn's First Unitarian Universalist congregation in Brooklyn Heights.  The list is a work in progress and will be added to as people make suggestions of other films.  The series is expected to start, some time in the fall of 2019 or a little later and to be preceded by open discussion of films that might possibly be selected.   Information about the time and place will be furnished when determined.  (Note: It is possible to comment on this post as a way of participating.)

Citizens Defending Libraries and CDL co-founder Michael D. D. White are participating in the formulation of his series.

This list will be modified to include links to trailers for films that may be available.

Are some of films more valuable or less valuable for this series if they are potentially more controversial than others?
•    13th - (2016) by director Ava DuVernay.  Nominated for Academy Award, this film is about the mass incarceration of people of color in the Unites States as a perpetuation of slavery.  One consequence is the loss of the right to vote thus changing the shape of politics and who puts who into power. (100 minutes)

•    The Corporation - (2003) A Canadian documentary about how the structure of corporations (according to the rules we made up for them- and we do make up those rules) makes corporations antisocial in their behavior.  (145 minutes)

•     Ain’t I A Woman? - About the grueling work conditions of underpaid medicare paid 24/7 home health care workers.  The film, which has already been shown, is being refined in the process of being finalized.

•    The Lobby - (2017) This four-part documentary was censored and was not shown as a condition for Saudi Arabia agreeing not to launch its threatened militarily attack (in 2017/2018) against Qatar.  Following a young reporter who went undercover with hidden cameras and recording equipment to infiltrate AIPAC, it is about AIPAC’s hardball tactics to influence British and American politics and elections, including passage of laws against criticism the Israeli state’s conduct, equating such criticism with antisemitism.  The film also serves as primer on the working of politics and the ways that subsidies circle round to come back as lobbying for more speacila treatment. (Four one-hour episodes)

•    The Best Democracy That Money Can Buy - (2016 and often updated) A film about U.S. voter suppression by reporter Greg Palast told with a comic film noir solve-the-mystery style that focuses particularly on the contrived purge of minority voters from the voting roles in multiple states accross the country by Crosscheck and Koch-funded Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who was later brought into the Trump administration to continue working in a similar vein in Washington D.C.. Does this affect election outcome?: A reason to see the film.  (115 minutes)

•    Roadmap To Apartheid - (2012) Alice Walker narrates, comparing and looking at the connection between apartheid in Israel and South Africa.  (95 minutes)

•    Wormwood - (2016) A six-part documentary by Errol Morris (“Thin Blue Line”)  unfolding, in peal the onion fashion, the mystery of the 1953 likely murder of a United States employee scientist by the U.S. government.  The film fascinating explores how what the public and the scientists family think they have known about the death has kept changing over the years due to the misdirection of clever cover stories structured in their engaging sensationalism (think LSD and psychedelics) so as to ensure distraction from some things the film ultimately explores such as bio-warfare research during the Korean War. (Six one-hour episodes)
•    Three Identical Strangers - (2018) A fun film that turns dark in its last segment when it goes from what you think you know and remember concerning the headline-grabbing pop culture fun of events concerning the discovery of identical triplets to segue to a history of secret experiments.  (96 minutes)

•    Where To Invade Next - (2015) Michael Moore’s most joyous and fun film about the solutions and better lives we could have as found in other countries around the world.  (120 minutes)

•    Wal-Town the Film - (2006) This film about Walmart follows six student activists and a journalist as they visit 36 Canadian towns over the course of two summers to raise public awareness about Wal-Mart's business practices, and how, with its increasing dominance, it is affecting cities and towns across Canada. (66 minutes)

•    Requiem For The American Dream  - (2015) In this documentary (with a corresponding book) the academic and activist Noam Chomsky describes the systems that have led to financial inequality, and the current concentration of wealth and power. The films deals with the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few, the death of the middle class, and the idea of a functioning democracy in America. (73 minutes)       

•    The Black Panthers- Vanguard of the Revolution - (2015) A documentary film by Stanley Nelson Jr. that tells the story of the revolutionary black organization Black Panther Party using archival footage and interviews with surviving Panthers and FBI agents.  The film deals with the strengths and appeal that caused the party to grow, how it was perceived a threat to the establishment, and the COINTELPRO behind the scenes measures that government took to divide, hobble and dismantle the movement, including the execution of an emerging charismatic and eloquent leader, Fred Hampton.  (115 minutes)

•    The Murder of Fred Hampton - (1971) - Emerging Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was assassinated by the Chicago Police Department during this documentary film’s production.  The film was begun with the intent of being a portrayal Hampton and the Illinois Black Panther Party.  One part of the finished film is the a portrait of Fred Hampton, another part of the film is an investigative report of his death that makes the case that Hampton’s killing by the Chicago police was murder.  (88 minutes)

•    Let the Fire Burn - (2013) The story of the Philadelphia Police bombing of a liberation group black liberation group living in a communal setting in West Philadelphia.  The bombing killed eleven members of the group, including five children aged 7 to 13 and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood.  The survivors later filed a civil suit against the city and the police department, and were awarded $1.5 million in a 1996 settlement.  (95 minutes)

•    How To Survive a Plague - (2012) A finalist for an Oscar, about the history of AIDS activists changing the healthcare system to accelerate the discover of effective treatments for AIDs. (109 minutes)

•    Battle For Brooklyn - (2011) Nominated for an Oscar but too controversial a film about the NYC real estate industry to ever be played on the NYC PBS station- About the mega-subsidized, mega-monopoly Atlantic Yards eminent domain project. (93 minutes)

•    My Brooklyn - (2012) Director Kelly Anderson's film about gentrification and understanding the forces reshaping her neighborhood along lines of race and class. The film reframes the gentrification debate to expose the corporate actors and government policies driving displacement and neighborhood change.  (77 minutes)

•    Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream - (2012) Alex Gibney’s documentary about the increasing wealth gap in the United States that makes is points focusing on 740 Park Avenue where some of the wealthiest and most politically influential billionaires live, including fossil fuel magnate David H. Koch and the library-selling anti-egalitarian, tax loophole advocate, NYPL trustee Stephen A. Schwarzman, the first CEO to make more than $1 billion a year on which he pays especially low taxes and wants to keep it that way.  (70 minutes)

•    Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982–1992 - (2017) Documentary by John Ridley about the decade preceding and including the 1992 Los Angeles riots (also known as the Rodney King riots).  (144 minutes)

•    Harvest Season - (2018) Bernardo Ruiz focused on the Mexican-American influence on California’s multi-billion-dollar wine industry. Three winemakers navigate the changing situation of their business, affected by climate shifts, new technology, and immigration policies, in the Napa and Sonoma valleys of California. (83 minutes)

•    The Weather Underground - (2002) documentary film based on the rise and fall of the American radical organization Weather Underground. Using archive footage from the time as well as interviews with the Weathermen today, the film constructs a linear narrative of the organization.  (95 minutes)

•    Oliver Stone’s Untold History Of The United States - (2012) A twelve-episode review of the history of the United States (with an accompanying books that has just been updated with an additional 100+ page to cover current history) from the McKinley era through to relatively recent years that is likely provides quite different information and insights than what you were taught from your school textbooks.  Do you know about the attempted “cocktail” military coup to remove FDR from office?  The major factor in defeating the Nazis?  What may have been the most important threat that caused the Japanese surrender?  The differences between FDR vice-presidents Henry Wallace and Truman?  JFK’s purge of top CIA leaders?  (Twelve one-hour episodes)

•    Appalshop Films - A series of completed films to choose from with more films still in the works seeking funding contributions.  The films are intended bring forth and amplify new and often unheard voices and visions from the people of Appalachia and rural communities across America and abroad.  The films seek to support grassroots efforts to achieve justice and equity, meaningful social and economic change, and to celebrate cultural diversity telling stories commercial media doesn’t tell and  challenging stereotypes.  Some films may also appeal to the youngest in the congregation.

•    Wasted! The Story of Food Waste - (2017) - A film about clever cuisine approaches to rethink and reduce what is defined as “food waste.” (85 minutes)

•    Bugs - (2016) Around the world and in many different cultures local insects are consumed as delicacies of the local cuisine and eating insects as a protein sources is a clear answer to solving many challenge of sustainability.   This film, nominated for several awards, is something of a travelogue as explores cultures and the barriers to dietary changes that seem to make a lot of environmental sense.  (74 minutes)

•    Ex Libris - (2017) Although this film about the NYPL (New York Public Library) ventures into various social justice topics through the interface of library events and programs, the film would have to included as a trick film (requiring an external guide), an example of how documentaries should not always be accepted at face value for the (sometimes neutral?) perspective they purport to provide.  The film by revered film maker Frederick Wiseman feels like a meander, a fly-on-the-wall capture of reality with no intrusion of perspective, but Wiseman was actually tightly minded by the NYPL’s top PR officer and the film operates with blinders (even to the extent it actually depicts unaware certain things).  It shuns certain elephants in the room, for instance about the Stephen A. Schwarzman funded NYPL Central Library Plan to sell and shrink libraries and the NYC  real estate industry. (197 minutes)

•    Acid From Heaven, (1983 - 31 minutes) Acid Rain: Requiem or Recovery? (1981 - 27 minutes) and If You Love This Planet (1982- 26 minutes) - This triumvirate of vintage films from by the National Film Board of Canada– two on acid-rain pollution and an antinuclear war film the last of them won an Oscar– are especially relevant for their history of being censored, banned by the Reagan administration as propaganda that should not land on the ears of the American public.  Does this sound like current efforts to scrub out references to climate change and climate chaos from government science sites and corporate media?

 •    Sweet Crude - (2009) Before the Deep Water Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, before those of us who were alert started learning through that spill about the poisonousness of the chemical dispersants used to feign alleviation of the spill’s effects, the Nigeria’s Niger Delta was experiencing ongoing oil spill contamination and  poisonings of huge, if unrecognized dimensions (the estimated equivalent of Exxon Valdez spill every year ongoing for decades).  The fossil fuel and oil extraction industry wants to be less regulated in the United States.  This story, according to film director Sandy Cioffi, who won many awards for it, is about what happens when the industry gets what it wants and is subject to no regulation at all.  It includes the Chevron and Shell oil companies militarily arming young men to fight against each other to foment chaos for the benefit of oil prices.  The film makers, who were arrested and imprisoned by the Nigerian government while making the film, had originally set out to make a film about the building of a rural Nigerian library.  (93 minutes)

•    The River and The Wall - (2019) Political ammunition against Trump’s conception of a wall.  A spectacularly photogenic and somewhat treacherously challenging trip down the Rio Grande makes clear how ecologically devastating the construction of a wall would be.  At the same time background personal stories make a pro-immigration case.  (97 minutes)  
Fictional Works
•    In the Time of the Butterflies - (2001) A feature film, produced for the Showtime television network, directed by Mariano Barroso and based on Julia Álvarez's book of the same name. The story is a fictionalized account for the lives of the Mirabal sisters, Dominican revolutionary activists, who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and were assassinated on November 25, 1960. (95 minutes)

•    Micmacs - (2009) French comedy film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a "satire on the world arms trade."  (105 minutes)

•    No - (2012) A docu-comedy romp that also teaches about political organizing and the kind of clever, hopeful and fun advertising campaigns that can assist, recounting the triumph where in a 1988 referendum in Chile 56 percent voted to oust repressive dictator Augusto Pinochet from power.  The film uses archival footage and fictionalized characters while many of those who worked on the 1988 campaign played themselves or other characters who were involved. (118 minutes)
•    When They See Us - (2019) Director Ava DuVernay’s new docudrama film series about the 1989 media circus (that made up such terms as “wilding”) and the subsequent very flawed prosecution and conviction (vacated in 2002) of five innocent young black men in the case of female jogger attacked, beaten and raped in Central Park. (Four one-hour episodes) There is also a documentary about the case, The Central Park Five (2012), directed by filmmaker Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and her husband David McMahon.  (119 minutes.)

•    Dancer in the Dark - (2000) A Danish musical melodrama film directed by Lars von Trier. It stars Icelandic musician Björk as a daydreaming immigrant factory worker who suffers from a degenerative eye condition and is saving up to pay for an operation to prevent her young son from suffering the same fate. (140 minutes)

•    On The Basis of Sex - (2018) A docudrama about the early professional years of future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in order to explore sex discrimination through the lens of her early cases.  (120 minutes)

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