The doc 1971, directed Johanna Hamilton, feels just as riveting and illuminating as The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Both films combine dramatic re-enactments, archival footage along with talking-head interviews to tell their story. In this case, 1971 refers to the year when 8 ordinary American citizens broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole docuemnts that revealed many secrets that threaten democracy, including the existence of an illegal surveillance program, COINTELPRO. Why they stole the documents turns out to be just as fascinating as how they stole them and got away with it. Given what's going on nowadays with Big Brother's surveillance and how Edward Snowden, this is quite a timely doc that shows you that history tends to repeat itself. It would make a great double feature with Citizenfour. The Film Collaborative opens it at Cinema Village. Over at Quad Cinema, there's On the Way to School, a doc that appeals more to the heart than to the mind. Director Pascal Plisson follows children from 4 different countries, namely, India, Morocco, Argentina and Kenya, as they travel long distances to school and back home. Their journeys are arduous---one of the children, Samuel, uses a wheelchair, so his two younger brothers push him all the way to school. Plisson takes a rather distanced approach to the doc by filming these children going about their journeys. That footage takes up nearly all of the doc's running time leaving barely enough time until toward the end for insightful interviews. The fact that the children have to travel so far for an education each day is a human rights issue, and one that deserves to be explored and discussed with much more depth. On the Way to School, released by Distrib Films, feels heartfelt, but it's a squandered opportunity to insightfully tackle an important human rights issue.
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