July 21, 2020

Screen Time: Week of July 20, 2020

From Dawn Porter's 'John Lewis: Good Trouble,' a Magnolia Pictures release. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.

We lost Georgia Congressman and civil rights warrior John Lewis last week—a true titan in the ongoing battle for equality and justice and freedom, and a true embodiment of leadership: magnanimity, courage, principle and resolve. We are blessed that Dawn Porter delivered her documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble before his passing. That film streams via Magnolia Pictures. And be sure to watch Kathleen Dowdy's 2015 documentary John Lewis: Get in the Way, now streaming on PBS.org.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. Dan Habib's Intelligent Lives, narrated and executive produced by Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper, streams through July 30 on worldchannel.org. The film tells the story of young people with intellectual disabilities—Micah, Naomie, Naieer and Cooper’s own late son Jesse—and their work to create a more inclusive society by changing misconceptions about IQ and human potential and working to end the lives of isolation formerly forced on so many with disabilities.

This week the Summer Olympic Games would have premiered in Tokyo, had it not been for the pandemic. Not to worry, though: The Criterion Channel is streaming Kon Ichikawa's Tokyo Olympiad, about the 1964 Games, and lauded as one of the greatest films ever made about sports. Ichikawa mobilized a vast team to capture the lyrical poetry of athletic drama, from the triumphs to the defeats.

Premiering July 27 on POV, Advocate, from Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, profiles Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, known by political opponents as "the devil's advocate" for her decades-long defense of Palestinians who have been prosecuted for resisting the occupation, both violently and non-violently. The film, nominated for two IDA Documentary Awards, captures Tsemel in cinema verité fashion fighting on behalf of her clients in Israel's challenging two-tier justice system and delves into Tsemel's personal and political history, by revisiting her landmark cases.

Taylor Freesolo Rees' Ashes to Ashes, now streaming on Al Jazeera Witness, tells the story of Winfred Rembert, 74, a Star Wars fanatic and leather artist who grew up picking cotton on a plantation in Georgia. He joined the civil rights movement as a teenager and survived a lynching attempt when he was 21 years old. His friendship with Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker, a physician and fellow artist, has evolved into an intertwined mission to memorialize the forgotten 4,000 African Americans lynched during the Jim Crow era, which enforced racial segregation in the Southern states from 1877 through to the 1950s.

During her time in the US in the 1960s, Agnes Varda made a few documentaries, among them, Black Panthers, which captures a Black Panther rally held in February 1968 in Oakland. The purpose of the rally was to fight the arrest of co-founder Huey Newton, whose imprisonment for the killing of a police officer was widely deemed a fraud. Black Panthers is now streaming on DAFilms.com.

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