June 24, 2019

Screen Time: Week of June 24

From 'True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality' (Dirs.: Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt, George Kunhardt).  Photo: Nick Frontiero/HBO

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

On June 26, HBO premieres True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, from Emmy-winning filmmakers Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt and Geroge Kunhardt. The documentary follows Bryan Stevenson, an Alabama attorney and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, as he shares his experience advocating for the poor and condemned within the criminal justice system and his struggle to create a more fair system in the face of deeply entrenched racial injustice. 

Thirty years after the largest pro-democracy demonstration in the history of Communist China, Tiananmen: The People Versus the Party documents a day-by-day account of the seven-week student protest in Tiananmen Square and the violent military crackdown that followed. From director Ian MacMillan, the documentary includes never-before-seen Chinese television archival footage and exclusive interviews with protest leaders, students and politburo members. Tiananmen: The People Versus the Party premieres June 25 on PBS.

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising that launched the gay rights movement in the US, Stonewall Outloud combines first-person audio from the 1989 documentary Remembering Stonewall with contemporary voices of the LGBTQ+ community, including YouTube creator Conor Franta and Olympian Adam Rippon. Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato of World of Wonder partner with YouTube and StoryCorps to bring Stonewall Outloud to the World of Wonder YouTube channel on June 28. 

Featured this month on MUBI, the 2017 satirical documentary parable In Praise of Nothing follows the personification of Nothing as he travels the world and comments on the pros and cons of existence while defending the importance of nothingness in the universe. From Serbian director Boris Mitic with narration by Iggy Pop, the documentary features crowdsourced footage shot in 70 countries by 62 cinematographers collaborating through a unique anonymous brainstorming platform.

Amid new restrictions to abortion access in states across the country, the 2014 documentary After Tiller has been recently added to OVID TV. Since the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, there remain only four American doctors who openly provide third-trimester abortions. After Tiller, an IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund grantee, paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians who have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to perform a service they believe is profoundly important for their patients' lives. Filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson spoke with Documentary about the controversial subject matter before the film’s premiere in 2013. 

SIMA Staff Pick of the Month is a fitting story for Pride month. The 2016 documentary Southwest of Salem, directed by Deborah S Esquenazi, follows the struggle to exonerate the San Antonia Four, a group of Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two young girls during the "Satanic sexual abuse panic" of the 1990s. The film received a Peabody Award, a GLAAD award for "Outstanding Documentary," a Critic's Choice Award for "Best First Feature" and was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award for "Outstanding Social Issue Documentary."

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