Political Film Society - Newsletter #20 - December 1, 1997

December 1, 1997


Political Film Society members have nominated five films for an award for raising political consciousness at the HIFF:

Beyond Barbed Wire consists of several interviews of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought during World War II in Asia and Europe, revealing important differences between Japanese of the uptight West Coast versus the more relaxed Hawai`i culture, between the way in which Generals Clark and Dahlquist used the Japanese American soldiers in battle, and how offspring of the war heroes perceive themselves and their parents.

Homeless is a documentary on the Chinese who moved to Korea more than a century ago yet are kept on the margins of society, forced to renew visas triennially.

Poverty Outlaw is a documentary that describes how the poor organized politically in North Philadelphia to claim their rights.

Deep in Paradise shows the problems of a Philippine project known as "Doctors in the Barrios," wherein new M.D.s go to the provinces and try to press for government spending to provide better sanitation and paved roads so that farmers can take their crops to market.

Beyond Sarajevo shows how journalists took the lead in bringing children of Bosnia to safety in Italy, similar to the "babylift" from Vietnam in 1973.

Steven Spielberg's Amistad, which tells the story of the fate of a slave ship in the U.S. territorial waters promises to be a PFS nominee this year. The deadline for all nominations, both for feature films and HIFF films, is December 31.


Two recent films have been nominated for promoting consciousness of the need for more democracy. Jon Avnet's Red Corner has been nominated for promoting consciousness of the need for more democracy in China. Although much of the story is jazzed up with Hollywood hyperbole (sex, a chase scene, courtroom antics, etc.), the film demonstrates how extralegal considerations endemic in crony rule prevent the criminal justice system from producing a just outcome. Francis Ford Coppola's The Rainmaker has been nominated for an award in promoting consciousness of the need for more democracy in the United States. The protagonist, a young lawyer, has difficulty bringing about justice in three cases (a battered wife who fears revenge or poverty if she divorces, a wealthy widow dazzled by a televangelist who needs money for his private jet, and a victim of an accident who cannot get an insurance company to pay for urgent medical treatment). The film reminds us that the big insurance companies seek to defraud insurees in various ways, including "tort reform legislation." Clint Eastwood's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has been nominated for an award in raising consciousness of human rights for gays. Despite some stereotypic portrayals, the film is a plea for acceptance of gays as upstanding "members of the community" who should be treated equally.

Other nominees for 1997:
EXPOSÉ: The Peacemaker, Seven Years in Tibet.
HUMAN RIGHTS: L.A. Confidential, Rosewood, Seven Years in Tibet
PEACE: Seven Years in Tibet.