Posts Tagged ‘Documentaries’

Cove Filmmakers Still Hustlin’

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The Hump. NY Times photo by Monica Almeida

Japan is not the only place you’ll find whale meat on the table. Apparently there are some sushi zealots in LA who just have to try it, even if it is explicitly illegal here in the U.S. A recent undercover video sting of an elaborate $600 meal at The Hump, a Santa Monica sushi restaurant, found that a course of Sei whale can be served to the most adventurous sushi-philes. The vegan undercover operatives were in town for the Oscars, where their investigative partners would be collecting a statue for Best Documentary.

Director Louie Psihoyos and the makers of The Cove are hard at work on another marine-mammal oriented documentary. Based on this NY Times article, it looks like they will be taking a look at modern whaling, which really excites me. I am surprised to hear that there are such ridiculous ignorant people in the states, but then again, it is LA. Sushi is so hot right now.


The End of The Line Trailer

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Trailer for the documentary on overfishing, The End of the Line (based on the book by Charles Clover)I didn’t even realize this was made into a film. Probably because it is was primarily released in the UK. Check out the trailer and hope we can get it on some more screens in the US.

Interview with Director Robert Kenner

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Interview with the director of Food, Inc. Robert Kenner. If I could, I would get a copy of this DVD for everybody I know for Christmas, or just for them to have. The DVD is available now. I would also recommend the companion book and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma if you are into things like truth, fairness, knowing how the food industry works, and pulling aside the corporate veil that hides all those things. The movie is really well done. Like Kenner says at the beginning of his interview, it is not for the extremist or even the vegetarian. It is a film for people who are curious about food, and who are interested in knowing the truth.

This American Porkchop

October 8, 2009 Leave a comment


I’ve been vegan for two years now. Not a long time, considering I’m 27. I had dabbled with vegetarianism in high school, gave it up, but still didn’t eat a lot of red meat or pork. I had preferred rice milk over regular milk for years (now I prefer almond and oat milk). I had always loved cheese, but that’s not a problem anymore. Once I woke up to the realities of the animal-based food world, going vegan was a snap, and my veggie-lite history made the transition easier.

I say “veggie-lite” because I was never a real vegetarian. When I was in high school, my parents got hip to some of the nasty inner workings of the meat industry through some audio tapes my dad came across. He played a bit for us in the car one day, I heard about chickens eating sawdust and chicken poo and blood and all that, and it was enough for me. OK dad, I’m with you. I was vegetarian for maybe a year and a half before the fast food peer pressure of lunchtime with my friends made all those horrible things dissipate into nonexistence again. I just wanted some roast beef, or a cheap Taco Bell taco late at night. It just tasted so good, right? And even a teenager can afford a big meal at Taco Bell.

Ok, so I wasn’t really into it. Not completely. What 16-year-old would be? When I was that age I cared about soccer, video games, girls, and snowboarding. My brain could not wrap itself around things like politics, corporations, or animal rights. But that feeling stuck with me; that vague idea that there was probably something wrong with eating meat, so I kept it on the shelf.

As I got older I became more conscious of how a lot of corporations were making our world worse. It started with how all the music on the radio sucked, and figuring out why. Then I learned about Wal-Mart, and noticed Starbucks popping up everywhere while little indie shops struggled to stay open. By the time I finished college, I guess the floodgates opened. I try to look into every dollar I spend now, voting financially for companies I believe in. Whether it was spending money I didn’t have on obsolete CDs at the indie record store, or finally, eating organic and vegan, this is what I came to believe in.

My point in writing all this is that I think there is a big part of the population that is where I was at between high school and now… in a veggie-lite stage. The facts that organics have become so big, and people are talking about humanely raised chickens and cows, are signs  that awareness is growing. But all those cage-free egg buyers are still kinda kidding themselves, right? They  recognize that there are problems, and they might spend a little more for pesticide-free food, but they still don’t want to go any further. They choose to hope that buying grass-fed beef is solving the problem (and it certainly helps), but they just won’t give up those cheeseburgers or omelettes. Even vegetarians seem like fakers to me.

The turning point for me, the thing that switched me to vegan cold-turkey, was getting the info. We all have a hunch when something is wrong. But we don’t do anything about it until the proof is in front of our faces. Whether we seek it out ourselves, or somebody forces us to see the truth, we tend to turn a blind eye if it involves a part of life that we enjoy. This idea of getting exactly what we want at a low price has become some sort of distorted American right; we pass off responsibility for what we buy to the companies that sell it to us. We assume everything must be ok with a product if the government allows it to be sold on the shelf at Safeway.

So that info I got that turned me into a vegan… It didn’t take much. Yes, it was PETA literature, but mostly it was realizing that these horrible things must be happening. I didn’t have to watch the gruesome animal-torture videos online, or see photos of fuzzy bunnies being turned into fur coats. I just had to really think about it. Food companies are in the business of making money- not making us healthy or taking care of the soil or oceans. They exist to find ways to get us to buy things, and to find ways to create those things more cheaply. When you just take those simple facts of corporate nature and apply them to the food industry, you just know that those chickens are stacked 50 feet high in chicken-sized crates, and you know that cows are probably hooked to milking robots as much as biologically possible, and you just know that there must be so many more horrific things going that you can’t even imagine.

So, you decide to take that responsibility yourself. You decide what you will eat, and who you will buy it from. It takes a little research and maybe some more money, but goddamn it feels good to stick it to the Man.

I felt compelled to get this diatribe into digital record because I saw a cool episode of This American Life on Netflix instant-watch today. It was Season 1, Episode 6, entitled Pandora’s Box.

It wasn’t gruesome or disgusting. It was just a glimpse into a typical bio-engineered pig farm. The animals weren’t being tortured (well, there were no screaming pigs anyway); you just see a bit of how the operation works. And you see… how unnatural and wrong it seems. In fact, the TAL crew became an unplanned part of the episode because they didn’t even really know what they were getting themselves into. You see the looks on the producer’s face when he is smelling the the pigshit-lagoon below the grated floor where the pigs “live.” You see the confusion on the camera guy who has to shower and put on an entirely sterile suit before going into the pig quarters (because bioengineered pigs are very sensitive to viruses and a little germ can wipe out half an operation). And you see the seasoned sound-man take the rest of the day off and give up eating meat after being nauseated by the typical goings-on at a factory farm.

It was one of those eye-openers for the TAL crew. They were suddenly faced with the realities of industrial food, and they knew it was weird and really kind of messed up. They didn’t all go veg afterwards. But I bet they all think about food more.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

August 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Ocean Junk

This picture is of a bundle of net and plastic trash found in the Texas-sized ocean garbage pit of the North Pacific Gyre. Also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is a swirling vortex of floating bits of plastic 1,000 miles west of California. Most of the plastic is broken down into tiny pieces that may get eaten by sea-beasties, or dissolved into chemicals, which… probably isn’t good for ocean life in general.

Read about it in the AP article or watch Vice (VBS) TV’s cool mini-documentary on the gyre called TOXIC: Garbage Island. I mean… I’m just sayin… come on.

TIME Gets On Board

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment


A few months ago, the excellent documentary Food, Inc. came out in a few theaters nationwide. In my hometown of Denver, it was playing on one screen in the entire city. It was a super-interesting film about the food industry with a lot of the concepts covered in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, plus a whole lot more. I was so happy to see such a well-made film asking the questions I have asked and sparking the viewers’ sense of right-to-know curiosity without being nasty and judgy. A big movie is a big step towards helping people see the light.

But today I saw something on the newsstand that might be even bigger: TIME magazine has a cover article about the same stuff. It is a good read, so check it out. Hopefully a lot of people will glance through and realize that they should be thinking about why food is so cheap, and why it might just be worth it to spend a bit more dough on food that is actually good for you.