Booklist Editors' Choice: Media

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2012 Selection(s)

Bag It

2012. 78min. Docurama, DVD, $29.95 (1-4229-9577-1).

If plastic is recyclable, why is it filling our oceans and landfills? Packed with startling facts, eye-opening information, and much-needed humor, this documentary heightens awareness about our ubiquitous use of plastic bags, water bottles, drink cups, and food containers, among other items.

Death and the Civil War

2012. 2hr. PBS, DVD, $24.99 (9781608837595).

Melding extensive archival photos, sepia-toned period settings, and dramatically read excerpts with sensitive commentary, filmmaker Ric Burns’ gripping American Experience title concentrates on the quarter of a million American soldiers who died “under circumstances nobody was prepared for.”

The Dust Bowl

2012. 4hr. PBS, DVD, $24.99 (9781608837182).

Brought about by a mixture of factors, including removal of native grasslands, excessive plowing and cultivating, scorching temperatures, and crippling drought, the Dust Bowl was the worst sustained environmental disaster in U.S. history. Archival footage, stills, expert commentary, and vivid eyewitness accounts paint an indelible picture of the catastrophic event that lasted for 10 years. Another masterpiece of filmmaking from director Ken Burns. (Top of the List winner—Video.)

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

2011. 84min. First Run Features, DVD, $29.95.

This exquisite documentary profiles the work of eccentric husband-and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames, whose artistry went way beyond the groundbreaking Eames chair. This treasure trove of archival footage, film clips, and revealing interviews etches a vivid portrait of the late couple’s endeavors.

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion

2012. 13min. Weston Woods, DVD, $59.95 (9780545447539). PreS–Gr. 1.

Trixie’s beloved Knuffle Bunny goes missing when Trixie and her family travel to Holland to visit her grandparents. Black-and-white photos backing Mo Willems’ animated, color-splashed figures, lively background music, and the Willems’ family narration add flair to the poignant story with a surprising conclusion.

Me and My 500 “Friends”: Staying Safe on Social Networks.

2011. 20min. Human Relations Media, DVD, $149.95 (9781555489335). Gr. 7–12.

Featuring real-life examples, a teen host, dramatizations, and nicely shot interviews, this excellent title alerts teens to the potential risks of putting private information and other potentially harmful data on Facebook and other social-networking sites.

Pink Ribbons, Inc

2012. 1.5hr. First Run Features, DVD, $27.95.

This thought-provoking documentary makes viewers question whether the October monthlong breast cancer pink-ribbon awareness campaign is more about product marketing and publicity than cancer research and development.

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

2012. 76min. Passion River, DVD, $29.99 (1-9377-7209-8).

Focusing on U.S. Marine Corps Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger’s unrelenting efforts to expose the extreme cover-up of one of the worst cases of water contamination in U.S. history at Camp Lejune, this is an unforgettable film.

Sing Your Song: Harry Belafonte

2012. 1.5hr. Docurama, DVD, $29.95 (1-4229-1870-X).

This inspiring portrait of musician, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte is filled with candid reflections from Belafonte, interviews, archival footage, television clips, and more. A stirring testament to the power of the arts as a means of cultural enrichment and an instrument of resistance and rebellion.

Woody Allen: A Documentary.

2012. 3hr. Docurama, DVD, $29.95 (1-4229-4887-0).

Packed with film clips, commentary by fellow celebrities, and Allen’s onscreen presence, this profile of the musician, writer, playwright, comic, actor, and director traces his career from stand-up comic to successful Hollywood icon.