Video Round TableNotable Videos for Adults 2002

The following 15 titles were selected by the VRT Notable Videos Committee at ALA Midwinter, New Orleans, January 2002.  

30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle. Bullfrog Films. 2002. 72 min. $275.

Former news cameraman Rustin Thompson pursues the story of the protests that surrounded the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999, offering his evolving view of the week-long chaos.


Book Wars. Camerado. 2000. 79 min. $59.95.

A highly original portrait of the quirky and competitive world of New York City street booksellers, as documented by Jason Rosette, one of their own.


Chinatown Files. Filmakers Library. 2001. 57 min. $335.

Amy Chen's documentary is the first to explore Chinese-American experience during the "climate of fear" that McCarthyism produced, reminding viewers of the tenuous nature of civil rights.


Dark Days. Palm Pictures. 2000. 84 min. $14.95.

Marc Singer's film explores the lives of dwellers in a shantytown community within an Amtrak tunnel under New York city.


Genghis Blues. Docurama. 2000. 90 min. $24.95.

Feyman Lives! Roko Belic's documentary chronicles the remarkable journey of Paul "Earthquake" Pena, a blind San Francisco blues singer who traveled to Tuva (Upper Mongolia) in 1995 to participate in a throat-singing competition.


George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire. PBS Video. 2000. 180 min. 2 videocassettes. $79.95 (w/public performance rights), $29.98 (home-use).

Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler's film paints a complex portrait of the late four-time governor of Alabama, whose virulent segregationist stance ironically helped force civil rights to the forefront of American politics.


Into the Arms of Strangers. Warner Home Video. 2000. 117 min. $19.98.

Mark Jonathan Harris's film interviews Holocaust survivors rescued by the Kindertransport, a pre-World War II operation in which 10,000 Jewish children from German-held lands were sent to foster homes and hostels in Great Britain.


Merchants of Cool. PBS Video. 2001. 60 min. $49.95.

This Frontline documentary exposes the tactics used by corporate media giants to package "cool" and sell it to America's lucrative teenage market.


Napoleon. PBS Video. 2000. 240 min. 2 videocassettes. $69.95 (w/public performance rights), $29.98 (home-use).

David Grubin's absorbing biography of France's 18th century soldier-cum-emperor provides an entertaining and instructive reminder of the ephemeral nature of power and empires.


The Old Man and the Sea. Direct Cinema. 2000. 26 min. $95.

Alexander Petrov's elegant adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's classic is a masterwork of hand-painted animation.


One Day in September. Columbia TriStar Home Video. 2001. 91 min. $14.95.

Kevin Macdonald's documentary chillingly chronicles Germany's bungling of the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis.


Return of the Navajo Boy. University of California Extension Center. 200. 52 min.

When filmmaker Jeff Spitz returns a 1950's silent film to a Navajo family, he triggers their search for identity.


School: The Story of American Public Education. Films for the Humanities and Sciences. 2000. 220 min. 4 videocassettes. $539 ($149 each).

Sarah Mondale's history of American education intertwines personal rememberances, archival footage, and expert interviews to explore school's impact on individuals and society.


Sound and Fury. Filmakers Library. 2000. 80 min. $195 (w/public performance rights; also available for $24.95 home-use from Docurama).

Josh Aronson's documentary about deaf culture follows the divisive story of two brother's families, one for and the other against a new cochlear implant treatment that would restore partial hearing to their children.


Strange Invaders. National Film Board of Canada. 2001. 9 min. $129.

Parenthood meets science fiction in Cordell Barker's whimsical animated short about a couple whose dream turns into a nightmare when a "child" invades their home.