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AMERICAN STUDIES

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16 Acres

The rebuilding of ground zero is the most architecturally, politically, and emotionally complex urban renewal project in recent American history. The struggle to develop these 16 acres has encompassed 11 years and over $20 billion.

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1971

On March 8, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took hundreds of secret files, and shared them with the public. In doing so, they uncovered the FBI's vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation.

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Accidental Courtesy

Musician Daryl Davis has played all over the world, but it's what he does in his free time that sets him apart. In an effort to find out how anyone can 'hate me without knowing me,' Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the Ku Klux Klan.

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All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone

Independent journalists like Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald are changing the face of journalism, providing investigative alternatives to mainstream news outlets and exposing government and corporate deception - just as journalist I.F. Stone did decades ago.


Altina

A woman ahead of her time, Altina Schinasi was born in 1907 in New York City; the daughter of a tobacco tycoon and descendent of Sephardic Jews. Her genteel upbringing was in sharp contrast to the bold sexuality of her art and her life.

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American Reds

Weaving powerful and compelling personal stories told by American Communists with objective historical sources and analysis, American Reds: "What Must We Dream Of?" illuminates the epic story of the rise and fall of the American Communist Party.

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American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, An

Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer remains one of the most quoted writings in American literature. Yet Niebuhr's impact was far greater, as presidents and civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. often turned to his writings for guidance and inspiration.

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Anita: Speaking Truth to Power

Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, Anita: Speaking Truth to Power celebrates Anita Hill's legacy and reveals the story of a woman who has empowered millions to stand up for equality and justice.

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Before & After Stonewall

Two seminal documentaries tell the remarkable tale of how homosexuals, a heretofore hidden and despised group, became a vibrant and integral part of America.

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Birth of the Living Dead

In 1968 a young college drop-out named George A. Romero directed Night of the Living Dead, a low budget horror film that shocked the world, became an icon of the counterculture, and spawned a zombie industry worth billions of dollars.

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Braddock America

A few miles outside of Pittsburgh, lies the town of Braddock, the last bastion of steel. Like many cities in the industrial heartland, Braddock has seen better days. But its community continues to come together as it tries try to reinvent itself in a postindustrial West.

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Brooklyn Castle

Brooklyn Castle tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country.

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Brothers in Arms

In the early months of 1969, six men met on a swift boat on the Mekong Delta during some of the worst fighting in the Vietnam War. Their commander happened to be a young Yale graduate named John Kerry.

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Casting By

Tom Donahue combines archival material and interviews with Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Martin Scorsese and many more to tell the story of legendary casting director Marion Dougherty, and Hollywood's most unheralded profession.

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Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters

Enter the foreboding world of Chet Zar, an influential figure in the Dark Art Movement, where apocalyptic industrial landscapes are inhabited by monstrosities. Sometimes gruesome, periodically funny, but always thought-provoking, Zar's art is as enigmatic as it is frightening.

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Dance Goodbye, The

What is life like for a dancer when they can no longer dance? Inspired by Merrill Ashley's departure from the New York City Ballet as an acclaimed principal dancer, this documentary captures the poignancy of this life turning point.

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Dream Deceivers

Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives. Their parents take heavy-metal icons Judas Priest to court, claiming the band "mesmerized" their sons.

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Dying of the Light, The

The Dying of the Light explores the history and craft of motion picture presentation through the stories of the last generation of career projectionists. The result is a loving tribute to the art of the movies -- and to the unseen people who brought the light to our screens.

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Evergreen: The Road to Legalization

After a 40 year nationwide 'War on Drugs,' the state of Washington has become a key battleground in the fight to legalize marijuana. But many marijuana advocates are vehemently opposed to I-502, the law that will legalize cannabis.

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Every Three Seconds

Every three seconds someone in the world dies from factors related to extreme poverty - 30,000 people a day and 10.5 million a year. The sheer magnitude can be overwhelming, causing people to ask "What can one person do to make a difference?"

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God Loves Uganda

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda's terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality.

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Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman

In this update of her 2011 documentary, filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy sifts through the facts and speculation surrounding Lee and both her novels. Includes interviews with Lee's older sister, close friends and admirers, from Oprah Winfrey to Wally Lamb.

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Hole in a Fence, A

Chronicling the changing fortunes of Red Hook, Brooklyn, A Hole in a Fence explores the complicated issues of development, class and identity facing one of New York City's most unique neighborhoods.

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Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation

Two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple takes a lively behind-the-scenes look at America's oldest continuously published weekly magazine, capturing the day-to-day challenges of publishing and illuminating how the past continuously shapes current events.

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I Can Be President

What would it be like to grow up and become president of the United States? In I Can Be President: A Kid's-Eye View, a diverse group of children candidly share their thoughts on the subject, affirming the importance of having dreams at any age.

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I Dream of Wires

I Dream of Wires tracks the rise, fall and rebirth of the machine that shaped electronic music: the modular synthesizer. The film explores the synthesizer's remarkable history and the resurgence of high end synthesizers being use by a new generation.

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Indian Point

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant looms just 35 miles from Times Square. With over 50 million people living in close proximity to the aging facility, its continued operation has the support of the NRC, yet has stoked a great deal of controversy in the community.

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James Castle: Portrait of an Artist

Born deaf in 1899 in rural Idaho, James Castle mined the local landscape and his own deeply private world to produce an astonishing body of drawings, collages, and constructions that eventually gained worldwide recognition.

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JFK: The Private President

With reminiscences by Robert Kennedy Jr., Harry Belafonte, Ted Sorensen and Sergei Khrushchev, and rare footage from the private Kennedy archives, JFK: The Private President is an intimate view of life inside 'Camelot' with the legendary First Family.

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Know How

Written and acted by young people in New York's foster care system, Know How presents stories from their own lives. Five characters' worlds intersect as they confront loss, adulthood, and bureaucracy in this tale about transience and perseverance.

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Last Season, The

Every September over 200 seasonal workers set up a camp near the town of Chemult, Oregon where they search for the rare matsutake mushroom. This probing documentary examines the bond between two of these hunters in one unusually hard season.

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Levitated Mass

Prominently displayed outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, land artist Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass gained worldwide recognition during its installation in 2012.

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Making Rounds

We spend a trillion dollars a year on high-tech tests and yet almost 20% of patients are misdiagnosed. Making Rounds reintroduces the oldest diagnostic method - listening to the patient - by following two leading cardiologists as they care for critically-ill patients.

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Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter

Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter tells the inspiring and largely unknown story of Martha Hill, a woman whose life was defined by her love for dance, and who successfully fought against great odds to establish dance as a legitimate art form in America.

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More Than the Rainbow

Chronicling the life and times of street photographer and former taxi driver Matt Weber, More Than the Rainbow is a poetic celebration of the world's greatest city and the individuals who walk its streets.

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Nelson Algren: The End is Nothing, the Road is All

This in-depth documentary presents the compelling life story of one of America's greatest and least understood authors.

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Open Road, The: America Looks at Aging

The Open Road examines the personal and social impact of the impending retirement of America's 77 million Baby Boomers and probes the important social, economic, and cultural issues at stake.

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Our Man in Tehran

In this gripping documentary, the story of the "Canadian Caper" is told by the man who knows it best: Ken Taylor, Canada's former ambassador to Iran, who hid the six Americans and obtained the counterfeit documents that allowed them to escape Tehran.

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Population Boom

In Population Boom, acclaimed director Werner Boote traverses the globe to examine the myths and facts about overpopulation. Speaking with everyone from demographic researchers to environmental activists, Boote comes to a surprising conclusion.

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Professor, The: Tai Chi's Journey West

The Professor tells the story of the remarkable life of one of Tai Chi's greatest masters, Cheng Man-Ching, a man who brought Tai Chi and Chinese culture to the West during the swinging, turbulent 60's.

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PS Dance!: Dance Education in Public Schools

Narrated by Paula Zahn, PS Dance! captures what happens when students at five NYC public schools add dance to their daily studies. The journey is one of imagination, curiosity, hard work and discipline.

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The Pulitzer at 100

Directed by Academy Award Winner Kirk Simon, The Pulitzer at 100 celebrates the centenary of this revered national award for literary excellence in journalism and the arts. Featuring interviews with Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Tony Kushner, Wynton Marsalis and more.

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Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball

Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball is the story of an 11-year Major League pitcher, who after winning two world championships, embarked on a USO tour through Vietnam that would change his life. After visiting field hospitals, Ron devoted the rest of his life to medicine.

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Sex Trade, The

Part investigative report and part editorial, The Sex Trade is a behind-the-scenes analysis of a rapidly growing business featuring incisive comments from experts and enlightening interviews with current and former sex workers.

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Sex(ed)

Sex(ed) captures the humor, shock and vulnerability people face when learning about sex, through the lens of the often hilarious, only sometimes informative, sex-ed films from 1910 to the present day.

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Smiling Through the Apocalypse

Esquire magazine was a galvanizing force in American culture from the early 1960s through the early '70s. The chief architect of this print revolution was Harold Hayes, a brilliant editor who granted contributors unprecedented journalistic freedom.

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Sukkah City

Sukkah City chronicles the architecture competition created by Joshua Foer and Roger Bennett that explored the creative potential of the ancient Jewish sukkah and created a temporary exhibition of 12 newly designed sukkahs in the heart of New York City.

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Talent Has Hunger

Filmed over 7 years, Talent Has Hunger is an inspiring film about the power of music to consume, enhance, and propel lives. It focuses on master cello teacher Paul Katz and the challenges of guiding gifted young people through the struggles of mastering the instrument.

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Through a Lens Darkly

The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity of African Americans from slavery to the present, Through a Lens Darkly probes the recesses of American history by discovering images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost.

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Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art

Troublemakers unearths the history of land art in the late 60s and early 70s and features a cadre of renegade artists that sought to transcend the limitations of painting and sculpture by producing earthworks on a monumental scale in the desert of the American southwest.

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Unlocking the Cage

Arguing that cognitively complex animals have the capacity for limited personhood rights, animal rights lawyer Steve Wise is making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform a chimpanzee from a "thing" with no rights to a "person" with legal protections.

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Vince Giordano: There's a Future in the Past

For nearly 40 years, Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks have brought the joyful syncopation of the 1920s and '30s to life with their virtuosity, vintage musical instruments, and more than 60,000 period band arrangements.

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War After, The

The War After is a powerful documentary featuring nine U.S. veterans transitioning from active duty to the unexpected challenges of civilian life. At a time when thousands of U.S. service members are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, The War After is a timely view of the American service experience.

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Welcome to Leith

Welcome to Leith chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor.

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When Justice Isn't Just

Directed by NAACP Image Award winner David Massey, this dynamic documentary features legal experts, local activists, and law enforcement officers delving into ongoing charges of inequality, unfair practices, and politicized manipulations of America's judicial system.

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Yalom's Cure

Bestselling author, popular scholar and existentialist Irvin D. Yalom is one of the most influential living psychotherapists. Together with Dr. Yalom we travel through the many layers of the human mind while he shares his fundamental insights and wisdom.

  America Betrayed- Narrated by Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss and featuring interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, scientists, and politians, this searing documentary exposes the rampant collusion, corruption and cronyism within the government agencies whose very purpose is to protect us.

American Teacher- While research proves that teachers are the most important school factor in a child's success, American Teacher reveals the frustrations facing today's educators.

Arguing the World- For more than half a century, Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer and Irving Kristol have all passionately believed that ideas can change the world. And they have been fighting over those ideas ever since they entered New York's City College as young radicals in the 1930's.

Bert Stern: Original Mad Man- Bert Stern’s photography career began in the mailroom of Look Magazine and quickly took off during the Golden Age of Advertising.  Sought after by Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and the fashion world, Stern, like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, became not just a photographer but a star in his own right. 

Blood in the Face- A jaw-dropping view of America's white supremacy movement. Rare archival footage, darkly humorous interviews, and their own promotional materials bring to light the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and other radical right groups.

Brick City- Brick City is a provocative and eye-opening documentary series that fans out around the city of Newark, New Jersey to capture the daily drama of a community striving to become a better, safer, stronger place to live.

Bright Leaves- Using the Hollywood melodrama "Bright Leaf" as a jumping off point, filmmaker Ross McElwee reaches back to his roots in this witty rumination on American History, tobacco, and the myth of cinema.

Callers, The- The Callers explores the world of auctions with a group of Pennsylvania auctioneers who move mounds of merchandise to eager buyers and reveals our complex relationship with stuff with consuming, collecting, and hoarding.

Charleen- One month in the life of Charleen Swansea, North Carolina poet, mother, beloved teacher, eccentric, romantic, and complex star of McElwee's Sherman's March.

Eames: The Architect and the Painter- The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames are widely regarded as America’s most important designers. Narrated by James Franco, Eames: the Architect and the Painter is the first film dedicated to these creative geniuses and their work.

End of Time, The- Peter Mettler’s enthralling new film combines elements of documentary, essay, and experimental cinema to create a tour de force that challenges our conception of time - and perhaps the very fabric of our existence.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough Far Out Isn’t Far Enough chronicles renegade children’s book author and illustrator Tomi Ungerer's wild, lifelong adventure of testing society's boundaries through his subversive art.

Fire on the Mountain- The story of the 10th Mountain Division, America's only winter warfare fighting unit, who fought the Nazis on skis in the high mountains.

Full Battle Rattle-  In California’s Mojave Desert, the US Army has built a “virtual Iraq” – a billion dollar urban warfare simulation.  This comic, surreal and truly eye-opening documentary  follows an Army battalion through the simulation before they deploy to Iraq, and and provides a revelatory look into the soul of the American war machine.

Herman's House- Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in America - 40 years and counting in a 6-by-9-foot cell. This award-winning documentary reveals the remarkable expression his struggle finds in an unusual art project.

Hey, Boo- Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird chronicles how the beloved novel came to be written, the context and history of the Deep South where it is set, and the social change it inspired after its publication.  The film also offers an unprecedented peek into the life of author Harper Lee.

Homemade Hillbilly Jam- This enjoyable documentary captures the rich and wonderful sounds of “hillbilly” music by following three families of modern-day hillbillies back to the roots of their music-making heritage.

Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train- This film documents the life and times of the historian, activist and author of the best selling classic A People’s History of the United States. Featuring rare archival materials, interviews with Howard Zinn as well as colleagues and friends.

Intrepid Descent- Intrepid Descent captures the classic wilderness experience of skiing Tuckerman Ravine, the legendary - and dangerous - birthplace of backcountry skiing.

Life Apart, A- Seven years in the making, this extraordinarily intimate film takes us into the mysterious and joyous world of the Hasidic Jews, revealing a place few outsiders have seen and fewer yet could imagine.

Men at Lunch- Director Seán Ó Cualáin tells the story of "Lunch atop a Skyscraper", the iconic photograph taken during the construction of Rockefeller Center. Part homage, part investigation, Men at Lunch is the sublime tale of an American icon, an unprecedented race to the sky and the immigrant workers that built New York.

Moving Midway- Godfrey Cheshire's film about his family's Southern plantation - and the colossal feat of moving it to escape urban sprawl - is a thoughtful and witty look at how the racial legacy from the past continues into the present.

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary- Before he was convicted of murdering a policeman in 1981 and sentenced to die, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a gifted journalist and brilliant writer. This is a portrait of a man whom many consider America's most famous political prisoner - a man whose existence tests our beliefs about freedom of expression.

Neshoba: The Price of Freedom- The story of a Mississippi town still divided about the meaning of justice, 40 years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film, Mississippi Burning..

One Bright Shining Moment- When presidential candidate George McGovern took on Richard Nixon in 1972, he didn’t win- but in his bold, grassroots campaign, we find the genesis of today's progressive movement.

One Nation Under God- One Nation Under God takes us into the strange world of "ex-gay" ministries and "conversion" therapies, revealing shocking techniques used to "cure" gays and lesbians of their homosexuality. At the center of the film are two former leaders of one of the biggest ex-gay ministries . . . who just happen to fall in love.

Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America, A- Seldom has society come full circle in the cycle of a disease - from illness, to epidemic, to cure. Polio is the 20th century's most notable exception. This fascinating story is told here using thousands of photographs and films along with interviews with polio survivors, their families, nurses, doctors, and community leaders, bringing to life an America that was both brave and innocent.

Perfect Candidate, A- Sometimes horrifying, often hilarious, this twisted journey into the underbelly of American politics offers an astonishing look at Oliver North's run for the U.S. Senate.

Pleasures of Being Out of Step, The- Nat Hentoff is one of the enduring voices of the last 65 years, a writer who championed jazz as an art form and who also led the rise of 'alternative' journalism in America.

Prosecution of an American President, The- This electrifying film documents the efforts of Vincent Bugliosi, one of the nation's foremost prosecutors, as he presents his case that George W. Bush should be prosecuted for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

Ross McElwee Collection, The- Six films on five discs including four films never before released on DVD!: Charleen, Backyard, Sherman's March, Bright Leaves, Time Indefinite, Six O'Clock News.

Sacco and Vanzetti-Sacco and Vanzetti brings to life the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists who were accused of a murder in 1920, and executed in Boston in 1927 after a notoriously prejudiced trial.

Senator Obama Goes to Africa- Part personal odyssey and part chronicle of diplomacy in action, this timely documentary follows Barack Obama as he takes an emotional journey to Kisumu, Kenya - land of his ancestry.

Sex & Justice- Narrated by Gloria Steinem, Sex & Justice presents the highlights of the dramatic confrontation between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the United States Senate in 1991.

Sherman's March- Ross McElwee's autobiographical quest for true romance along the original route of General Sherman's Civil War March.

Soldiers of Paint- Soldiers of Paint follows a dramatic battle involving 5,000 people who re-stage the Invasion of Normandy, in Oklahoma. Instead of bullets they use paint and it's any man's game, which means the Germans could win! 

Something To Do With the Wall- In 1986, Ross McElwee and Marilyn Levine were making a film about the Berlin Wall. But in 1989, as the original film neared completion, the Wall came down. They returned to Berlin, this time to capture the radically different atmosphere of the city.

Sons of Tennessee Williams, The- Interweaving archival footage and contemporary interviews, The Sons of Tennessee Williams charts the evolution of the gay Mardi Gras krewe scene in New Orleans, illuminating the ways in which its emergence was a seminal factor in the cause of gay liberation in the South.

Time Indefinite- Ross McElwee's hilariously profound sequel to his much-beloved hit Sherman's March.

Tiny: A Story About Living Small- Through one couple's attempt to build a Tiny House with no building experience, this charming documentary raises questions about sustainability, good design, and the American Dream.

Touch of Greatness, A- In an era when Dick, Jane, and discipline ruled America’s schools, Albert Cullum allowed Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Shaw to reign in is fifth grade public school classroom.

Trials of Henry Kissinger, The- Featuring previously unseen footage, de-classified documents, and revealing interviews, The Trials of Henry Kissinger explores how a young boy who fled Nazi Germany grew up to become one of the most powerful and controversial figures in U.S. history.

Tricked- Tricked is a documentary that uncovers one of America's darkest secrets. Modern-day slavery is alive and well in the United States, as thousands of victims are trafficked across the country to satisfy America's $3-billion-a-year sex trafficking industry.

Unborn in the USA-A riveting look into the deep secrets and deep pockets of the pro-life movement. Exclusive interviews are interwoven with astonishing archival footage to document one of the most controversial social movements in American history.

Venus Boyz- Club Casanova, the legendary Drag King Night in New York, is the point of departure for an odyssey to the transgendered world. It's a world where women become men--some for a night, others for a lifetime.

Vito- Directed by award-winner Jeffrey Schwarz, Vito paints a galvanizing portrait of Vito Russo, author of the seminal book The Celluloid Closet and an outspoken activist in the LGBT community’s struggle for equal rights.

We Were So Beloved- Between 1933 and 1941 thousands of Jews fled Nazi Germany and Austria for America. Leaving behind brothers, sisters and parents, more than 20,000 of them came together in Washington Heights in New York City.

With God on Our Side- What makes George W. Bush tick? While much of the world is confounded by his righteous rhetoric and his boundless certainty, Bush's story makes perfect sense to one group: America's conservative evangelicals... also known as the Religious Right.