African/Af. Amer, Family Issues, Social Issues
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In 1999, nine-year-old Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his family began to use a video camera to record their daily lives in one of America’s most dangerous neighborhoods—just 17 blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They’ve been filming ever since.
Made in collaboration with director Davy Rothbart (a This American Life regular), this intensely personal documentary gives new meaning to the term “raw footage.” Spanning two decades, it captures the trials, tribulations, small victories, and horrific tragedies of the close-knit clan—including Emmanuel, a promising student who dreams of being a firefighter; his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and drug-dealing brother Smurf; and their mother Cheryl, who must wrestle with her own demons even as she struggles to ensure her children and grandchildren have a future. Of course, one needn’t zoom out from their portrait very far to see the big picture: This family’s saga illuminates the ongoing crisis of the forgotten underclass in cities and towns across America.
This harrowing documentary follows the Ochoa family as they run a private ambulance service in Mexico City. In a sprawling metropolis that’s home to 9 million people but fewer than 50 public ambulances, they compete with other for-profit EMTs for patients while struggling with their own ills.
For more than 30 years, 24/7, eccentric activist Marion Stokes obsessively recorded American television news programs, preserving the truth even as networks secretly dropped their archives into the trashcan of history. This fascinating time capsule of a documentary explores her priceless legacy.
Digging through the vast collection of his father’s home videos, filmmaker Sasha Joseph Neulinger enlists his family to help him retell the story of childhood abuse that tore them apart—and to reveal the even darker secret at its core—in this devastating but ultimately hopeful documentary.