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Three Most Consequential Films, Summer ’09

Summer is a great time for catching a movie, and a bevy of new films debuting this summer make for a busy season. While big name films like the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series have moviegoers all abuzz, some of this summer’s most consequential films might not be coming to a theater near you…yet.

Three films scheduled for limited release (good news if you live near Los Angeles or New York) have the power to arrest audiences this summer and shape public discourse by tackling topics like gender relations, religious fundamentalism, homosexuality and marriage equality, and nutrition, corporate greed, economic justice and the environment.

Adventist moviegoers who appreciate reality-based films will be happy to know that the following films are all grounded in true stories and the lives of real people.

Stoning of Soraya M

Iran has attracted massive media coverage for its highly controversial election. Violent protests following in the wake of the election put Iran squarely at the center of the world’s attention. The Stoning of Soraya M also trains cameras on Iran, but for a different reason.

The film tells the true (if somewhat embellished) story of an Iranian woman, Soraya, whose husband Ali falsely accuses her of committing adultery. The film is based on a book by French-Iranian author and journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, who heard of Soraya’s death by stoning (a legal punishment for adultery in Iran) from Soraya’s aunt, Zahra.

The Stoning of Soraya M graphically reveals how misogyny, religious fundamentalism and patriarchy can (and continually do) converge to suppress and abuse–even kill. The film raises numerous issues from human rights to the interpretation of Scripture, as it unflinchingly portrays one woman’s tragic story.

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Perhaps nothing engenders cynicism toward politics like hypocrisy does. Academy Award-nominated director Kirby Dick tells the story of politicos who take hypocrisy to new lows.

In particular, Outrage takes on some of America’s most influential policymakers with stridently anti-gay voting records. The catch? The subjects (stars?) of this film are closeted homosexuals themselves.

The documentary outs the disingenuous leaders by uncovering their secret lives through interviews and raw footage. Outrage throws the rhetoric of moral outrage against homosexuality back at some of the most vocal opponents of LGBT rights, and uncovers the deep sham of opposition to equality on moral grounds.

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Food, Inc.

Food Inc. takes us inside the factories, mills and slaughterhouses that bring food to the world. The incisive documentary shines a light into the murky rooms and reeking corrals out of which corporate giants create pastoral fantasies and “notional tomatoes.”

The key issue the film documents is how a handful of huge multinational corporations dominate the food industry through coercion, lobbying, and ultimately with money to monopolize food growth, production and distribution.

Food Inc. observes strategic takeovers by corporate titans that destroy independent food growers. An American company puts its counterpart in Mexico out of business, then proceeds to hire workers from across the border to work in horrid conditions for paltry wages. Regular raids by local law enforcement agencies target undocumented workers, but never say a word about the companies that employ them.

This film’s sobering footage and testimony from numerous food growers gives consumers new eyes for the foods we eat and offers practical steps that ordinary Americans can take to alter the ways that megabusinesses run and ruin food in America.

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