Tag Archives: documentaries

Are Uncontacted Tribes Increasingly Emerging from the Wilderness?

2016 12 30 amazon

I recently watched a short, thought-provoking documentary on Netflix from U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 called “First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon.

It contains some captivating footage of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon, on both the Peruvian and Brazilian sides, emerging from the wilderness.

(Uncontacted people are those with no direct contact with civilization. In parts of the Amazon, laws set aside lands for such people, and forbid outsiders from interacting with them.)

The filmmaker, Angus Macqueen, has written online that the uncontacted people in the documentary have seemed motivated to change their behavior — to venture out of the wilderness — due to:

  1. A need to flee encroachment from illegal loggers and drug runners
  2. A desire to obtain materials they don’t have, like axes and clothing

In addition to raising ethical questions about governmental policies that intentionally keep such people isolated, where they lack basic medical care and often starve, I was wondering:

Are we seeing this phenomenon elsewhere? Is there something larger at play in our increasingly globalized the world? Are other uncontacted people also emerging?

I did a little research, and estimates suggest most uncontacted peoples are located in:

  1. the Amazon, and
  2. New Guinea

The film covers a pocket of the first, but as for the second, I haven’t been able to find any reports of uncontacted people in Asia increasingly venturing out of their lands.

This suggests to me that rather than a global trend, the film shows behavior that is indeed unique to the Amazon.

But maybe I’m missing something? I’ll have to keep investigating.

If you have any thoughts, drop me a line (n @ newley dot com) or leave a comment below.

Short Film: Guy Who Built Enormous Model Train Set

Some Kind Of Quest from Andrew Wilcox on Vimeo.

Embedded above is “Some Kind of Quest,” a short documentary about Bruce Zaccagnino and Northlandz, a 52,000-square-foot model train setup he created in New Jersey over a period of four years.

Dedication, pure and simple.

Related video: the Belgian gentleman who is really into marbles.

Like ‘Making a Murderer’? Read This New Yorker Story

2016-01-28MAM

I’ve Tweeted about this and mentioned it in this week’s Newley’s Notes, and wanted to highlight it here, as well.

The Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer” has been a smash hit, setting the Internet on fire, bringing renewed fame to the subject’s defense attorneys, and inspiring amateur sleuths the world over.

I have watched it. It is highly compelling.

The most imformative story I have read on the series is this Kathryn Schulz New Yorker piece.

In short, she points out that as a documentary, “Making a Murderer” falls short because it argues, rather than investigates:

Instead, the documentary consistently leads its viewers to the conclusion that Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, and it contains striking elisions that bolster that theory. The filmmakers minimize or leave out many aspects of Avery’s less than savory past, including multiple alleged incidents of physical and sexual violence. They also omit important evidence against him, including the fact that Brendan Dassey confessed to helping Avery move Halbach’s S.U.V. into his junk yard, where Avery lifted the hood and removed the battery cable. Investigators subsequently found DNA from Avery’s perspiration on the hood latch—evidence that would be nearly impossible to plant.

Perhaps because they are dodging inconvenient facts, Ricciardi and Demos are never able to present a coherent account of Halbach’s death, let alone multiple competing ones. Although “Making a Murderer” is structured chronologically, it fails to provide a clear time line of events, and it never answers such basic questions as when, where, and how Halbach died. Potentially critical issues are raised and summarily dropped; we hear about suspicious calls to and messages on Halbach’s cell phone, but these are never explored or even raised again. In the end, despite ten hours of running time, the story at the heart of “Making a Murderer” remains a muddle. Granted, real life is often a muddle, too, especially where crime is involved—but good reporters delineate the facts rather than contribute to the confusion.

Worth a read.

Recommended: New HBO Documentary ‘Going Clear’

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Worth a watch: “Going Clear,” a new documentary about Scientology that recently aired on HBO. There’s more about the film on Wikipedia.

A WSJ review of the documentary begins:

Watching “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” can be a depressing experience, and not just for the two hours in which the HBO documentary runs. The haunting archival imagery—a powerful element here—fades after a few days, and much of what is said has been said before. Yet whether you come away seeing Scientology as a cult that ensnares vulnerable people or as a faith of self-empowerment, the film leaves a terrible taste of too much information. This must be its point, but take heed just the same.

The film is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.”

I haven’t read that book (yet), but I have read Wright’s long, detailed, fascinating 2011 New Yorker story “The Apostate.

It centers on longtime Hollywood screenwriter Paul Haggis, who left Scientology and has since become an outspoken critic of the church. It’s an excellent piece of journalism.

Frontline’s ‘United States of Secrets’

If you haven’t watched it yet, clear a few hours from your schedule at some point and watch the two-part Frontline special on the NSA and Edward Snowden that ran in May.

It’s called “United States of Secrets.”

Even if, like me, you think you understand the history of the NSA and the general technical aspects of what Snowden leaked, you may be surprised. Very much worth a watch.

Part 1 is stream-able via the PBS site here.

Part 2 is stream-able here.