28 February 2007
According to New Zealander Rhys Buckingham, the South Island kokako is the "most beautiful songbird in the world." He likens its resonant call to the ringing of Tibetan bowls, or the tolling of a cathedral bell. Problem is, the bird may not exist. At least, Rhys hasn't been able to find it, and he's spent 24 years looking. Produced by Alan Coukell, Grey Ghost is a documentary about belief and the beauty of straining to hear. Don't miss it.
If you loved Jonathan Mitchell's Shades of Gray, which we aired on the Listening Lounge a couple of months ago, you're in for a treat. On March 7, we air City X. Jonathan describes the documentary as "a history of the modern shopping mall through perspectives of people living in a real, yet unnamed, city. Using a sound rich audio mosaic of observations and ruminations, all scored to Muzak, the universal mall experience comes to life, for better or for worse." City X was commissioned by Hearing Voices radio with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. R. Tyler Mack praises the documentary's "beautiful sound design." I call it great fun, especially the part where we hear drivers complain about the lack of parking at the mall or why the best place is near the entrance that empties into the Food Court. I've posted my review of City X on the Public Radio Exchange website.
16 February 2007
On this week's show we air a great piece on transracial adoption. It's called Dear Birth Mother. Here's their summary of the documentary: "After waiting in vain for Mr. Right - and after years of fertility treatments - Suzanne, a single, white woman in her forties, decided to adopt. She chose transracial adoption. Long Haul Productions documented the entire process - beginning with workshops designed to "teach white people to raise kids of color," baby-shopping trips with Mom at Target, a critical rendezvous with a young mother at a pancake house, and, finally, a magical night at a suburban restaurant chain. Producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister followed Suzanne for several months as she waited to see if she would become a parent; she offered extraordinary access into her home, and really, into every aspect of her life."
War photographer Thorne Anderson has photographed events in Iraq since before the second gulf war. He's seen the society strain under the pressures of sanctions and occupation. His portraits are both striking and at times painfully intimate. In them he tries to captures the dignity of Iraqi people and their sense of helplessness in the face of powerful geopolitical interests. Listen to Three Photographs, a documentary by Radio Netherlands, about an eyewitness view to a brutal war. To view the photographs that will be the subject of this documentary, follow this link to the Radio Netherlands website.
More work by Thorne Anderson is available at Unembedded, a website featuring the work of four independent photographers working in Iraq.
07 February 2007
We celebrate Valentine's Day with an award-winning documentary from Todd Melby and Diane Richard. Here's a description of Spirit and Body Willing: "The sexuality of older Americans is an unspoken subject. After all, who can imagine their parents having sex, much less their grandparents? But for many people age 70 and above, sexuality often remains an important part of life and their identity. And they may face obstacles to fulfilling their needs for physical and emotional intimacy, among them, skewed demographics, lack of sexual information, health and medical issues, children's attitudes and the reactions of nursing aides and peers." Helen Woodward of Atlantic Public Media calls the documentary respectful and engaging. Shawn Marquis describes the piece as great stuff.
01 February 2007
On Feb. 7, we go to the movies. The show begins with Sound Design from Hell, as we tag along with Jonathan Mitchell on a visit to a sound design studio. Then it's an inside look (so to speak) at the porn industry with an affable young man named Sam Stern. Next, it's another piece by Jonathan Mitchell --- Time in Film. And then we conclude with an examination of film noir with Sara Fishko of WNYC. Here's what I had to say about the porn piece in a review on Public Radio Exchange: Sam Stern wants to be a new kind of porn king. He wants to be one whose work doesn't degrade women. He wants to return to the days when porn wasn't violent, when the men were more important than just their "tool." And yet he found himself making and starring in low budget L.A. porn films that showed violent acts. In this piece, he talks of hitting a woman (as an actor) and strangling her (as an actor). It's fascinating, chilling stuff. It's not really creepy though, because Sam is such a likable young man. He sounds like your best friend's son, a naive 20-something who moved to L.A. and did some weird stuff. Now he's in therapy trying to work it out and he talked to this radio producer about some of the stuff he did. I'm airing it on the "Listening Lounge" on KFAI. I want to see if the phones light up.