Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Semper Fi: Always Faithful

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January 23, 2012

Somehow I seem to have not shared with you the amazing weekend in late September/early October we spent at the Camden International Film Festivalk or CIFF, as we know it locally.  We’ve attended almost since it began–maybe missing the first year.  Every year it gets better and better, and it’s been fun watching many of the films we’ve seen go on to national prominence.  CIFF’s national and internationational reputation is growing, growing, so that helps with the quality of the films submitted.

Many of the films have the power to blow holes in the watcher’s head.  This year we saw a number of those.  Among them was SEMPER FI:  ALWAYS FAITHFUL–the story of one of the largest water contamination disasters in U.S. history.  The location, the Marine base Camp Lejeune, where the Marines, for DECADES, covered up the fact that the drinking water was lethal.  The tip of the iceberg here is that this kind of pollution is likely to be found at many military bases and is, also, being covered up.  The hook of the film is that Marine (myth?) is that the Marines are one big family where family members are loved and protected.

Here’s a recent Washington Post story about the film.


And, here are some other titles to watch for or be aware of:

HELL AND BACK AGAIN–the CIFF opening night film about a 25-year old career soldier whose wounds in Afghanistan mandate his return to a civilian life and to a life where his physical well-being is compromised forever–something young soldiers, who are willing to die during service, somehow, never see coming.

DOWNEAST–this story of the struggtle to replace a closed canning factory way up “downeast” with a lobster-packing business–which replaces 128 lost jobs with new work–garnered a standing ovation from the audience–especially when the audience realized the new owner and his family were present in the audience.  Entrepreneur Antonio Bussone runs headlong into entrenched local politics–to include those on the local boards who also work with lobsters and who do not want his business to come to fruition.  The film is an excellent look at the complexity of local change, of what happens when businesses close locally and move elsewhere–in this case to Canada.

A “SECRET CINEMA” early screening of an unnamed film about a social movement in South Africa protesting evictions from squatter homes near major cities.

Another “SECRET CINEMA” early screening about “the unregulated international machine that produces–though ambition, emotion, greed, hope, disillusionment–beauty.  Set in Russia and Japan (Russian girls are chosen to go to Japan to work as fashion models), the film details the terrible exploitation that occurs to under-age Russian girls.  In many ways, the practices detailed in the film play into the sex trade.

UNFINISHED SPACES–a film set in Cuba about architects chosen in the early 1960s to design and build Cuba’s National Art Schools.  The amazing buildings were halted before they were fully completed–for political reasons–and are now being completed.

BETTER THIS WORLD–a chilling film about two young men from Midland, Texas, who attend the 2008 Republican convention with the goal of protesting.  But, they have been drawn into these actions by a man hired as an undercover government informant.  They are arrested by a zealous prosecutor on terrorism charges, though they did nothing violent.  (They made molatov cocktails, but abandoned them.)  One is turned against the other through threats of prison time and promises of plea bargains.  It’s a terrible story that every American should know.

A program of short films started each day, and for the first time we attended and enjoyed them.

Written by louisaenright

January 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

One Response

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  1. amazing.

    Tara Derr Webb

    January 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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