doc talk

Looking back at the class of ’69 in ‘Women of ’69, Unboxed’

Hillary Clinton appears in a scene from Jen Senko’s “The Brainwashing of My Dad.”
Hillary Clinton appears in a scene from Jen Senko’s “The Brainwashing of My Dad.”JSenko Productions and Cinco Dedos Peliculas

Many women who graduated from college in 1969 made a swift transition from accepting culturally defined gender roles to forging new role models for future generations. That metamorphosis was epitomized at all women’s universities such as Wellesley (Hillary Clinton’s alma mater) and Skidmore, where the class commemorated its matriculation not with a yearbook but a “yearbox” containing photos.

Sartorially and politically, they can be seen changing from demure freshmen into liberated seniors, eager to take on the world — as soon as they figure out what to do with their lives. Peter Barton’s documentary “Women of ’69, Unboxed” looks back at that iconoclastic class by unpacking the box and interviewing the women who made a difference.


Available on iTunes on Tuesday at radi.al/WomenOf69.

Rush to judgment

Many are at a loss as the Donald Trump juggernaut crushes the opposition in primary after primary. That includes the pundits at Fox News, who of all people might be most responsible for Trump’s success.

Along with talk radio, they can take credit for manipulating the minds of a large segment of the population, or so contends Jen Senko in her lighthearted but disturbing documentary, “The Brainwashing of My Dad.”

When Senko was a kid her dad was the best dad in the world. He was fun. He was funny. All the kids and animals in the neighborhood loved him.

But after he discovered Rush Limbaugh on the car radio while commuting to work, he started to change. It was like something from “The Manchurian Candidate” (Senko illustrates her case with a scene from that 1962 black-comic classic). It was a real-life version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “Invaders From Mars.”

While making the documentary, Senko heard from many others whose loved ones manifested similar symptoms; they became enraged, intolerant, and hateful strangers parroting incomprehensible cant.


Perhaps you know one of these people. Perhaps you are one of those people. Either way, see this film before it’s too late. It shows how it all happened, and why.

Available on iTunes and VOD on March 18. For more information go to www.thebrainwashingofmydad.com/trailer.

Karen Schmeer Fellowship announced

In most films — documentaries in particular— the editing process is where the real magic happens. Karen Schmeer, who in 2010 died at 39 as a result of a hit-and-run accident, had mastered that craft, as demonstrated in her work on such films as Errol Morris’s “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” and his Oscar-winning “Fog of War.” The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship was founded in her memory to offer recognition and support to an emerging talent in the field.

This year the award goes to Eileen Meyer, who most recently co-edited Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s “Best of Enemies,” which was shortlisted for the 2015 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award.

Meyer will receive the fellowship on Tuesday at the SXSW Film Festival Awards Ceremony, in Austin, Texas.

It includes mentorship, passes to film festivals and screening series, a $1,000 cash award, and a DVD collection of Karen’s films. Meyer’s mentors for the year will be Greg Finton (“He Named Me Malala,” “Waiting for Superman”); Pedro Kos (“The Square,” “Waste Land”); and Kim Roberts. (“The Hunting Ground,” “Food, Inc.”).

Go to www.karenschmeer.com.


Dream on

Can art change the world? The people running China seem to think so, otherwise they would not be so terrified of artists that they put them in jail, or worse.

During the Cultural Revolution, five decades before Ai Weiwei was put under house arrest for his maverick attitudes and slyly subversive works, Mu Xin, who died in 2011 at 84, persisted in making his art even while in solitary confinement and at the risk of his life. Finding asylum in New York in the ’80s, his challenging and arcane paintings and writings, described as a link between ancient and modern Chinese art, faced the perhaps greater peril of apathy and incomprehension.

Not until he was in his 70s did he finally achieve recognition in the West, followed by acceptance in China, where he returned in 2006. Last year his hometown of Wuzhen opened a museum dedicated to his work.

Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello’s documentary “Dreaming Against the World: Mu Xin” (2014) offers a glimpse into this visionary’s unique art and inspiring life. It screens on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston followed by a panel discussion moderated by Peter Rand, author and professor at Boston University. The panelists will include artist and critic Chen Danqing and the filmmakers. The screening and panel are co-presented with Boston-based Ballets Russes Arts Initiative.

Go to www.mfa.org/programs/film/dreaming-against-the-world-mu-xin-in-focus.

Something completely different


The 2008 financial meltdown was so zany and absurd that not even Monty Python could have dreamt it up. Instead, former Pythonite Terry Jones, along with co-directors Bill Jones and Ben Timlett, decided to take a serious look (more or less) at the debacle in their documentary “Boom Bust Boom.”

To do so they discuss the subject with experts, including journalists Paul Mason and John Cassidy; the chief economist of the Bank of England Andy Haldane; Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman, Robert Shiller; and Paul Krugman; and actor John Cusack. They also include many silly puppets, goofy ditties, some Dadaist animation, perhaps a flatulence joke or two, and maybe even the Knights Who Say “Ni.”

So the film might not be so serious after all, but how else to discuss a joke of such tragic proportions without gasps of exasperation and howls of despair?

Available on iTunes and VOD on Tuesday. Go to boombustclick.com.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the dates “The Brainwashing of My Dad” and “Boom Bust Boom” will become available.