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    doc talk

    Documentaries playing in Boston

    Variance Films Inc.

    As reports about the Ebola virus get more alarming, the PBS “Frontline” documentary “The Trouble With Antibiotics” (airing Oct. 14 at 10 p.m.) probably won’t diminish your anxiety. It examines the impact indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock might have on humans, and the prognosis is poor.

    “Nearly four decades ago, scientists and government officials warned that widespread antibiotic use to raise food animals could put human health at risk,” says the film’s reporter-correspondent David E. Hoffman. “Today, we’re seeing new scientific evidence those warnings were true, yet the government has been very slow to take action.”

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    Formula for peace?

    When was the last time some positive news came out of the Middle East? Some of the documentaries screening in the Boston Palestine Film Festival running Oct. 17-26 might offer hope. In particular, Johan Eriksson’s “The Road to Silverstone” (2013) demonstrates how faith, hard work, and resourcefulness can lead to inspiring results.


    For a year and a half, Palestinian engineering students in Gaza labored to build a Formula One race car to enter in the British Silverstone competition. Though forced to rely on spare parts obtained locally because of import restrictions, they still managed to patch a racer together.

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    But then the real struggles began: getting sponsors, money, obtaining visas, crossing checkpoints — in short, a microcosm of many of the frustrations experienced in Gaza every day. Despite this Sisyphean challenge, they persevered and made it to the starting line.

    One wonders if such determination applied to the peace process might obtain similar results. The alternative can be seen in Hadeel Assali’s “Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave” (2014), in which a video of the filmmaker’s family in Gaza during peacetime in 2013 is combined with audio from the warfare of 2014, and in Abdallah Omeish’s “The War Around Us” (2012), an account of two international journalists reporting on the ground during “Operation Cast Lead,” the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008-9.

    “The War Around Us” screens Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m. and “The Road to Silverstone” screens Oct. 25 at 3 p.m. “Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave” precedes both films. The screenings are at the Museum of Fine Arts.

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    Arlington gets festive

    The fourth annual Arlington International Film Festival (Oct. 15-19) includes some outstanding documentaries. At the top of that list is Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa’s “Elena” (2012), a collage-like portrait of the director’s older sister, already a successful dancer and actress in her homeland, who tried her luck in New York but ended up committing suicide. The Village Voice described this memoir as “a pained and gorgeous summoning.” “Elena” screens Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Regent Theatre.

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    Quick cuts


    International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the biggest such event in the world, takes place Nov. 15-30. Make arrangements to attend soon. It’s a documentary extravaganza in one of the world’s great cities. For more information go to . . . In the Netflix documentary “Print the Legend,” directors Luis Lopez and J. Clay Tweel explore a new technology that seems straight out of “Star Trek”: 3-D printing. Actually, it’s straight out of Boston. Featured in the film is the local company Formlabs, which is a pioneer in the new technology. The film is available for screening now at

    Peter Keough can be reached at

    Correction: The Boston Palestine Film Festival was misidentified in an earlier version of this article.