doc talk | peter keough

A place for whistleblowers to blow their whistles visually

Kim and Hyisheem in a scene from Marc Levin’s documentary “Class Divide.”
Kim and Hyisheem in a scene from Marc Levin’s documentary “Class Divide.”

Now in its second year, the cinematic journalism unit Field of Vision, an alternative group cofounded by Oscar-winner Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”), has launched a new website with a SecureDrop where whistleblowers and other tipsters can anonymously leak newsworthy images and footage.

It has also announced a slate of new films, including debuts from Elizabeth Lo, Poitras and Henrik Moltke, and Hito Steyerl, and the launch of Anders Semme Hamme’s four-part series about militias and foreign fighters battling Isis in Iraq and Syria.

In cooperation with, the site will present AJ Schnack’s “Speaking is Difficult,” a chilling montage of 25 mass shootings in the United States since 2011, now sadly updated with two more — in Orlando and Dallas.


“Without the images from Abu Ghraib Prison disclosed by whistleblower Joseph Darby, the world would never know the torture and abuse that occurred there,” Poitras is quoted as saying. “Images can literally transform how we understand the world. We believe the public has a right to not only know, but also a right to see. Our new SecureDrop will help make this possible.”

Across a wide ‘Divide’

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Seen recently in the GlobeDocs Film Festival, Marc Levin’s documentary “Class Divide” epitomizes the widening gap between social classes as seen in the microcosm of the Manhattan neighborhood of West Chelsea. There a housing project looms not far from a tony private school, a stark reminder of the demands of urban gentrification and the needs of a desperate working class that have come into conflict. On the brighter side, young people on both sides seek common ground. Similar to Frederick Wiseman’s “In Jackson Heights,” though more conventional in style, the film shows the human reality behind the rhetoric, statistics, and partisan politics.

“Class Divide” debuts on Monday at 8 p.m. on HBO.

Let your voice be heard

It may be one vote among millions, but it’s yours and it does make a difference. That’s the oft-repeated but frequently ignored lesson to be taken from Hector Galán’s documentary “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice,” about the indefatigable grassroots activist who spearheaded over a thousand voter-registration drives in about 200 cities and made the Latino vote — a potential 27 million voters — a key demographic in any national election.

“Willie Velasquez: Your Vote Is Your Voice” can be seen on Monday on PBS at 10:30 p.m. as part of the network’s ongoing election programming.

No holds barred


While the recent debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton makes a memorable 1968 debate look like an outing at the Oxford Union, audiences were shocked 48 years ago when arch-conservative political columnist William F. Buckley and disdainfully liberal novelist Gore Vidal squared off as commentators during ABC’s live coverage of the Democratic convention. As seen in Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s “Best of Enemies,” the comments were not always lofty and polysyllabic. In one memorably eloquent exchange Vidal called Buckley a “pro- or crypto-Nazi,” and Buckley countered, “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered!”

For those looking for when the decline of political discourse began in America, this would be one place to start.

But it was terrific television.

“Best of Enemies” can be seen on Monday at 9 p.m. on “Independent Lens” on PBS.

WHEN Moore is less

The fact that Dinesh D’Souza’s right-leaning documentary “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” has pummeled liberal gadfly and reliable moneymaker Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” at the box office ( $13 million to $3.8 million) might serve as a barometer for the changing mood of the electorate. Or it just might indicate that Moore in his latest is a bit soft, with little of the vitriol that has amused his fans and infuriated his enemies in the past.


Be that as it may, Moore does offer some useful policy tips that the canny candidate might do well to heed. Using the somewhat forced device of him forming a one-man army “invading” different countries and seizing their best ideas for redeployment in the United States, the film finds value in the Finnish penal system, Norwegian higher education, equal opportunity for women in Iceland, and relaxed working conditions in Italy. At the very least, it provides a list of potential destinations you might choose to relocate to if the Nov. 8 election does not go your way.

“Where to Invade Next?” screens for free as part of Emerson’s Bright Light series on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Paramount Theater, 559 Washington St., Boston. A discussion with the film’s producers, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, follows.

Peter Keough can be reached at