Extra Credit - Short Takes on Health and Justice
Though I unfortunately couldn't stay for the commentary/discussion panel at the end of the screening, I thoroughly enjoyed the Short Takes on Health and Justice films. I thought that all the films dealt with topics that are extremely relevant and in need of exploring. For example, many people think the horrors of the Vietnam War are unfortunate events of the past. However, Silent Exposure illustrated just how much the reverberations of the war still effect the families of Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese people today. Not only are veterans and their families not compensated financially, but the U.S. government continues to deny the severity of the effects of Agent Orange for both U.S. veterans and Vietnamese people living in areas where Agent Orange was sprayed. Similarly, while many view the AIDS epidemic as something of the '80s and '90s, The Stigma Continues showed that there are many still suffering from AIDS and that the stigmas attached to the illness continue to be propagated.
Although all the films were well-researched and contained important messages, some of them stood out to me from the perspective of a film critic. For example, those that had better cinematography, higher resolution, and edited more seamlessly were easier to watch aesthetically and therefore left more of an impact on me because I was not distracted from the content by the technical shortcomings. Furthermore, little things like the personal nature of Silent Exposure and the inclusion of humor and horror (namely, the graphic Cesarean section footage) in I Speak Birth made them more compelling than some of the other films. Overall, all of the films were great learning examples of how to (and how not to) use interviews, voice-over narration, and music to effectively create a riveting documentary.