I managed to see The Constant Gardener a few weeks back, and it's a truly great film, powerful both politically and emotionally. It feels like a British film without having to emphasize its britishness, with lots of the film set in Africa. The main plot, based on a John Le Carre novel, involves a widowed man seeking to find the truth behind the death of his wife, who was investigating dodgy a pharmaceutical company in Kenya. A secondary plot is the unwinding of the love story behind this man and his wifre. The two themes intermingle without recourse to sentimentality, and the result is beautiful whilst also shocking.
Barry Normal also praised Good Night and Good Luck, which got six nominations. The film is yet to open in the UK (release date: Friday 17th February), but it looks pretty damn good. Directed and co-written by George Clooney, who also plays a supporting role, the black and white film tells the (true) story of a tv news team who broadcast the story of a US army man dismissed without trial in McCarthy-era America. A timely story indeed, so relevant to life today that the film is also promoting a 'Report it Now' camapaign.
Participant Productions, co-produced the film and are running the campaign, say that they are 'a film company with a mission to make the world a better place', believing in 'the power of media to create social change'. Their president says:
'That we see parallels between what Murray went through during McCartyism and the present-day is sobering to say the least. Fortunately, because of the internet, there are other ways to report and discuss current events, unfettered by government pressures or the market demands.'
Their Report it Now campaign urges people to 'report the truth. Film a news segment, record interviews, or write an editorial about something that moves you-civil rights abuses, government corruption, injustices of any stripe'. The reports are showcased on their site, where people can rate them, with the best ones being broadcast via their media partners PBS, Salon.com, and XM Satellite Radio. The American Civil Liberties Union is also a partner in the campaign, where donations are being sent to.
It all seems like a worthy cause, and a good example of citizen journalism being understood and promoted by those with the power to make big films. It would be nice to see closer links with other organisations (like the Wikipedia Foundation and the Wikinews site), and some kind of open licensing agreement for the content. Contributors are, however, free to republish their material elsewhere - and I'd hope that some of it ends up on the wider internet of open content.
I look forward to watching the film...