Number 1: Circus without Borders was pretty much what was advertised. It focused on a group in the Canadian arctic that developed some acrobatic skills in part to combat suicides in the village - and a group of acrobats in Guinea, in Africa. The leaders of the two groups met, bonded, and brought their groups together. The story was told directly in video by the participants themselves and there was a lot of great acrobatics as well as cross-cultural background on how the acrobatics helped support the local communities.
Yesterday's Madina's Dream got me thinking about how far documentaries have come from the days of the omniscient male narrator with the deliverer of the truth voice. Marina's Dream had no narrator and I could have used just a little help with context. A map would have helped. But basically, the film's job was to get us to see the lives of people fighting for their land and lives. It was about people and emotions, not about facts. It was a point of view story. We never hear from the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is repeatedly accused by people in the film of trying to wipeout the Nuba people. That's probably with good reason because Wikipedia's account says al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for a variety of crimes including genocide and there's a Wikileaks document that says he's embezzled $9 billion.
Number 2: When The Ocean Met The Sky
I'm trying to figure out why this one worked well for me, while Midora in Hawaii yesterday, didn't. Marina is about two sisters who haven't seen each other for a while and now have a week together and their various problems with each other come out in the movie. It was well done, but I got tired of their conflict after a while. Ocean was about three brothers forced on an outdoor adventure with to get their (substantial) inheritance as stipulated in their father's will. Their unresolved conflicts start coming out in the first scene. Yet this film worked for me. Why?
Part may be because I don't understand Japanese and got the dialogue only through the subtitles. It had sisters while Ocean had brothers. I saw Midora after the movie on Sudan so I was already a bit down.
In any case, I really enjoyed When The Ocean Met The Sky. It just worked. The tension among the brothers was real and the confrontations were realistic, as were the eventual resolutions. And one likes to think that the father who put this condition on the will intended that they would work through their differences this way. The three actors who played the brothers and the one who played their guide in the woods were all strong and their chemistry, even when they were fighting, was good.
In a sense this was a story that could have come out of Hollywood, but the way it was done was much more understated. The audience here clearly enjoyed it.
I'm writing this after having seen Children of the Arctic, but I need to hold off on that and post this. Lots of people were in line for the next film - High Treason.