Chris Hegedus

Unlocking the Cage Chimpanzee

As one of the pioneers of the Direct Cinema movement back in the 1960s, D.A. Pennebaker has long been associated with mostly observational films and concert docs, including the classics Don’t Look Back, The War Room, Monterey Pop, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars, Town Bloody Hall and Company: Original Cast Album. Neither he nor his wife and filmmaking partner, Chris Hegedus, are thought of as directors of issue films. Their next feature, therefore, seems like a departure, though it probably isn’t as behind a cause as it sounds. The doc is called Unlocking the Cage and it follows attorney Steve Wise in his attempt to give animals the same legal rights as humans. Chimpanzees are the main focus, having been involved in his landmark lawsuit demanding personhood for the apes, one of which was a plaintiff in court last December. In their campaign video on Kickstarter, where they’re hoping to raise at least $75K to continue production, Pennebaker and Hegedus definitely come across as being on Wise’s side, though that doesn’t mean their film will have too much of a stance on the issue. It’ll probably just be like how you can figure they were supporters of Bill Clinton while making The War Room even if that’s not explicitly illustrated on screen. The couple is clearly passionate about there being protection for the chimps and other animals, yet the project is more about the questions Wise’s efforts raise, and those on the other side of the issue will be […]

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Criterion Files

As America anticipates the first general election Presidential debate of 2012 tonight, it’s clear that there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: what does The Criterion Collection have to say about American politics at the executive level? The Collection certainly has a multitude of world leader’s represented, from Idi Amin in Barbet Schroder’s General Idi Amin Dada (1974) to Ivan the Terrible in Sergei Eisenstein’s two-part masterpiece of the same name. But Criterion also has three of the best movies made about real and fictional 20th century American Presidents and Presidential candidates…

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