Franny Armstrong

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Drowned Out Review


Good
Dam-building is one of society's oldest and most controversial tricks on mother nature. Irrigation, electricity, and drinking water are provided where they formerly couldn't reach, but in the process, enormous lakes are formed behind the dams -- often drowning villages constructed there.

Drowned Out examines the massively controversial Narmada Dam and its relatives in India, an enormous and expensive project originally conceived to bring water to drought-ridden areas. According to critics (and director Franny Armstrong), this isn't quite the case: Not only are dry areas not getting water, thousands of families are being displaced because of the dam. The government has little land to give, so it offers meager amounts of cash to those affected: Most spend it immediately and move to the disease-infested slums of the cities. Meanwhile, a few brave souls choose to stay and tough it out, moving to higher ground if they can, resigning themselves to die if they must. (The government won't allow that either, though: People are beaten until they move.)

Continue reading: Drowned Out Review

McLibel Review


Very Good
McLibel was "officially" released way back in 1998, but like all good stories, it continues to develop. As I write this in March 2005, there's new footage in the film dating from just a month ago -- though the film does seem to indicate the book has been closed on a very unique case in legal history.

In England, there's a law that gives corporations wide-ranging authority over what can and can't be said about them. It's trivially easy to threaten a libel suit -- which is exactly what happened to Dave Morris and Helen Steel, who were handing out anti-McD's leaflets in 1990. Accusing the company of being unhealthy, unfair to workers, cruel to animals, and other atrocities, Morris and Steel were expected to quickly apologize and promise to cease and desist -- as countless media empires had before them. Not quite. The duo went to court, creating a PR nightmare for Mickey D's.

Continue reading: McLibel Review

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