Tuesday, March 1, 2011

short documentary viewing of Justice Denied: Voices from Guanta'namo

    This documentary was chosen due to my interest in how our goverment could and did detain hundreds of people for years after 9/11 without ever charging them with a crime.  The director uses straitforward interviews with five of the men who were held anywhere from two to five years and never charged with a crime. Mouzzam Begg was a British resident working in Afghanastan building a school when he was taken and held for three years, Omar Deshayes had gone to Pakastan to study the legal system there when he was abducted and held for five years. Ruahal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul were born and raised together in England and were taken to Guanta'namo for two and a half years.   These men were never brought up on any charges but were just taken and held as possible terrorists just because of there muslim background.  The direct interview process with some narration is an excellent form of delivery for a documentary.  The viewer can recieve the information directly from the source.  The director still has many ways to steer this type of approach but in the end it is the subjects that the documentaries are about that shine and help to share their own story.  I already had a small interest in this subject, but beginning to see the way it affected these men for the rest of their lives needs to be seen.  All of the men interviewed stated that the one thing their kidnappers could not take from them was their strong religious beliefs, so that is what they held on to.  They always had a belief that America were the good guys like in the movies, now that concept is shattered.  Are we as a country stopping terrorism or helping breed it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hell house

Hell house is documentary film about the Trinity Christian Church located in Texas who puts on a haunted house unlike any other. George Ratliff goes into this film hoping to accomplish something not normally; a film that is not bias and free of judgment so they are there to purely show the story at hand. It starts out with Ratliff interviewing different people about their thoughts and who they feel about the Hell House, and then we see how the auditions are conducted through August. Up to this part Ratliff stays pretty neutral in the film but we see him take sides slightly when he goes over to the single dad’s family. We see his youngest son have a seizure and break down praying to god to help bring him out of it. A few seconds later he seems to slip out of it and his dad proceeds to thank god for his help. The filmmakers really do not need to show this clip I feel since it could bring over people to that side of the argument saying the church is right in partaking of Hell House. Later we see how much the kids enjoy trying out for the parts in the production and this may have been done to counter the effect of the filming of the family stated before in this paragraph. It’s almost odd how happy these kids are to play the parts in the production. The girls want to be the best rape or abortion girl possible and the guys go after the rappers or best school shooters. It probably is an outlet for them since they go to a church based high school and don’t really have any outlet for their creativity. Even after they are chosen for the parts, they laugh right after they read their parts about being raped, which is a bit odd.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hell House

I thought the way Hell house was shot and presented was done in a very interesting way. The main purpose of a documentary is to show something how it really is in life. To not change or ad to the situation and just show people something that is happening in real life that they would not normally scene. Most documentarians don't do that. They influence, whether they wanted to or not, the people or end up changing the scene so its not totally true. Hell House, or at lest it does a very good job to make it look so, does not do that. The camera follows a very fly on the wall type feel. The documentarian does not get involved with the scenes and the interviews are kept short to what seems like one question. It makes it feel more real. That the camera is really just following these people around and they are not changing their ways because the camera is there. I feel that this way of filming makes the documentary much more convincing and accomplishing their message in a much more powerful way.
Showing the children try out and practicing their skits is also very powerful. It shows how many people are into doing this Hell House and how they feel that they are helping people. Its not just adults its kids and teenagers too. And the people trying out get very much into the scenes and end up crying themselves in just trying out for the role! It shows the power that the church has over these families and individuals that they can't even see.

Hell House

Hell House is a documentary filmed by George Ratliff, telling about a Christian churches’ haunted house that teaches about making the right decisions and either going to heaven or hell. Im surprised about the use of only natural light. No artificial light was used in the film. If the scene being shot was outside in the dark, the scene was dark and no camera light was used to brighten faces. This helped bring more realism to the film. It made the film feel like a home movie being shot from the inside; it gave a backstage experience. Also the different scenes he added helped really bring out the true meaning behind the documentary. For example, the scene of the man trying to get the people into the room to pray helps the viewers to understand the main point behind the Hell House.

Also the filmmaker’s choice to show each the scene of the Hell House helped the viewer to understand what the people going through the house actually saw. The taped scenes of the Hell House were filmed in a way of close shots, eye level and different angles to capture all of the commotion in each scene. This put the audience in the Hell House with the rest of the tour group.

The filmmaker’s decision to add the scene of the teenager arguing with the man about faith and what was portrayed in the Hell House helps illustrate that not everyone that sees the house agrees with what is being shown. It helps depict another view that may help the viewing audience, that doesn’t agree with the Hell House, better understand why that church is putting on the house.

Ratliff’s decision to add different scenes even the more explicit ones helps illustrate the truth behind the church’s decision for the house; as well as demonstrating the firm belief of all the church people who make Hell House, that they are doing the right thing and helping to spread their belief in God.

Hell House

Hell House is a documentary about the fear mongering tactics used by one church to “save” their community. A group of believers, led by their pastor, sets up an annual haunted house around Halloween that highlights contemporary moral and religious problems to convince local teenagers of their dangers. Though the message the church is sending is indeed troubling, the most disturbing part of the film is the way the documentarian makes the viewers feel as if they are actually a part of the process. This is done first in the beginning, in which the film is introduced by the pastor instead of the director. This makes it seem as if the following scenes and story are the idea of the church instead of the documentarian. Viewers feel as if they are in the church with these characters, planning and building a haunted house, instead of watching a film that is meant to inform them. The lack of presence of the documentarian leaves viewers to come to their own conclusions, without feeling the bias of an outside source. The following connection formed with the people of “Hell House” is strange and unappealing. This is also what makes the film effective, because its apparent lack of bias makes viewers feel as if they are deciding on their own that this is a disturbing message.

Hell house

Hell house was documented in a very interesting way that I have not experienced before in a documentary. The most intriguing aspect of the way the film was documented is how George Ratliff made it seem as if he were not there and that these people in the video were just living their lives like they would any other day. There were many scenes he filmed that were personal that most documentarians would not bother to do. One of the many times that Ratliff filmed personal footage was in the homes of the church people. This surprised me a lot because talking about religion and homosexuality is personal enough but to go into someone’s home and film their children being put in bed and eating is somewhat extreme. Also with the close ups and camera views being detailed it was very weird to see these people being filmed very close but not being spoken to by the documentarian.There were many more scenes that seemed a little too personal to be filming such as at work, school, and at church. Without talking or letting his presents be known, Ratliff seemed to me as more of a creep rather than a documentarian filming.

Hell House

Hell House is a documentary by George Ratliff that shows the scare tactics used by a Texas Pentecostal church's haunted house.  The thing that most intrigued me about this film, was the presentation of the information.  Everything was filmed in the perspective of the Trinity Church members and haunted house workers.  Ratliff did not go out of his way to film anything that showed the haunted house as good or bad.  Instead, he captured the actions and thoughts of those involved in the presentation of what will happen if God is not welcome in your life.  It was very eye opening to see how the "actors" made fun of and joked around during rehearsals.  It was almost upsetting to see them go from portraying a rape victim committing suicide, and then switch to laughing about it, as if it was a joke.  It seems that all of the members taking part in the haunted house don't quite take the subject matter seriously when they are not acting.  It makes the viewer (or at least made me) feel as though they are unaware of how terrible the things they are portraying really are to people who have to go through it.
The only time the viewer is shown a point of view opposite of that of the church is when a group of teenagers goes through and states how they were offended by the scene where the man with AIDS dies.  They are automatically pulled into an argument with a very religious man, and the police officer who works with the church comes out to intervene, and tries to convince the teens that with God, the things that they witnessed will not happen.  It was shocking to see how blind the Trinity Church members seem to be to other points of view.