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POLITICAL FILM SOCIETY NEWSLETTER #32
1 January 1999

1998--THE MOST POLITICAL YEAR IN RECENT FILMMAKING
Nominations for the best political films of 1998 closed on December 31.
Fifteen films have been nominated, a record in the twelve-year history of
the Political Film Society. According to the rules governing awards, film
directors have been sent notifications that their films have been
nominated.  Since there is a limit of five nominees for any of the four award
categories, ballots will be sent to Political Film Society members on 15
January to narrow the nominees in the category of Peace, where seven films
have been nominated.

POLITICAL FILM SOCIETY WEBSITE CONSTRUCTED
Thanks to the diligent work of David Oshima of Pipeline Graphics, the
Political Film Society now has a website, where members and nonmembers can
peruse all elements of the work of the Society. Included are Political Film
Society reviews of all films nominated for 1998, with links to other review
sources. The address is http://www.geocities.com/~polfilms/ Now that the
Political Film Society is entirely available in cyberspace, this is the
last newsletter to be faxed gratis to its members. Starting 1999, all members
will receive email newsletters and can go to the Political Film Society
website free of charge. Those requiring faxed or mailed newsletters will
remain
members, but will receive newsletters at a cost of $5.00 annually.

THE THIN RED LINE AND A CIVIL ACTION ARE THE FINAL AWARD NOMINEES OF 1998
Based on James Jones's autobiographical novel of the same title that was
unsuccessfully made into a film in 1964, The Thin Red Line has been
nominated for an award as this year as the best film in raising the
consciousness of filmviewers on the advantages of peaceful methods for
resolving conflicts.  Filmed in the Solomon Islands, where Jones participated
in the Battle of
Guadalcanal, the film exposes the innermost thoughts of battle participants,
one of whom tells us that war turns humans into dogs. The film
has received rave reviews for creating a kind of French impressionist canvass
with its combination of poetic voice-overs, brutal action scenes, breathtaking
cinematography of flora and fauna of Guadalcanal, everyday peaceful lives
of Solomon Islanders, and pensive music. Thanks to director Terrence Malick,
who may well have upstaged Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, we leave
the theater no longer naive about the consequences of committing troops,
however noble the cause.
A Civil Action, in contrast, follows a well-established formula in presenting
a true story based on a well-researched book by journalist Jonathan Harr:
Big business (`Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace) has harmed humble individuals,
causing death and disease, by dumping toxic waste into the drinking water
of Woburn, Massachusetts. Jan Schlichtmann, a lawyer who at first was
reluctant to accept the case, goes through a personal transformation as he
decides to go for broke to aid the families. Indeed, he becomes broke while
clever lawyers representing the corporations maneuver an acquittal. In
desperatio
n, Schlichtmann sends the documents to the Environmental Protection Agency,
which finds another basis to sue the two errant corporations, which have to
pay an enormous fine, the largest amount ever assessed for environmental
damage
 in New England. As the film ends, we are told that Schlichtmann is currently
representing New Jersey plaintiffs in a similar suit. During the film we
hear explanations about the legal process--how opposing lawyers settle most
such suits out of court, judges make arbitrary rulings in order to shorten the
proceedings, juries decide cases based on personalities of the lawyers, and
similar points are made to show that money rather than human rights is
paramount in most litigation of this sort. The film, directed by Steven
Zaillian, has been nominated both as an expose, bringing the facts about
the case and the legal process to the attention of filmviewers, and for
promoting consciousness of human rights.

NOMINEES FOR BEST FILMS OF 1998 (by category):
DEMOCRACY
    Enemy of the State
    Four Days in September
    Primary Colors
    The Siege
    Wag the Dog
EXPOSE
    Bulworth
    A Civil Action
    Four Days in September
    Regeneration
HUMAN RIGHTS
    A Civil Action
    Enemy of the State
    The Siege
     Wilde
PEACE
     American History X
     The Boxer
     Men with Guns
     Regeneration
     Saving Private Ryan
     Savior
     The Thin Red Line

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