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2 EXECELLENT DOCUMENTARIES OPEN FRIDAY 4/13 IN BALTIMORE

I screened "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and "Bully"  (initially entitled "The Bully Project" while making the festival circuit last year) at last year's SILVERDOCS Documentary Film Festival.  Jiro began a platform release on March 9, while "Bully" opens nationwide on April 13.  Both excellent films can be screened at The Charles beginning today.  Here are my reviews posted on this blog after last year's SILVERDOCS:


"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (****-82 minutes)
 The restaurant has earned the rare prestigious 3-star Michelin rating and its owner is 85-year-old Jiro Ono who, along with his two sons, has created this culinary eatery gem. American film maker David Gelb provides a fascinating expos√© of Jiro and what it takes to receive that rating which, as Japanese food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto points out, will likely disappear upon Yiro's retirement or demise-no matter the effort and talent of his sons to carry on his legacy. A beautiful profile of a man who creates food as art as meticulously as any classical artist, and a fascinating peak into the unique process that helps create and maintain the restaurant's 3-star rating. Gelb includes a soundtrack that utilizes several selections by the renowned 20th century American composer Philip Glass and is the perfect complement to the visuals. The film was bought by Magnola Pictures and a spring 2012 release is planned.

"The Bully Project" (****-94 minutes)
When the Columbine school massacre occurred on April 20 1999, the aftermath included reports that the two young assassins had grown up as victims of bullying. They decided to end the lives of thirteen of their classmates-before turning their guns on themselves. It is unconscionable that it has taken over twelve years for a film such as this to finally address what is unfortunately becoming almost a daily occurrence across this country. Besides the everyday threats of violence by others (metal scanners at school entrances are as common as recess) it seems young people are now killing themselves, and others, in record numbers in order to end years of abuse at the hands of their fellow students. Director Lee Hirsch ("Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony"), who revealed during the Q and A that, growing up, he was also a recipient of bullying, has meticulously created this moving look into this outrageous, and totally preventable, phenomena. He follows five families in five states across The Bible Belt throughout one school year that focuses responsibility, not only on the perpetrators, but also includes parents, administrators, and teachers. One particularly disturbing segment includes school administrators being confronted by the parents of their bullied child after Hirsch manages to film the abuse on a school bus. The school administrators' reaction and their lack of action are almost as scary as the bullying that would eventually lead to tragic results. Moving and powerful, the film was picked by the prestigious Weinstein Company for a nationwide release on March 9, 2012.

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