Roberts' anger captures the zeitgeist of many of this year's 15 shortlisted documentary feature titles: the government abuse, negligence and mismanagement that reigns down on its citizenry and, in many fascinating ways, how citizens boldly fight back.
"There's so much collective rage at this administration that it's hard to miss the target this year," says director Errol Morris, whose "Standard Operating Procedure" is a stark and eerie look at the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. "In past administrations, there was always something redeeming. With LBJ, yes there's the Vietnam debacle, but look at the Great Society. With Nixon, there's Southeast Asia, but he opened up China, and so forth. Here we're left with ruins in every arena across the board. The important thing, I think, is to weigh in and not stand on the sidelines." Morris says all the shortlisted docs rose well to this challenge.
"I think we can all safely say that the dissatisfaction with our government is at one of the highest points in our history," says "The Garden" director Scott Hamilton Kennedy. "For 'The Garden,' it's about the ideal of 'justice for all.' Has it become just a toothless slogan, or is it really one of the most important building blocks of our democracy? It's important that these types of stories get told . . . of doing what is best for our whole society not just those with financial and political power."
Kinosian is a freelance writer.
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