Elevate Difference


Certified Copy

The latest film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy begins with the same joke twice. While waiting for author James Miller (William Shimell) to give a lecture, his translator (Angelo Barbagallo) apologizes for James’ lateness and says, “He can’t blame the traffic; he is walking from upstairs.” The restless crowd responds with no audible laughter. Moments later James walks into the room and, unknowing that it has just been said, re-uses the same joke. This time several members of the crowd emit soft laughter. Within the first few minutes of the film, Kiarostami has already laid out his brilliant thesis: that when it comes to art, history, or even comedy the copy can have meaning in a way that makes it as valuable the original.

Vag Magazine

I didn’t think it was even figuratively possible to shoot yourself in the foot while disappearing up your own behind, but the characters in Vag Magazine have proven otherwise. This eerily well-observed sketch show from the women of the Upright Citizens Brigade is watchable and rewatchable by third wave feminists and those who love them—or who love to laugh at them—especially since every episode is available on the web.

Last Train Home

The establishing longshot of this documentary tilts down to show a few policemen in an open, paved space. Slowly the camera pans left, and the entire frame fills with thousands of people standing in a drizzle. Many hold bright, pastel-coloured umbrellas. It’s a beautiful image. The following shot, from ground level, shows that huge crowd rushing in pandemonium past the camera into a train station. These two shots are emblematic of the film: beauty and chaos inextricably interwoven.

The Skin Quilt Project

Without the preservation of historical text, artifact, and art, history can slowly fade from memory. Stories of survival can easily become short-lived memories as they are passed from one generation to the next before they are forgotten. For Black African American women, their history has been and continues to be woven together in quilting. The Skin Quilt Project is a documentary featuring various quilters, artists, academics, and historians discussing the necessity, purpose, benefits, and impact of Black African American women quilters and what their artistry does for their families and communities.


What do you get when you cross a documentary film about the supply and demand frenzy of the Chicago Stock Exchange with a borderline Marxist, feminist film critic? A whole lot of screaming. But that’s really just happening on screen during Floored, the new movie from director James Allen Smith (My Name is Smith), which presents Chicago traders and their associates telling stories of how it felt to be in “the pits” during the “glory days” before the boom of Internet trading and the recession of late, risking their clients’ (and often their own) money. As for the room where I was sitting, there was silence and a yawn. This liberal wasn’t shocked or amused by a showcase of the distinctly capitalist obsession with money.

Nrityagram: The Love of Dance

In the film Nrityagram: The Love of Dance, a short and simple story is told. A woman finds purpose in her was life when she learns how to dance and creates an institute to instruct others. It is the story of Protima Bedi and her Nrityagram Dance Ensemble. Protima Bedi was known in India as a socialite, until she saw a Narissi Dance and came to pursue it instead. A woman who was known as an emotionally vibrant and open person, pursues a dance form that is tells the story of feelings more than anything else.

Love Translated

Love Translated follows a group of men from North America and Europe as they tour the Ukraine on a trip organized by an international dating service that links male clients with “letter order brides.” Over the course of their ten-day trip, the men travel to several cities, judge a beauty pageant of women who have joined the agency, attend social events, and go on “one-on-one” dates (accompanied, normally, by a translator).

Beautiful Boy

Considering how common the tragedy of school shootings has become in our society, it is strange how infrequently this phenomena appears on both the silver and the TV screen. Perhaps this is because understanding these incidents is difficult, even when it comes to fiction. In Beautiful Boy, director Shawn Ku attempts to explore unanswerable questions by depicting a married couple who are torn apart by the death of their son, a college student who is both the victim and culprit of a massively fatal school shooting.


Don’t let the relationship-centric plot fool you; Monogamy is not a chick flick. In fact, it’s one of the more interesting films I’ve seen that explores fears about committing oneself to just one person for the rest of one’s life, from a wholly male perspective. Typically these kinds of heteronormative man-boy treatises on marriage phobia are treated with ample doses of trite and predictable humor.


Mutum is a coming of age, low-budget feature about a subsistence farming family living in the sertão, the hardscrabble outback of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The family is so dirt poor and isolated that nearly every meal is rice and a little meat, the roof leaks buckets in a rainstorm, and a person can die from lack of treatment for a minor scrape that becomes infected.

Orgasm Inc.

The orgasm. Feminists laud it, good lovers work hard to give it, pharmaceutical companies make it a business model. The inability to experience an orgasm is thought to be as devastating as the inability to delight in the joy of wine, sunrise, spring flowers, and other wonderment. But this is hardly an overstatement. Last week in London, I had the sheer privilege of attending a hugely popular talk by a doyenne of second wave feminism, Shere Hite.

Put This on the {Map}: East King County

Part education, part cinema, all honesty. Put This on the {Map}: East King County gives a youthful face to gender and sexuality through its twenty-six compelling high school narrators. Filmed in Washington State on the east side of Seattle, where there is seemingly no visibility of queer youth, the strength of these young people to comes out on camera. Celebrating who they are is astonishing for any high schooler, let alone a queer one in a community where they are often isolated.

Peep World

Lately it seems as if forced quirkiness has become an unavoidable symptom of our indie films, with the family of characters being perhaps the most common and convenient setup (see Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, et al). So despite certain bright lights in Peep World's cast, I was wary of it from the start.

Elena Undone

When I discovered that the director of Elena Undone was the same Nicole Conn who’d directed Claire of the Moon, I was a bit nervous.

Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss

Harlan reworked brilliantly the Jew Suss film. This will be the anti-Semitic film. - From the diary of Joseph Goebbels, December 15, 1939. You’re a talented, ambitious film director, lauded in your homeland and feted elsewhere for your movies. You can choose your projects. Producers throw money at you and don’t interfere with your work. You have final cut. You’re well paid. You lead a privileged life. You are married to a beautiful actress, who is your leading lady.

Zero Bridge

Scenes from this film and the emotions they elicited continued to resonate in my mind for hours after I saw it. Zero Bridge is an understated yet profound film that shows us a slice of life in Kashmir, a place most of us know little about. The story follows Dilawar, a seventeen-year-old Kashmiri boy that lives with his uncle and is struggling to find his way. He is driven by a desire to leave Kashmir and hopefully join his adoptive mother in Delhi.

First Person Plural

Imagine having three different names and three different birth dates. Deann Borshay Liem asks the viewers of her documentary film First Person Plural to do just that as she tells the story of her adoption in 1966 from Korea by American parents living in California. The film traces her childhood in America and desperate drive to assimilate perfectly into American culture, which—to all who looked at her—would say she accomplished quite successfully.

Holy Kitchens: True Business

Punjabi chef Vikas Khanna is known for bringing great Indian food to discerning New York City diners. Although he surely has his hands full with his new restaurant Junoon, Khanna is working on an arduous extra-curricular project—a series of short documentary films about the worldwide connection between spirituality and feeding the hungry.

Sleepwalking Land

Based on the novel by Mia Couto, Sleepwalking Land showcases the bittersweet journey of an older man and a boy as they meander through the war-ravaged countryside of Mozambique. Initially, Muidinga and “Uncle” Tuahir are seeking the basics: food, shelter, and safety from traveling gangs. Tuahir had pretended to be Muidinga’s uncle when they were residing in the Xalala refugee camp. The boy was presumed dead until Tuahir noticed otherwise, and by claiming a familial bond, the man was able to take the boy under his wing.

No One Killed Jessica

In 1999 model/waitress Jessica Lall refused to serve drinks to a rowdy man in a crowded bar, who then shot her point blank in a fit of rage. That man turned out to be the son of an influential politician, but with 300 witnesses it seemed like a straightforward case. However, in an unfortunate example of the rot in the judicial system and rampant corruption, all the witnesses were either threatened or paid off, and the evidence was tampered with, leading to the release of the killer. No One Killed Jessica by Rajkumar Gupta follows the initial courtroom campaign relentlessly pursued by Jessica’s sister, Sabrina (Vidya Balan), and then the news media battle for the reopening of the case led by fictionalized reporter Meera (Rani Mukherji).

My Normal

When artists use the word 'normal' to title their work, they usually mean to imply that they’re going to show us something arguably abnormal. In the case of My Normal, the fringe behavior in question is BDSM: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.

Possible Lives (Las Vidas Posibles)

As a geologist, Clara’s husband Luciano often travels to Patagonia for work. After calling Clara from the road, he stops answering his cell phone. Once she’s confirmed that he failed to check into his hotel, Clara leaves a note and sets out to find him. Thousands of miles from home, she checks into the room herself. She meets with a police inspector and asks for help finding her husband.

White Material

The title of this grave work derives from Black African slang for Whites and for the objects Whites own, e.g., a gold cigarette lighter (an important symbolic prop in the film). Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) is the main white material here, a middle-aged woman trapped by the colonial past and present civil war in an unnamed African country.

What A Wonderful World

In What A Wonderful World, director Faouzi Bensaidi attempts to bring together the incongruities of Moroccan urban life with elegance and intimacy. The film features a set of diverse characters whose lives intersect either by coincidence or choice. Thus, throughout the film one notices several intertwined little stories. However, the film’s main storyline revolves around a mercenary assassin, Kamel (who is played by Bensaidi), who falls in love with Kenza, a traffic officer by day and a prostitute by night.

Eyes Wide Open

Viewing Eyes Wide Open is like watching a wrecking ball swing towards a beloved old building from afar; you can see the destructive aftermath coming, but are powerless to stop it. It is a gorgeously filmed demolition, filled with exquisite tenderness and emotion, but a demolition nonetheless. The story follows the love between two Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem.

Threads of Hope

I have to admit to watching this film with much trepidation. Too many films and documentaries are dedicated to analyzing the poor state of women’s lives in the developing world, but few dedicate their focus to researching and explicating the systemic inequalities rooted in patriarchy, that exist to reinforce women’s conditions. However, while watching I was determined to keep an open mind and value the work and perspective of a young woman of color, endeavoring to make a difference in the world by documenting women’s lives in Kolkata, India.


It’s hard to give a shit about the rich. The beautiful and the damned don’t stir much sympathy. All the angst of moneyed loneliness seems… slight, when compared to poor and ugly people who feel lonely. Pity should be reserved for people the world shuts out, not those who shun the world’s embrace. Sofia Coppola’s new movie, Somewhere, is about the sadness of having everything. Luckily, it’s not as bad as you might think.

True Grit

True Grit is set in a time when justice was a loose term and contractions have apparently not been introduced to the English language. After her father is murdered in cold-blood by an outlaw named Tom Chaney, the eloquent and calculating Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) travels to her father’s home with the goal of seeking justice against the attacker. She enlists the gruff and barely sober U.S.

Blue Valentine

Let me just go right out and say it, Blue Valentine is one of the best movies of the year. It is a major accomplishment for the actors (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) and the director (Derek Cianfrance).


Trailerpark is a student-made feature length production by Ohio University’s MDIA 419 course. It is based on the book of the same title by award–winning author Russell Banks. Despite an initial comment by another viewer that the sound quality was not good, we both agreed that visually, the film had much to offer, and that story-wise, there was a lot of (mostly) intriguing information to absorb.