News

Armando Valladares: Cuban Political Prisoner of Conscience

A short film has been made about Armando Valladares, the Cuban poet who was tortured for decades — twenty-two years — in Castro’s prisons for steadfastly and repeatedly refusing to endorse communism. Over and over again his captors offered to release him, if only he would publicly say that communism was good for Cuba. Despite every manner of threat and brutality, over and over again he refused to make such endorsement. This is a touching and inspiring film of unflinching faith and heroism in the cause of human liberty.

Job Opportunity: VP of Development, Moving Picture Institute

Have you seen a libertarian film lately? Somewhere along the way, the Moving Picture Institute (MPI) may have had a hand in it. MPI supports libertarian filmmakers in numerous ways, from training to internships to financial support. “The Moving Picture Institute produces and promotes films that make an impact on people’s understanding of individual rights, limited government, and free markets, and supports freedom-oriented filmmakers at every phase of their careers.” Want to help? Right now, MPI seeks a VP of Development or a Director of Development to oversee all the organization’s fundraising efforts.

Jimmy Carter: The World Will Run Out of Oil by 2011

If you watch tonight’s presidential debates, remember this piece of comedy gold from the 1976 debates, when Jimmy Carter stated with perfect certainty that the world would run out of oil by 2011, and that therefore we needed to further develop…coal. Ironically, coal is just what Hillary Clinton has now decided, likewise with perfect certainty, to be a dirty form of energy that therefore must be abolished. Politicians don’t actually know anything. They will say anything to get elected, and will reverse themselves tomorrow if it they think it will get more votes. Meanwhile, far from running out of oil, global oil production is now more than 3X what it was in 1976.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail — Story of Small Business David vs. Federal Goliath

A new documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, is about the only bank to be criminally prosecuted for mortgage fraud in the 2008 financial meltdown. It just happened to also be the only bank not politically well-connected or defended by an army of lawyers, an example of how regulation favors the big guys. As a little bank, it just didn’t have, i.e., hadn’t purchased, the cozy relationship larger banks had with the Obama Administration or the Clintons. The film is getting good reviews. Says Screen Daily: “In its intimate, well-observed way, the film is deeply moving and subtly shaming.” Says RogertEbert.com: “The central figure in James’ Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Thomas Sung, decided he wanted to be a banker when he saw It’s a Wonderful Life.  Frank Capra’s vision of a leader of a community by virtue of his support, both financial and emotional, inspired Sung, and James’ brilliantly uses the film as a thematic through line for his story of a George Bailey who stands up to a corrupt, flawed system.”

Madigan: Power, Privilege, Politics — Portrait of a Career Politician

Illinois is, by any measure, one of the most corrupt states in the US. The consequences of that corruption are about to get real, as the state is also on track for bankruptcy in the not too distant future. No one knows exactly what that means, but it will be big. Cities go bankrupt and fail, people and businesses leave, but life goes on. For a state to go bankrupt is unprecedented. In any case, how Illinois got to this point is a story that needs to be told, if for no other reason than as a warning to everyone else. The Illinois Policy Institute’s new documentary, Madigan: Power, Privilege, Politics, will be a good starting point in that telling. It focuses on the political career of Michael Madigan, the 30-year Speaker of the House of Illinois and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, whom many believe to be the spider at the center of the web of Illinois’s corruption. The documentary will be screened in Illinois theaters beginning in October.

The Lovers and The Despot: How Kim Jong Il Tried to Kidnap a Film Industry

A new documentary, The Lovers and The Despot, tells the bizarre and gripping tale of two South Korean filmmakers, actress Choi Eun-hee and her husband, director Shin Sang-ok. In 1978, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il kidnapped them with the idea that they would be the creative spark needed to build a successful film industry in the North. Apparently, not unlike Hitler, Kim Jong Il had an artistic side: he loved films and longed to be a part of making them. Happily, the kidnapped couple eventually escaped, taking with them some of the only recordings ever made of Kim Jong Il talking, and these are used in the documentary. So, oddly enough, Kim got to be in film after all. For the filmmakers, their experience was something between Sunset Boulevard (with Kim Jong Il saying “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille) and The Vanishing. About the film, IndieWire says: “A story so interesting it feels like you could burrow into it for years. And so, when The Lovers and the Despot finally crawls to a close, you’re left with one thought above all others: This could make for a really great movie, some day.”

Law Professor: Don’t Talk to the Police

James Duane, a professor at Virginia’s Regent Law School, gave a speech eight years ago, entitled “Don’t Talk to the Police.” His speech warned that, legally speaking, the deck is stacked against ordinary people, and that talking to the police even innocently can get you into unexpected trouble. Little did he know that his speech, recorded and posted on YouTube would be viewed millions of times. He has since expanded on his thesis with a book, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent and he was recently interviewed by Vice.com: “I spoke to many sophisticated audiences, college students, law students, and they said, ‘This was astonishing, we had no idea, we never heard any of this, we never knew any of this.’ And that was what reminded me, it’s important to get this message out to as many people as possible.”

Chinese Censors Gaining Influence in Hollywood

By 2017, the Chinese box office is expected to exceed that of the US for the first time. That’s music to the ears of Hollywood execs eager for new business, but their access to that lucrative market will depend on appeasing Chinese Communist Party censors. According to an article in the Guardian, “The censors have the last word. Crime stories cannot have too many details. Stories of corruption must end with the bad guy behind bars. No ghosts. No gay love stories. No religion. No nudity. No politics.” The article gives a view of the future of film through the eyes of several Hong Kong directors, who have long experience in dealing with the censors. Says one director: “Everyone who makes expensive films will have to make compromises, because China is where the money is. It’s that simple.” It was previously reported by Epoch Times that Hollywood is already editing American movies to satisfy Chinese censors, effectively allowing the CCP to censor for the US as well. An example: Men in Black 3 was “forced to cut a scene in which civilians’ memories are erased, a scene that a Chinese newspaper wrote may have been perceived as a commentary on China’s internet censorship policies.”