Documentary

The Injustice of an 800 Mile Wall

I was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and grew up in San Diego, California, only a few hundred yards from the actual borderline. As a kid, there were always border patrols around but I never felt like my birthplace offered any threat. A few years ago, though, I noticed a massive escalation of security infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border. I couldn't figure out what had changed.

Learning from Iraqi Good Samaritans

Just a few days ago, I returned from a short trip into Iraq with a small group of Christian peacemakers. Most of us had been to the country before, but under varying circumstances: I was on a combat deployment in 2004; Greg Barrett, our organizer, went as a journalist in the run-up to the invasion in 2003; and four were part of a peace team protesting the bombing campaign during that same period.

Shane Claiborne, Cliff Kindy, Weldon Nisly, and Peggy Gish were leaving Iraq in March 2003 when one of their vehicles was involved in an accident, leaving Cliff and Weldon with life-threatening injuries. Had it not been for a few Iraqi Good Samaritans, they may have never made it out alive.

The Trafficker Next Door

In Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America, filmmaker Libby Spears traces the United States’ role in global sex trafficking, while also documenting how prevalent the problem is in the U.S. Becky Garrison, author of The New Atheist Crusaders and Their Unholy Grail, spoke with Spears earlier this year at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival, where the film debuted.

What compelled you to create this documentary?

I was in the Philippines in 2001 doing another documentary when I came across the story of the “comfort women” who were trafficked during World War II to service the Japanese Army. It was the first time I had heard the term “sex trafficking,” which is so appalling and horrific to me. I became obsessed with that topic and began shooting stories about the women who are being trafficked around military bases in Southeast Asia. I realized quickly I was in over my head and there was a lot of personal risk I couldn’t take. When I came back [to the U.S.], I realized this was happening here, which is where the documentary ended up.

How do U.S. citizens influence the global demand and growth of the sex trafficking industry?

It all goes back to U.S. capitalism. Statistically, everyone thinks this is an overseas problem—from the backdoor brothel to the child pornography bit. But the majority of this is happening in the U.S. in terms of where the money is being funneled from ultimately. Most of the victims of child pornography are American.

How does our society’s hypersexualized culture contribute to this problem?

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Super Size My Conscience

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is not afraid to get messy. When tackling an issue on film, he gets right down in the trenches, often compromising his own health and well-being to unveil systemic problems in America with microscopic scrutiny. He did it most notably with Super Size Me, a documentary in which he examined the problem of obesity by eating at McDonald’s for every meal for 30 days. His declining health and subsequent depression was enough to send longtime McDonald’s patrons running to the nearest farmers market.

Since then, Spurlock’s projects have had the same premise of immersion journalism. His now-canceled Fox television show, 30 Days, placed participants in “what if” situations that seemed to come out of Spurlock’s own musings: What if a self-proclaimed “homophobe” was forced to live with a gay man in San Francisco? What if you lived in a prison for 30 days? What if an avid hunter lived with a vegan animal-rights activist? The scenarios made for some real human drama as well as honest civil discourse among folks on two sides of an issue.

Spurlock spoke with Sojourners editors Jim Wallis and Jeannie Choi about his newest project, The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice, and explains that though his projects be madness, there is method to them.

Jim Wallis: You take filmmaking and turn it into social commentary—you did that most notably with Super Size Me. Where did the idea for that project come from?

Morgan Spurlock: I felt there was a real conversation to be had with what was happening in our country. Obesity had become such a big problem at that point, no pun intended.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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An Interview with Morgan Spurlock

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is not afraid to get messy. When tackling an issue on film, he gets right down in the trenches, often compromising his own health and well-being to unveil systemic problems in America with microscopic scrutiny. He did it most notably with Super Size Me, a documentary in which he examined the problem of obesity by eating at McDonald's for every meal for 30 days. His declining health and subsequent depression was enough to send longtime McDonald's patrons running to the nearest farmers market.

Spurlock spoke with Sojourners editors Jim Wallis and Jeannie Choi about his newest project, The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice, and explains that though his projects be madness, there is method to them.

 

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine January 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
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