We speak with Roger Ross Williams about his new project, "Life, Animated," which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Williams was the first African-American director to win an Oscar, for his film "Music by Prudence," which won the 2010 Academy Award for documentary short subject. He also directed the critically acclaimed feature documentary "God Loves Uganda." "You feel the weight of history," Williams says of his recognition. "The Academy just reflects Hollywood," Williams says as he discusses why he will not be boycotting the Oscars, but instead plans to continue trying to improve recognition and diversity by mentoring young filmmakers.
Embracing Autism: Journalist Ron Suskind on Supporting His Son's Strengths, Advice for Other Parents
In the new film "Life, Animated," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind recounts his experience with his son Owen Suskind, who was diagnosed with regressive autism when he was three years old and has since gone to college and now holds two jobs. Elaborating on his best-selling book, "Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism," Suskind says he and other parents have worked to discover what their children are passionate about, and "when you match the strengths with the deficits, often they help themselves." He also discusses challenges for parents with few resources to find schools and assisted living environments for their autistic children, and his advocacy efforts to ensure health insurance companies cover the cost of therapies that could benefit autistic children.
Today we spend the hour with a young man with autism who learned to interact with the world in an unusual way. Owen Suskind was diagnosed with regressive autism when he was three years old. He stopped talking, and his family said Owen "vanished" within himself. He did not speak for years. Then his father, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, discovered a remarkable way to talk with his son involving characters from Owen’s favorite Disney films. Owen had memorized the lines to dozens of Disney films, and this discovery changed all of their lives, opening a new way for Owen to communicate. His story became the focus of Ron Suskind’s best-selling book, "Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism." Owen has since gone to college and now holds two jobs. Last year Owen, who is now in his twenties, even appeared on a Comedy Central special alongside the comedian Gilbert Gottfried who did the original voice of Iago the parrot in the Disney film "Aladdin." Now the story of Owen’s life has been turned into the documentary "Life, Animated," which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In an extended interview, we feature excerpts from the film and speak with Owen Suskind, his father Ron and Roger Ross Williams, the film’s director, in Park City, Utah.
- Bundys Arrested & 1 Dead, Amid Oregon Wildlife Refuge Occupation
- Pentagon Seeks "Decisive Military Action" Against ISIL in Libya
- Egypt: Hundreds Subjected to "Enforced Disappearances"
- Ruling: Canadian Gov't Discriminated Against First Nations Children
- New Rules Lift Restrictions on U.S. Exports to Cuba
- U.N. Syria Envoy Sends Out Invitations for Geneva Peace Talks
- France: Justice Minister Resigns over Proposed Antiterrorism Laws
- Trump Says He'll Skip GOP Debate Because Megyn Kelly Is Moderating
- Ohio: Schools Closed in Sebring Amid High Lead Levels in Water
- Flint Residents Protest Receiving Bills for Poisoned Water
- San Francisco: 16 People Arrested Protesting ICE Raids
- New York: 11 Veterans Arrested Protesting Gas Storage Facility
- Peruvian Indigenous Activist Featured in New Doc Barred from Coming to U.S. for Sundance Premiere
The legendary actor and director Robert Redford founded the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in 1978. It’s now among the largest film festivals in the country, with some 50,000 attendees. "What I never expected was for it to grow to the size it is now," Redford tells Democracy Now! He says the festival may be too large to be sustainable for its small host, Park City, Utah. The solution he says is under consideration is to break up the festival to show narrative films, documentary films and shorts in separate events.
Actor and director Robert Redford founded the Sundance Film Festival, which has helped independent voices develop their craft—in film, theater and music—and reach new audiences. Redford joins us in Park City to discuss the calls for boycotting the Oscars over its exclusion of people of color, and his activism around climate change.
Forty years ago, the legendary actor Robert Redford starred in one of the most celebrated journalism films of all time: "All The President’s Men." Redford and Dustin Hoffman portrayed Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigating the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down President Nixon. In his most recent film "Truth," Robert Redford portrays another journalist—this time CBS reporter Dan Rather. The film is based on CBS producer Mary Mapes’ 2005 memoir about how she was fired and Rather was forced to resign after they reported that George W. Bush received special treatment in the U.S. Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Redford joins us in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival, which he founded in 1978.
Two activists featured in Josh Fox’s new documentary, "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change," join us to discuss the role of direct action in fighting global warming. Aria Doe is co-founder and executive director of the Action Center for Education and Community Development in Far Rockaway, Queens, in New York City, and Tim DeChristopher founded the Climate Disobedience Center after spending 21 months in federal custody for posing as a bidder in 2008 to prevent oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in his home state of Utah. We also speak with Fox about his plans to take the film on the road and distribute it for free as a tool in the climate justice movement.
As 2015 goes down as the world’s hottest year on record and the East Coast continues to dig out from one of its worst snowstorms in history, we look at the new documentary by Josh Fox. In "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change," Fox travels the globe, from New York City to the Marshall Islands and China, to follow the struggles of communities fighting the impacts of climate change. In one scene, a group of Pacific Climate Warriors chant, "We are not drowning, we are fighting." Fox’s new film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and airs on HBO this summer. His other films include "Gasland," the documentary which first exposed the harms of the fracking industry and was nominated for an Academy Award.
- Grand Jury Probing Planned Parenthood Instead Indicts 2 Anti-Abortion Activists
- Obama Moves to Ban Solitary Confinement for Juveniles
- Report: Warming Seas Expanding Twice as Fast as Previously Thought
- Danish Parliament to Vote on Confiscating Refugees' Valuables
- Survivor of President Obama's First Drone Strike Speaks Out
- Former President of Maldives Calls for Sanctions over Human Rights Abuses
- Undocumented in Flint Say They've Been Blocked from Receiving Water
- Detroit: Students Stage Walkout in Solidarity with Teacher "Sickouts"
- North Carolina Hears Challenge to 2013 Voter ID Laws
- Sanders and Clinton Face Off at Town Hall in Iowa
- Trial Begins for NYPD Officer in Fatal Shooting of Akai Gurley
- Peace Activist and Anti-Nuclear Protester Concepcion Picciotto Dies
A growing number of actors and filmmakers are pushing for a boycott of the Oscars after no actors of color were nominated for a second year in a row. The largely white male Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences responded by pledging to overhaul its voting requirements and to double membership of women and people of color by 2020. We discuss the boycott calls with two African-American filmmakers: Stanley Nelson, whose latest film is "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," and Dawn Porter, director of "Trapped," which just had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. "This reminds me of when baseball was segregated—the Negro Leagues," Porter says. "Does anyone really think that all of the talent that was in the sport was being recognized?"
Last week saw a series of anti-choice protests surrounding the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In Washington, D.C., protesters bearing photos of fetuses descended on the construction site for a new Planned Parenthood clinic. The protests forced the charter school next door to close for two days. A new project at the Sundance Film Festival puts you in the shoes of a woman passing through the gauntlet of anti-choice protesters to reach an abortion clinic. "Across the Line" is a seven-minute immersive virtual reality experience that uses real audio of anti-choice protesters. We speak with the project’s co-creator, Nonny de la Peña, known as the "godmother of virtual reality," and with executive producer, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a landmark abortion case that could gut Roe v. Wade, we look at a startling new documentary, "Trapped." The film addresses TRAP laws—Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers—and their impact on abortion providers in the South. We are joined by the film’s director, Dawn Porter, as well as two of its subjects: Dr. Willie Parker of Jackson Women’s Health, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, and June Ayers, owner and director of Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, Alabama, one of the few remaining abortion clinics in the state.
Friday marked the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. And just weeks from now, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case that could gut it. The case is called Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. It challenges anti-choice restrictions passed by the Texas state Legislature in 2013, despite a people’s filibuster and a 13-hour stand by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. Since the law passed, about half of the more than 40 abortion clinics in Texas have closed. If the court allows it to go into full effect, Texas could be left with about 10 abortion clinics. And it’s not just Texas that’s at stake. Since 2010, state legislatures across the country have enacted more than 280 restrictions on abortion. We are joined by two guests:
Dawn Porter, director of the new documentary "Trapped," which looks at how abortion providers in Alabama and Texas are fighting to care for their patients despite state restrictions aimed at shutting them down, and Nancy Northup, head of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is arguing Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.
- Record-Breaking Snowstorm Pummels East Coast, Killing 30
- Record Cold Sweeps Across Parts of Asia
- French President Hollande Seeks to Extend State of Emergency
- Syria: At Least 164 Killed in Assad and Russian Airstrikes
- 45 People, Including 20 Children, Drown off Coast of Greece
- British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn Visits French Refugee Camp
- France: Refugees Say Police & Right-Wing Attacks Are Increasing
- Haiti: Protesters Demand Ouster of President Michel Martelly
- West Bank: Funeral Held for Palestinian Girl Killed by Israeli Forces
- Pentagon Asks Psychological Assoc. to Reconsider Ban on Interrogations
- CBS Poll Shows Sanders Leading Clinton in Iowa by 1 Point
- Donald Trump Boasts He Could "Shoot Somebody" and Not Lose Votes
- Security Crackdown Marks Fifth Anniversary of Egyptian Revolution
The acclaimed "people’s poet" and professor Martín Espada has been compared to Pablo Neruda and is widely known as the Latino poet of his generation. In his latest collection of poetry, "Vivas to Those Who Have Failed,"—a title taken from a line by Walt Whitman—Espada begins with a tribute to the 1913 Paterson silk strike, when a group of mostly immigrant workers in New Jersey fought for improved working conditions and an eight-hour workday. He goes on to address struggles and injustices up to the present day, including the police killings of unarmed African Americans and the spate of U.S. mass shootings. Espada also pays tribute to his late father, the legendary photojournalist, teacher and activist Frank Espada. Espada joins us for a discussion and reading of his poetry.
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we look at the case of an undocumented Guatemalan national previously sickened in an immigration jail and now detained in the latest round of controversial raids. Angel Rosa is recovering from a gangrene infection of his scrotum, which he says began while he was held in a detention center in Utah. Rosa’s family says he faces almost certain death if he is deported despite a request for humanitarian relief. We are joined by three guests: Rosa’s daughter, Lorena Rosa, an 18-year-old high school senior who has played a key role in nursing her father back to health; Mark Reid, senior paralegal at the Thomas Rome Law Group in Hartford, Connecticut, who has helped Rosa’s family with his immigration and asylum claims, and played a role in stopping his deportation so far; and Renée Feltz, Democracy Now! criminal justice correspondent and former producer, who has spent more than a decade reporting on immigrant detention centers.
Today marks seven years since President Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay within one year. But Guantánamo remains open, and now Obama only has one year left to fulfill his pledge. We are joined by the world famous musician Roger Waters, who has helped launch the "Countdown to Close Guantánamo" campaign, which asks people to take photos of themselves with signs calling for Guantánamo’s closure before Obama leaves office in 2017. Waters is a founding member, bassist, singer, songwriter for the iconic rock band Pink Floyd, perhaps best known for their record The Wall. For three years between 2010 and 2013, Waters toured the world with a dazzling concert of the same name. We are also joined by Andy Worthington, a British activist and investigative journalist who co-founded the "Countdown to Close Guantánamo" campaign.
- Officer Daniel Holtzclaw Sentenced to 263 Years in Prison
- Top EPA Administrator Resigns over Flint Water Crisis
- Somalia: 20 Dead in al-Shabab Siege of Restaurant
- Yemen: U.S.-Backed Airstrike Kills 9
- More U.S. Special Forces Arrive in Iraq
- Obama Admin Moves to Suppress Footage of Gitmo Force-Feeding
- JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Earned $27 Million in 2015
- Court Rejects Attempt to Block Coal Plant Regulations
- California: Impact Zone of Methane Gas Leak Doubles
- California Launches Investigation into ExxonMobil
- Activist, Educator and Artist María Victoria Maldonado Dies
A new report from Oxfam on global inequality finds the world’s richest 62 billionaires now own as much wealth as half the world. The wealth of the poorest half—3.6 billion people—has fallen by $1 trillion since 2010. At the same time, the wealth of the world’s richest 62 people has increased by more than half a trillion dollars. Oxfam faults a global financial system that has "supercharged the age-old ability of the rich and powerful to use their position to further concentrate their wealth." The report singles out deregulation, privatization and offshore tax havens that have let trillions of dollars go untaxed. The Oxfam report is timed to coincide with the meeting of global elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. We are joined by Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America.