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Socially Relevant Titles Abound

26 Oct, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

An Inconvenient Truth

When Al Gore's “An Inconvenient Truth” comes out on DVD Nov. 21, it will be joined in stores by a quartet of other socially relevant releases.

Two are documentaries. Just out is “The Road to Guantanamo,” from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film tells the tale of three British Muslims, known as the Tipton Three, who were captured while on a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan and detained for two years at the notorious American military prison on Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.

“Who Killed the Electric Car?,” a whodunit-style look at the demise of General Motor's EV1, will be released Nov. 14, also by Sony Pictures. The film follows the doomed car from its much-ballyhooed inception to its ignominious end—the last fleet of EV1s was reportedly crushed in the Arizona desert—and was an official selection at both the Sundance and the Toronto film festivals.

“Audiences are looking to well-researched documentaries because they don't have time to find the information on their own,” said “Electric Car” director Chris Paine. “People feel nervous about the state of the world, and films like [mine] give them more information to make better decisions. Democracies depend on a well-informed public. And, as a filmmaker, I want to tell a great story.”

Though not a documentary, “The Hamburg Cell,” a British television movie slotted for Nov. 14 DVD release by Acorn Media, is a fictionalized account of the life of United 93 hijacker Ziad Jarrah. The film is based on trial transcripts, the official 9/11 Commission Report and interviews conducted over a two-year period. It originally aired on HBO in the United States and Showtime and CBS in Canada.

20th Century Fox's “Thank You for Smoking” (released on DVD earlier this month) also finds fact meeting fiction in the realm of social relevance. It's a black comedy about a shameless tobacco industry lobbyist who spins stats to make smoking appear harmless even though the health hazards of tobacco are increasingly difficult to refute.

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