Out now are some solid documentaries to check out. First we have Finding Samuel Lowe. This is a pretty fascinating look at a Chinese-Jamaican family trying to find their roots. I had no idea Jamaica had a huge Chinese immigrant population after the end of slavery. A mixed race couple moved to Harlem where their family would eventually flourish. The “lead” is a woman who would grow up and work in television and journalism and was a VP at NBC Universal. Her brother created an algorithm used in investing that made him a fortune. They tracked down their heritage taking trips to Toronto, Jamaica and China where they discovered aunts, uncles, cousins and more they never knew existed. I actually learned a lot about Jamaican history and Chinese history. One woman in it could trace her family back to 500 BC. Yeah that says BC. That’s mind blowing to me. This family seemed genuinely hopeful about finding out about their Asian heritage and had heart-felt emotions to their trips and discoveries. I’ve already recommended it to a few people of mixed races. Interesting stuff.
Next we have Night Will Fall. Be prepared when you watch this. This is about footage taken during World War II of different concentration camps. Yes, ACTUAL footage taken by the allies that was going to be used to show the atrocities of the Nazis. That footage was going to be made into a documentary (which Alfred Hitchcock worked on), but never saw the light of day. The Americans used some footage, but that was more used as propaganda. Most of this footage has never been seen before and it’s a tough watch. Again, be prepared. This is footage of thousands of dead and near dead Jews who were starved to death, burned or buried. It’s powerful, very powerful. It’s not for the faint of heart. Millenials and younger should be forced to watch this to realize how easy their lives are and give them some perspective. If you don’t think you have the stomach for it, don’t watch it. It will devastate you at how far people will go to hurt others.
Third we have Meet the Patels. I had no idea this was a documentary going into, but I totally dug it. It stars an actor who at 29 years old, his family pushes him to finally get married. He’s Indian, but secretly dating a white woman. They break up and his family tries to set him up with a good Indian girl. Why this really works is because the people are great. You understand why Ravi didn’t tell his parents about his American girlfriend because his mother would have flipped her lid. The dad is just a funny guy and would make a great TV character. His sister documents the entire story. They fly to India for “wedding season” where everyone gets married so they can bang them all out in a month or so. His mother is a matchmaker who has set up tons of people, but both her son and daughter are single. You learn a lot about Indian culture and tradition which is shocking to Americans. There’s still arranged marriages and they expect you to marry someone with the same last name who comes from the same area as you. They having dating “resumes” they use to pass out to other Indian parents so all the kids can get married. I honestly would love to see this turned into a TV show because the concept and people were so interesting.
Last we have Honky. Ok this isn’t really a documentary, it’s a live performance of a stage show that aired on PBS. I didn’t really know where to put it. Part of me wanted to like this, but it bothered me more than anything else. It’s supposed to be a satirical look at race and racism, but I just didn’t find it funny. A white guy wants to market sneakers to white kids using black street cred. The black guy who designed the shoe hates that idea. The white guy likes that people were shooting each other over these shoes. There’s a black therapist who is the black guy’s sister. She’s smart and educated and he hates that he isn’t “black” enough or looked at as being “black” enough. All the white people are awful and don’t know how to talk around the black guy and it just bothered me. I’m white. I have black friends, white friends, gay friends. We are just friends and treat each other like friends. Again, I know it’s satire, but satire should be witty and funny and sharp. This just wasn’t entertaining to me. They talk about white guilt and all that so maybe white guilt people will love it.