Lights, camera, publish! As freedom of the press became a hot button issue during the twentieth century, film after film followed to tell stories of brave journalists, undue censorship, and the fight for the public’s right to know. In this edition of Media minute, we feature a few favorites that remind us why Americans must be able to print, post, and distribute information freely.
What happens when Donald Trump, Hulk Hogan, and Peter Thiel are all featured in the same documentary? You’ll have to watch to find out. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press tells a story of the relationship between free press, big money, and mainstream media. Follow the case of Bollea v. Gawker to witness the ultimate battle between privacy rights and free press.
In the mood for a political drama with a free press twist? Look no further. First released in 1976, this tale of two investigative journalists who uncover the Watergate scandal has withstood the test of time. One review on washingtonpost.com said, “Impartiality aside, no film blends the elements of journalism and Washington intrigue more compellingly than “All the President’s Men.” A bonus? It has been praised for its historical accuracy.
Winner of the Amnesty International Award at the San Sebastian Human Rights Festival, Forbidden Voices tells the stories of three female journalists living under three different dictatorial regimes. They face violence, injustice, and censorship as they publish controversial content on their world-famous blogs. This film documents the journey of these young cyberfeminists as they fight for free press.
Dream team Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks take on the roles of the first female newspaper publisher and its editor. The two engage in an unprecedented fight to publish the infamous Pentagon Papers. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman explains that the story is framed as a business drama, which sets it apart from other free press films that tend to put politics in the spotlight. A strong female lead, a star studded cast, and a legendary story have put this movie on our map. After all, who doesn’t love a good docudrama?
Empire’s Helen O’Hara called it “more thrilling than most action movies.” Vulture’s David Edelstein claims that it “has a stronger impact than any horror movie.” Reviews like these can only be in reference to one movie: Spotlight. Two full hours of palpable suspense and shocking discoveries follows a team from the Boston Globe as they work to investigate the tragic sex scandals hidden within the framework of the Catholic church. Though the topic may be hard to stomach, the journey will keep you munching on popcorn for its entirety.
Back in the realm of documentaries, director Tim Heinemann highlights the experiences of real journalists with real-world problems. After filming the hardships of three journalists from Myanmar, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, Heinemann says this in his Director’s Statement: “These brave men have all suffered the consequences of repressive regimes, dictatorships and the lack of freedom of expression.They have been unrightfully jailed, tortured and convicted for what they truly believe in. As journalists they have all decided not to stay silent. They deserve our biggest respect.” Courage – Journalism is not a crime is available for no cost at https://www.courage-documentary.dk/.
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to watch a George Clooney movie in black and white, you’re in luck. Good Night, and Good Luck stars Clooney as Edward R. Murrow, a television reporter who openly challenges the fear-mongering of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Despite accusations that Murrow is biased and loss of sponsors, Murrow speaks out against McCarthyism with the support of his network, CBS. The Gaurdian’s Alex von Tunzelmann sums it up best: “Good Night, and Good Luck is a sophisticated, well-researched and beautifully made movie about the Red Scare of the 1940s and 50s – and an understandable moment of Hollywood revenge on Joseph McCarthy.”