Sunday, June 17, 2012

Passionate Politics / A Force of Nature

Passionate Politics: the Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch, dir. Tami Gold, 2011, USA, 58 min. 
A Force of Nature, dir. Barbara Kopple, 2011, USA, 47 min. 
Friday, 6/15, 11:00am @ Castro, PASS15C

Passionate Politics: the Life and Work
of Charlotte Bunch
 (top center)
Charlotte Bunch rejects the term “tireless” to describe herself, but she is indomitable, tenacious, stalwart, and steadfast, to pick just a few entries from my thesaurus. She has been a lifelong advocate and activist for social justice, committed to racial equality, women’s rights, lesbian rights, but most of all human rights. It is odd that we should view as remarkable the simple statement that “women’s rights are human rights” — in other words, human rights means everyone. The documentary Passionate Politics looks at her personal history — civil rights activism, marriage, coming out, and other milestones along the way — and her causes. Hillary Clinton echoed Charlotte Bunch’s words at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, but too many people still know too little about the remarkable woman behind that catchphrase. The story is told with empathy and humor, painting an engaging portrait of a remarkable figure. Strongly recommended, a must-see.

Ellen Ratner is A Force of Nature
As remarkable as Charlotte Bunch’s work has been, it takes quite a person to merit a double feature, but Ellen Ratner is up to the task. At only 4′9″ (145cm) tall, she doesn’t have a promising career in professional basketball, but on her home courts she is rightly described as a force of nature. She is the Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service, but she also has started charities working on everything from helping poor communities in Mississippi rebuild from Hurricane Katrina to helping former slaves in South Sudan create cottage industries. She is also undeniably an eccentric, seemingly obsessed with giving a kiss to every wild animal she meets, from ostriches to goats to fish, but she possesses a rare combination of laser-like focus on what she wants to accomplish and the human touch to get along with an astonishingly broad range of people. Despite being an open lesbian and old-school FDR liberal, she counts former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour as a personal friend. This documentary about her is engaging, well paced, informative, and fun. Strongly recommended, a must-see.

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