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True stories

Two of the most powerful movies I've seen here happen to be balanced, informative documentaries about incendiary subjects. Lake of Fire, director Tony Kaye's first film since 1998's American History X (which he publically disowned after the studio took the movie away from him and allowed actor Edward Norton to re-edit it), is an epic, two-and-a-half hour documentary about the abortion debate in the U.S.


The movie, which currently has no U.S. distributor, will probably have to be trimmed a bit to make it more commercially viable. But even at its current length, Lake of Fire is utterly engrossing and provocative, forcing you to consider the other side's stance, no matter which side of the fence you happen to be on.

The movie gives equal time to both pro-life and pro-choice groups; recounts the shootings and bombings that have taken place at various abortion clinics since 1993; interviews Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. the original "Jane Roe") about her conversion to Christianity and her subsequent anti-abortion stance; and uses interviews with respected authors and commentators (including Noah Chomsky, Nat Hentoff and Frederick Clarkson) to put the abortion debate into a political context and show how it reflects American's current ideological climate.

Kaye also does two daring things in the movie: He follows a 28 year-old woman through her abortion procedure, providing an up-close and personal account of her psychological and emotional turmoil. Kaye also includes in extremely graphic and disturbing images of aborted fetuses, knowing that the sheer power of those images alone express things no amount of pro-life rhetoric could ever hope to express. What's best about Lake of Fire is that it doesn't set out to change anyone's mind, pro or con: It just hopes to raise the level of the debate by giving viewers as much information as possible, as experienced by those - both extremists and not - who are in the thick of the battle.  


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Brian Feldman

What's the status of that Humpty Dumpty-Marlon Brando doc, "Lying for a Living?"

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