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Screen Time: Week of March 1, 2021

By Tom White

From Ondi Timoner's 'Coming Clean.' From the film, which address the opioid addiciton crisis, a mother and her daughter embrace in the glare of sunlight.

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home. 

Ondi Timoner’s Coming Clean, streaming through Laemmle Virtual Cinema, explores the depth and breadth of the deadliest drug epidemic in America’s history: the opioid crisis. Weaving together animation and deeply personal stories of loss and recovery, Coming Clean is a story of empathy and action.

Launching March 6 on ShortsTV, FIVE is a documentary film series, commissioned by Mastercard, that follows the journeys of five women from five countries around the world—Croatia, USA, India, Lebanon and Brazil—who have each set out to start a purpose-driven business to improve and uplift their communities. The directors of the respective films are Ella Mische (Harfa; Croatia), Michelle Marrion (Justice of the Pies; USA), Lisa Madison (ONganic Foods; India), Nadia Naffa (Sarah’s Bag; Lebanon) and Renata Sette (Talento Incluir; Brazil).

The Walrus and the Whistleblower, from Nathalie Bibeau, premieres March 4 on Discovery+. The film, which won the Audience Award at Hot Docs 2020, tells the story of Phil Demers, a trainer at Niagara Falls’ Marineland, who quits his job after a decade, makes claims of animal abuse at the theme park and wages war on social media. In his crusade to end marine animal captivity, he is sued for $1.5 million for plotting to steal a walrus from the park. 

Premiering March 5 through the dGenerate Collection and Icarus Films, Lost Course, from first-time documentary maker Jill Li, captures a years-long struggle between residents in a small fishing village in southern China and corrupt officials who illegally sold land to the villagers. While the residents make significant gains in their bid for democracy, they struggle to sustain this experiment once they form a newly elected government. Lost Course premieres March 5 in the following virtual theaters: Film at Lincoln Center in New York, Laemmle Theatres in Los Angeles, and UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

Beginning March 5, OVID.TV will present on its platform the complete filmography of Anand Patwardhan, for nearly 50 years India’s most important documentary filmmaker. From his first film, Waves of Revolution, made in 1974, through his most recent film, Reason, completed in 2018, Patwardhan has recorded the modern history of India and illuminated inconvenient truths of its society, from the injustices of poverty and the caste system, to the rise of militarism, Hindu fundamentalism and an extremist, repressive government. 

Premiering March 1 on Pluto TV through MTV Documentary Films, Hunger Ward, directed by Skye Fitzgerald, documents the devastating human cost of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, which disproportionately affects children. Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, Hunger Ward chronicles healthcare workers fighting to save the lives of extremely malnourished children within a population on the brink of famine against the backdrop of a forgotten war.