Amidst a raft of entertaining music documentaries, SBS is also screening as part of its "The Sixties" theme week (May 22-29) some political films that should be watched by every activist who either was too young to be there or was there but whose memory is beginning to fade. Cut this out and stick it to the fridge!
Assassinated: the Last Days of Kennedy and King — This two-part documentary was made last year to mark 30 years since the murders of two of the most influential US political leaders in the 1960s. The first episode concentrates on black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated just as he began to reach out with a more radical world view challenging the economic status quo and Washington's imperialist foreign policy. SBS, Saturday, May 22, 7.30pm.
Che — A special on the Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara. This British documentary may prove to be of questionable reliability in terms of its politics and history, but the original footage may make its inadequacies bearable. SBS, Monday, May 24, 8.30pm.
Berkeley in the Sixties — This documentary follows the rise of the radical US student movement in California and the birth of the movement against Washington's war against Vietnam and its interaction with the other radical movements. It also examines how the protest movement influenced youth culture.
It chronicles a decade of protest, beginning in 1960 with a protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee, in which students are hosed and dragged away by police. Ironically, a film made by the HUAC slandering the protesters backfired and attracted young people from around the US to enroll at the University of California.
Berkeley in the Sixties looks at the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964 and antiwar activities as they move from protest to civil disobedience. It features a cast of thousands and cameo appearances by Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, Allen Ginsberg and the Grateful Dead. Fifteen activists from the period are interviewed. SBS, Monday, May 24, 10pm.
Deconstructing Danny — The story of the most famous of the participants in the May-June 1968 student uprising in Paris — Daniel "Danny the Red" Cohn-Bendit. The notorious and incendiary anarchist has evolved into a comfortable Euro-MP for the German Greens who backs the NATO bombing of Serbia, champions the European Union and back-pedals on opposition to nuclear power. SBS, Monday, May 24, midnight.
Unknown Images: The Vietnam War — First of a three-part series. Features remarkable footage of the Vietnam War, shot by US soldiers, which has remained unseen for more than 20 years. Most of the films remained unedited and were censored or unauthorised for release. Included is footage shot by the Viet Minh. SBS, Tuesday, May 25, 8.30pm (also June 1 and 8).
All Power to the People: the Black Panther Party and Beyond — On September 8, 1968, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declared before Congress: "The Black Panther Party is the greatest threat to the internal security of the US". This documentary immerses the viewer in a fast-paced montage created from rare film footage, 300,000 pages of heavily censored FBI and CIA documents and exclusive interviews with political prisoners, federal agents and former activists.
Director Lee Lew-Lee examines the Black Panthers' origins within the civil rights movement and the followers of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The film follows the party's evolution from "above ground" in 1966 to its "underground" period. From 1966 to 1974, the Black Panthers were one of the most influential radical parties in the US.
All Power to the People reveals how the US government used illegal methods, including infiltration and assassination, to eliminate the party and many of its leaders. SBS, Tuesday, May 25, 11.45pm.
Save Our Sons — Easter 1971, and five Melbourne women are sentenced to two weeks' jail for trespassing on private property. The "Fairlea Five" belonged to Save Our Sons (SOS), a group opposed to the Vietnam War and to conscription.
Their imprisonment attracted national media coverage, and Victorian wharfies walked off the job to demand their release. SOS was founded by women in response to PM Menzies' introduction of conscription — the "lottery of death" — for the Australian army. SBS, Friday, May 28, 8.30pm.
Prague 21.8.68 — Reijo Nikkila was a student in Prague when Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to crush that country's attempt to build "socialism with a human face". Over the following week, as the population resisted the tanks, Nikkila stayed in the streets taking hundreds of photos and hours of sound recordings. Standing metres from the Soviet tanks, Nikkila breathlessly narrates the events unfolding around him. SBS, Friday, May 28, 10pm.
Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock — No week devoted to the 1960s could leave out two of its most defining icons: Hendrix and the Woodstock rock festival. This show presents the full performance by the legendary acid-blues guitarist at the rock festival that attracted more than 500,000 people. The highlight is Hendrix's inspired protest against the Vietnam War — his poignant and haunting deconstruction of the US national anthem. Turn up the volume! SBS, Saturday, May 29, 8.30pm.
Other programs of interest
Actively Radical TV — Sydney community television's progressive current affairs producers tackle the hard issues from the activist's point of view. CTS Sydney (UHF 31), every Thursday, 10pm and Saturday, 7pm. Ph 9565 5522.
Access News — Melbourne community TV, Channel 31, has excellent coverage of industrial, environmental and community actions throughout Victoria. Access News broadcasts every Monday at 8pm. Ph 9633 6976.
Movie: Battle of the Railways (1946) — Rene Clement's semi-documentary, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1946, chronicles the struggle of French railway workers during the Nazi occupation. SBS, Saturday, May 22, 12.30pm.
What's So Funny — A comic documentary explores the lives of Australia's new breed of "ethnic" comedians. Their stories offer a window to the broader contemporary "ethnic" experience and the state of "multicultural" Australia. Features Hung Le. ABC-TV, Tuesday, May 25, 1.50am.
People's Century: Skin Deep — In South Africa in 1960 the Sharpeville massacre took the lives of 56 people protesting against apartheid. In the US, Martin Luther King Jr led the struggle against US apartheid. ABC-TV, Wednesday, May 26, 12.20am.