Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Director: Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller
Year Released: 2004
Rating: 1.0

A glorified biography of revisionist Zinn, who fought in WWII, got his Ph.D. from Columbia, became an outspoken advocate of the rights of African-Americans in the South and has been known for his war protests and radical books. As much as I admire nonconformists and teachers who believe they can change the world (and people like Zinn), I admire documentaries that do more than pat their subjects on the head. I know there are a lot of people in the world who strongly disagree with Zinn - Zinn mentions them - so why not put a few of those people in there? You aren't insulting your subject by offering opposing viewpoints - you may even help him/her strengthen his case. Is there a point your subject believes strongly in that you disagree with? Inquire. Is there anything in the subject's past that he/she shouldn't have done or regrets? Ask. Is showing your subject talking to a group of high school kids who have no idea where Grenada is on a map suggest he's someone who can teach anyone about politics? I don't think so. (These friendly complaints have been brought to you by someone who has never gone to film school.)