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'POV' trumpets Emmy nods for documentaries with local ties

Public television's independent-documentary showcase, "POV," yesterday trumpeted the "record 12 nominations" it received for News & Documentary Emmy Awards in 2011. Two of "POV's" entries have strong regional connections.

Robert Kenner's scathingly enjoyable debunking of Big Agra, "Food, Inc.," partly depended on a local source, Carole Morison. Long before she met Kenner, Morison had been investigating the use of arsenic and antibiotics in chicken feed and its effect on workers and the community at large. For two decades, she and her husband had been contract growers for Perdue Farms at a modest spread in Pocomoke City. She stepped up to Kenner's challenge when no other chicken farmers would open their barns to his camera. When I interviewed her in 2009, Morison was working with farmers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project.

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Laura Poitras has long been a friend of the Maryland Film Festival, bringing her films to Baltimore and also appearing at last March's gala discussion, "Are Documentary Filmmakers the New Journalists?" She told me before she appeared at that session that "The Oath" (MFF 2010), a riveting, complicated portrait of the man who was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard in Afghanistan, and her moving "My Country, My Country" (MFF 2006), a salute to a physician and aspiring statesman in Iraq, were "motivated by U.S. policy post-9/11. I had this strong urge to create documentaries that could serve as primary documents to chart this history -- and provide counter-narratives to the ones we get from the mainstream media."

In an email blast, the Maryland Film Festival noted several other MFF-related Emmy nominations: frequent MFF visitor Alex Gibney's "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" also received multiple nods, as did Stanley Nelson's "Freedom Riders" (MFF 2010). Among other 2010 MFF attractions, "A Small Act" was nominated for best documentary and "Music by Prudence" for best music and sound.

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