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Old School Media & Modern Muckraking on Film

RKO/Turner Entertainment

Sunday, September 1st kicks off a month long media focused film series sponsored by Pittsburgh Filmmakers and PublicSource.  Pittsburgh City Paper’s Film Critic, Al Hoff says the series brings classic investigative journalism back into the spotlight with films that demonstrate, “news gathering, how media works and how media is a cultural force across decades.”

The series begins with Citizen Kane, a film that is often considered the greatest movie of all time, followed by His Girl Friday starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Ace in the Hole with Kirk Douglas, Medium Cool directed by Haskell Wexler.

It all wraps up with the classic retelling of the Watergate scandal in All the President’s Men. Hoff says the series pays tribute to the loss of old school investigative journalism, where getting the story meant going deep, not just getting there early.

A more modern example of muckraking appears in the advocacy documentary Blackfish directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. The film focuses on the sea mammal entertainment industry at theme parks such as SeaWorld.

Hoff says the main point of the film is clear: it is cruel to keep these mammals in captive and force them to perform tricks in what amounts to a “glorified bathtub.” Hoff goes on to say the film also highlights extremely hazardous workplace conditions for trainers, as the captive whales tend to become stressed, aggravated and hostile.