In the stacks: Nonfiction DVDs are on the shelves

Posted: Friday, August 05, 2005

New nonfiction DVDs are available at all public libraries - look for them online or on the shelf.

"The Knights Templar" explores the myths and realities behind the organization founded by French knights. Though originally established to protect Christians on pilgrimages during the Crusades, they soon became the world's first multinational corporation, with immense holdings and resources. Eventually they became so influential and independent that they were looked upon as threats by national governments, arrested, and the order extinguished. Or was it? And what happened to the fortune that the order possessed?

"Introduction to Wine Tasting," by Master of Wine Bob Betz, is a basic course in wine for those who don't know much more about wine than what they like. Viewers will learn to identify the basic characters of four key wine varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc), learn the vocabulary surrounding wine to help them read labels and make buying decisions, and discover ways to match wines to foods.

"The First Year" follows five teachers through their first year of teaching in the Los Angeles public school system. Director Guggenheim mainly used a small digital video camera, giving this documentary an even more intimate feel than most, and exposing the teachers in all their heroic moments as well as showing their idealistic flaws.

"To Be and To Have" is the story of the only teacher in a small French village school whose students range in age from 3 to 11. George Lopez is an old-school sort of teacher - his students say "yes sir" and stand to greet him in the morning. But he takes his responsibility to them seriously, and along with their letters and numbers come life lessons. Idyllic, subtle and heartwarming.

"Seward: The First 100 Years" is for anyone who wants to learn more about Seward's checkered past, from designated gateway to Alaska (until the railroad market collapsed) and World War II build up (and subsequent post-war letdown), to the devastation wrought by the 1964 earthquake (and the tsunamis that followed). Vintage footage shows the building of the railroad, the first presidential visit to Alaska, a brief visit by the aviators on the first round-the-world flight, and more.

"Shaman of the Andes" shows a society in flux. Taita Churo is a Quechua shaman, whose job is to cure people not only of physical ailments, but also of bad luck and evil spirits. His son, Enrique, is also a shaman, but he has begun to incorporate modern medicine into his treatments. As the villages they treat move closer to the modern world, the two men are anxious to find out whether there will still be a need for shamans.

"SAT Success: Quack!" is not your average teaching film. It presents 100 vocabulary words statistically proven to commonly occur on the SAT, and then drills their meanings into viewers' brains so that they'll never forget. How? Humor, visual associations, repetition, quizzes, and more humor. Even if you're not planning on taking the SAT, this is a fun way to improve your vocabulary. Then have fun with the outtakes and try your hand at the grand master review of all 100 new words.

"Daughters of Afghanistan" follows four women and a girl as their lives change following the "liberation" of Afghanistan from Taliban rule. Canadian journalist Sally Armstrong was hoping to see positive changes for women in Afghani society following the regime change, but was largely disappointed. Extras include a commentary track with Sally Armstrong, biographical information, and an interview with Dr. Sima Samar, who is featured in the film.

"Shelter Dogs" is an award-winning documentary of the Rondout Valley Kennels and its controversial owner, Sue Sternberg. Sternberg believes that not all dogs are temperamentally suited to be adopted into homes. Her kennel is devoted to making sure that her dogs have the best chance of finding a loving home. Where's the controversy? It's what happens to the dogs who are deemed temperamentally unsuitable.

The kids' Summer Reading Program is wrapping up: bring in your game cards soon and collect your beads and books. No story or toddler times for the month of August - they will resume after Labor Day.

•As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: Call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or, if you have internet access, your library card, and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our website ( and looking at our catalog or at the In the Stacks column on our site. The columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: simply click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place.

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