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The Last Tsarinas: Splendor & Misery

I highly recommend watching the documentary, The Last Tsarinas: Splendor & Misery (2018). It traces the journey for the great, great, great-granddaughter, Maria von Preussen of Alexandra and Nicholas I. She is directly related to Kaiser Wilhelm II and Princess Charlotte. Maria follows in the footsteps of Princess Charlotte in 1817, who leaves Prussia to be wed to the Grand Duke in St. Petersburg, Russia. Princess Charlotte has her name changed to Alexandra and becomes the Tsarina with Nicholas I. They have a very happy and long marriage. This story explains why many Tsarinas were of German ancestry and the many changes that take place in Russia to end the Russian monarchy.

Watch The Last Tsarinas: Splendor & Misery on Hoopla today.



Teslafy Me

Watch this 90-minute documentary about the story of Nikola Tesla and his achievements from the early 1900s. He was overshadowed by many famous inventors in his day and was never given the recognition he deserved—to this day. He was considered the inventor that kick started the Industrial Revolution.

In Teslafy Me (2019), I learned his patents and ideas are still being used today and remain unchanged. He believed in renewable energy and that energy should be provided to the world for free. His technologies were ahead of their time. He believed in free wireless power transmission and had ideas for cell phones and internet. He was definitely a genius and we are only finding out about him today.

Watch Teslafy Me on Hoopla today. If you are interested in this subject, read or listen to books about and by Nikola Tesla on Hoopla.


Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway

What an amazing journey to see how genius Lin-Manuel Miranda created the Broadway hit Hamilton. He was inspired to write an updated, contemporary, hip-hop musical that reignited New York City's Times Square. After writing the story and music, Miranda starred as the title character (and won a lot of Tony Awards).

After reading a biography on an obscure founding father, Miranda was inspired to write this musical. Side note: Alexander Hamilton (2008)by Ron Chernow is available in Overdrive as an ebook, abridged audio (11 hours), and unabridged audio (35 hours).

Miranda brought Hamilton to life by showing his humanity and flaws. He shined light on a historical character that is self-made and rises to unexpected heights. Another groundbreaking effort was Miranda's movement to diversify roles in his musical to further diversity in musical theater.

I highly recommend this documentary to see the inspiration behind the creator of the hit musical Hamilton.Watch Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway (2017, rated TV-PG) on Hoopla today. Then, listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on Hoopla too!

And exciting news: the Broadway production will be available on Disney+ starting July 3. Reserve one of our Family Rokus today for your chance to watch the production.


The War

If you are a history buff, you will enjoy this Ken Burns production.  The War (TV-14) is a seven-part documentary miniseries about World War II.  This excellent PBS series originally aired in 2007.  It was nominated for 12 awards, with eight wins, including three Primetime Emmy awards in 2008.  The story is told through the unique perspective of four towns in the United States, and how the war forever impacts the lives of the people living there.  You will follow the journey of the people who served in the military, and the people at home awaiting their return.

Watch The War on Hoopla today.


Honeyland

Hatidze lives with her mother outside of Skopje, Macedonia, the only residents for miles.  She makes her living selling her honey in the city and practicing sustainable beekeeping according to old traditions.  Hatidze's life is forever changed when a Turkish family nearby decides to take up beekeeping, without any regard of her teachings.  With beautiful scenery, Honeyland (2019) is a documentary about how a simpler way of life still exists in today's society, even in the face of modern pressures.

Honeyland has been nominated for both Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film of the Year for this year's Oscars.

In Turkish with English subtitles.

Maiden

This documentary tells the story of the first all-female crew to participate in the grueling Whitbread round-the-world yacht race in 1989.  Englishwoman Tracy Edwards skippers Maiden over nine months and 33,000 miles.  With tons of footage from the time, current recollections from most of the team's members, and interviews with the male-dominated media and other yachtsmen, Maiden (2018, PG) is an exciting view into the women's incredible journey.

A Farmer’s Road (2015)

This documentary follows a couple who own and operate Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery in Champaign, Illinois.  The couple were both academics in the field of soil science and decided to put all their knowledge to the test.  They bought a plot of land surrounded by cash crop farmers' land and transformed it by way of practicing a more sustainable type of farming.

Throughout the film, they share with us their setbacks and successes as they plant an orchard, kitchen garden, and start raising goats. The main product of their farm and creamery is the variety of goat cheeses they produce, which have found a loyal following at the local farmer's market and at various Chicago restaurants.  They have also started a tradition of summer farm to table dinners showcasing local produce.

It was educational and heartwarming to watch A Farmer's Road about a local business where they are promoting sustainable agriculture and small scale diversified farming.

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Pick of the Litter (2018)

In Pick of the Litter, follow a litter of five adorable Labrador puppies from birth through two years old on their incredible journey to become guide dogs for the blind.  The whole family will delight in seeing the lively puppies, each with their unique personalities, go through their rigorous training.  "Only the best will make the cut."

Experience the joy and sadness of the dedicated first time and experienced puppy raisers and trainers.  Meet the blind individuals who hope to be matched with a guide dog companion.

If you enjoy Pick of the Litter, you might also be interested in the Japanese film, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog.  Here is additional information on the organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind, featured in the film.

LEGO House: Home of the Brick (2018) TV-G

Do you have kids in your family who love LEGOs?  Are you, yourself an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGOs)?  This Netflix documentary follows the creative development and build process of LEGO House in Denmark, also tying in some of the LEGO company's history.  LEGO House was designed to offer visitors a LEGO experience like no other.  After watching, you'll definitely want to add Billund, Denmark to your travel bucket list!

This documentary is available on Netflix via the library's Roku devices.

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The Toys That Made Us. Seasons 1-2 (2017-2018) TV-14

Children of the 80s and 90s, this show is especially for you!  Full of nostalgia, fun facts, and original commercials, this 8-part (so far) documentary series details iconic toy brands including Star Wars, Barbie, Transformers, and more.  Even though each episode features one brand, my favorite part was seeing the connections between brands throughout the series.  Relive your childhood through The Toys That Made Us, available on Netflix via the library's Roku devices.

RBG (2018) PG

81njbw6zvql-_sy445_It's no surprise to people who know me well that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of my personal heroes (and in the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G. via Lin-Manuel Miranda -- "and if ya don't know, now ya know").  When I found out that there was a documentary coming out on her life, I knew I would be seeing that in the theaters—but now RBG is out on DVD for everyone to enjoy!  The documentary includes interviews with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her family members, political figures, authors of the book The Notorious RBG, and many more.  It covers her life from childhood to current service and includes footage from her confirmation hearing, as well as audio files from court cases.  What struck me as the best part of the film though were the moments that we, the public, don't always get to see -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg interacting with her granddaughter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg watching Kate McKinnon play her on Saturday Night Live, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life with her beloved husband. I also have to admit that I was delighted to see information on her pop culture influence, including one of the best baby costumes ever: Baby RBG.

I think this is an important documentary for anyone with a political interest to see.  U. S. Supreme Court Justice Bader Ginsburg's friendship with Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, despite their political oppositions, is something we can all learn from.

Craft in America (2007-2017)

craftamericaThe PBS series Craft in America presents artists currently working in the U.S.: furniture makers, blacksmiths, weavers, jewelry makers, glass blowers, and more. Often times, artists have learned their craft from parents and grandparents, and it’s inspiring to see that these traditions can be kept alive from generation to generation—the way other skills such as cooking or gardening can be passed down. If you want an inside look at how a craft object is created—from the materials used, and the design process, to the workshop where it all comes together—you’ll want to check out Craft in America!

Spotlight: Lady Gaga

lady_gaga_-_joanne_official_album_coverOnce you’ve listened to Lady Gaga’s album Joanne, you won’t be able to stop. You’ll listen to it during your morning shower, in the car on your way to and from work, and before it’s time to sleep at night. Joanne may be a clear departure from the usual Gaga style of her previous albums, but it’s no less powerful. Songs such as the titular “Joanne” and “Come to Mama” will keep you coming back again and again.

The stylistic change also especially makes far more sense and has far more meaning after watching the Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two. Experience a year in the life of not Lady Gaga, but Stefani Germonatta. It follows the year in which she was releasing Joanne up until her performance at the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show. You will live, love, laugh, and cry with her up until the very end. Don't have a Netflix subscription? Watch for free using our roku.

Gotta Dance (2008)

gottadanceFollow the joys and struggles of twelve senior women and one man as they try out, train, and perform as a dance team for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. It is exhilarating and inspiring to watch this determined diverse group of people deal with the pressures of learning new routines in order to fulfill a dream. The crowd goes wild when the team comes out during halftime seemingly to perform a Gene Kelly number and instead breaks into hip-hop. A media frenzy ensued, and they were featured in US News and World Reports and on The Early Show, Saturday Night Live, and the Today Show. This documentary film shows age is a state of mind, not a date of birth.

Gotta Dance has inspired a Broadway musical. See if it inspires you.

The living matrix: a film on the new science of healing (2009)

TLM-Cover_frontDespite somewhat of an infomercial look and feel, The Living Matrix captures the viewer's attention. The opening scene of a child with Cerebral Palsy tugs at one's heartstrings. Anyone who has a chronic illness, disease, or an afflicted loved one is gently persuaded to continue listening to the success stories.

Experts in their fields share research on bioenergetics, quantum physics, reconnective healing, energy fields, the placebo effect, and other cutting edge scientific developments. The term miraculous is used loosely, but the spiritual aspects are never explored. Those interested in holistic health and alternative methods of healing owe it to themselves to watch this 83 minute documentary. Find additional resources on The Living Matrix website.