Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bringing People Together in VR: Sakchin Bessette on Moment Factory

For the past 14 years Montreal’s Moment Factory has been bucking the online trend to create larger-than-life, physical reality (PR?) experiences that force folks to come together in the flesh-and-blood world. With over 300 multimedia projects in wide-ranging locations under their belt — from the LAX international terminal, to the Atlantic City Boardwalk, to Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia cathedral — the studio is still perhaps best known to Americans for designing Madonna’s halftime spectacle at the 2012 Super Bowl. Filmmaker was fortunate enough to speak with co-founder and creative director Sakchin Bessette about the profession of experience designing, and whether the future of new media may be offline as well as on. (And yes, working with Madonna).

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, February 1, 2016

DocPoint Helsinki Critic's Choice Picks

Read all about my top three Finnish picks from this year’s DocPoint Helsinki!

An Innocent Children’s Holiday? Roger Ross Williams on “Black Pete” and his Short Film, Blackface

Admittedly, it was with a feeling of vindication and satisfaction that I stumbled upon Roger Ross Williams’ most recent short Blackface, now streaming on CNN. The Academy Award-winning director — whose feature Life, Animated premiered this week in the US Documentary Competition at Sundance — is a recent transplant to the Netherlands, and his thoughts upon first encountering Zwarte Piet (“My heart sank and I felt a little nauseated”) were a bit different from my own. As a white American, my initial reaction years ago to seeing both kids and adults in blackface and Afro wigs celebrating in the streets was more a mix of incredulity and horror. Nevertheless, the scale of our shared disgust is matched only in incomprehension by so many Dutch citizens’ inability to understand why us “outsiders” can’t just accept this as their longstanding tradition and move on. Why do non-Dutch have to meddle in another country’s business?

To search for answers to this and more, I sat down with Williams to discuss, among other issues, modern-day racism, taking a stand against injustice wherever it may occur, and why history can never be viewed in black and white.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Experience Designing a Surrealist Museum: Loïc Suty on The Unknown Photographer

Receiving its U.S. premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontier section is Loïc Suty’s The Unknown Photographer, the sole work that blew my mind just a couple of months earlier at Montreal’s RIDM. It’s an incredible, immersive Oculus Rift project inspired by the discovery of a photo album in the Laurentians north of Montreal. Suty’s piece takes us on a WWI photographer’s journey both familiar and foreign, equal parts timely and timeless.

Filmmaker spoke with the Montreal-based “experience designer” prior to the piece’s Park City premiere.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Festival Beat: DocLisboa and CPH:DOX

My CPH:DOX coverage is now available (to those of you with a digital or print subscription to Filmmaker magazine, that is!)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Director Sydney Freeland on Trans-centric Web Series “Her Story”

A web series about a couple of Los Angelenas discovering love when they least expect it sounds less “groundbreaking” than stereotypical indie pitch. Yet “Her Story,” which debuts its first six episodes on its website (for free!) on January 19th is anything but your average hipster cliché. The series, co-written by Jen (“I Am Cait”) Richards and directed by Sydney Freeland (whose rez-set feature film “Drunktown’s Finest” made a splash at Sundance a couple years back) also features trans women in the lead roles. Meaning the talented ladies both in front of and behind the lens are all part of the transgender community. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with series director Freeland – who I last interviewed prior to the “Drunktown’s Finest” 2014 premiere – to learn more about “Her Story,” and her own story about the process of portraying a once marginalized, increasingly visible population in a realistic light.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.