Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser on Command and Control

Based on Eric Schlosser’s book of the same name, Command and Control marks the second time Peabody and Emmy-winning director Robert Kenner has worked with the NY Times bestselling author – the first being on Food, Inc., Kenner’s Academy Award-nominated documentary inspired by Schlosser’s seminal Fast Food Nation. In their latest collaboration, though, the perils of agribusiness have been replaced by the too true tale of a near miss nuclear accident.

Weaving together archival news footage with present-day, first-hand-account interviews, the doc details the nail-biting events that occurred one September eve in 1980 at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas after a maintenance worker innocently dropped a socket – which subsequently punched a hole in the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile. I spoke with Kenner and Schlosser just prior to the film’s September 14th premiere at NYC’s Film Forum.


To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

GENRE TROUBLE: LAURA ALBERT ON JT LEROY, FAME, GENDER, AND LITERARY EXPLOITATION

As a first-time author back in 2007, I was fascinated by the court case of Laura Albert, a San Francisco musician and phone sex operator who dreamed up a genderqueer alter ego by the name of JT LeRoy. LeRoy — who was thought to be a real person, not anyone’s persona — went on to woo everyone from Dennis Cooper and Mary Gaitskill to Asia Argento and Gus Van Sant with his harrowing writing. After LeRoy received much fame and acclaim, Albert was not only outed as the creator of LeRoy, but ultimately she was sued for fraud by Antidote Films, the production company that had optioned the rights to LeRoy’s Sarah.

Now, nearly a decade on, Albert finds herself in a much more positive spotlight as the subject of Jeff Feuerzeig’s Sundance-premiering documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story. Though I’ve corresponded with the often-polarizing writer over the years, we never actually sat down to do a formal interview. With the documentary hitting select theaters today, September 9, I figured it was due time to catch up, reflect, and reconsider the saga of JT LeRoy.


To read my interview visit Bitch Media.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Binding Truth: Revisiting Antidote Films vs. Laura Albert (aka JT LeRoy)

Jeff Feuerzeig’s Sundance-premiering documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story delves into the strange and winding tale of how a San Francisco musician and phone sex operator by the name of Laura Albert created a genderqueer avatar who went on to become a literary sensation and celebrity magnet before Albert was revealed to be her it boy JT LeRoy. The film opens in theaters September 9th.

What the doc doesn’t much explore is the oft-forgotten fact that back in 2007, indie production outfit Antidote Films actually sued Ms. Albert for fraud. The company had optioned the rights to LeRoy’s Sarah four years earlier, but then decided the deal should be rendered null and void because JT LeRoy didn’t actually exist. Never mind that Sarah was never published as memoir or autobiography – and that Antidote never explicitly bought the rights to JT LeRoy’s life.


And to read the rest of my courtroom recollections visit Global Comment.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Act Naturally: The Real and Unreal of Kate Plays Christine

Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine, which nabbed this year’s Sundance Film Festival US Documentary Special Jury Award for Writing, continues the Actress (2014) director’s exploration of female thespians and their process. Taking the 1974 on-air suicide of TV host Christine Chubbuck - itself the inspiration for Sidney Lumet’s Network - as a jumping-off point, Greene casts Kate Lyn Sheil (who’s made waves outside her indie film world in Netflix’s House of Cards) as Christine in his own version of this infamous, yet little known, story.

And then the director deftly tosses aside all our expectations, ingeniously using fiction as a mere pretext not only to investigate how actors do their job, but also to gather real clues. Like an empathic detective, Greene attempts to piece together evidence of the very existence of this Sarasota, Florida television personality who’s been practically erased from history. (As a friend and co-worker of the real-life Christine notes in the film, the only reason we’re interested in her is because of how she died.) Greene makes the case that all of us - including the filmmaker himself - are complicit, are actors shaping the media narrative.

I caught up with the filmmaker/editor/writer prior to the doc’s August 24th theatrical release through Grasshopper Film.


To read the rest visit Documentary Magazine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The rise of female-driven porn: Pioneer Angie Rowntree on Sssh.com

Though Susan Sarandon likely has never heard of Angie Rowntree, for fans of female-focused porn she’s a household name. A longtime adult filmmaker (as is her husband Colin), Rowntree is the mind behind Sssh.com, the very first porn site for women and by women, launched all the way back in 1999. The XBIZ Award-winning website is a one-stop shop of female pleasure, featuring everything from original movies, to books, to a radio station, to virtual reality experiences and even live events. In addition, the Internet porn pioneer is continuously busy building bridges to the mainstream, having been profiled in most major news outlets (from CNBC to the BBC), and even becoming the first adult industry power player to speak at a Sundance Institute event (a “Creative Tensions: Sex” panel in Brooklyn) last year.


To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lost in the Funhouse at Filmmaker magazine

The Summer 2016 issue of Filmmaker magazine just hit a newsstand near you! Check out my article about Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, an (George R.R. Martin funded) immersive experience – dubbed “Pee-wee’s Playhouse on steroids” by NPR.