Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Full Frame Fetes Jehane Noujaim

This year's Full Frame Tribute honoree, Jehane Noujaim, is no stranger to the 21-year-old Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, having brought both her very first film, Startup.com (co-directed with Chris Hegedus, and produced by DA Pennebaker) to Durham over a decade and a half ago, and three years later, 2004's prescient Control Room. Since then, of course, the Harvard-educated, globetrotting director (she splits her time between the US and Egypt) has gone on to be nominated for an Academy Award (for 2013's The Square), as well as winning the TED Prize (which allowed her to create the globally broadcast, multimedia event Pangea Day—which in turn inspired TEDx, which blends live community events with TED Talks). Most recently, Noujaim partnered with Angelina Jolie to executive-produce Nora Twomey's The Breadwinner, an animated feature that also garnered an Oscar nomination just this year.

And fortunately for those of us attending the fest earlier this month, Noujaim sat down with festival director Deirdre Haj for a wide-ranging discussion about her body of work and its continued relevance today, as part of this year's A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy conversations (which have been an integral part of Full Frame for the past eight years). A Discussion with Jehane Noujaim took place at the Durham Hotel at noon on a Friday to an eager (and probably over-caffeinated) crowd.


To read all about it visit Documentary magazine.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Follow-Up Interview with Erik Ljung (THE BLOOD IS AT THE DOORSTEP)

It’s been a year since I first caught Erik Ljung’s (SXSW 2017-premiering) The Blood is at the Doorstep on the festival circuit. The doc’s title is a reference to the chant of activists who’d gathered outside the home of the Milwaukee attorney general after the senseless killing of a black man, in this case Dontre Hamilton, who was shot 14 times by a white officer with a history of community complaints. But if you think you’ve seen this heartbreaking, enraging story (too many times) before think again. This was pre-Ferguson, and Ljung – a white guy, but also a Milwaukee-based filmmaker living not far from where Dontre died – gained access to the Hamilton family over years, in the process painting a powerful portrait of daily life for a grieving mother and brother long after the sound bite-scooping camera crews have gone home.

I spoke to Ljung in-depth about the challenges he faced in telling a story he himself questioned whether he even had the right to tell.


To read my interview visit Hammer to Nail.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Documentary in the Time of Fake News at The 21st Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

This year’s 21st edition of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (April 5th-8th) boasted everything a doc geek would want in a top tier fest — strong selections, a nurturing southern hospitality, and many easily approachable big-name documentarians. And, as in year’s past (seven to be exact), the not to be missed, A&E Indiefilms Speakeasy conversations, which bring together some of the deepest thinkers in doc-making to discuss career and craft — and also to wrestle with some of the most pressing issues facing filmmakers (and the general public) today.

Such was the case with one Friday afternoon Speakeasy I attended titled “Documentary in the Time of Fake News.” Moderated by Christopher Clements (The Cleaners, Inventing Tomorrow), it featured Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment), Laura Nix (Inventing Tomorrow) and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Our New President). As the audience that had gathered at the Durham Hotel settled in with coffee and cocktails, Clements began with a decidedly Trump-era question for the panel: “Does truth exist anymore?”


To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#DocsSoWhite: The Gatekeepers at The 21st Annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Recently, I’d been pondering why the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival always tops my must-attend U.S. doc fest list. Like few fests in the U.S. or Europe, Full Frame truly walks the walk — it’s a top tier, mainstream nonfiction festival in which the people in power are almost exclusively women. Indeed, one look at the 10-member staff page on the Full Frame website reveals just two male faces (only one of which is white). Then there are the attendees, the other ingredient that makes Full Frame truly special — as many folks of color as white. The one thing all these people, organizers and attendees, have in common — other than a passion for nonfiction cinema — is a desire to think deep. Indeed, Full Frame is one of the few fests where I’ll willingly stay for the Q&As as that random audience member stepping up to the mic is often knowledgeable enough to have served as the moderator.


To read all about it visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

From Euromaidan to the Naked Cowboy: The 15th Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

Covering this year’s Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (March 23-30), a 15-year old event held primarily in Podil, an eclectic artists’ hub (think Kreuzberg or Williamsburg on the cusp of gentrification) and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kiev, was an experience both endlessly inspiring and completely surreal. And though I’ve attended other fests in once communist countries (Camerimage in Poland, Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic), my first visit to Ukraine also marked the first time at an international fest that I found myself fully aware of my otherness. (Possibly because I was the only American in attendance.) And the first time the host country’s current events colored every screening, each discussion and random encounter. Indeed, the Euromaidan Revolution had overthrown the government of Viktor Yanukovych just four years prior, and the subsequent War in Donbass still rages today. The ongoing conflict with Russian separatists (and the Kremlin), as the locals told me over and over, is a “sensitive” topic.


To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.

Doc Star of the Month: Master Shoeshiner Kevin Tuohy, Stacey Tenenbaum's 'The Art of the Shine’

One of the most surprising and uplifting docs I caught on the fest circuit last year, Stacey Tenenbaum's The Art of the Shine showcases shoeshiners from New York to Toronto, and from Tokyo to Sarajevo, where the profession is alternately an artisanal craft, a way to make a buck, a meditative art, a healing practice, and a means of connecting with one's fellow man.

Documentary is thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with one longtime practitioner of the shine, Kevin Tuohy, founder of A Shine & Co. — soon to be rebranded The Shoeshine Guild — whose master craftwork you can experience for yourself on your next fly through NYC. (Swing by the Delta terminal at LaGuardia.)


To read my interview visit Documentary magazine.