Thursday, December 10, 2015

Director David Holbrooke Discusses “The Diplomat”

With both the fight against ISIS and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on American’s minds both at home and abroad, a doc doesn’t deliver much more timely lessons than those of David Holbrooke’s “The Diplomat,” a thoroughly investigated portrait of legendary Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (which thankfully is finally available for streaming on HBO). Holbrooke may be best known for negotiating the Dayton Peace Accords, which put a stop to the war in Bosnia 20 years ago, but his dedication to public service actually covered an entire half century of foreign policy, starting all the way back with Vietnam.

The film itself, directed by Holbrooke’s oldest son, recently played at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen – site of that failed UN Climate Change Conference back in 2009 – with David Holbrooke in attendance. So as a politically curious journalist also visiting the festival (who happened to spot Holbrooke in line to see another doc) I immediately decided to reach out to the director to learn more about his father’s extraordinary life –and how that life has affected his own.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

James Deen and the Myth of Concrete Consent

In the final months of a nearly six-year BDSM relationship — the most satisfying relationship of my life — a line was crossed. My Master (a stripper and porn star at the time) violated my safe word, and I knew in that instant that it was the beginning of the end. Without warning he had confiscated my magic passport, declaring it null and void, sending me back to reality.

To read the rest of my personal take on the porn star's takedown visit The Rumpus.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Talking Sex Work with The Red Umbrella Diaries Producer Audacia Ray

It was a little over half a decade ago that I read at one of Audacia Ray’s intimate Red Umbrella Diaries events on the Lower East Side. Since then this sex worker storytelling series founder – whose resume also includes stints as a bodyworker, escort, and executive editor of $pread magazine – has become one of the foremost voices of sex work advocacy through her Red Umbrella Project (RedUP), harnessing the media to de-stigmatize the oldest profession in the world. Now, after waging battle against violence and for the public health of those in a long-marginalized industry, she’s executive produced The Red Umbrella Diaries – a feature based on a Joe’s Pub performance from some standout Diaries alums – that’s having its New York City premiere at DOC NYC.

So what’s the journey been like from the Happy Ending Lounge to here? Filmmaker spoke with Ray about her crusade to not just change the conversation around sex work – but to put it firmly back in the hands of working girls and boys (and trans-girls and trans-boys).

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, October 23, 2015

An Interactive Journey Through Solitary Confinement: “The Deeper They Bury Me: A Call from Herman Wallace”

It was back in 2013 that I first interviewed filmmaker Angad Singh Bhalla for this site. At the time Bhalla was trying to spread the word about his debut feature doc “Herman’s House,” which told the harrowing tale of Herman Wallace – better known as one of the “Angola 3” inmates who’d spent four decades in solitary confinement – through the eyes of Jackie Sumell, a NYC artist. Sumell’s correspondence with Wallace had led to the creation of “The House That Herman Built,” an art installation that toured internationally and, in turn, led to Sumell’s quest to build Wallace’s dream house full-scale.

Though we never see Wallace in “Herman’s House,” his powerful voice – recorded from prison phone conversations – nevertheless serves as our guide. Now Bhalla has teamed up with veteran digital media producer Ted Biggs to create “The Deeper They Bury Me: A Call from Herman Wallace,” a stunning “interactive encounter” with Wallace (who died in October 2013, a few days after his release) and his caged world that takes place in the span of 20 minutes, the time allotted for a single prison call. I was fortunate enough to again speak with Bhalla about this latest activist endeavor, which – fortunate for you – is available to be experienced here for free online.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Criminalizing Kink in the UK: The 50 Shades Effect

Last month I reached out to LA-based expat Anna Span, an English porn producer (and one-time Liberal Democrat candidate) who awhile back, fought the UK’s ban on showing female ejaculation in porn—and won! I was anxious to hear her take on the recent crackdown on sadomasochistic practices in adult films, specifically whether “BDSM-themed art porn” is technically even legal in the UK nowadays.

To find out more visit The Rumpus.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

“Humor Is Always Butting Up Against Tragedy”: Sterlin Harjo on Mekko

Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13th, Sterlin Harjo’s latest narrative feature Mekko treads territory both familiar and new to this Oklahoma-based, Native American director. An ex-con-versus-thug thriller set in the world of Tulsa’s real-life Indian homeless community, the film stars Hollywood stuntman Rod Rondeaux and boasts an all-Native cast (many of whom are part of that aforementioned homeless community). Filmmaker caught up with Harjo prior to TIFF to talk about his fourth feature – as well as German Indian-philia, Herzog’s Stroszek, and Native humor.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Building Trust with the Gringo Mariachi: Aaron I. Naar on Mateo

The story of Matthew Stoneman, “America’s first gringo mariachi singer,” at first sounds more like fodder for the next Will Ferrell vehicle. But in the hands of IFP Doc Lab alum Aaron I. Naar this weirder-than-fiction tale transforms into something far deeper. After a prison stint led to the New Hampshire native’s education in both the Spanish language and Cuban music, the unassuming Stoneman turned his life not just around, but upside-down. With both patience and compassion Naar follows this truly remarkable artist with the voice of an angel as he battles his demons, and ultimately sacrifices everything to realize his magnum opus: a Buena Vista Social Club-level album recorded in Havana.

Filmmaker spoke with the first-time feature director prior to the doc’s L.A. theatrical release at Hollywood’s Arena Cinema on August 21st (to be followed by its iTunes debut on August 25th).

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Revisiting Milgram and Zimbardo’s Human Behavior Experiments

Several years ago I happened upon a Rolling Stone magazine article that put forth a fascinating idea. It described a little known “experiment” done in the 80s just as the AIDS epidemic had begun its chokehold on the gay community. Gay Men’s Health Crisis and other likeminded organizations desperately needed money for research. However, unless the public was personally touched by the disease (at that time largely confined to homosexual men, Haitians and drug addicts – not a particularly influential lobbying contingent), resources were bound to go to more mainstream causes like cancer and heart disease, which personally affected the majority of donors. So the AIDS fundraisers did something ingenious, repositioning the disease in the public mind. Instead of stating the facts – that unless you were a gay man, an IV drug user or a blood transfusion recipient your chances of getting AIDS were slim to nil – they focused on the idea that “anyone” can get AIDS, from the littlest Ryan White to the oldest Arthur Ashe. AIDS doesn’t discriminate with regards to race, age, sex or sexual persuasion, which is technically true. If you’re a human being you can get AIDS, just like if you skydive you can get killed jumping from a plane. We’re all equal opportunity employees for death, but what this truth conveniently ignores is that most of us will not die skydiving because we don’t skydive – just like most people in the 80s were never going to get (nor know of anyone afflicted with) AIDS.

I thought of this marketing strategy as I revisited Alex Gibney’s 2006 documentary The Human Behavior Experiments, which explores how otherwise good, decent, law abiding citizens will do the unthinkable when guided by a strong authority figure, or not do the right thing when given “permission” by the presence of others reacting unconscionably.

To read the rest visit Hammer to Nail.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hot in The City: Mariah MacCarthy on The Brick Theater’s First Ever F*ckfest

As a writer who’s authored an erotic memoir, and a filmmaker who’s an alum of CineKink NYC, it didn’t take much for The Brick Theater’s recent press release that landed in my inbox to grab my attention. Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s little theater that can-do was trumpeting their inaugural F*ckfest – a “sextival” that opened with a free cabaret on June 9th and runs all the way through July 3rd. In between those dates The Brick would be packed with nearly 20 shows of all sexual shapes and sizes – from comedy sketches, to multimedia performances, to an audio installation, to even an opera. And because I don’t normally receive invites that conclude with, “As noted scholar and professor of sexology Dr. Marvin P. Gaye, Jr. put it, ‘Let’s get it ahwnnn,’” I was lusting to find out more.

Fortunately, I was able to speak with The Brick’s Associate Artistic Director, and the event’s curator, Mariah MacCarthy halfway through the sexy fest.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Queer Film Pioneer Monika Treut on Of Girls and Horses

A legend in lesbian cinema, Monika Treut has been making films for 30 years, starting with her 1985 narrative feature Seduction: The Cruel Woman (featuring Udo Kier – not bad for a debut film), and right through to this year’s Of Girls and Horses, a poetic coming-of-age tale that also serves as a celebration of nature’s transformational power. Along the way Treut has also explored the nonfiction realm, turning her lens on everything from gender identity (1999’s Gendernauts) to Taiwanese food (2012’s The Raw and the Cooked).

Filmmaker was fortunate enough to catch up with the Hyena Films co-founder (along with Elfi Mikesch, her co-director on Seduction) during post-production on her latest documentary, which was shot in Brazil – her head still “buzzing with Portuguese favela slang.”

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

“The Wolfpack” hype: When the line between documentary and “reality” blurs, we see the story we want to see

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Crystal Moselle’s debut feature “The Wolfpack” is “the incredible true story of six teenage brothers raised in isolation in New York, with movies as their only outlet to the world,” according to the press notes that could also serve as a reality TV pitch. The film focuses on the Angulo brothers — eldest Bhagavan, the twins Govinda and Narayana, Mukunda (called the “alpha” of the pack), and younger siblings Krsna and Jagadisa (who now go by Glenn and Eddie, respectively, according to an interview they gave to Vogue) — whom Moselle first encountered not far from their Lower East Side apartment as they raced past her, catching the fashion filmmaker’s eye with their long hair and striking looks. She chased them down, struck up a conversation, mentioned she was a filmmaker, and voilà! — a friendship was born.

To read the rest visit Salon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Caitlyn Is The New Clint: Why Jenner Matters

In all honesty, I’ve been out of the loop when it comes to the reality TV star formerly known as Bruce. Too young to recall Jenner’s decathlon-winning heyday, which launched him onto Wheaties boxes and into media stardom, and having neglected to keep up with the Kardashians, I’ve really never given a moment’s thought to the spotlight-loving sexagenarian. However, as someone who’s long identified as genderqueer, and is quite curious about cisgender reactions to the trans community, I figured I should finally get around to taking a look at that infamous “coming out” interview Jenner gave to straitlaced Diane Sawyer, especially now that the Bruce who gave it is no more.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Thought Crimes, Sexual Fantasies and “The Cannibal Cop”

Years ago when I worked at a house of domination in NYC’s Chelsea district, there were a handful of clients who were memorable for breaking up the run-of-the-mill fetish (foot worship, spanking, bondage, role playing, repeat) monotony. One was a dude I never saw, but only heard about whenever one of the few Mistresses capable of handling his fantasy would dip out of the emotionally exhausting session to vent in the dressing room. As far as I know he was our only client who spent his high-priced hour rhapsodizing about killing and eating his relatives.

I thought of this client while watching the recent HBO documentary Thought Crimes, filmmaker Erin Lee Carr’s portrait of Gil Valle, a NYC police officer better known as “The Cannibal Cop” after Valle’s online life became the subject of a criminal conspiracy investigation.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feminist Pornographer Jennifer Lyon Bell on Silver Shoes,, and the Holy F*ck Film Festival

I’ve known Amsterdam-based, San Francisco-bred, Jennifer Lyon Bell ever since we met over half a decade ago at Brooklyn’s much beloved Monkey Town — back when a DIY, Williamsburg performance space could afford to host a Sunday brunch for CineKink Film Festival award winners. (Bell’s Matinée took the Best Narrative Short prize, while Un Piede di Roman Polanski, an homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish I co-directed with Roxanne Kapista, nabbed Best Experimental Short.) Since then Bell’s films have been both banned (Matinée from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival by the Australian Film Commission in 2009) and celebrated, most recently in the U.K. and Canada. Her latest, Silver Shoes, available from, premiered at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and won the Feminist Porn Awards 2014 Movie of the Year.

Filmmaker decided to catch up with Bell to chat about the film’s digital launch via a “fair trade” platform, the current climate for art porn, and Amsterdam’s inaugural (and brilliantly named) Holy F*ck Film Festival.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Film Festivals?

Have something to say? My conversation starter on film fest ethics at Hammer to Nail.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ridiculous Netflix: Sterlin Harjo Discusses Netflix and Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six

“The movie has ‘ridiculous’ in the title for a reason — because it’s ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke.”

So comments Netflix in the wake of the recent exodus of a dozen Native American extras from the set of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six, its first film in a four-movie deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. The comedy features characters with names like “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra,” so, yes, “ridiculous” certainly seems to be the aim of the script. Yet what’s even more ridiculous is Netflix’s tone-deaf assertion that the film features a cast “in on the joke.” Really?

I decided to approach Sundance vet Sterlin Harjo (Four Sheets to the Wind, Barking Water), who I interviewed prior to the 2014 Park City premiere of This May Be the Last Time – a very personal documentary that looks back at the events behind the mysterious disappearance of Harjo’s grandfather, alongside the history of the Muscogee (Creek) hymns the Seminole community sang as it searched for him. Harjo, whose latest Mekko is set to debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is not only refreshingly vocal about what he sees as pragmatic solutions to Hollywood’s insidiously ingrained misrepresentations of indigenous people, but also about avoiding unintentionally harmful easy fixes. (Hint: Don’t cancel that Netflix subscription just yet.)

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, May 4, 2015

An Interview With the Directors of Kumu Hina, A Hawaiian Transgender Story

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs. If orange is the new black, then Hawaii is the new cool state. Premiering Monday, May 4th on PBS’s Independent Lens is Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s uplifting portrait of gender and cultural empowerment in the Pacific. This enthralling documentary follows titular subject Kumu (“Teacher”) Hina Wong-Kalu, a married woman and dedicated cultural mentor at a native Hawaiian school who also happens to be māhū – or what the west would call a transgender person. As we watch Hina ready her all-male hula troop (which includes one kickass sixth-grader, born female but an out-and-proud māhū) for their year-end performance, and struggle in her relationship with a heterosexual, cisgender Tongan man, what emerges is something extraordinary. Through their patient, cinema vérité style, Hamer and Wilson give us a glimpse into a world where aloha – “love, honor and respect for all” – is not just a catchy word or an abstract idea, but truly a way of life.

I was fortunate enough to speak with the award-winning co-directors prior to the doc’s public broadcasting debut (programmed in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month).

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

(T)ERROR at the Tribeca Film Festival 2015: An Interview with Director David Felix Sutcliffe

Executive produced by Eugene Jarecki (“The House I Live In,” “Why We Fight”), and winner of the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Break Out First Feature, co-directors Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)ERROR is an eye-opening look at one place where our war on terror, taxpayer dollars are going – namely to guys like the doc’s main subject Saeed “Shariff” Torres, a sixtysomething FBI informant and onetime Black Panther. Though the flick has the distinction of being “the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation,” what’s most notable about (T)ERROR is not the dubious tactics Shariff uses to befriend an (American) Taliban-loving target. No, it’s the way the Bureau itself has created a sinister system, one in which down on their luck dudes like Shariff are lured then entrapped in a disturbing economic cycle, building case after case just to get to the next payday.

I caught up with co-director David Felix Sutcliffe prior to the doc’s April 16th Tribeca Film Festival premiere.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Monday, April 20, 2015

“Your Obstacles are Basically Everything”: Writer/Actress/Producer Naomi McDougall Jones Talks Grassroots Female Filmmaking

Once again, the two-decade-old Bermuda International Film Festival, where I’m on the international advisory board, provided some truly unique networking opportunities. While I didn’t find myself star-struck like at last year’s fest – when I had the once in a lifetime chance to serve on a jury with a spry legend, Kubrick’s producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan – the 2015 edition hosted several impressive names. Rounding out this year’s Academy Award qualifying shorts jury were producer/writer Hilary Saltzman (daughter of Harry Saltzman, best known as the producer of the first nine Bond films), the inimitable Killer Films co-founder Christine Vachon, and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club).

The Dallas Buyers Club scribe also participated in a workshop titled “The Write Stuff” alongside screenwriter James V. Hart (Spielberg’s Hook), Bermudian filmmaker Lucinda Spurling, and NYC-based writer/actress/producer Naomi McDougall Jones (Imagine I’m Beautiful) – whose contagious passion for DIY filmmaking from a female POV made me want to hear more. (Indeed, if she weren’t so busy making movies Jones could easily serve as an independent filmmaker life coach, having penned pieces with titles like “Why It’s a Great Time to Be an Independent Filmmaker” and “Being the Change.”)

Filmmaker decided to follow up post-fest with this multi-hyphenate artist who believes that, “while it’s good that Lena (Dunham) has a seat at the table, we don’t just want a seat. We would like a whole table.”

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Three Must-Sees at the Tribeca Film Festival 2015

Running April 15th-26th the Tribeca Film Festival, NYC’s own Hollywood on the Hudson, has become a borderline unwieldy affair over the past few years. In addition to the usual film festival talks, panels and parties – and, uh, screenings – there are now mini festivals within the festival. For example, Storyscapes, sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, is dedicated to immersive projects, while the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival features mostly (stellar) sports docs. Indeed, there’s a corporate-branded something for everyone – including, thankfully, me. So as a certified documentary junkie I decided to stay away from the glitz, and survey several nonfiction films in this 2015 lineup. The following are just three of my top picks – which cover ground from southern Africa, to Castro’s Cuba, to the South Side of Chicago – all enthralling slices of life that prove that this 13-year-old fest still knows how to mix deep substance with glammy chic.

To find out my picks visit Global Comment.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Director Ronni Thomas on Walter Potter: The Man Who Married Kittens

If you’re a fan of Victorian anthropomorphic tableaux then Walter Potter needs no introduction. For those not in the know (and in NYC), head over to this year’s Tribeca Film Festival where Walter Potter: The Man Who Married Kittens screens starting April 18th. This fascinating documentary short is the brainchild of Brooklyn filmmaker (and connoisseur of the strange) Ronni Thomas, who tackles his titular subject – an English taxidermist who died nearly a century ago after founding a museum dedicated to his whimsical and unsettling dioramas – via five modern-day Potter enthusiasts. From taxidermied cats having a tea and croquet party to 48 stuffed bunnies immersed in schoolwork – to yes, those elaborate kitten nuptials – you’re guaranteed a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. Not to mention some unforgettable, post-screening show and tell. Filmmaker was fortunate enough to speak with the Morbid Anatomy Museum’s “filmmaker in residence” prior to the doc’s Tribeca premiere.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Power of Story: Previewing the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Filmmaker magazine's what to watch list includes my pick Stranded in Canton - "an acute portrait of global economics wrapped inside a truly inventive art house film."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jarecki Family Values: Power and Privilege in “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”

“But of the many expertly crafted revelations in Jarecki’s nonfiction, slow-reveal saga of psychopathy, though, the most telling occurred not during the shocking finale in which Durst may – or may not – have been unwittingly taped confessing to his crimes. No, it’s the second to last chapter of this series about a man whose proximity to wealth and privilege has most likely led him to get away with serial murder – appropriately titled “Family Values” – that steals the show. And I’m not referring to a recently discovered letter that damningly implicates Durst in Berman’s killing in episode five, but to a seemingly innocuous exchange that happens between the filmmaker and his producer Marc Smerling. To set the scene: The pair are riding in a car, on their way to confront Robert’s brother Douglas, head of The Durst Organization, who is being honored at a dinner.”

To read my take on the HBO series visit Global Comment.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Gunman Actor Peter Franzén on Being a Global Artist (and Working with Sean Penn)

“Peter Franzén – remember that name,” is what I told everyone who asked me if I’d made any big discoveries covering the Finnish Film Affair in Helsinki in September 2013 — I’d even called this talented thesp “Finland’s ridiculously charismatic answer to Guy Pearce” in my coverage. But unlike that Australian actor, Franzén also writes and directs. His woefully underexposed directorial debut Above Dark Waters is based on his semiautobiographical novel, told through the eyes of a child living with a loving police officer father who happens to be a violent alcoholic.

When I learned Franzén would be attending the closing weekend of last year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival – in addition to his own film, he was supporting two more Finnish selections in which he starred – I jumped at the chance to pick his brain while the A-list-chasing paparazzi had all returned to L.A. Who knows how long the under the radar tranquility will last? I thought. Franzén, who speaks flawless English, will next be seen onscreen in Pierre Morel’s upcoming The Gunman, starring alongside Sean Penn and Javier Bardem. Like I said, remember that name.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Former high-ranking Scientologist: “Thetans have no gender”

My Salon interview with one of my sheroes! Trans pioneer (and ex Scientologist) Kate Bornstein stars in the wonderful doc Kate Bornstein Is A Queer & Pleasant Danger.

Gender theory pioneer Kate Bornstein talks about trans visibility, LGBT activism and her history with the church.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Roger Ebert, Life Itself, and Conflict of Interest in the Digital Age

Watching Life Itself - shortlisted for the Best Documentary Feature though it ultimately didn’t get a nom - I was reminded of how Roger Ebert was the ballsy pioneer of what might be called “conflict of interest criticism,” an unapologetic leader of a COI new wave. Unlike the old guard, represented by Richard Corliss in Steve James’s lovely cinematic tribute, Ebert had no qualms dispensing with the critic’s illusion of objectivity, going so far as to even review Encounters at the End of the World, a doc dedicated to him by his good friend Werner Herzog. (“I will review it because I love great films and must share my enthusiasm,” Ebert wrote in an open letter to Herzog.)

To read – and comment – on my inaugural Conversation Starter visit Hammer to Nail.

Friday, March 6, 2015

And more Amazing Randi!

And my first interview for Salon...

James "The Amazing" Randi spoke with Salon about "An Honest Liar," the new documentary about his life's work.

Directors and Producers Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein on The Amazing Randi Doc An Honest Liar

I’ve been a fan of Tyler Measom’s work ever since I wandered into a screening of his and Jennilyn Merten’s nail-biting portrait of teen exiles from the FLDS Church, Sons of Perdition, at Tribeca five years back. (The doc ultimately went on to be picked up by the Oprah Winfrey Network for broadcast the following year.) Now Measom has teamed up with producer Justin Weinstein (a scientist turned filmmaker and both executive producer of Ryan Murdoch’s Bronx Obama and writer/editor of Constance Marks’s Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey) to craft another festival success story. An Honest Liar is an up close and personal look at legendary showman James “The Amazing” Randi, who for over half a century has used his unparalleled knowledge as a professional magician and escape artist to expose professional hucksters the world over. (Most notably the spoon-bending Uri Geller, whose spectacular undoing occurred in front of millions of viewers – not to mention host and amateur magician Johnny Carson – on The Tonight Show.)

Filmmaker spoke with Measom about going the indie band route (i.e., using festivals as a means to connect with fans and sell related merchandise), gaining the trust of a renowned skeptic, and also his very personal reasons for pursuing this remarkable subject in the first place. An Honest Liar hits theaters in NYC and LA on March 6th with a national rollout to follow.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Annie Sprinkle on Reuniting with Golden Era Porn Legends for CineKink’s “A Tribute to Club 90″

It’s splendidly ironic that the birth of Club 90 — “the world’s first porn star support group” — occurred in 1983 at a baby shower, the ultimate celebration of sex positivity. Porn actress Veronica Hart (who may be familiar to viewers of Six Feet Under and Boogie Nights, and is still with her high school sweetheart today) was due, porn star-turned-sexologist/performance artist Annie Sprinkle volunteered her apartment at 90 Lexington, the women of NYC’s adult industry showed up, and the rest, as they say, is kink history.

At the urging of the late Gloria Leonard (a feminist porn star who would go on to, as the publisher of High Society, pioneer the “celebrity skin” sub-genre) and along with female-centric porn director Candida Royalle and Veronica Vera (who, in 1992, would launch Miss Vera’s Finishing School, the world’s first cross-dressing academy), these adult actresses began to meet regularly to offer each other emotional support, share contacts and strategize ways of producing, directing and distributing their own work. In other words, once this trailblazing five-some joined forces, the sex industry would never be the same.

Filmmaker was fortunate enough to speak with one of the legends, Annie Sprinkle, prior to “A Tribute to Club 90,” the February 27th centerpiece event of the 12th Annual CineKink NYC (running from February 24th-March 1st). To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Film Alternatives to “50 Shades of Grey”

Now that all the hoopla surrounding the film adaptation of E.L. James’ BDSM book for ladies who lunch has died down (or rather tanked if you read the Rotten Tomatoes reviews) let’s get down and dirty real. Long before there were “50 Shades” teddy bears and “50 Shades” cookbooks (“50 Shades of Kale”? WTF?) there were movies that actually dealt with the subject of sadomasochism from a non-“Twilight” perspective. So as a longtime film critic and the author of “Under My Master’s Wings” – an erotic memoir about my time spent as the personal slave to a gay for pay stripper – I feel it’s my duty to offer five cinematic suggestions that go beyond bondage bears and kinky kale.

To find out my five visit Global Comment.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Miami 2.0: Transmedia at FilmGate Interactive

Part conference, part festival – and packed with live events, workshops, parties, and even a “Tech Playground” – FilmGate Interactive uniquely combines cutting edge storytelling with a laidback Miami Beach vibe. I must admit, after reading my colleague Randy Astle’s fascinating interview with FilmGate Interactive founder and executive director Diliana Alexander, my mind’s bar was set high for this young transmedia fest, but this three-year-old event still managed to exceed my expectations and then some.

To read the rest of my coverage visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“It’s Too Important to be Tucked Away for Another 30 Years”: Don Argott on Kickstarting Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time

Don Argott’s interests are eclectic, to say the least. Just in the past five years the Philly-based documentarian has followed the downward spiraling of rock stars, explored a nuclear-reactor community and, most recently, launched a Kickstarter campaign for his latest project Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. The in-production doc is co-directed by Curb Your Enthusiasm co-creator Bob Weide and is about his decades-long attempt to make his own film about the iconic author, who in the process became a close friend. Argott spoke with Filmmaker about meeting Weide at an overseas film festival, going the indie financing route, and how getting close to a subject can sometimes get in the way of actually finishing the film.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Online Hoax: Director Sophie Deraspe Discusses The Amina Profile

Girl meets girl online. They fall in love from afar — Sandra in Montreal, Amina in Syria. The Arab uprising occurs and soon Amina, star blogger and creator of “A Gay Girl in Damascus” gets swept up in the chaos, then kidnapped, and then disappears. Her frantic paramour goes on a global quest to find her — only to discover that the game-changing World Wide Web is also a web of intrigue and deceit.

Fortunately, Sophie Deraspe’s doc The Amina Profile is more than the sum of this now infamous hoax. By smartly training her lens on the unwitting victim and delving into the fallout, Deraspe deftly shifts the focus from (and thus avoids cheaply glorifying) the usual headline-grabbing suspect. Filmmaker spoke with this thoughtful Canadian director prior to the film’s Sundance premiere in the World Documentary Competition.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“Reality is Not, I Believe, a Fixed Entity…”: Michael Madsen on Alien Encounter Doc, The Visit

As a conceptual artist Michael Madsen doesn’t so much create nonfiction films as craft mind-blowing experiences, introducing even the most jaded of us docu-philes to people and places we’d no idea even existed. (Prior to IDFA 2010 I, for one, never knew about Finland’s nuclear waste storage facility Onkalo, the subject of Madsen’s Into Eternity and an underground cavern the size of a large city set for completion in the 22nd century.) In his latest The Visit the Danish director turns his attention and limitless imagination towards mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligent life. With the help of expert guides — an international array that includes military men, theologians, government spokesmen, and even scientists from the United Nations’ Office for Outer Space Affairs (yup, who knew?) — he takes us step by step through a hypothetical scenario both exhilarating and deeply humbling. Filmmaker was fortunate enough to speak with the philosophical polymath prior to the film’s U.S. premiere in Park City on Sunday, January 25 at the Prospector Theater.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crowdsourcing Erotica: Erika Lust’s XConfessions

A Swede living in Spain with a background in political science, Erika Lust is not your average feminist pornographer. The award-winning writer-director of over half a dozen erotic films, Lust is now embarking on what she considers her most important project yet. XConfessions is 100 percent crowdsourced, fan-generated erotica. Each month, Lust chooses two sex confessions from among the wide-ranging slew of fantasies posted to her site. (The submission process itself is free of charge. Just create an anonymous profile and you can read or write confessions as well as watch free videos.) Those favorites will then become short films — or, in some cases, sexy swag that the winning confessor receives gratis. (The Cava Ménage à Trois box set of wine from a family-owned Spanish vineyard seems inspired, though I’m partial to the “Queen of Fucking Everything” tote bag.)

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine (or better yet, buy the Winter 2015 print issue).