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).