Sunday, February 14, 2016

No Sex Please, We’re British: Pandora Blake Battles UK Censorship

Feminist porn producer/performer Pandora Blake is one of the more high profile victims of the Orwellian Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, an amendment to the UK’s 2003 Communications Act – which basically bans the country’s porn producers from showing a long and seemingly arbitrary list of run-of-the-mill BDSM practices. Though Blake’s award-winning website Dreams of Spanking was shut down last August – after she’d done a whirlwind of media interviews decrying the legislation and even organized a fundraiser for Backlash, the sexual freedom-defending nonprofit – she’s refused to take the attack on her livelihood lying down, so to speak. I was fortunate enough to catch up with the kink-positive activist, who’s currently appealing the Dreams of Spanking ruling, a few days before Valentine’s Day.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

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.