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.

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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy Accidents at CPH:DOX 2018: My Three (Four-Star) DOX:AWARD Stars

The 15th edition of CPH:DOX (March 15-25) boasted over 200 films (100 of which were premieres) and a wide array of industry activities — including the inaugural Science Film Forum, a pitching event designed to encourage collaboration between filmmakers and scientists. But as in previous years, CPH:DOX was all about business as unusual. There were the “quirky events,” including a club night at Chateau Motel that featured “an evening with milk drinks as well as a film and debate about milk.” For the lactose intolerant, or if water was just more your thing, there were the three ocean-focused pictures at the National Aquarium Denmark, which featured post-screening debates (in front of an ocean tank, naturally). And then there were the unconventional selections by the guest curators, the indie pop band The xx, one of which was Stephanie Comilang’s Children of the King, complete with a visit from “Europe’s best Elvis impersonator” (admission was free if you showed up dressed like the King).

However, due to yet another Nor’easter that cancelled flights at JFK (thanks, East Coast winter, for reminding me why I finally kissed New York City goodbye), I found myself stuck in Brooklyn and then the Oslo airport, following all of these aforementioned festivities from afar. On the upside, I did eventually make it to Copenhagen for closing weekend — and even managed to catch up on all my DOX:AWARD screeners, which were required viewing for this member of the Danish film magazine Ekko's Starbarometer jury, comprised of seven international critics who rated the competition’s selections from one to four stars.

To read all about it visit Filmmaker magazine.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"We Have Only Scratched the Surface of What is Possible in Erotic VR Media”: Jennifer Lyon Bell on Her Fantasy Film Workshop and Creating Erotic VR

The last time I interviewed veteran filmmaker Jennifer Lyon Bell for this site topics ranged from “fair trade” porn to the inaugural Holy Fuck Film Festival in Amsterdam (where the expat feminist pornographer has long resided). And now Bell, recipient of both the Feminist Porn Awards 2014 Movie of the Year (for Silver Shoes, which premiered at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts) and a psych degree from Harvard, continues to expand her mission of providing sex education for those behind the lens, while also exploring the new media horizon through her own artistic work.

I caught up with Bell to hear more about two sex-related endeavors in particular – “Fantasy Film Workshop: Design Your Own Erotic Film,” a full-day workshop that just completed at this year’s Raindance, and Second Date, an unscripted, Virtual Reality 360° “portrait of two young people fumbling towards ecstasy” that is screening this week at the VR program at CPH:DOX.

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine.