Filmmaker Q&A with Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick of THE HAND THAT FEEDS
In times of economic uncertainty, it is increasingly difficult for front-line workers to earn a living wage. This inspiring film focuses on a group of employees at a popular New York City eatery, many of whom are undocumented and vulnerable to being exploited. When they stand up to management to fight for better wages and working conditions, they gradually learn how to empower themselves and emerge as leaders, taking action for what is right.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself.
Rachel Lear’s award-winning first feature doc BIRDS OF PASSAGE (2010) was supported by Fulbright and the National Film Institute of Uruguay, had two community screening tours of Uruguay sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture and was broadcast nationally throughout Latin America. Her ongoing video art collaborations with artist Saya Woolfalk have screened at numerous galleries and museums worldwide since 2008. Rachel was a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for her new film THE HAND THAT FEEDS. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from NYU. 
 
A product of backwoods Maine, Robin Blotnick has worked as a freelance editor of everything from cage-fighting matches to celebrity home movies. His first documentary, CHOCOLATE COUNTRY, received a Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival, was a winner in LinkTV’s ViewChange Competition, and is used as a teaching tool by educators and Fair Trade advocates around the world. His feature documentary debut, GODS AND KINGS, tells a strange story of masks, magic and mass media in the highlands of Guatemala. It premiered at Mexico’s Morelia International Film Festival and won the Intangible Culture Prize at the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Films (Scotland, 2013). Robin is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for his new film THE HAND THAT FEEDS.
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
In 2011, we got caught up in the fever of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and ended up spending that fall documenting it. It was an exciting time, and we learned a lot, but we didn’t find a film there. We were looking for a more dramatic character-driven story. After Zuccotti park had been evicted and the movement was dying down in early 2012, we heard about a group of undocumented immigrant restaurant workers who had reached out to Occupy activists for help fighting unfair treatment by their bosses. Not only were we intrigued, we were really inspired by the courage of the workers. It was a classic American underdog story, and it spoke to the gripping issues of our time, economic inequality, immigration reform, the crisis of the labor movement and the rise of a low-wage service sector economy.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
The biggest challenge was working without funding at first and never knowing when we would need to go shoot. We were doing freelance jobs on the side, but we had to be on call to grab the camera and microphone and rush up from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side whenever there was a new crisis brewing. And there were a lot of crises! People in the labor movement told us this type of campaign could take three or more years to resolve itself, so we were prepared for a relatively slow-moving story. Instead it reached an epic conclusion in less than 8 months. This was of course a good thing, but it felt like we lived through 3 years of drama in those 8 months!
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
For this film, it was our premiere at Full Frame in April. To be able to stand up there with our star Mahoma and receive 3 standing ovations from a packed house was a nice recompense for all the recent madness the three of us had been through together. It was especially rewarding to hear from local workers in the fast food industry that the film inspired them and felt true to their experience.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
Robin: I’ve wanted to make films since I was a young child—though at the time I wanted to be a Disney animator. I got my hands on a camcorder around 11, and used it to make spectacles of claymation, horror and adventure in the woods near my home. The initial appeal was to be able to control everything, to create fully controlled, artificial worlds. Over time I moved toward non-fiction, maybe because I sensed it was better to give up some control. It’s more rewarding for me now to engage with the messiness of reality.
 
Rachel: I fell in love with documentary filmmaking during my first years of graduate school in anthropology, when I had the opportunity to take film classes at NYU. I suddenly realized that this art form allowed me to do everything I enjoyed and valued at once— to tap into my background in photography and music and my childhood penchant for collage to construct the audiovisual fabric, to engage with the social world in meaningful ways, and to make arguments by telling stories. 
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Robin: I think it was ET. I was too young for it, and though I remember laughing at the scene where ET drinks a beer, the image of federal agents in white hazmat suits taking over the house gave me nightmares.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?
Robin: Timothy Treadwell in GRIZZLY MAN. There is nothing like someone’s own home movies to give you a special glimpse into their private nature.
 
Rachel: I think I’d have to say Mark Borchard, the filmmaker in AMERICAN MOVIE. His singular devotion to his craft generates a range of emotional responses from bemused fascination to uncomfortable pathos to genuine admiration.
 
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
Robin: I might have to go with PARADISE LOST, which is ironic because it was made for TV. But it’s a more riveting courtroom drama than anything Hollywood could come up with.
 
Rachel: I think TO BE AND TO HAVE is an incredibly cinematic documentary. I love that it starts with a very slow sequence of turtles walking around the classroom where most of the rest of the movie will take place. This prepares you for slowing down to a pace at which it is possible to appreciate subtle drama in everyday life.
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
Robin: I’m a huge fan of the films Adam Curtis makes for the BBC, like THE CENTURY OF THE SELF and THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES. I’ve never seen anyone use historical archival footage as artfully and playfully as he does. He’ll be talking about Game Theory, or some arcane school of psychology, and you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
 
Rachel: I am really interested in Jean Rouch’s “ethnofiction” because it broke new ground in blending documentary and fiction as well as collaboration between filmmakers and subjects. In JAGUAR (1955), the first of these experiments, a group of three young African men travel down the Gold Coast seeking work and have many interesting encounters along the way. The subjects become actors, and all dialogue and actions are improvised, though some are more realistic than others. This collaborative representation of everyday life through fantasy gives access to truths that a traditional documentary might obscure. 
 
10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society?
Robin: Kind of an unanswerable question, but in my lifetime, in my country, Michael Moore’s films definitely have an effect. A lot of people have problems with him, but I think he’s brilliant. 
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?
Robin: I would want to be back there with Thomas Edison or the Lumiere brothers, shooting the first films ever.
 
Rachel: I wish I had shot DON’T LOOK BACK. 
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Having the hotel manager where we were staying in North Carolina start talking to us about his own complex relationship with the undocumented immigrant workforce he manages. People of all political stripes, all around the country want to talk about the issues raised by our films, and that’s exciting.
 
13. What song has you pumped this summer? 

“Double bubble trouble” by M.I.A.

SCREENINGS:
Friday, June 20, 4:45 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Saturday, June 21, 3:45 p.m.Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick of THE HAND THAT FEEDS

In times of economic uncertainty, it is increasingly difficult for front-line workers to earn a living wage. This inspiring film focuses on a group of employees at a popular New York City eatery, many of whom are undocumented and vulnerable to being exploited. When they stand up to management to fight for better wages and working conditions, they gradually learn how to empower themselves and emerge as leaders, taking action for what is right.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself.

Rachel Lear’s award-winning first feature doc BIRDS OF PASSAGE (2010) was supported by Fulbright and the National Film Institute of Uruguay, had two community screening tours of Uruguay sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture and was broadcast nationally throughout Latin America. Her ongoing video art collaborations with artist Saya Woolfalk have screened at numerous galleries and museums worldwide since 2008. Rachel was a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for her new film THE HAND THAT FEEDS. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from NYU.

 

A product of backwoods Maine, Robin Blotnick has worked as a freelance editor of everything from cage-fighting matches to celebrity home movies. His first documentary, CHOCOLATE COUNTRY, received a Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival, was a winner in LinkTV’s ViewChange Competition, and is used as a teaching tool by educators and Fair Trade advocates around the world. His feature documentary debut, GODS AND KINGS, tells a strange story of masks, magic and mass media in the highlands of Guatemala. It premiered at Mexico’s Morelia International Film Festival and won the Intangible Culture Prize at the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Films (Scotland, 2013). Robin is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for his new film THE HAND THAT FEEDS.

 

2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

In 2011, we got caught up in the fever of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and ended up spending that fall documenting it. It was an exciting time, and we learned a lot, but we didn’t find a film there. We were looking for a more dramatic character-driven story. After Zuccotti park had been evicted and the movement was dying down in early 2012, we heard about a group of undocumented immigrant restaurant workers who had reached out to Occupy activists for help fighting unfair treatment by their bosses. Not only were we intrigued, we were really inspired by the courage of the workers. It was a classic American underdog story, and it spoke to the gripping issues of our time, economic inequality, immigration reform, the crisis of the labor movement and the rise of a low-wage service sector economy.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

The biggest challenge was working without funding at first and never knowing when we would need to go shoot. We were doing freelance jobs on the side, but we had to be on call to grab the camera and microphone and rush up from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side whenever there was a new crisis brewing. And there were a lot of crises! People in the labor movement told us this type of campaign could take three or more years to resolve itself, so we were prepared for a relatively slow-moving story. Instead it reached an epic conclusion in less than 8 months. This was of course a good thing, but it felt like we lived through 3 years of drama in those 8 months!

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

For this film, it was our premiere at Full Frame in April. To be able to stand up there with our star Mahoma and receive 3 standing ovations from a packed house was a nice recompense for all the recent madness the three of us had been through together. It was especially rewarding to hear from local workers in the fast food industry that the film inspired them and felt true to their experience.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

Robin: I’ve wanted to make films since I was a young child—though at the time I wanted to be a Disney animator. I got my hands on a camcorder around 11, and used it to make spectacles of claymation, horror and adventure in the woods near my home. The initial appeal was to be able to control everything, to create fully controlled, artificial worlds. Over time I moved toward non-fiction, maybe because I sensed it was better to give up some control. It’s more rewarding for me now to engage with the messiness of reality.

 

Rachel: I fell in love with documentary filmmaking during my first years of graduate school in anthropology, when I had the opportunity to take film classes at NYU. I suddenly realized that this art form allowed me to do everything I enjoyed and valued at once— to tap into my background in photography and music and my childhood penchant for collage to construct the audiovisual fabric, to engage with the social world in meaningful ways, and to make arguments by telling stories.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

Robin: I think it was ET. I was too young for it, and though I remember laughing at the scene where ET drinks a beer, the image of federal agents in white hazmat suits taking over the house gave me nightmares.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?

Robin: Timothy Treadwell in GRIZZLY MAN. There is nothing like someone’s own home movies to give you a special glimpse into their private nature.

 

Rachel: I think I’d have to say Mark Borchard, the filmmaker in AMERICAN MOVIE. His singular devotion to his craft generates a range of emotional responses from bemused fascination to uncomfortable pathos to genuine admiration.

 

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

Robin: I might have to go with PARADISE LOST, which is ironic because it was made for TV. But it’s a more riveting courtroom drama than anything Hollywood could come up with.

 

Rachel: I think TO BE AND TO HAVE is an incredibly cinematic documentary. I love that it starts with a very slow sequence of turtles walking around the classroom where most of the rest of the movie will take place. This prepares you for slowing down to a pace at which it is possible to appreciate subtle drama in everyday life.

 

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

Robin: I’m a huge fan of the films Adam Curtis makes for the BBC, like THE CENTURY OF THE SELF and THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES. I’ve never seen anyone use historical archival footage as artfully and playfully as he does. He’ll be talking about Game Theory, or some arcane school of psychology, and you can’t take your eyes off the screen.

 

Rachel: I am really interested in Jean Rouch’s “ethnofiction” because it broke new ground in blending documentary and fiction as well as collaboration between filmmakers and subjects. In JAGUAR (1955), the first of these experiments, a group of three young African men travel down the Gold Coast seeking work and have many interesting encounters along the way. The subjects become actors, and all dialogue and actions are improvised, though some are more realistic than others. This collaborative representation of everyday life through fantasy gives access to truths that a traditional documentary might obscure.

 

10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society?

Robin: Kind of an unanswerable question, but in my lifetime, in my country, Michael Moore’s films definitely have an effect. A lot of people have problems with him, but I think he’s brilliant.

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?

Robin: I would want to be back there with Thomas Edison or the Lumiere brothers, shooting the first films ever.

 

Rachel: I wish I had shot DON’T LOOK BACK.

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

Having the hotel manager where we were staying in North Carolina start talking to us about his own complex relationship with the undocumented immigrant workforce he manages. People of all political stripes, all around the country want to talk about the issues raised by our films, and that’s exciting.

 

13. What song has you pumped this summer?

“Double bubble trouble” by M.I.A.

SCREENINGS:

Friday, June 20, 4:45 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Saturday, June 21, 3:45 p.m.
Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Laura Naylor of THE FIX
After years of heroin addiction, a young father from the Bronx tries to turn his life around. With the support of former junkies in his community, he works towards creating effective solutions to help empower those fighting the deadly grasp of drug addiction. Giving voice to these often marginalized members of society, THE FIX is a sensitive story of hope and redemption.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself. 
Director Laura Naylor discovered her interest in documentary-style representation while studying photography and art history at Columbia University. She worked for several years as an editorial photographer before transitioning to film in 2010. In 2011, she co-directed and co-produced her first feature-length documentary film, DUCK BEACH TO ETERNITY, which premiered at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival and aired multiple times on BBC3 in the U.K. THE FIX is her first feature as a solo director. In addition to directing and producing independent documentaries, Laura directs fundraising videos for non-profit organizations. She lives and works in New York City. 
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
Someone very close to me struggles with heroin addiction, and I have witnessed the stigmatization that comes along with this horrible disease. I wanted to create a film that would help break down barriers and a give voice to this often-marginalized population. I met the subjects of my film at a methadone clinic in the Bronx. During development, I attended group sessions to allow the patients to get a feel for me as a person before they decided if they felt comfortable being filmed. In the end I was awed by their openness and courage on camera.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
We had a tiny budget for the film and operated for the duration of the production with a two-person crew. Because of this, I wore many hats, and at times it was a challenge to effectively drive the story while simultaneously recording audio or operating a camera.
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
The first time THE FIX screened in NYC, many of the subjects of the film were in the audience, some of them seeing the film for the first time. Witnessing the great pride they felt in watching their stories on screen was incredibly rewarding.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I come from a background in documentary-style photography and have always enjoyed telling stories within a frame. When I began working on film projects a few years ago, it was basically love at first sight. Film has expanded my toolbox for storytelling and given me a more powerful voice.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
FIELD OF DREAMS when I was seven.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Little Eddie from GREY GARDENS.
 
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic? 
CUTIE and THE BOXER
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction? 
THE ACT OF KILLING
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society? 
CATHY CAME HOME
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
The wonderfully cathartic moment in GOD GREW TIRED OF USwhen one of the lost boys reunites with his mother after 20 years.  
12.  What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Being invited to screen at AFI DOCS.
 
13. What song do you love this summer?

“Girl Called Alex” by Kurt Vile

SCREENINGS:
Thursday, June 19, 6:15 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Laura Naylor of THE FIX

After years of heroin addiction, a young father from the Bronx tries to turn his life around. With the support of former junkies in his community, he works towards creating effective solutions to help empower those fighting the deadly grasp of drug addiction. Giving voice to these often marginalized members of society, THE FIX is a sensitive story of hope and redemption.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself.

Director Laura Naylor discovered her interest in documentary-style representation while studying photography and art history at Columbia University. She worked for several years as an editorial photographer before transitioning to film in 2010. In 2011, she co-directed and co-produced her first feature-length documentary film, DUCK BEACH TO ETERNITY, which premiered at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival and aired multiple times on BBC3 in the U.K. THE FIX is her first feature as a solo director. In addition to directing and producing independent documentaries, Laura directs fundraising videos for non-profit organizations. She lives and works in New York City. 

 

2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

Someone very close to me struggles with heroin addiction, and I have witnessed the stigmatization that comes along with this horrible disease. I wanted to create a film that would help break down barriers and a give voice to this often-marginalized population. I met the subjects of my film at a methadone clinic in the Bronx. During development, I attended group sessions to allow the patients to get a feel for me as a person before they decided if they felt comfortable being filmed. In the end I was awed by their openness and courage on camera.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

We had a tiny budget for the film and operated for the duration of the production with a two-person crew. Because of this, I wore many hats, and at times it was a challenge to effectively drive the story while simultaneously recording audio or operating a camera.

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

The first time THE FIX screened in NYC, many of the subjects of the film were in the audience, some of them seeing the film for the first time. Witnessing the great pride they felt in watching their stories on screen was incredibly rewarding.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I come from a background in documentary-style photography and have always enjoyed telling stories within a frame. When I began working on film projects a few years ago, it was basically love at first sight. Film has expanded my toolbox for storytelling and given me a more powerful voice.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

FIELD OF DREAMS when I was seven.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?

Little Eddie from GREY GARDENS.

 

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic? 

CUTIE and THE BOXER

 

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction? 

THE ACT OF KILLING

 

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society? 

CATHY CAME HOME

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

The wonderfully cathartic moment in GOD GREW TIRED OF USwhen one of the lost boys reunites with his mother after 20 years.  

12.  What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

Being invited to screen at AFI DOCS.

 

13. What song do you love this summer?

“Girl Called Alex” by Kurt Vile

SCREENINGS:

Thursday, June 19, 6:15 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Paul Lazarus of SLINGSHOT
Dean Kamen invented the Segway and lives in a house with secret passages, a helicopter garage, a closet full of denim clothes and a massive 19th-century steam engine filling its atrium. His latest passion: the SlingShot water purification system created to obliterate half of human illness on the planet. Kamen reminisces about inventing home dialysis technology and choosing to forego parenthood while lamenting he has only one lifetime for inventing. 
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1.    Introduce yourself.
Paul Lazarus, Director/Producer, has an over 30-year award-winning career directing, producing and writing film, theater and television. Along with SlingShot, Lazarus has created numerous other documentaries with inventor Dean Kamen highlighting his Segway invention and his inspiring competition for students, FIRST robotics. He directed and produced the independent feature, SEVEN GIRLFRIENDS, starring Tim Daly and Melora Hardin. Lazarus has directed many notable TV series including PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and THE MIDDLE. Past shows include: UGLY BETTY, FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, LA LAW, PSYCH and MELROSE PLACE. In the early 1990s, he served as the Artistic Director of the historic Pasadena Playhouse. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Lazarus apprenticed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England.   
 
2.    What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
For more than a decade, I have directed and produced numerous short documentary pieces with Dean Kamen about his Ginger (Segway) transportation device and his FIRST robotics programs for students. In 2006, Dean told me about his work to clean the world’s water supply and his water purification technology. I thought it would be his most significant contribution and proposed that we turn a camera on the story to show how challenging it is to bring an invention from idea to reality. We started shooting this documentary in 2007.
3.    What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
Mostly, I have directed narrative pieces in my career. The biggest challenge was working without a script and discovering the story along the way. Breaking our camera in rural Ghana was also a challenge. Discovering that some of the best material for the move came from accidents or totally unplanned moments was always a nice surprise. 
 
4.    What is your proudest professional moment?
Producing and directing the 75th Birthday tribute concert for composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl. It was one night only for roughly 17,000 people.
 
5.    Why did you become a filmmaker?
I have always loved telling stories. Started out as a theater director in New York. Getting to add another creative dimension with the camera proved to be irresistible.    
6.    What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Don’t really remember. But I remember seeing the original CHARADE, which I loved at the time.  
 
7.    Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?
Pina Bausch
8.    Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
RIVERS AND TIDES. 
9.    What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, THE COVE 
 
10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society?
AN INCONVIENTENT TRUTH
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?
Chicago - Democratic Convention of 1968
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Getting to see Monk Dunk in Dallas, Texas and watching Tibetan Monks play basketball.
 
13. What song has you pumped this summer?  
“Go Do” by Jonsi.  

“I Should Live in Salt” by The National

SCREENINGS:
Saturday, June 21, 6:45 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 1:30 p.m.Naval Heritage
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Paul Lazarus of SLINGSHOT

Dean Kamen invented the Segway and lives in a house with secret passages, a helicopter garage, a closet full of denim clothes and a massive 19th-century steam engine filling its atrium. His latest passion: the SlingShot water purification system created to obliterate half of human illness on the planet. Kamen reminisces about inventing home dialysis technology and choosing to forego parenthood while lamenting he has only one lifetime for inventing. 

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1.    Introduce yourself.

Paul Lazarus, Director/Producer, has an over 30-year award-winning career directing, producing and writing film, theater and television. Along with SlingShot, Lazarus has created numerous other documentaries with inventor Dean Kamen highlighting his Segway invention and his inspiring competition for students, FIRST robotics. He directed and produced the independent feature, SEVEN GIRLFRIENDS, starring Tim Daly and Melora Hardin. Lazarus has directed many notable TV series including PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and THE MIDDLE. Past shows include: UGLY BETTY, FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, LA LAW, PSYCH and MELROSE PLACE. In the early 1990s, he served as the Artistic Director of the historic Pasadena Playhouse. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Lazarus apprenticed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England.   

 

2.    What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

For more than a decade, I have directed and produced numerous short documentary pieces with Dean Kamen about his Ginger (Segway) transportation device and his FIRST robotics programs for students. In 2006, Dean told me about his work to clean the world’s water supply and his water purification technology. I thought it would be his most significant contribution and proposed that we turn a camera on the story to show how challenging it is to bring an invention from idea to reality. We started shooting this documentary in 2007.


3.    What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

Mostly, I have directed narrative pieces in my career. The biggest challenge was working without a script and discovering the story along the way. Breaking our camera in rural Ghana was also a challenge. Discovering that some of the best material for the move came from accidents or totally unplanned moments was always a nice surprise. 

 

4.    What is your proudest professional moment?

Producing and directing the 75th Birthday tribute concert for composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl. It was one night only for roughly 17,000 people.

 

5.    Why did you become a filmmaker?

I have always loved telling stories. Started out as a theater director in New York. Getting to add another creative dimension with the camera proved to be irresistible.    

6.    What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

Don’t really remember. But I remember seeing the original CHARADE, which I loved at the time.  

 

7.    Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?

Pina Bausch

8.    Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

RIVERS AND TIDES.

9.    What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, THE COVE

 

10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society?

AN INCONVIENTENT TRUTH

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?

Chicago - Democratic Convention of 1968

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

Getting to see Monk Dunk in Dallas, Texas and watching Tibetan Monks play basketball.

 

13. What song has you pumped this summer?  

“Go Do” by Jonsi.  

“I Should Live in Salt” by The National

SCREENINGS:

Saturday, June 21, 6:45 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 1:30 p.m.
Naval Heritage

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Marshall Curry of POINT AND SHOOT
Matthew VanDyke, a young man from the suburbs of Baltimore, dreamed about a life of adventure that seemed outside his grasp. When VanDyke decided to turn his fantasies into reality, he soon found his life heading toward a winding path that would eventually lead him to the front lines of the 2011 Libyan Revolution. Director Marshall Curry’s new film is an absorbing look at what happens when one man’s daydreams crash against reality.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself. 
Marshall Curry is the director of the documentary POINT AND SHOOT. Prior to POINT AND SHOOT he directed STREET FIGHT (about Cory Booker’s first run for office) which won the Audience Award at Silverdocs and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award, RACING DREAMS (which won best Doc at Tribeca), and IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (which won the Editing Award at Sundance and was nominated for an Academy Award). Marshall also Executive Produced and did some editing on a documentary about the band The National, called MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS, which was released theatrically this spring. 
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
The main subject of the film, Matt VanDyke, emailed me one day and introduced himself.  He said he had returned from Libya where he’d been fighting with the rebels to overthrow Gaddafi and he had shot some amazing footage that he thought it would make a good documentary. When I saw the footage, I agreed.  The footage was intimate and dramatic, and the story led to so many questions about war and manhood and the way we use cameras to craft ourselves.  I explained that I only worked on films where I had complete creative control and he agreed to that, so I went to Baltimore and did two days of interviews that make up the spine of the film.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
In the past I have always shot my own footage, and I shoot with an eye toward the specific way I am going to edit. In this case, Matt had already shot the footage with his own notion of how it would be edited before I came onto the project. So that was a creative challenge at times. But I didn’t have to put myself into the incredibly dangerous and difficult situations that Matt went through while filming, so I know I was a big beneficiary of his work.
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
When I made my first film, STREET FIGHT, I had no money for it and no real filmmaking experience. It was just something that I went out and shot and then edited in my apartment on a rickety old Mac. It was my goal to just make something that my friends and family could watch – maybe we’d get some pizzas and a projector and I’d show them the project I’d been working on for the past couple years. So when it was nominated for an Academy Award, it was a huge surprise and a lot of fun.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I am a basically curious person, and I like to have an excuse to ask people personal questions and spend time looking around in their worlds. I also come from a family of storytellers and I like building stories that feel like fiction movies made out of real life footage — sharing stories with people.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Maybe FANTASIA?  Or it could have been GREASE? Or the LITTLE PRINCE? I’d have to research to figure out which of those came first – they all left imprints in my childhood brain, but I can’t be sure about the order.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Probably has to be Charlene from Ross McElwee’s SHERMAN’S MARCH. 
 
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
There are films that are cinematic because they are shot and edited in a way that feels like fictional cinema, but from a purely visual perspective KOYAANISQATSI probably takes the prize for me.
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
SHERMAN’S MARCH kicked down the walls for me, in terms of what a documentary could do and be. It broke rules in a disarming and compelling way that completely sucked me in. It is probably the film that most encouraged me to decide to become a filmmaker. 
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
I can’t answer that for society, but Rob Epstein’s THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK had a huge impact on me. I didn’t know the story, so I was completely shocked at the end. The film stretches, challenges, changes and inspires audiences (and did all of those to me) in a way that is magical.
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
It would be great to have seen Philipe Petit walk across the wire between the twin towers (from MAN ON WIRE).
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

We’re still just getting started with the film— it’s only been a month since the premiere— but winning best Doc at Tribeca was unexpected and thrilling.

SCREENINGS:
Friday, June 20, 7:15 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Marshall Curry of POINT AND SHOOT

Matthew VanDyke, a young man from the suburbs of Baltimore, dreamed about a life of adventure that seemed outside his grasp. When VanDyke decided to turn his fantasies into reality, he soon found his life heading toward a winding path that would eventually lead him to the front lines of the 2011 Libyan Revolution. Director Marshall Curry’s new film is an absorbing look at what happens when one man’s daydreams crash against reality.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself.

Marshall Curry is the director of the documentary POINT AND SHOOT. Prior to POINT AND SHOOT he directed STREET FIGHT (about Cory Booker’s first run for office) which won the Audience Award at Silverdocs and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award, RACING DREAMS (which won best Doc at Tribeca), and IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (which won the Editing Award at Sundance and was nominated for an Academy Award). Marshall also Executive Produced and did some editing on a documentary about the band The National, called MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS, which was released theatrically this spring. 

 

2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

The main subject of the film, Matt VanDyke, emailed me one day and introduced himself.  He said he had returned from Libya where he’d been fighting with the rebels to overthrow Gaddafi and he had shot some amazing footage that he thought it would make a good documentary. When I saw the footage, I agreed.  The footage was intimate and dramatic, and the story led to so many questions about war and manhood and the way we use cameras to craft ourselves.  I explained that I only worked on films where I had complete creative control and he agreed to that, so I went to Baltimore and did two days of interviews that make up the spine of the film.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

In the past I have always shot my own footage, and I shoot with an eye toward the specific way I am going to edit. In this case, Matt had already shot the footage with his own notion of how it would be edited before I came onto the project. So that was a creative challenge at times. But I didn’t have to put myself into the incredibly dangerous and difficult situations that Matt went through while filming, so I know I was a big beneficiary of his work.

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

When I made my first film, STREET FIGHT, I had no money for it and no real filmmaking experience. It was just something that I went out and shot and then edited in my apartment on a rickety old Mac. It was my goal to just make something that my friends and family could watch – maybe we’d get some pizzas and a projector and I’d show them the project I’d been working on for the past couple years. So when it was nominated for an Academy Award, it was a huge surprise and a lot of fun.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I am a basically curious person, and I like to have an excuse to ask people personal questions and spend time looking around in their worlds. I also come from a family of storytellers and I like building stories that feel like fiction movies made out of real life footage — sharing stories with people.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

Maybe FANTASIA?  Or it could have been GREASE? Or the LITTLE PRINCE? I’d have to research to figure out which of those came first – they all left imprints in my childhood brain, but I can’t be sure about the order.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?

Probably has to be Charlene from Ross McElwee’s SHERMAN’S MARCH. 

 

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

There are films that are cinematic because they are shot and edited in a way that feels like fictional cinema, but from a purely visual perspective KOYAANISQATSI probably takes the prize for me.

 

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

SHERMAN’S MARCH kicked down the walls for me, in terms of what a documentary could do and be. It broke rules in a disarming and compelling way that completely sucked me in. It is probably the film that most encouraged me to decide to become a filmmaker. 

 

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?

I can’t answer that for society, but Rob Epstein’s THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK had a huge impact on me. I didn’t know the story, so I was completely shocked at the end. The film stretches, challenges, changes and inspires audiences (and did all of those to me) in a way that is magical.

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

It would be great to have seen Philipe Petit walk across the wire between the twin towers (from MAN ON WIRE).

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

We’re still just getting started with the film— it’s only been a month since the premiere— but winning best Doc at Tribeca was unexpected and thrilling.

SCREENINGS:

Friday, June 20, 7:15 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Linda G. Mills of OF MANY
Directed by Linda G. Mills and executive produced by Chelsea Clinton, OF MANY examines the remarkable friendship between a rabbi and an imam who seek to create more unity among young people of different religious backgrounds. Their relationship is an inspiring example of the transformative power of understanding.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself.Linda G. Mills is an accidental filmmaker. At first, we felt compelled to tell the story we discovered in Vienna Austria, in 2005, which we happened to catch on film. (Our first film was called AUF WIEDERSEHEN, TIL WE MEET AGAIN, 2010.) Once that happened, I saw the power of a visual medium, the value of a story fixed in time that could provide the backdrop for an important conversation and become a catalyst for change. In addition to filmmaking, I am a professor with interests in violence, trauma and recovery. I study domestic violence with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice. Filmmaking and research create a perfect synergy and one informs the other. Either way, my approach challenges core beliefs and asks new questions of a social problem.  2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?I have lived in downtown New York City since just before 9/11. Our neighborhood, as well as our own lives, is overshadowed by this complicated and tragic history –we ran for our lives as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Inspired by the potential these two religious leaders offered a generation of young people seeking a peaceful path, I could see that their reach and their message could be magnified through a film about their friendship.  As a professor and administrator at NYU, I first encountered Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna during a crisis when they were able to lead by example. So inspired by their efforts, we wanted to tell their story both to galvanize others and to collect similar success stories. I thought that they could encourage thousands to embrace a similar approach – I know they had that effect on me. 3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises? Our biggest surprise was that we turned the camera on and they could wax on about nearly anything! But what surprised us most was how much fun we had learning about their life stories and about what brought them to a point where they could provide this remarkable leadership. The biggest challenge was capturing the essence of their friendship in a short film (34 minutes – distilled from nearly 50 hours of footage!). We wanted the film to be short and compelling and also to jumpstart a conversation.   4. What is your proudest professional moment?I have two: starting a not-for-profit for people with disabilities when I was 24 – 30 years later, it still exists. And creating a new model for treatment of domestic violence called Circles of Peace – we are currently testing their effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial in Utah. 5. Why did you become a filmmaker?My mother was 14 when she left Nazi Austria by herself, leaving her family behind. When we returned 70 years later, we wanted to capture the experience on film as a record for future family generations. And then we stumbled upon an archive and a secret – and the rest is history. 6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?101 DALMATIANS— I was 4 years old! I remember feeling terrified of Cruella de Vil.  My parents got me a Dalmatian a few months later. 7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?Sugar Man, from SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012). 8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?JESUS CAMP (2006)
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?THE STORIES WE TELL (2012) 10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS(2003) continues to challenge us to think in complicated and nuanced ways about child sexual abuse – and the case is still being debated and appealed. 11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?9/11 – the experience changed us and our community forever – and yet I have only my memory to recall our relationship to this personal and national tragedy.  12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?How moved people are by the film and its potential to catalyze communities to think differently about each other.  13. What song do you love this summer?  
“Both Sides Now,” Joni Mitchell – a perfect song for OF MANY!

SCREENINGS (preceding THE AGREEMENT):
 Thursday, June 19, 3:45 p.m.
Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Saturday, June 21, 11:30 a.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Linda G. Mills of OF MANY

Directed by Linda G. Mills and executive produced by Chelsea Clinton, OF MANY examines the remarkable friendship between a rabbi and an imam who seek to create more unity among young people of different religious backgrounds. Their relationship is an inspiring example of the transformative power of understanding.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself.
Linda G. Mills is an accidental filmmaker. At first, we felt compelled to tell the story we discovered in Vienna Austria, in 2005, which we happened to catch on film. (Our first film was called AUF WIEDERSEHEN, TIL WE MEET AGAIN, 2010.) Once that happened, I saw the power of a visual medium, the value of a story fixed in time that could provide the backdrop for an important conversation and become a catalyst for change. In addition to filmmaking, I am a professor with interests in violence, trauma and recovery. I study domestic violence with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice. Filmmaking and research create a perfect synergy and one informs the other. Either way, my approach challenges core beliefs and asks new questions of a social problem. 

2.
What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
I have lived in downtown New York City since just before 9/11. Our neighborhood, as well as our own lives, is overshadowed by this complicated and tragic history –we ran for our lives as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Inspired by the potential these two religious leaders offered a generation of young people seeking a peaceful path, I could see that their reach and their message could be magnified through a film about their friendship. 

As a professor and administrator at NYU, I first encountered Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna during a crisis when they were able to lead by example. So inspired by their efforts, we wanted to tell their story both to galvanize others and to collect similar success stories. I thought that they could encourage thousands to embrace a similar approach – I know they had that effect on me.

3.
 What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
Our biggest surprise was that we turned the camera on and they could wax on about nearly anything! But what surprised us most was how much fun we had learning about their life stories and about what brought them to a point where they could provide this remarkable leadership. The biggest challenge was capturing the essence of their friendship in a short film (34 minutes – distilled from nearly 50 hours of footage!). We wanted the film to be short and compelling and also to jumpstart a conversation.  

4.
 What is your proudest professional moment?
I have two: starting a not-for-profit for people with disabilities when I was 24 – 30 years later, it still exists. And creating a new model for treatment of domestic violence called Circles of Peace – we are currently testing their effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial in Utah.

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
My mother was 14 when she left Nazi Austria by herself, leaving her family behind. When we returned 70 years later, we wanted to capture the experience on film as a record for future family generations. And then we stumbled upon an archive and a secret – and the rest is history.

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

101 DALMATIANS I was 4 years old! I remember feeling terrified of Cruella de Vil.  My parents got me a Dalmatian a few months later.

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Sugar Man, from SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012).

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

JESUS CAMP (2006)


9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
THE STORIES WE TELL (2012)

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?

CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS(2003) continues to challenge us to think in complicated and nuanced ways about child sexual abuse – and the case is still being debated and appealed.

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
9/11 – the experience changed us and our community forever – and yet I have only my memory to recall our relationship to this personal and national tragedy. 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
How moved people are by the film and its potential to catalyze communities to think differently about each other. 

13. What song do you love this summer? 

Both Sides Now,” Joni Mitchell – a perfect song for OF MANY!

SCREENINGS (preceding THE AGREEMENT):

 Thursday, June 19, 3:45 p.m.

Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Saturday, June 21, 11:30 a.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Andre Andreev and Dan Covert of FONT MEN
Go behind the scenes with two typeface geniuses and former business competitors who have joined forces to take the world of fonts by storm. Quirky and brilliant, there is far more to the art of font design than meets the eye. You will never look at Times New Roman the same way again!
(click HERE to view the trailer)

1.    Introduce yourself.
Dress Code is the directing duo of Andre Andreev and Dan Covert. Originally trained as graphic designers, they bring a designer’s sensibility to their animation and film projects. Based in New York’s Lower East Side, they lead a team of designers, illustrators, animators, writers and editors to produce animations and films for agencies and brands.
 
2.    What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
In 2013 AIGA hired us to create a profile on Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones in conjunction with Hoefler and Frere-Jones winning the AIGA medal, the highest honor in the field of graphic design. We do this film series every year for AIGA and have profiled over 40 designers, Hoefler and Frere-Jones’ story stood apart from the rest because it offered a behind the scenes look at how typefaces are made. We decided to use animation to augment the original cut of the film and illustrate their process of making typefaces, something most people have never even thought of, let alone seen. 
 
3.    What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
The biggest surprise was that during the filming of our celebratory movie, our subjects were battling over rights of their company, which concluded with a lawsuit of 20 million dollars and an end to their partnership, behind the scenes.
 
4.    What is your proudest professional moment?
Starting our production company Dress Code in 2007
 
5.    Why did you become a filmmaker?
To share stories with a larger audience than we could reach as graphic designers.
 
6.    What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Dan – I have no idea what the first was, but my dad took me to see PULP FICTION when I was way too young and it had a huge impact on me.
Andre – GHOST BUSTERS
 
7.    Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Mark Borchardt from AMERICAN MOVIE
 
8.    Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
PINA (2011)
 
9.    What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
SEVEN UP! (1964)
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
SUPER SIZE ME
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
GIMME SHELTER (1970)
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
To be on the film festival circuit in the first place.
 
13. What song do you love this summer?  
“Caaalifornia” – French Horn Rebellion  

 
SCREENINGS (preceding ART AND CRAFT):
Friday, June 20, 9:00 p.m.Naval Heritage
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 1:00 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Andre Andreev and Dan Covert of FONT MEN

Go behind the scenes with two typeface geniuses and former business competitors who have joined forces to take the world of fonts by storm. Quirky and brilliant, there is far more to the art of font design than meets the eye. You will never look at Times New Roman the same way again!

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1.    Introduce yourself.

Dress Code is the directing duo of Andre Andreev and Dan Covert. Originally trained as graphic designers, they bring a designer’s sensibility to their animation and film projects. Based in New York’s Lower East Side, they lead a team of designers, illustrators, animators, writers and editors to produce animations and films for agencies and brands.

 

2.    What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

In 2013 AIGA hired us to create a profile on Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones in conjunction with Hoefler and Frere-Jones winning the AIGA medal, the highest honor in the field of graphic design. We do this film series every year for AIGA and have profiled over 40 designers, Hoefler and Frere-Jones’ story stood apart from the rest because it offered a behind the scenes look at how typefaces are made. We decided to use animation to augment the original cut of the film and illustrate their process of making typefaces, something most people have never even thought of, let alone seen. 

 

3.    What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

The biggest surprise was that during the filming of our celebratory movie, our subjects were battling over rights of their company, which concluded with a lawsuit of 20 million dollars and an end to their partnership, behind the scenes.

 

4.    What is your proudest professional moment?

Starting our production company Dress Code in 2007

 

5.    Why did you become a filmmaker?

To share stories with a larger audience than we could reach as graphic designers.

 

6.    What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

Dan – I have no idea what the first was, but my dad took me to see PULP FICTION when I was way too young and it had a huge impact on me.

Andre – GHOST BUSTERS

 

7.    Who is the most memorable documentary character?

Mark Borchardt from AMERICAN MOVIE

 

8.    Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

PINA (2011)

 

9.    What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

SEVEN UP! (1964)

 

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?

SUPER SIZE ME

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

GIMME SHELTER (1970)

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

To be on the film festival circuit in the first place.

 

13. What song do you love this summer? 

“Caaalifornia” – French Horn Rebellion 

 

SCREENINGS (preceding ART AND CRAFT):

Friday, June 20, 9:00 p.m.
Naval Heritage

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 1:00 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Nicole Boxer of HOW I GOT OVER
Fifteen formerly homeless women in the Washington, DC, area come together to share their harrowing life stories as they bravely set out on the path to addiction recovery. When they agree to participate in a project where they will write a play and perform it at the Kennedy Center for one night only, these strong and courageous women tap into artistic talents they never knew they had — with transformative results.
(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself:
A native of Marin County, California, Director Nicole Boxer has worked in film and television for over two decades. In 2007 Nicole co-produced 14 WOMEN, a documentary that raised social awareness about the challenges faced by women in the U.S. Senate. Inspired by the experience of activist filmmaking, Nicole continued her documentary work as an Executive Producer of the 2013 Academy Award-nominated documentary film THE INVISIBLE WAR, for which she was honored to win a Peabody Award. A graduate of NYU, Nicole lives in Washington, DC. HOW I GOT OVER marks her directorial debut.
2. What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?
I wanted to explore the arts as a tool for transformation. Could telling your story save your life? 
 
I wanted to discover if Life Stories could be a model for the nation. Washington D.C. leads the nation in poverty, outranking all 50 states. When we began filming inside N Street Village, I was not aware of the statistics; 83% of women report a history of trauma, 86% report substance abuse issues, and 25% are chronically homeless. How could my subjects ever move beyond their circumstances and what tools would help make that happen?
 
I made this film because I believe a transformational healing power exists in the arts and I wanted to see how much farther that connection could go – to make positive change in the world. 
 
My producer knew of an incredible partnership between the N Street Village community and The Theatre Lab School, where acting teachers were working with formerly homeless women to help them tell their stories, for the last 5 years. 
The subjects of HOW I GOT OVER were going to be the current residential drug treatment clients at N Street Village, so whoever happened to come in during our filming. In fact we picked up additional cast members while filming, which was an interesting twist.
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
One of our challenges was filming around the privacy restrictions in a rehab facility. But our biggest strength and surprise were the relationships we forged once we got to know everyone at N Street. I need to thank my super friendly Director of Photography, Holden, the ladies adored him!
We faced many challenges when we got into the edit room. Because our film was shot in verité, it was difficult to just plug a whole in the storytelling by using an interview bite. Overall, I was surprised by how many of our subjects relaxed into the relationships with us and trusted us to share their lives in such an intimate way.
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
Like one of my characters says in the film, “I made it.” I am just extraordinarily proud that I didn’t give up on this film, in my darkest moments. I am very proud of the team I built, as I stand on their talent and hard work, too.
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I want to create empathy via storytelling. I am outraged by injustice in the world and I have to do something about it. I try to channel that fiery energy into my work and my life. As an artist, I’m not afraid of being judged or criticized. I can speak for a lot of people because I believe in my ability to make a difference. I love telling stories and the film medium for me has a tremendous power to connect.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
The first films I remember seeing were the kid friendly, live-action Disney movies. Every Saturday, we had a kid matinee near my hometown, in San Rafael, California (the home of the Mill Valley Film Festival) –I especially loved ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN and THE STRONGEST BOY IN THE WORLD, with Kurt Russell. Plus, there was a candy store right next door!
My first live action movie memory was seeing SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, at age 11. What were my parents thinking? I loved it…
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?
I am a huge fan of THE UP SERIES by Michael Apted. Following those characters for 40 years, had etched the film subjects into my mind forever. After that, PARIS IS BURNING.
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
PARIS IS BURNING, THE THIN BLUE LINE and GIMMIE SHELTER
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction? 
I love Chris Paine’s WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? and its follow up, REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR, for their tongue-in-cheek humor and style.
10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society? 
FOOD INC and THE INVISIBLE WAR brought the conversation into people’s homes.
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?
Woodstock. Or in the near future, when we have our first women president, I’d like to be on the podium, filming with a crew of 100 cameras fanned across the National Mall.
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
This is my world premiere!
13. What song has you pumped this summer?  We’ll use in our AFI Docs playlist on Spotify.
 
“Am I Wrong” – Nico &Vinz
“Sing” – Ed Sheeran
“Stolen Dance” – Milky Chance (remix)
“Waves” – Mr. Probz

“What You Know” –Two Door Cinema Club


SCREENINGS:
Saturday, June 21, 4:15 p.m.Naval Heritage
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 11:15 a.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Nicole Boxer of HOW I GOT OVER

Fifteen formerly homeless women in the Washington, DC, area come together to share their harrowing life stories as they bravely set out on the path to addiction recovery. When they agree to participate in a project where they will write a play and perform it at the Kennedy Center for one night only, these strong and courageous women tap into artistic talents they never knew they had — with transformative results.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself:

A native of Marin County, California, Director Nicole Boxer has worked in film and television for over two decades. In 2007 Nicole co-produced 14 WOMEN, a documentary that raised social awareness about the challenges faced by women in the U.S. Senate. Inspired by the experience of activist filmmaking, Nicole continued her documentary work as an Executive Producer of the 2013 Academy Award-nominated documentary film THE INVISIBLE WAR, for which she was honored to win a Peabody Award. A graduate of NYU, Nicole lives in Washington, DC. HOW I GOT OVER marks her directorial debut.

2. What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?

I wanted to explore the arts as a tool for transformation. Could telling your story save your life?

 

I wanted to discover if Life Stories could be a model for the nation. Washington D.C. leads the nation in poverty, outranking all 50 states. When we began filming inside N Street Village, I was not aware of the statistics; 83% of women report a history of trauma, 86% report substance abuse issues, and 25% are chronically homeless. How could my subjects ever move beyond their circumstances and what tools would help make that happen?

 

I made this film because I believe a transformational healing power exists in the arts and I wanted to see how much farther that connection could go – to make positive change in the world.

 

My producer knew of an incredible partnership between the N Street Village community and The Theatre Lab School, where acting teachers were working with formerly homeless women to help them tell their stories, for the last 5 years.

The subjects of HOW I GOT OVER were going to be the current residential drug treatment clients at N Street Village, so whoever happened to come in during our filming. In fact we picked up additional cast members while filming, which was an interesting twist.

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

One of our challenges was filming around the privacy restrictions in a rehab facility. But our biggest strength and surprise were the relationships we forged once we got to know everyone at N Street. I need to thank my super friendly Director of Photography, Holden, the ladies adored him!

We faced many challenges when we got into the edit room. Because our film was shot in verité, it was difficult to just plug a whole in the storytelling by using an interview bite. Overall, I was surprised by how many of our subjects relaxed into the relationships with us and trusted us to share their lives in such an intimate way.

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

Like one of my characters says in the film, “I made it.” I am just extraordinarily proud that I didn’t give up on this film, in my darkest moments. I am very proud of the team I built, as I stand on their talent and hard work, too.

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I want to create empathy via storytelling. I am outraged by injustice in the world and I have to do something about it. I try to channel that fiery energy into my work and my life. As an artist, I’m not afraid of being judged or criticized. I can speak for a lot of people because I believe in my ability to make a difference. I love telling stories and the film medium for me has a tremendous power to connect.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

The first films I remember seeing were the kid friendly, live-action Disney movies. Every Saturday, we had a kid matinee near my hometown, in San Rafael, California (the home of the Mill Valley Film Festival) –I especially loved ESCAPE FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN and THE STRONGEST BOY IN THE WORLD, with Kurt Russell. Plus, there was a candy store right next door!

My first live action movie memory was seeing SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, at age 11. What were my parents thinking? I loved it…

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?

I am a huge fan of THE UP SERIES by Michael Apted. Following those characters for 40 years, had etched the film subjects into my mind forever. After that, PARIS IS BURNING.

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

PARIS IS BURNING, THE THIN BLUE LINE and GIMMIE SHELTER

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

I love Chris Paine’s WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? and its follow up, REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR, for their tongue-in-cheek humor and style.

10. Which documentary would you say has had the most profound impact on society?

FOOD INC and THE INVISIBLE WAR brought the conversation into people’s homes.

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could place yourself behind the camera, which one would it be?

Woodstock. Or in the near future, when we have our first women president, I’d like to be on the podium, filming with a crew of 100 cameras fanned across the National Mall.

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

This is my world premiere!

13. What song has you pumped this summer?  We’ll use in our AFI Docs playlist on Spotify.

 

“Am I Wrong” – Nico &Vinz

“Sing” – Ed Sheeran

“Stolen Dance” – Milky Chance (remix)

“Waves” – Mr. Probz

“What You Know” –Two Door Cinema Club

SCREENINGS:

Saturday, June 21, 4:15 p.m.
Naval Heritage

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 11:15 a.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Scott Teems of HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY
Celebrated actor Hal Holbrook has carved out a prolific career in film, television and theater, but one role, which he has played since 1954, has become indelibly associated with him: Mark Twain. For 60 years, Holbrook has been touring with his award-winning one-man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!,” in which he portrays the renowned American writer and satirist before sold-out crowds. Doling out Twain’s priceless and still relevant morsels of wit and wisdom, Holbrook has performed the show in all 50 states, internationally, on television, Broadway and behind the Iron Curtain. Filmmaker Scott Teems takes us behind the scenes with Holbrook for an intimate peek at Twain’s continuing influence on our culture and the dedicated actor who brings him to life.

1. Introduce yourself. 
My name is Scott Teems. I was born and raised outside Atlanta, Georgia. I have a rather unruly beard, but my kids think it’s cool. And I have the great fortune of writing and directing films for a living.
 
 2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
Several years ago I directed Hal Holbrook in a film called THAT EVENING SUN, which also featured his wife, Dixie Carter. The first time I met Dixie, she told me of her longtime dream, which was to see a film made about Hal’s acclaimed, award-winning one-man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” Then she surprised me by telling me I was going to direct it. Not asking. Telling. I tried to dissuade her of that notion, but Dixie was a hard woman to resist, and even harder to dissuade once she got her mind set on something. When she died unexpectedly in early 2010, my producer, Laura Smith, and I determined to make this film, no matter how long it took. Here we are, more than four years later, with Dixie’s dream now a reality. We hope we’ve done her proud.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
This is my first feature-length documentary, so the whole experience was one of constant challenges and surprises. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the incredible support we received from virtually everyone we approached about the film, from cast to crew to total strangers. Our crew worked for nothing (quite literally) while giving hours and hours of their time. Interviewees couldn’t wait to talk about Hal and Twain. We were loaned equipment, put up in housing, fed meals, driven around. We were embraced by Twain scholars, welcomed by Hal’s family and cheered on by his fellow actors. It has been a long journey, and not without its difficulties, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
 
4. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
While it wasn’t the first film I ever saw, the first one I truly remember was INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, which I saw at the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta during their summer screening series, way back when. It was huge and loud and amazing, and this kid was hooked.
 
5. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
Perhaps this is not the traditional definition of “cinematic,” but I have always been drawn to works about the cinema, the making of movies, especially seminal films like BURDEN OF DREAMS and HEARTS OF DARKNESS. These two films, in particular, are inspiring and overwhelming all at once. Thrilling.
 
6. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be? 
The mind boggles at the possibilities. Boggles and then crashes like an old hard drive. 
 
7. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit? 
This will be our World Premiere, so I don’t know yet!
 
8. What song do you love this summer? 

While it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my film, I’ve been listening to the new Afghan Whigs record (Do to the Beast) on repeat. Favorite song from that album would have to be “Parked Outside.”

SCREENINGS:
Wednesday, June 18, 7:15 p.m.Newseum Annenburg Theater
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 4:15 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Scott Teems of HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY

Celebrated actor Hal Holbrook has carved out a prolific career in film, television and theater, but one role, which he has played since 1954, has become indelibly associated with him: Mark Twain. For 60 years, Holbrook has been touring with his award-winning one-man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!,” in which he portrays the renowned American writer and satirist before sold-out crowds. Doling out Twain’s priceless and still relevant morsels of wit and wisdom, Holbrook has performed the show in all 50 states, internationally, on television, Broadway and behind the Iron Curtain. Filmmaker Scott Teems takes us behind the scenes with Holbrook for an intimate peek at Twain’s continuing influence on our culture and the dedicated actor who brings him to life.

1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Scott Teems. I was born and raised outside Atlanta, Georgia. I have a rather unruly beard, but my kids think it’s cool. And I have the great fortune of writing and directing films for a living.

 

 2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

Several years ago I directed Hal Holbrook in a film called THAT EVENING SUN, which also featured his wife, Dixie Carter. The first time I met Dixie, she told me of her longtime dream, which was to see a film made about Hal’s acclaimed, award-winning one-man show, “Mark Twain Tonight!” Then she surprised me by telling me I was going to direct it. Not asking. Telling. I tried to dissuade her of that notion, but Dixie was a hard woman to resist, and even harder to dissuade once she got her mind set on something. When she died unexpectedly in early 2010, my producer, Laura Smith, and I determined to make this film, no matter how long it took. Here we are, more than four years later, with Dixie’s dream now a reality. We hope we’ve done her proud.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

This is my first feature-length documentary, so the whole experience was one of constant challenges and surprises. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the incredible support we received from virtually everyone we approached about the film, from cast to crew to total strangers. Our crew worked for nothing (quite literally) while giving hours and hours of their time. Interviewees couldn’t wait to talk about Hal and Twain. We were loaned equipment, put up in housing, fed meals, driven around. We were embraced by Twain scholars, welcomed by Hal’s family and cheered on by his fellow actors. It has been a long journey, and not without its difficulties, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

 

4. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

While it wasn’t the first film I ever saw, the first one I truly remember was INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, which I saw at the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta during their summer screening series, way back when. It was huge and loud and amazing, and this kid was hooked.

 

5. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

Perhaps this is not the traditional definition of “cinematic,” but I have always been drawn to works about the cinema, the making of movies, especially seminal films like BURDEN OF DREAMS and HEARTS OF DARKNESS. These two films, in particular, are inspiring and overwhelming all at once. Thrilling.

 

6. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

The mind boggles at the possibilities. Boggles and then crashes like an old hard drive. 

 

7. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

This will be our World Premiere, so I don’t know yet!

 

8. What song do you love this summer? 

While it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my film, I’ve been listening to the new Afghan Whigs record (Do to the Beast) on repeat. Favorite song from that album would have to be “Parked Outside.”

SCREENINGS:

Wednesday, June 18, 7:15 p.m.
Newseum Annenburg Theater

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 4:15 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Nickolas Rossi of HEAVEN ADORES YOU
When news broke in late 2003 that singer/songwriter Elliott Smith had died, it devastated many, leaving a gaping hole in the indie rock community. Smith, best known for the Academy Award®-nominated song “Miss Misery” from the GOOD WILL HUNTING soundtrack, was a trailblazer for Portland’s indie rock scene in the ’90s. Through interviews with close friends and archival footage, Nickolas Rossi’s film proves a heartfelt, gorgeous, meditative tribute to Smith’s legacy and music.
(click HERE to view the trailer)
1. Introduce yourself. 
My name is Nickolas Rossi, I am a New York based director/cinematographer. HEAVEN ADORES YOU is my directorial debut.
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
I became a fan of the music of Elliott Smith while living in Portland in the ‘90s. Finding the subjects of the film required a lot of trust on their part for me to be able to tastefully and respectfully tell the story of the friend, Elliott Smith. 
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
Some of the biggest challenges were making sure that the music and life of Elliott were accessible not only to the global fan base that he has left behind since his death, but also to the audience who aren’t familiar with his work. The biggest surprise was discovering just how much music he had already recorded before he started college.
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
We recently had our world premiere in SFIFF and it was to a sold out audience. After the screening and the lights came up, I was introduced by The Director of Programming for a Q&A, and as I was making my way up to the stage, someone screamed from the balcony, “Thank you, Nickolas!”
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I became a filmmaker because I have always been moved by the combination of sound and image. I became a cinematographer because I love telling a story with images and light. Making HEAVEN ADORES YOU was an honour because I was able to explore three incredible cities through the lens of a camera and work with Elliott Smith’s music.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
The first film I remember seeing must have been STAR WARS in 1977.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Well, in my film it’s Elliott Smith. I love listening to his voice, even when he’s not singing. But, man. There are so many documentaries about so many memorable people these days. 
 
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
Does BARAKA count as a documentary?
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
I love what AJ Schnack did with KURT COBAIN: ABOUT A SON. I thought that making a doc where you never saw the main character until the last few minutes of the film was a really great choice.
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
Wow. That’s a tough one.
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
I would have loved to have been in Washington D.C. for MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
People have actually thanked us for making the film.
 
13. What song do you love this summer? 

Have you guys ever heard of Elliott Smith? I’m joking, of course. No, seriously—have you?

SCREENINGS:
Friday, June 20, 9:30 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Saturday, June 21, 6:15 p.m.Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Nickolas Rossi of HEAVEN ADORES YOU

When news broke in late 2003 that singer/songwriter Elliott Smith had died, it devastated many, leaving a gaping hole in the indie rock community. Smith, best known for the Academy Award®-nominated song “Miss Misery” from the GOOD WILL HUNTING soundtrack, was a trailblazer for Portland’s indie rock scene in the ’90s. Through interviews with close friends and archival footage, Nickolas Rossi’s film proves a heartfelt, gorgeous, meditative tribute to Smith’s legacy and music.

(click HERE to view the trailer)

1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Nickolas Rossi, I am a New York based director/cinematographer. HEAVEN ADORES YOU is my directorial debut.

 

2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

I became a fan of the music of Elliott Smith while living in Portland in the ‘90s. Finding the subjects of the film required a lot of trust on their part for me to be able to tastefully and respectfully tell the story of the friend, Elliott Smith.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

Some of the biggest challenges were making sure that the music and life of Elliott were accessible not only to the global fan base that he has left behind since his death, but also to the audience who aren’t familiar with his work. The biggest surprise was discovering just how much music he had already recorded before he started college.

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

We recently had our world premiere in SFIFF and it was to a sold out audience. After the screening and the lights came up, I was introduced by The Director of Programming for a Q&A, and as I was making my way up to the stage, someone screamed from the balcony, “Thank you, Nickolas!”

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I became a filmmaker because I have always been moved by the combination of sound and image. I became a cinematographer because I love telling a story with images and light. Making HEAVEN ADORES YOU was an honour because I was able to explore three incredible cities through the lens of a camera and work with Elliott Smith’s music.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

The first film I remember seeing must have been STAR WARS in 1977.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?

Well, in my film it’s Elliott Smith. I love listening to his voice, even when he’s not singing. But, man. There are so many documentaries about so many memorable people these days. 

 

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

Does BARAKA count as a documentary?

 

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

I love what AJ Schnack did with KURT COBAIN: ABOUT A SON. I thought that making a doc where you never saw the main character until the last few minutes of the film was a really great choice.

 

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?

Wow. That’s a tough one.

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

I would have loved to have been in Washington D.C. for MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

People have actually thanked us for making the film.

 

13. What song do you love this summer? 

Have you guys ever heard of Elliott Smith? I’m joking, of course. No, seriously—have you?

SCREENINGS:

Friday, June 20, 9:30 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Saturday, June 21, 6:15 p.m.
Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with James Keach of GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME
Grammy® Award-winning country legend Glen Campbell has been making music for over 50 years. The talented performer of such hits as “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” has enjoyed a full life with the ups and downs that often accompany fame. His recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, however, has been the biggest challenge of all. With the support of his family, Campbell decides to go public with the news to help bring attention to the devastating effects of the illness while hitting the road one last time for a farewell tour.
1. Introduce yourself with a short bio. 
James Keach, born in New York, has been a part of the film industry as an actor, director, writer and producer. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Yale School of Drama, he received classical training as an actor at the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a founding member of the Body Politic Theater in Chicago. James has appeared in over fifty feature films and has produced and directed theater in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
 
He has produced many pictures but singles out his recent favorite, WALK THE LINE, for which the Producer’s Guild of America nominated him Motion Picture Producer of the Year.  WALK THE LINE was also nominated for several Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and garnered Reese Witherspoon her Academy Award for Best Actress.
 
In association with Clint Eastwood and Malpaso Productions, James directed the Warner Brothers feature film THE STARS FELL ON HENRIETTA, starring Robert Duvall. He received the Cable Ace Award for the cable feature THE FORGOTTEN, which he co-wrote and directed. He also received the Western Heritage Award for Best Director for the series, THE YOUNG WRITERS. Keach also won the Humanities Award for A WINNER NEVER QUITS.
 
He co-wrote and executive produced ARMED AND DANGEROUS for Columbia, and co-wrote, co-executive produced and starred in the classic western THE LONG RIDERS with his brother Stacy Keach.
 
James formed Catfish Productions in 1993 and PCH Films in 2002.  Since then Keach has produced and directed numerous films including BLIND DATING, starring Chris Pine; SUBMERGED, starring Sam Neill; ENSLAVEMENT, THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, A MARRIAGE OF CONVIENENCE, MURDER IN THE MIRROR, BLACKOUT, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, PRAYING MANTIS, SUNSTROKE, and the Dr. Quinn movie, REVOLUTIONS. Keach also directed and produced the award-winning documentary DISEASE IN THE WIND, which won the Lionel Rogosin Documentary Award and Audience Award Best Documentary at the Dallas Film Festival.
 
In 2011, the award winning WAITING FOR FOREVER, a feature film starring Tom Sturridge, Rachel Bilson, Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner,which he directed and produced with Trevor Albert, was released.
 
Most recently, Keach received the prestigious 2014 Proxmire Award for his work on GLEN CAMPBELL… I’LL BE ME, which also won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival.
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
“I’ll Be Me”
Almost three years ago legendary musician, Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, Glen and his wife Kim went public with the diagnosis and announced that he and his family would set out on a “Goodbye Tour,” embracing the opportunity to spend their remaining time together celebrating Glen’s extraordinary musical gifts and raising awareness about Alzheimer’s. Even the optimists predicted the tour would last only a couple of months, and our plan was to film during that limited period of time. Glen and his family asked us to make this film knowing that it would show the world what it looked like experience the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s and to hopefully create an awareness that has never before been seen.
What began as a very tentative six-week tour grew into a triumphant year and a half and included Glen playing to sold-out venues from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall - from being honored at The CMA Awards to performing at the Grammys, where he received a lifetime achievement award. We see Glen and his family generating action to combat Alzheimer’s, making legislative visits in Washington D.C, performing at the Library of Congress, and testifying before Congress. Over the course of over 150 concerts, we chronicle all as the Campbell family courageously attempts to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing disease. 
The film follows Glen and his family on their tumultuous, entertaining, bittersweet journey and includes appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, The Edge, Paul McCartney, Blake Shelton, Sheryl Crow, Willy Nelson, Brian Wilson, Taylor Swift, Steve Martin, Chad Smith and Bill Clinton among many others. With a joyous spirit and a tireless sense of humor, Glen and his family manage to focus on living in the present while trying to prepare for the future. And through it all music, laughter and love somehow overcome all obstacles.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
The biggest challenge was never knowing if Glen was going to be able to finish the show, finish the song, know where he was or who he was talking to.
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
Being able to thank my parents when I won the Golden Globe for Best picture.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I love story telling, I love photography, I love writing and acting. I would have loved to have been able to play so many different parts but I did not have the looks or the good fortune to have the opportunity to do so. At times as a filmmaker, I have been able to go into worlds that I could only imagine and reflect a world that I would like to see. I have been able to tell stories that reflect the human condition and leave something behind, hopefully positive, that will live long after I am gone.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
 
7.  Who is the most memorable documentary character?
Glen Campbell…for his love of life, his musical genius, his courage and his sense of humor.
 
8.  Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
BARAKA.
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
Ken Burns CIVIL WAR…He set a style of using archive footage, mixed narrative and actors to create a film that was exciting.
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
In recent years it was THE INSIDE TRUTH.
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
RESTREPO…I think that when a filmmaker puts everything on the line to reflect the sacrifice and bravery and insanity of war
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Feeling that this film will make a difference in the lives of many and that being asked to make this film was one of the greatest gift s of my filmmaking journey.
 
13. What song do you love this summer? 
“Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake


SCREENINGS:
Friday, June 20, 7:30 p.m.
Portrait Gallery
(click HERE to buy tickets) 

Filmmaker Q&A with James Keach of GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME

Grammy® Award-winning country legend Glen Campbell has been making music for over 50 years. The talented performer of such hits as “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” has enjoyed a full life with the ups and downs that often accompany fame. His recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, however, has been the biggest challenge of all. With the support of his family, Campbell decides to go public with the news to help bring attention to the devastating effects of the illness while hitting the road one last time for a farewell tour.

1. Introduce yourself with a short bio. 

James Keach, born in New York, has been a part of the film industry as an actor, director, writer and producer. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Yale School of Drama, he received classical training as an actor at the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a founding member of the Body Politic Theater in Chicago. James has appeared in over fifty feature films and has produced and directed theater in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

 

He has produced many pictures but singles out his recent favorite, WALK THE LINE, for which the Producer’s Guild of America nominated him Motion Picture Producer of the Year.  WALK THE LINE was also nominated for several Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and garnered Reese Witherspoon her Academy Award for Best Actress.

 

In association with Clint Eastwood and Malpaso Productions, James directed the Warner Brothers feature film THE STARS FELL ON HENRIETTA, starring Robert Duvall. He received the Cable Ace Award for the cable feature THE FORGOTTEN, which he co-wrote and directed. He also received the Western Heritage Award for Best Director for the series, THE YOUNG WRITERS. Keach also won the Humanities Award for A WINNER NEVER QUITS.

 

He co-wrote and executive produced ARMED AND DANGEROUS for Columbia, and co-wrote, co-executive produced and starred in the classic western THE LONG RIDERS with his brother Stacy Keach.

 

James formed Catfish Productions in 1993 and PCH Films in 2002.  Since then Keach has produced and directed numerous films including BLIND DATING, starring Chris Pine; SUBMERGED, starring Sam Neill; ENSLAVEMENT, THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, A MARRIAGE OF CONVIENENCE, MURDER IN THE MIRROR, BLACKOUT, A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, PRAYING MANTIS, SUNSTROKE, and the Dr. Quinn movie, REVOLUTIONS. Keach also directed and produced the award-winning documentary DISEASE IN THE WIND, which won the Lionel Rogosin Documentary Award and Audience Award Best Documentary at the Dallas Film Festival.

 

In 2011, the award winning WAITING FOR FOREVER, a feature film starring Tom Sturridge, Rachel Bilson, Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner,which he directed and produced with Trevor Albert, was released.

 

Most recently, Keach received the prestigious 2014 Proxmire Award for his work on GLEN CAMPBELLI’LL BE ME, which also won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival.

 

2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?

“I’ll Be Me”

Almost three years ago legendary musician, Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, Glen and his wife Kim went public with the diagnosis and announced that he and his family would set out on a “Goodbye Tour,” embracing the opportunity to spend their remaining time together celebrating Glen’s extraordinary musical gifts and raising awareness about Alzheimer’s. Even the optimists predicted the tour would last only a couple of months, and our plan was to film during that limited period of time. Glen and his family asked us to make this film knowing that it would show the world what it looked like experience the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s and to hopefully create an awareness that has never before been seen.

What began as a very tentative six-week tour grew into a triumphant year and a half and included Glen playing to sold-out venues from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall - from being honored at The CMA Awards to performing at the Grammys, where he received a lifetime achievement award. We see Glen and his family generating action to combat Alzheimer’s, making legislative visits in Washington D.C, performing at the Library of Congress, and testifying before Congress. Over the course of over 150 concerts, we chronicle all as the Campbell family courageously attempts to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing disease. 

The film follows Glen and his family on their tumultuous, entertaining, bittersweet journey and includes appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, The Edge, Paul McCartney, Blake Shelton, Sheryl Crow, Willy Nelson, Brian Wilson, Taylor Swift, Steve Martin, Chad Smith and Bill Clinton among many others. With a joyous spirit and a tireless sense of humor, Glen and his family manage to focus on living in the present while trying to prepare for the future. And through it all music, laughter and love somehow overcome all obstacles.

 

3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?

The biggest challenge was never knowing if Glen was going to be able to finish the show, finish the song, know where he was or who he was talking to.

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

Being able to thank my parents when I won the Golden Globe for Best picture.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I love story telling, I love photography, I love writing and acting. I would have loved to have been able to play so many different parts but I did not have the looks or the good fortune to have the opportunity to do so. At times as a filmmaker, I have been able to go into worlds that I could only imagine and reflect a world that I would like to see. I have been able to tell stories that reflect the human condition and leave something behind, hopefully positive, that will live long after I am gone.

 

6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

 

7.  Who is the most memorable documentary character?

Glen Campbell…for his love of life, his musical genius, his courage and his sense of humor.

 

8.  Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

BARAKA.

 

9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?

Ken Burns CIVIL WAR…He set a style of using archive footage, mixed narrative and actors to create a film that was exciting.

 

10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?

In recent years it was THE INSIDE TRUTH.

 

11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?

RESTREPO…I think that when a filmmaker puts everything on the line to reflect the sacrifice and bravery and insanity of war

 

12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?

Feeling that this film will make a difference in the lives of many and that being asked to make this film was one of the greatest gift s of my filmmaking journey.

 

13. What song do you love this summer? 

“Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake

SCREENINGS:

Friday, June 20, 7:30 p.m.

Portrait Gallery

(click HERE to buy tickets) 

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As a non-profit educational and cultural organization open to the public, AFI relies on the generous financial support from moving arts enthusiasts like you to provide funding for its programs and initiatives. Become a member today and support your American Film Institute!

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