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) 

Filmmaker Q&A with Laurence Topham of FAST ICE
In a matter of only a few hours last Christmas Eve, 52 passengers on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped in a vast sea of “summertime” Antarctic ice. As approaching icebergs threatened, first one and then a second rescue ship failed to reach the stricken vessel, leaving one option — evacuation by helicopter.
1. Introduce yourself.
My name is Laurence Topham and I make documentaries and interactives for the Guardian. My work has taken me all over the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Australia and Antarctica. I’ve filmed and produced documentaries about the death penalty, the Syrian refugee crisis, Australian bushfires, endangered polar bears, Martin Luther King and the US presidential elections. In 2013 a video interactive feature I co­directed called FIRESTORM won a prestigious Walkley Award in Australia, and my work has also been nominated for awards at the Webbys, Sheffield Doc/Fest and the Online Media Awards in London.
 
2. What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?
FAST ICE: RESCUE FROM ANTARCTICA came about when the Guardian’s science correspondent, Alok Jha, and I were invited to join the Australian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) on board the MV Akademik Shokalskiy in December 2013. We sailed from New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean, to Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica. During our voyage we sent back daily reports, videos, pictures and tweets to the Guardian about climate change, wildlife and the history of Antarctic exploration. Our contributors in FAST ICE were members of the AAE expedition who were on board the ship ­ a mixture of scientists, crew and passengers.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
While shooting FAST ICEwe faced many environmental challenges, such as shooting video and stills in blizzards and gale-force winds. Fully charged batteries would die within a few minutes, camera lenses would ice­up, and your fingers would go completely numb. We were at sea for two months and this produced a unique set of problems. We had to grapple with acute seasickness as well as constant daylight, which was great for photography, but it meant your sleeping pattern was heavily disrupted. We also had very limited communications with the outside world, and would often spend 4­6 hours in sub­zero temperatures on the top deck of the ship trying to align our portable satellite unit (which transferred data at an incredibly slow rate).
 
4. What is your proudest professional moment?
My proudest professional moment was during the 2008 presidential elections. I had been sent to the U.S. to cover the campaign and on Election Day I flew to Chicago with my colleague Gary Younge. Sensing that a historic moment for the African American community was only a few hours away, we decided to avoid the mass hysteria of Grant Park and went to a local bar on the South Side ­ the black heartland of Chicago. The demands of working for a newspaper website meant that we had to deliver a coherent short documentary that captured the mood of election night in record time – at most only 2­3 hours after the election had been called. When CNN projected a win for Obama, the bar erupted. People were screaming, dancing, singing, and crying. Outside a police patrol car hailed ‘Obama, Obama, Obama!’ from it’s bullhorn. We frantically checked in to a nearby hotel for Internet access and around 3 am we sent back our finished video. Within a few moments it appeared at the very top of the Guardian website for everyone to watch. I felt immensely privileged and proud to have witnessed first­hand this defining moment in America’s political history. In that moment it felt as though everyone was united by a faith in their country and what they could all achieve together.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I became a filmmaker because when I was 11 years old my dad bought a video camera. After a bit of time my dad began to lose interest, but I became more and more excited about the possibilities it offered. I began building miniature sets in my bedroom, and I quickly roped in my two younger brothers as would-be actors and stunt men. We made everything from spoof science fiction comedies, to B­movie­style monster mash­ups. The passion never faded and by the time I went to university there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to make films professionally.
 
After I graduated a friend of mine invited me to make a documentary with him in Sierra Leone for the BBC. It was baptism by fire. I learnt how to produce, how to shoot, how to record sound and, crucially, how to edit. I was completely out of my depth, having never visited Africa before, but I loved every minute of the trip. And that’s when I began my career as a documentary maker.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
I think the first film I ever saw at the cinema was Disney’s BAMBI. I was about 4 or 5 years old and I remember being very upset when his mother was shot by a hunter in the forest. But I also remember the extraordinary texture of the animation and how beautifully made it was.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
I think my most memorable documentary character would have to be either Timothy Treadwell in Werner Herzog’s GRIZZLY MAN, or high­wire artist Philippe Petit in James Marsh’s MAN ON WIRE. Both characters fizz with restless energy, consumed by their dreams and obsessions, often at the expense of those who love them and with deadly consequences.
 
8. What documentary do you consider most cinematic?
Despite being made three decades ago, I still consider KOYAANISQATSI (1982) and THIN BLUE LINE (1988) to be two of the most influential examples of ‘cinematic’ storytelling.
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
One of the most original documentaries I’ve seen is WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008), with its daring and imaginative use of animation to bring to life interviews that explore the horrors of the 1982 Lebanon war.
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
It is difficult to quantify the impact a documentary has on society, but Ken Loach’s television play CATHY COME HOME (1966) brought homelessness to the forefront of public awareness in the UK. It was not strictly a documentary, but it was filmed using a gritty realist style (often blurring the lines between reality and traditional scripted drama) and became highly influential. The charities Crisis and Shelter were formed shortly after it was first broadcast on the BBC.
11. IF there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
If there were one documentary moment in history that I could experience as a filmmaker, it would be when Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles filmed JFK during the Wisconsin Primary election in 1960. They used groundbreaking camera technology to shoot everything hand­held, a feat that had never been done before, capturing candid and intimate moments of a U.S. political icon in the making.
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
The most unexpected thing to happen since I took FAST ICE on the festival circuit is being invited to have a tour of the White House with AFI DOCS.
13. What song do you love this summer?

I’m terrible at keeping up with new music, but one band I’m very fond of is a small UK duo called Winter, and their single “The Sea Bites Back.”

SCREENINGS:

Thursday, June 19, 1:15 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 11:00 a.m.Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Laurence Topham of FAST ICE

In a matter of only a few hours last Christmas Eve, 52 passengers on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped in a vast sea of “summertime” Antarctic ice. As approaching icebergs threatened, first one and then a second rescue ship failed to reach the stricken vessel, leaving one option — evacuation by helicopter.

1. Introduce yourself.

My name is Laurence Topham and I make documentaries and interactives for the Guardian. My work has taken me all over the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Australia and Antarctica. I’ve filmed and produced documentaries about the death penalty, the Syrian refugee crisis, Australian bushfires, endangered polar bears, Martin Luther King and the US presidential elections. In 2013 a video interactive feature I co­directed called FIRESTORM won a prestigious Walkley Award in Australia, and my work has also been nominated for awards at the Webbys, Sheffield Doc/Fest and the Online Media Awards in London.

 

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

FAST ICE: RESCUE FROM ANTARCTICA came about when the Guardian’s science correspondent, Alok Jha, and I were invited to join the Australian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) on board the MV Akademik Shokalskiy in December 2013. We sailed from New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean, to Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica. During our voyage we sent back daily reports, videos, pictures and tweets to the Guardian about climate change, wildlife and the history of Antarctic exploration. Our contributors in FAST ICE were members of the AAE expedition who were on board the ship ­ a mixture of scientists, crew and passengers.

 

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

While shooting FAST ICEwe faced many environmental challenges, such as shooting video and stills in blizzards and gale-force winds. Fully charged batteries would die within a few minutes, camera lenses would ice­up, and your fingers would go completely numb. We were at sea for two months and this produced a unique set of problems. We had to grapple with acute seasickness as well as constant daylight, which was great for photography, but it meant your sleeping pattern was heavily disrupted. We also had very limited communications with the outside world, and would often spend 4­6 hours in sub­zero temperatures on the top deck of the ship trying to align our portable satellite unit (which transferred data at an incredibly slow rate).

 

4. What is your proudest professional moment?

My proudest professional moment was during the 2008 presidential elections. I had been sent to the U.S. to cover the campaign and on Election Day I flew to Chicago with my colleague Gary Younge. Sensing that a historic moment for the African American community was only a few hours away, we decided to avoid the mass hysteria of Grant Park and went to a local bar on the South Side ­ the black heartland of Chicago. The demands of working for a newspaper website meant that we had to deliver a coherent short documentary that captured the mood of election night in record time – at most only 2­3 hours after the election had been called. When CNN projected a win for Obama, the bar erupted. People were screaming, dancing, singing, and crying. Outside a police patrol car hailed ‘Obama, Obama, Obama!’ from it’s bullhorn. We frantically checked in to a nearby hotel for Internet access and around 3 am we sent back our finished video. Within a few moments it appeared at the very top of the Guardian website for everyone to watch. I felt immensely privileged and proud to have witnessed first­hand this defining moment in America’s political history. In that moment it felt as though everyone was united by a faith in their country and what they could all achieve together.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I became a filmmaker because when I was 11 years old my dad bought a video camera. After a bit of time my dad began to lose interest, but I became more and more excited about the possibilities it offered. I began building miniature sets in my bedroom, and I quickly roped in my two younger brothers as would-be actors and stunt men. We made everything from spoof science fiction comedies, to B­movie­style monster mash­ups. The passion never faded and by the time I went to university there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to make films professionally.

 

After I graduated a friend of mine invited me to make a documentary with him in Sierra Leone for the BBC. It was baptism by fire. I learnt how to produce, how to shoot, how to record sound and, crucially, how to edit. I was completely out of my depth, having never visited Africa before, but I loved every minute of the trip. And that’s when I began my career as a documentary maker.

 

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

I think the first film I ever saw at the cinema was Disney’s BAMBI. I was about 4 or 5 years old and I remember being very upset when his mother was shot by a hunter in the forest. But I also remember the extraordinary texture of the animation and how beautifully made it was.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?

I think my most memorable documentary character would have to be either Timothy Treadwell in Werner Herzog’s GRIZZLY MAN, or high­wire artist Philippe Petit in James Marsh’s MAN ON WIRE. Both characters fizz with restless energy, consumed by their dreams and obsessions, often at the expense of those who love them and with deadly consequences.

 

8. What documentary do you consider most cinematic?

Despite being made three decades ago, I still consider KOYAANISQATSI (1982) and THIN BLUE LINE (1988) to be two of the most influential examples of ‘cinematic’ storytelling.

 

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

One of the most original documentaries I’ve seen is WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008), with its daring and imaginative use of animation to bring to life interviews that explore the horrors of the 1982 Lebanon war.

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

It is difficult to quantify the impact a documentary has on society, but Ken Loach’s television play CATHY COME HOME (1966) brought homelessness to the forefront of public awareness in the UK. It was not strictly a documentary, but it was filmed using a gritty realist style (often blurring the lines between reality and traditional scripted drama) and became highly influential. The charities Crisis and Shelter were formed shortly after it was first broadcast on the BBC.

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

If there were one documentary moment in history that I could experience as a filmmaker, it would be when Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles filmed JFK during the Wisconsin Primary election in 1960. They used groundbreaking camera technology to shoot everything hand­held, a feat that had never been done before, capturing candid and intimate moments of a U.S. political icon in the making.

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

The most unexpected thing to happen since I took FAST ICE on the festival circuit is being invited to have a tour of the White House with AFI DOCS.

13. What song do you love this summer?

I’m terrible at keeping up with new music, but one band I’m very fond of is a small UK duo called Winter, and their single “The Sea Bites Back.”

SCREENINGS:

Thursday, June 19, 1:15 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 11:00 a.m.
Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman of E-TEAM
With international conflicts raging, Human Rights Watch sends its specially trained Emergencies Team to the frontlines of Syria and Libya to document human rights abuses and capture the world’s attention. The members of this courageous and dedicated unit regularly risk their lives to report atrocities that would otherwise go undocumented. Filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny follow these extraordinary individuals who must balance working in extreme danger with the demands of ordinary life and family.
1. Introduce yourself. 
Katy Chevigny is an award-winning filmmaker and a partner at Big Mouth Productions. She directed the film ELECTION DAY (2007), which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2007 and was broadcast on POV in 2008. She co-directed the Emmy-nominated DEADLINE, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on NBC to an audience of over six million. She has also produced several other award-winning feature documentaries.
 
Ross Kauffman is the director/ producer/ cinematographer and co-editor of BORN INTO BROTHELS, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary and more than 40 other awards, including one for Best Documentary from the National Board of Review and Sundance Film Festival 2004 documentary Audience Award. He also executive-produced IN A DREAM, shortlisted for the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary feature. 
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
We knew a little bit about the work of Human Rights Watch before we started making the film, but not a lot. And we weren’t interested in making a film about human rights just because it’s a worthy issue. Worthy issues in and of themselves don’t necessarily make for good films. What really drew us to this film were the characters. Several years ago, we had dinner with the members of the E-Team, (the nickname for HRW’s Emergencies Team,) and we immediately thought: These guys are great. They’d be great in a movie. So that was what motivated us: we, as filmmakers, wanted to know more about what made Anya, Fred, Ole and Peter do this work and we thought viewers would find them compelling as well. 
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
Since the definition of their work is “emergencies”, it made it very hard to plan the shoots. We basically had to be ready to leave on a shoot with 24 hours notice if we got word that our characters were traveling on a mission that we wanted to film. Editing the film was also a big challenge, because we had over 350 hours of footage that took place in half a dozen countries with multiple languages, and our Editor David Teague and Associate Editor Jamie Boyle had to plow through and organize this material, as well as working to build a strong story out of this mass of material. Lastly, and perhaps most critically, almost everyone working on this film had a baby during the making of the film! Ross, Katy, Anya, Ole, Fred and Peter all had children in the last 3 years. 
 
4. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
Ross: MARY POPPINS at a drive-in when I was 5. Katy: NATIONAL VELVET in New York City when I was 6.
5. Who is the most memorable documentary character you’ve ever seen?
Ross: MARK BORCHARDT, AMERICAN MOVIE 
 
6. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic? 
Katy: HOOP DREAMS
 

SCREENINGS:
Thu, June 19, 7:00 p.m. Portrait Gallery (click HERE for tickets)
Sat, June 21, 1:15 p.m. AFI Silver (click HERE for tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman of E-TEAM

With international conflicts raging, Human Rights Watch sends its specially trained Emergencies Team to the frontlines of Syria and Libya to document human rights abuses and capture the world’s attention. The members of this courageous and dedicated unit regularly risk their lives to report atrocities that would otherwise go undocumented. Filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny follow these extraordinary individuals who must balance working in extreme danger with the demands of ordinary life and family.

1. Introduce yourself.

Katy Chevigny is an award-winning filmmaker and a partner at Big Mouth Productions. She directed the film ELECTION DAY (2007), which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2007 and was broadcast on POV in 2008. She co-directed the Emmy-nominated DEADLINE, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on NBC to an audience of over six million. She has also produced several other award-winning feature documentaries.

 

Ross Kauffman is the director/ producer/ cinematographer and co-editor of BORN INTO BROTHELS, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary and more than 40 other awards, including one for Best Documentary from the National Board of Review and Sundance Film Festival 2004 documentary Audience Award. He also executive-produced IN A DREAM, shortlisted for the 2009 Academy Award for best documentary feature. 

 

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

We knew a little bit about the work of Human Rights Watch before we started making the film, but not a lot. And we weren’t interested in making a film about human rights just because it’s a worthy issue. Worthy issues in and of themselves don’t necessarily make for good films. What really drew us to this film were the characters. Several years ago, we had dinner with the members of the E-Team, (the nickname for HRW’s Emergencies Team,) and we immediately thought: These guys are great. They’d be great in a movie. So that was what motivated us: we, as filmmakers, wanted to know more about what made Anya, Fred, Ole and Peter do this work and we thought viewers would find them compelling as well. 

 

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

Since the definition of their work is “emergencies”, it made it very hard to plan the shoots. We basically had to be ready to leave on a shoot with 24 hours notice if we got word that our characters were traveling on a mission that we wanted to film. Editing the film was also a big challenge, because we had over 350 hours of footage that took place in half a dozen countries with multiple languages, and our Editor David Teague and Associate Editor Jamie Boyle had to plow through and organize this material, as well as working to build a strong story out of this mass of material. Lastly, and perhaps most critically, almost everyone working on this film had a baby during the making of the film! Ross, Katy, Anya, Ole, Fred and Peter all had children in the last 3 years. 

 

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

Ross: MARY POPPINS at a drive-in when I was 5. Katy: NATIONAL VELVET in New York City when I was 6.

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

Ross: MARK BORCHARDT, AMERICAN MOVIE

 

6. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

Katy: HOOP DREAMS

 

SCREENINGS:

Thu, June 19, 7:00 p.m. Portrait Gallery (click HERE for tickets)
Sat, June 21, 1:15 p.m. AFI Silver (click HERE for tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Kareem Tabsch of CHERRY POP
Cherry Pop was no ordinary cat. Beloved by her wealthy socialite owners, she lived life in the lap of luxury. Her taste for filet mignon and the comfort of Rolls- Royces made Cherry Pop a celebrity before her death in 1995. This delightful story will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart.

1. Introduce yourself. 
Kareem Tabsch (Director & Producer) is the co-founder and co-director of O Cinema, Miami HQ for indie, foreign, and art films. Located in the Wynwood arts district, O Cinema was established with a grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Previously, Tabsch spent nine years on staff at the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where he served as Program Director for two years and brought icons like Bea Arthur and John Waters to Miami audiences. He has written about arts and entertainment for various local and national publications including Luxury Lifestyles, BeachedMiami, Miami Living, Miami New Times and various others. He has served on the First Feature Jury for Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBT Film Festival, lectured about the history of queer cinema at Florida International University, and moderated a conversation around themes inCyrano de Bergerac for the Florida Grand Opera. In 2013 he was featured in the Miami New Times ‘People Issue’ for his contribution to the cities film culture. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Miami Foundation’s Our Miami initiative. CHERRY POP: THE STORE OF THE WORLD’S FANCIEST CAT is his directorial debut.
 
2. What inspired this film?  How did you find your subjects?
My mom bred purebred Persian and Himalayan show cats for over 20 years and ran a successful pet magazine, so I grew up in this whacky world of competitive cat show and cat show people!  Because of this I had the opportunity to meet Huey and Vi Vanek and their pampered cat Cherry Pop. Even as a kid I was cognizant of how odd this cat’s life was and the virality of her popularity (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Sally, National Enquirer, etc) was not lost on me.  We kept in touch with the Vaneks over the year and Huey Vanek was eager to tell Cherry Pop’s story while he was still alive.
 
3. What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
There was so much material to work with but so much of it was in analog formats that a big challenge was getting the best versions of those and making them work. The surprise was how well our ‘cat lady living room’ aided in bringing it all together.
 
4.  What is your proudest professional moment?
Over three years ago I co-founded O Cinema, Miami’s HQ for independent films with a focus on documentary. We’ve grown exponentially and showing docs has been a big part of our growth, so the ability to go from curating and showcasing documentary films to making a short doc that’s gaining some national attention- its terribly exciting and I’m very proud of it.
 
5. Why did you become a filmmaker?
I live in Florida- too many quirky stories that would go unknown if I didn’t make it my mission to tell them.
 
6. What was the first film you saw in a movie theater?
My first recollection of a film is seeing the animated film AN AMERICAN TAIL.
 
7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?
There are so many, though Tammy Faye Baker in Barbatao/Bailey’s THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE stands as out as does Joyce Mckinney in Errol Morris TABLOID and everyone in THE ACT OF KILLING. 
 
8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?
THE IMPOSTER and AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY.
 
9. What documentary do you find the most original and imaginative in its construction?
THE ACT OF KILLING is unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s original, imaginative, awe-inspiring and horrendous all at once.
 
10. Which documentary has had the most profound impact on society?
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH isn’t the best of films but its impact can’t be argued. While I’m not a big fan of Michael Moore’s, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE’s influence was tremendous.
 
11. If there were one documentary moment in history that you could experience as a filmmaker, what would it be?
I’d like to be in the room as Errol Morris interviewed Donald Rumsfeld.
 
12. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
I’ve only been at a few of the screenings but the laughs are almost always unexpected and totally fulfilling.  
13. What song do you love this summer? 
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams 

 SCREENINGS:
Thursday, June 19, 1:30 p.m.Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Friday, June 20, 11:15 a.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Kareem Tabsch of CHERRY POP

Cherry Pop was no ordinary cat. Beloved by her wealthy socialite owners, she lived life in the lap of luxury. Her taste for filet mignon and the comfort of Rolls- Royces made Cherry Pop a celebrity before her death in 1995. This delightful story will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart.

1. Introduce yourself.

Kareem Tabsch (Director & Producer) is the co-founder and co-director of O Cinema, Miami HQ for indie, foreign, and art films. Located in the Wynwood arts district, O Cinema was established with a grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Previously, Tabsch spent nine years on staff at the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where he served as Program Director for two years and brought icons like Bea Arthur and John Waters to Miami audiences. He has written about arts and entertainment for various local and national publications including Luxury Lifestyles, BeachedMiami, Miami Living, Miami New Times and various others. He has served on the First Feature Jury for Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBT Film Festival, lectured about the history of queer cinema at Florida International University, and moderated a conversation around themes inCyrano de Bergerac for the Florida Grand Opera. In 2013 he was featured in the Miami New Times ‘People Issue’ for his contribution to the cities film culture. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Miami Foundation’s Our Miami initiative. CHERRY POP: THE STORE OF THE WORLD’S FANCIEST CAT is his directorial debut.

 

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

My mom bred purebred Persian and Himalayan show cats for over 20 years and ran a successful pet magazine, so I grew up in this whacky world of competitive cat show and cat show people!  Because of this I had the opportunity to meet Huey and Vi Vanek and their pampered cat Cherry Pop. Even as a kid I was cognizant of how odd this cat’s life was and the virality of her popularity (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Sally, National Enquirer, etc) was not lost on me.  We kept in touch with the Vaneks over the year and Huey Vanek was eager to tell Cherry Pop’s story while he was still alive.

 

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

There was so much material to work with but so much of it was in analog formats that a big challenge was getting the best versions of those and making them work. The surprise was how well our ‘cat lady living room’ aided in bringing it all together.

 

4.  What is your proudest professional moment?

Over three years ago I co-founded O Cinema, Miami’s HQ for independent films with a focus on documentary. We’ve grown exponentially and showing docs has been a big part of our growth, so the ability to go from curating and showcasing documentary films to making a short doc that’s gaining some national attention- its terribly exciting and I’m very proud of it.

 

5. Why did you become a filmmaker?

I live in Florida- too many quirky stories that would go unknown if I didn’t make it my mission to tell them.

 

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

My first recollection of a film is seeing the animated film AN AMERICAN TAIL.

 

7. Who is the most memorable documentary character?

There are so many, though Tammy Faye Baker in Barbatao/Bailey’s THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE stands as out as does Joyce Mckinney in Errol Morris TABLOID and everyone in THE ACT OF KILLING.

 

8. Which documentary do you consider the most cinematic?

THE IMPOSTER and AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY.

 

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

THE ACT OF KILLING is unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s original, imaginative, awe-inspiring and horrendous all at once.

 

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

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH isn’t the best of films but its impact can’t be argued. While I’m not a big fan of Michael Moore’s, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE’s influence was tremendous.

 

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

I’d like to be in the room as Errol Morris interviewed Donald Rumsfeld.

 

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

I’ve only been at a few of the screenings but the laughs are almost always unexpected and totally fulfilling.  

13. What song do you love this summer? 

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams 

 SCREENINGS:

Thursday, June 19, 1:30 p.m.
Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Friday, June 20, 11:15 a.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Sam Thonis of BEYOND RECOGNITION
After a brutal attack left her with devastating chemical burns all over her body, a woman undergoes a highly experimental face transplant. Receiving the visage of an anonymous donor whose life was cut short, she has a profound experience when she meets the daughter of the woman who gave her a second chance at life.
1. Introduce yourself. 
Sam Thonis is the Lead Features Director at The Verge, an online news magazine covering the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture.
 
Since joining the company in 2012, Sam has directed videos about people trying to become cyborgs, the world’s best Donkey Kong players, Vietnam vets taking ecstasy, and the first detonation of an atomic bomb. In addition to his directing credits, Sam has worked as a shooter and editor with the phenomenally talented Verge video team on countless product reviews, tech and science reports, news shows and podcasts
 
Prior to joining The Verge, Sam worked as a freelancer on a wide range of content, including comedy shorts for College Humor, music videos, and web advertisements. He graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and currently lives in Brooklyn.
 
2. What inspired the film? How did you find your subjects?
Years after a horrific, disfiguring attack, Carmen Tarleton received a full-face transplant. Hearing her moving story for the first time, I worried a video couldn’t possible do it justice.
Carmen’s story is deeply personal and I questioned our right to insert more media in her life, asking her questions, prying into her experiences. Meeting her, all of the fears and concerns I had disappeared in an instant. Carmen Tarleton exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit.Her courage and optimism are inspiring. Beyond that, she is warm and inviting. She is a fighter, and as long as she is willing to share her story, she will be winning the fight. It is an honor to help tell her story.

SCREENINGS:
Thursday, June 19, 1:15 p.m.AFI Silver
(click HERE to buy tickets)
Sunday, June 22, 11:00 a.m.Goethe-Institut
(click HERE to buy tickets)

Filmmaker Q&A with Sam Thonis of BEYOND RECOGNITION

After a brutal attack left her with devastating chemical burns all over her body, a woman undergoes a highly experimental face transplant. Receiving the visage of an anonymous donor whose life was cut short, she has a profound experience when she meets the daughter of the woman who gave her a second chance at life.

1. Introduce yourself.

Sam Thonis is the Lead Features Director at The Verge, an online news magazine covering the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture.

 

Since joining the company in 2012, Sam has directed videos about people trying to become cyborgs, the world’s best Donkey Kong players, Vietnam vets taking ecstasy, and the first detonation of an atomic bomb. In addition to his directing credits, Sam has worked as a shooter and editor with the phenomenally talented Verge video team on countless product reviews, tech and science reports, news shows and podcasts

 

Prior to joining The Verge, Sam worked as a freelancer on a wide range of content, including comedy shorts for College Humor, music videos, and web advertisements. He graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and currently lives in Brooklyn.

 

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

Years after a horrific, disfiguring attack, Carmen Tarleton received a full-face transplant. Hearing her moving story for the first time, I worried a video couldn’t possible do it justice.

Carmen’s story is deeply personal and I questioned our right to insert more media in her life, asking her questions, prying into her experiences. Meeting her, all of the fears and concerns I had disappeared in an instant. Carmen Tarleton exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit.Her courage and optimism are inspiring. Beyond that, she is warm and inviting. She is a fighter, and as long as she is willing to share her story, she will be winning the fight. It is an honor to help tell her story.

SCREENINGS:

Thursday, June 19, 1:15 p.m.
AFI Silver

(click HERE to buy tickets)

Sunday, June 22, 11:00 a.m.
Goethe-Institut

(click HERE to buy tickets)

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