Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.
Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, recent winner of the Gotham Award for Best Documentary, has made his directorial debut with one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year — Hale County This Morning, This Evening. An inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people, the film looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.. RaMell Ross met Quincy when he was teaching in a GED program in Greensboro, Alabama, and met Daniel when he was coaching basketball at a local high school. He shot over 1300 hours of footage over five years, which was then edited down into the final film. Director RaMell Ross stops by to talk about his meticulously assembled, ethereal ode to Black lives in Hale County, Alabama.
*Shortlisted – 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary
94% on Rotten Tomatoes
“At every juncture, Ross elects for ambiguity and poses a question to the viewer to answer how black bodies are viewed, encouraging the audience to perform the labour of challenging their expectations.” – Melissa Vincent, Globe and Mail
“You could call it a transcendental scrapbook, because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies. It turns the audience into direct receptors of experience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“…the cinematic equivalent of a memory quilt, woven together with a deep love of community, comprised of intimate though disparate moments from others’ lives, and poetically comforting despite its historically weighty components.” – Jordan M. Smith, Film School Rejects
“Hale County is the type of film designed to violate common rules of cinema. Story gives way to lyricism; there’s little dialogue, minimal plot, minutes upon minutes of pastoral imagery…Ross’s lens captures a reality that’s rarely seen by the human eye.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast
“It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
’63 Boycott is the award-winning film directed by Gordon Quinn, the co-founder of Kartemquin Films, and produced by Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews. ’63 Boycott revisits October 22, 1963, when more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Gordon Quinn when he was just 21 years old with the participants’ reflections today, ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism. Director Gordon Quinn joins us for a conversation on his lacerating look at the historic non-violent campaign to win access to educational parity and basic human rights.’63 Boycott is an overview of how much Chicago has changed and how much remains the same.
The riveting new documentary film THE CLEANERS takes us into the hidden third world shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn‘t like. Here we meet five “digital scavengers” among thousands of people outsourced from Silicon Valley whose job is to delete “inappropriate” content of the net. In a parallel struggle, we meet people around the globe whose lives are dramatically affected by online censorship. A typical “cleaner” must observe and rate thousands of often deeply disturbing images and videos every day, leading to lasting psychological impacts. Yet underneath their work lie profound questions around what makes an image art or propaganda and what defines journalism. Where exactly is the point of balance for social media to be neither an “unlegislated” space nor a forum rife with censorship? THE CLEANERS struggles to come to terms with this new and disconcerting paradigm. Evolving from a shared social vision of a global village to a web of fake news and radicalization, the film charts the rise and fall of social media’s utopian ideology.We talk about THE CLEANERS role managing what is seen and not seen on the internet, who are they, what are the criteria and why are the companies who are paying them so determined to remain hidden. Co-director Moritz Riesewieck (Hans Block) joins us for an engaging and provocative conversation on the lack of transparency and unaccountability from the people who have promised the world the opposite.
“The chilling, morally hyper-conscious film “The Cleaners”… introduces us to a handful of these hidden, meagerly paid office workers, cogs in a shadow business headquartered mainly in Manila in unassuming buildings.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“The Cleaners is a riveting piece of work, prompting reflection on a whole range of big, urgent questions.” – Jake Wilson, The Age Australia
“It is the starting point for a wide-ranging examination of complex issues surrounding freedom of speech, censorship and corporate responsibility.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“With its excellent cinematography, ominous tone and incredibly relevant subject matter, The Cleaners is a masterclass in documentary filmmaking.” – Adam Patterson, Film Pulse
There are 8,000 miles of roads and paths in New York City and for the past six years Matt Green has been walking them all – every street, park, cemetery, beach, and bridge. In the entertaining new documentary THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET we’re taken on a bird’s eye tour through the city’s five-boroughs. It’s a journey that stretches from the barbershops of the Bronx to the forests of Staten Island, from the Statue of Liberty to Times Square, with Matt amassing a surprisingly detailed knowledge of New York’s history and people along the way. Something of a modern-day Thoreau, Matt gave up his former engineering job, his apartment, and most of his possessions, sustaining his endeavor through couch-surfing, cat-sitting and a $15-per-day budget. He’s not sure exactly why he’s doing it, only knowing that there’s no other way he’d rather spend his days. Executive produced by Oscar® nominee Jesse Eisenberg, THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET is a tribute to an endlessly fascinating city and the freedom to be found, wherever you live, in simply taking a walk. Jeremy Workman is known for such documentaries as Magical Universe (IFC Films),Who Is Henry Jaglom? (First Run Features), and the “One Track Mind” segment of True New York (First Run Features). Jeremy’s documentaries have played at such film festivals as SXSW, Tribeca, DocNYC, Hamptons, Slamdance, Melbourne, AFI, Woodstock, Big Sky Documentary, IFFBoston, among several others. Director Jeremy Workman stops by to talk about what motivates this urban John Muir’s curiosity about the most famous city in the world.
“Filmmaker Workman, who’s behind [Green] every step of the way without ever getting in the way, allows the city and its colorful denizens to take center stage.” = Michael Rechtschaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Short of walking with Green, a film is an ideal way to share in his knowledge. And after watching “The World Before Your Feet,” it’s difficult to look at the city the same way.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“Jeremy Workman connects Matt Green’s foot journey to the real-time scale of New York City and to the soul of its citizens. This inspired documentary is perfect.” – Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
“What Green ultimately does, as one interviewee describes it, is show us the “heart, soul, and pulse” of New York City.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
Located in mid-America, MONROVIA, INDIANA, (population 1,063) founded in 1834, is primarily a farming community. MONROVIA, INDIANA is about the day-to-day experiences living and working in Monrovia, with emphasis on community organizations and institutions, religion and daily life in this farming community. These towns were once the backbone of American life. While their number and populations have shrunk, the importance of rural America as a formative center of American politics and values was demonstrated in the 2016 presidential election.The film explores the conflicting stereotypes and illustrates how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, generosity and authenticity are formed, experienced and lived. MONROVIA, INDIANA gives a complex and nuanced view of daily life in Monrovia and provides some understanding of a rural, mid-American way of life that has always been important in America but whose influence and force have not always been recognized or understood in the big cities on the east and west coasts of America and in other countries.Since1967,FrederickWisemanhasdirected42documentaries — dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary humanexperience in a widevarietyofcontemporary socialinstitutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGHSCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LADANSE,BALLET, CENTRAL PARK, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, BELFAST, MAINE, and EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library. At the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony Frederick Wiseman received an Honorary Award (Governors Awards) for a lifetime of brilliant filmmaking. He joins us to talk about his latest cinematic treasure, Monrovia Indiana.
“He’s arguably the most brilliant, brave and innovative person working in his field.” – Terry Atkinson, Los Angeles Times
“Rigorously shot, impeccably edited and at times startling in their beauty, these films usher us into often otherwise anonymous spaces and lives, and help make the invisible visible.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“The result is surprisingly companionable and enjoyable, an unhurried look at a location that is in no kind of rush, a place that is concerned most of all with preserving the way it’s always been.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on a pro-gun, pro-God Midwestern town and gives us a landmark view of what it looks like to live in Trump’s America.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“A calmly analytical film in which-as ever in Wiseman’s work-extended discussions and public debates are developed with an absorbing dramatic power.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“The unavoidable political implications of “Monrovia, Indiana” give its observations an undeniable urgency.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
Syrian-born filmmaker Talal Derki (Return to Homs) travels to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses primarily on the children, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up with a father whose only dream is to establish an Islamic caliphate. Osama (13) and his brother Ayman (12) both love and admire their father and obey his words, but while Osama seems content to follow the path of Jihad, Ayman wants to go back to school. Of Fathers and Sons was shot between Summer 2014 and September 2016. During that time, Talal Derki and Director of Photography, Kahtan Hasson, spent about 300 days with Abu Osama’s family.Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, Of Fathers and Sons is a work of unparalleled access that captures the chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born. Director Talal Derki joins us to talk about his own personal journey through a devastated country and a troubled society, looking for answers to desperate questions about the future of his country and the future of his own family’s need to flee into exile.
Winner – World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Winner – Filmmaker Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Of Fathers and Sons succeeds in transporting us behind “enemy” lines for a rare glimpse of a world that seems exotic and threatening” – Screen Daily
“A chilling look at extremism on its home front.” – The Film Stage
“Merely being present to bear witness to this side of the Syrian border would make “Of Fathers and Sons” well worth watching, but Derki is so scrupulous in what he reveals about how ingrained the beliefs of the Islamic jihadis are.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Feast
“What makes the film all the more poignant is the fact that the children are, of course, despite all this, like kids anywhere else.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“An admirably audacious feat of documentarian access, Of Fathers and Sons is of obvious topical and anthropological interest as a glimpse into the gradual radicalization of young males and the deep community ties which underpin the process.” – Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter
Long Island was the birthplace of American stock car racing. At its peak, there were over forty racetracks on Long Island, but today, only one remains: Riverhead Raceway. This quarter-mile track somehow managed to slip through the cracks as progress transformed Long Island from a stretch of sand with sleepy main streets and mom and pop farm stands, to a maze of highways connecting shopping malls to buy-in-bulk shopping centers.When it was built in 1949, the racetrack sat on the edge of a small country road surrounded on every side by miles of farmland. The land the track sits on is valued at well over ten million dollars, while the money that it generates in ticket sales on summer weekends is barely enough to keep the lights on. The fact that the Riverhead Raceway remains open defies the laws of capitalism, and the only thing standing in the way of the bulldozers are 87-year-old Barbara and Jim Cromarty. Barbara and Jim bought the track in 1977 and they continue to run it even as multi-million dollar offers roll in, tempting them toward a well-deserved retirement. Barbara and Jim fight to keep it open because they understand that Riverhead carries the burden of being the last bastion of stock car racing on Long Island, and when Riverhead goes, it’s all over. THE LAST RACE is a cinematic portrait of a Long Island stock car race track as its 87 year-old owners struggle to maintain an American racing tradition in the face of a real estate development boom. The film merges image and sound in a unique narrative form to bring the audience into the world of grassroots racing culture and explores a story that subtly grapples with questions of blue collar American identity that have taken on a profound relevance in the current political era. Director Michael Dweck talks about the community and the loss of a place where people have come to laugh, cheer and share in the ties that bind.
Always one step ahead in signaling technology’s seismic shifts, Alex Winter has built up a body of work that documents how innovation changes the way people live their daily lives. DOWNLOADED explored the downloading revolution and how Napster and file-sharing took on the music industry, leaving musicians wondering about royalty payments and copyrights. DEEP WEB revealed a new kind of internet: decentralized, encrypted and dangerous; with particular focus on the FBI capture of the Tor hidden service Silk Road, and the judicial aftermath. In his newest documentary TRUST MACHINE: THE STORY OF BLOCKCHAIN, narrated by Rosario Dawson,Alex Winter drills down on blockchain, the decentralized technology that supports cryptocurrencies. Why are banks terrified while UNICEF Ventures embraces it to help refugee children? Winter follows tech innovators striking a raw nerve as banks and network pundits rush to condemn volatile cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. British hacktivist Lauri Love fights extradition—his computer skills perceived a threat to the US government. Through the film, Winter reveals that the proponents of the blockchain—a verified digital ledger—are already using the technology to change the world; fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis and world hunger. Director Alex Winter joins us for a conversation on a technology that has the potential to uplift and / or wreak havoc on human civilization and why we should care.
“You’re not going to come out of this understanding bitcoin and the other virtual currencies completely, but you will know a lot more coming out than you knew going in.” – Tony Medley, Tolucan Times
“A digestible intro to a potentially world-changing concept.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“[Alex Winter’s] latest film, “Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain,” is a heady, globe-spanning investigation.” – Gary Kramer, Salon
“Winter lies somewhere in-between with an agenda to shed light on real world applications in order to pique interest, demystify, and cut through the [talking head] bullshit.” – Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage
Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) tells the provocative story of legendary director Orson Welles during the final 15 years of his life. No longer the “wonder boy” of Citizen Kane, Welles in 1970 was an artist in exile looking for his Hollywood comeback with a project called The Other Side of the Wind. For years, Welles worked on his project about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie. Welles shot the picture guerrilla-style in chaotic circumstances with a devoted crew of young dreamers, all the while struggling with financiers and fate. In 1985, Welles died, leaving as his final testament the most famous unfinished film in movie history. The negative stayed in a vault for decades until now. With revelatory new insights from Welles collaborators including Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Marshall, Oja Kodar and daughter Beatrice Welles, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead is the untold final chapter of one of the greatest careers in film history: brilliant, innovative, defiant and unbowed. Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Me My Neighbor, Cool School) joins us for a conversation about his hurly-burly look at the making of a ragged masterpiece by cinema’s greatest auteur.
“The impeccably assembled production employs Neville’s virtuoso touch to provocative effect.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“For cinephiles, it’s a high-calorie, clip-and-interview-laden feast of biography, insight, and gossip.” – Robert Abele, The Wrap
“Neville’s film may reveal little that hardcore Wellesians don’t already know. But it offers a lively evocation of the great man’s brilliance, waywardness and pained relationship to Hollywood history.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International
“A fascinating account of an agonizing creative process.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A cinephiles’ delight.” – Kimberly Myers, The Playlist
An inspired labor of love for zine-making (Exploding Cat) teens Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, Shirkers was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic—or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator Georges Cardona, who disappeared. More than two decades later, Tan, now a novelist in L.A., returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined. Shirkersmade its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Sandi Tan received the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, and went on to tour festivals all over the world, including True/False, HotDocs, CPHDOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Full Frame, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, AFI Docs and more. Director Sandi Tan talks about her 25-year relationship with her friends, then and now, Exploding Cat and her thoughts on losing and then rediscovering a crucial part of her life.
“Wildly delightful… teeming with incident and personality… No amount of caustic self-criticism from Tan can dampen the thrill of witnessing the vibrancy and bounteous energy of everything captured within the frame.” – Eric Hynes, Film Comment
“Shirkers has the handmade delicacy of a scrapbook come to life… [Sandi Tan] has produced a remarkable statement on the formation of a creative identity across many years and life experiences.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
The informative and heartwarming new documentary film, Weed the People examines why marijuana / cannabis has been off-limits to America’s doctors and researchers for the past 80 years, despite decades of science from on the plants anti-cancer properties. Armed with only these laboratory studies, desperate parents obtain cannabis oil from underground sources to save their children from childhood cancers. “Weed the People” follows these families through uncharted waters as they take their children’s survival into their own hands. Some of their miraculous outcomes beget the unsettling question at the heart of the film: If weed is truly saving lives, why doesn’t the government want people to access it? Abby Epstein has been producing and directing documentaries for over ten years with her partner, Ricki Lake. Their first collaboration was the celebrated feature documentary The Business of Being Born, which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The Businessof Being Born enjoyed a successful theatrical release and had its broadcast premiere on Showtime. Director Abby Epstein talks about the racist, xenophobic history of marijuana in America, the draconian laws and the federal government’s resistance to allowing medical research, despite holding a number of marijuana patents and the courageous journey of parents trying to save the lives of their cancer stricken children.
“Though the film seems pretty thoroughly convinced on this topic, its main argument should ring true even for skeptics: We won’t know the answers if, thanks to the drug’s Schedule I status in the US, scientists remain unable to study its effects.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“Weed the People is one part didactic, one part polemic, and one part human story. The documentary methodically alternates among these three, ultimately landing a compelling, if at times sentimental and anecdotal argument.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat
“Passionate, fact-based arguments back up this brilliant re-branding of the “legalize weed” debate.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“An inspirational documentary that gives the 411 on using 420 to treat children with cancer.” – Gary M. Kramer, Film Journal International
On the streets of Baltimore, shooting is rampant, the murder rate is approaching an all-timehigh and the distrust of the police is at a fever pitch. With nerves frayed and neighborhoods in distress, dedicated community leaders, compassionate law-enforcement officers and a progressive young city councilman try to stem the epidemic of violence. Filmed over three tumultuous years covering the lead up to, and aftermath of, Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, CHARM CITY is an intimate cinema verité portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the vibrant city they call home. Director and producer Marilyn Ness (Cameraperson; Trapped; E-Team), and film subject Alex Long join us to talk about the work of the Rose Street Community Center in providing the basic services; trash collection, gang mediation and his own brand of de-escalation training, and bring a sense of hope to a neighborhood known as the “Middle East.”
“The film captures up close the way violence transforms neighborhoods and families with an immediacy that transcends headlines or sensationalism.” – Ben Kenigberg, New York Times
“Even when the epidemic of violence touches a beloved character, Ness’ careful quilting of compassion and action across her years of filming suggests a fight that won’t diminish for these citizens.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“It all adds up to an even-handed issue film featuring those who are working to change the face of one of the U.S.’s most violent cities.” – Tanner Tafelski, Village Voice
When Elan and Jonathan lose their beloved grandmother, Annette Ontell, they face a profound question: When a loved one dies, what do we do with the things they leave behind? Housewife, fashion designer, and beloved family member, Ontell lived seven decades in the same house—306 Hollywood Avenue in Hillside, New Jersey. Turning documentary on its head, the Bogaríns embark on a magical-realist journey to discover who their grandmother really was, transforming her cluttered New Jersey home of 71 years into a visually exquisite ruin where tchotchkes become artifacts, and the siblings become archaeologists. By turns elegiac, celebratory, and edgy, with extrapolations ranging from the Rockefellers to Rome, 306 Hollywood moves unexpectedly but inevitably, like a beautiful murmuration of birds. With help from physicists, curators and archivists—and the added inspiration of a decade of interviews with the vivacious octogenarian herself—they excavate the extraordinary universe contained in Annette’s home. 306 HOLLYWOOD playfully transforms the dusty fragments of an unassuming life into an epic metaphor for the nature of time, memory and history Co-directors Jonathan Bogarín (Elan) joins us for a conversation on celebrating family, peering into the unknown, why understanding the past can help us live better in the present.
“The movie’s blend of charm and philosophical inquiry makes it at once structurally daring and a total crowd-pleaser, sure to find appreciative audiences who will see echoes of their own clutter-filled lives in its story.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“One of the more universal and relatable films you’re ever likely to see. It’s such a little story you may wonder about why it was being told at all, except that it’s a story likelyto touch anybody who has ever lost a loved one, which makes it a very big story.” – Daniel Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
“It’s unforgettable. 306 HOLLYWOOD feels like a whole new way of tackling documentaries. This ‘magical-realist doc’ pushes subjectivity into poetry.” – Tasha Robinson The Verge
“Part biopic, part magical-realist rumination, the two [filmmakers] offer the genre a new format and the ordinary a beautiful homage.” – Deanna Janes, Harper’s Bazaar
BISBEE ’17 is a non-fiction feature film by Sundance award winning director Robert Greene set in Bisbee, Arizona, an eccentric old mining town just miles away from both Tombstone and the Mexican border. Radically combining documentary and genre elements, the film follows several members of the close knit community as they collaborate with the filmmakers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, where 1,200 immigrant miners were violently taken from their homes by a deputized force, shipped to the desert on cattle cars and left to die. Bisbee was once known as a White Man’s Camp, and that racist past lingers in the air. As we meet the townspeople, they begin to confront the violent past of the Deportation, a long-buried secret in the old company town. As the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest day approaches, locals dress as characters on both sides of the still-polarizing event, staging dramatic recreations of scenes from the escalating miner’s strike that lead to the Deportation. Spaces in town double as past and present; re-enactors become ghosts in the haunted streets of the old copper camp. Richard plays the sheriff in a Western, Fernando portrays a Mexican miner in a Musical, a local politician is in her own telenovela. These and other enacted fantasies mingle with very real reckonings and it all builds towards a massive re-staging of the Deportation itself on the exact day of its centennial anniversary. Director Robert Greene (Actress, Kate Plays Christine) joins us for a conversation on his latest provocative and compelling new film.
“‘Even though “Bisbee ’17′ depicts a wholesome and harmonious community undertaking, it is a profoundly haunted and haunting film.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“The director purposefully pulls us this way and that, weaving cinematic spells and then yanking us out of them; as viewers, we are both inside and outside the story.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is rich and multifaceted, as Greene employs an array of styles (historical reenactments, direct cinema-style portraiture, musical numbers) to investigate the complex relationship between Bisbee’s past and present.” – Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
“The result is a singularly American riff on The Act of Killing, a fascinating and dream-like mosaic that’s less driven by residual anger than by cockeyed concern, less interested in exhuming the past than in revealing its value to the present.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.
“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International
“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist
The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.
About the Enterprise Documentary Fund:
“In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.” – Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund
Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s (OPRF) student population encompasses a racial, economic and cultural mix that reflects the nation as a whole. Located in a mostly affluent, progressive suburb, the school attracts families of all races and means, many of whom make great sacrifices to secure their children a place there. But even in this diverse and liberal community, ensuring an educational experience that equally benefits all students poses challenges for the school’s dedicated and well-meaning teachers, administrators and parents. In the multipart unscripted documentary series AMERICA TO ME, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interupters, Life Itself, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail) and his team follow a diverse selection of the school’s 3,400 students, including artists, athletes, scholars, underachievers and iconoclasts, to present an indelible account of their dreams, fears, triumphs and aspirations. Posing complex and controversial questions, the film wrestles with crucial issues, including the effects of race and privilege on education as seen through the eyes of young Americans on the precipice of adulthood. Candid and relatable portraits of 12 students who are just beginning to come into their own provide moving insights into the teenage search for personal identity in today’s world. Director Steve James joins us with his impressions on the state of secondary education, how best to facilitate better outcomes for students and the role racial stereotyping plays in achieving success.
“The 10-part documentary series from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) is profound and thoughtful, taking a detailed look at inequality in America through the lens of a storied high school in Chicago.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“[America to Me] is an invaluable look at where inequity begins, as well as the difficulty of getting to the place where it ends.” – James Poniewozik
“Even in a series this expansive, you keep wishing you could spend more time with more people, but its scope allows James and his team to show both victories and defeats fade into the past, how fragile and yet how resilient its protagonists can be.” – Sam Adams, Slate
“[James] captures the specific moments that are hard to explain without being there – like a young black girl who feels uncomfortable with a white teacher’s constant attempts to relate to her – and the larger systemic issues that are harder to upend.” – Ben Travers, IndieWire
Hailed by critics as “immensely likeable,” “brilliant and quirky” and an “ode to the teenage science geeks on whom our future depends,” and winner of the audience award at Sundance and SXSW, National Geographic Documentary Films’ SCIENCE FAIR follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries, setbacks and, of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair. As 1,700 of the smartest, quirkiest teens from 78 different countries face off, only one will be named Best in Fair. The film, from Fusion and Muck Media and directed by the DuPont Award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaking team Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, offers a front seat to the victories, defeats and motivations of an incredible group of young men and women who are on a path to change their lives, and the world, through science. Co-directors Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster join us to talk about their entertaining, enlightening and heart-warming film.
“Endlessly delightful.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“A work of profound cinematic joy, Science Fair is a winner.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
“INSPIRATIONAL AND INVIGORATING.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“It’s as irresistibly entertaining, inspirational and emotionally engrossing as Spellbound. You don’t have to be into science to be entertained, moved or enlightened by Science Fair. It’s one of the best documentaries of the year.” – Avi Offer, The NYC Movie Guru
“The ultimate crowd-pleaser.” – DeAnna Janes, Harper’s Bazaar
“Unfailingly charming.” – Teo Bugbee, The New York Times
America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.
On the night of the 2016 Presidential election, Cass, (Omari Hardwick) an L.A. club promoter, takes a thrilling and emotional journey with Frida (Meagan Good), a Midwestern visitor. She challenges him to revisit his broken dreams – while he pushes her to discover hers. Director / writer / editor Qasim Basir joins us to talk about his riveting and elegant depiction of relationships, intimacy, Los Angeles, race, politics, and living the life we want instead of the life we have.
“A Boy. A Girl. A Dream may seem simple but every frame is a vibrant work of a passionate filmmaker.” – Matthew Passantino, Film Threat
“From the open cityscapes to the closed confines of the rideshare, Basir packs plenty of material for audiences to digest. His use of such a turbulent time is unique and thought-provoking.” – Jonita Davis, Black Girl Nerds
“The understated performances gurgle with powerful emotions. Hardwick and Good are terrific as people trying be cool to a stranger, but failing to conceal their underlying feelings.” – Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
“Set amid a changing nation, the chemistry between the leads help A Boy, A Girl, A Dream find a love story within an ever-changing world.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“As Basir and co-writer Samantha Tanner make abundantly clear in this very earnest, ferociously hopeful film, we’re not going to get through this mess if we’re not pushing one another to be at our very best.” – Birth.Movies.Death.
Forty-five years after it revolutionized abortion law in America, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is once again at a crossroads. In their timely new documentary REVERSING ROE, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, MARATHON: THE PATRIOT’S DAY BOMBING) present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. The film offers candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide, among them doctors Colleen McNicholas and Curtis Boyd; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Operation Rescue president Troy Newman; and National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, REVERSING ROE provides a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. Drawing from a wealth of historical footage, it charts the period leading up to the Roe decision-and documents the opposition that has followed ever since.Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, REVERSING ROE is essential viewing to understand how the country got here-and where it may be going. Co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg join us for an informed conversation on the long history and politics swirling around one of the country’s most divisive issues.
“As contentiousness turned into real-world consequences, “Reversing Roe” reminds us that the more women get involved regarding their rights, the more likely we’re to see a fair, principled fight.” – Robert Abele, Los Times
“Nothing new here but a good primer for those who never thought that politics has anything to do with their lives.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
“Solid and valuable but familiar.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“Provides a clear and accessible overview of more than 50 years of the social and legal history of the issue in the United States.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
Although Hal Ashby directed a remarkable string of acclaimed, widely admired classics throughout the 1970s—HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE LAST DETAIL, SHAMPOO, COMING HOME, BEING THERE—he is often overlooked amid the crowd of luminaries from his generation. Amy Scott’s HAL is an exuberant portrait that explores that curious oversight, using rare archival materials, interviews, personal letters, and audio recordings to reveal a passionate, obsessive artist. Ashby was a Hollywood director who constantly clashed with Hollywood, but also a unique soul with an unprecedented insight into the human condition and an unmatched capacity for good. His films were an elusive blend of honesty, irreverence, humor, and humanity. Through the heartrending and inspiring HAL, you feel buoyed by Ashby’s love of people and of cinema, a little like walking on water. On camera interviews his many collaborators, including Oscar®-winning actors Lee Grant, Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Louis Gossett Jr, Jeff Bridges and more recall how they were empowered by Ashby and granted them artistic freedom. Contemporary directors include Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Lisa Cholodenko, and David O. Russell attest to the quiet but powerful influence Ashby has had on their own filmmaking. Behind the camera colleagues Norman Jewison, Robert Towne, Haskell Wexler, and Pablo Ferro stand witness to Ashby’s brilliance as a filmmaker and the forces that led to his undoing. Director Amy Scott joins us to talk about her artistic connection to Hal Ashby, as editor and director, and her desire to correct many of the lingering misperceptions of Ashby through her riveting and loving film about a true maverick.
“If there’s still the sense that Ashby isn’t as sanctified as American New Wave stalwarts Coppola or Scorsese, Amy Scott’s breezy tribute of a documentary is out to correct that oversight.” – Robert Abele, TheWrap
“A vivid portrait of artistic integrity and complete commitment to the art of filmmaking.” – J.R. Kinnard
“Hal is a loving tribute to a filmmaker who rarely gets the attention he deserves.” – Brian Thompson, Film Threat
“Just before the documentary slips into hero worship, Amy Scott pries beneath the calm surface of her bearded and bespectacled subject to reveal the silent rage that fueled his work.” – A.J. Serrano, Slant Magazine
Meet the NYPD12: a group of minority whistleblower officers who risk everything to expose racially discriminatory policing practices in the NYPD and smash the blue wall of silence. Using stunning cinematography and intimate, character-drive access, CRIME + PUNISHMENT captures the story of these brave individuals right from the beginning, as several officers meet up to talk about the New York Police Department’s outlawed practices of quota-driven policing and officer retaliation — and find themselves starting a class-action suit against the city. Using secret recordings between officers and commanders, firsthand accounts, and emotional testimony, the NYPD12 detail the explosive truth when no one else will listen. In the meantime, Manuel Gomez, an ex-cop turned private investigator, collects testimony from young minorities who have been affected by these policies and targeted by officers in the name of fighting crime. Told from the rarely heard perspective of active whistleblower officers and the young men and women of color they police, CRIME + PUNISHMENT is a once-in-a-generation film that considers the complexities of police work when faced with the unjust systemic and institutional practices fueling social justice movements across America. Director / Producer / Cinematographer / Editor Stephen Maing joins us for conversation on how he came to know the brave men and women who stepped forward, and why this is not just a New York City issue.
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival
94% on Rotten Tomatoes
“A triumph of documentary filmmaking.” – Tim Wu, THE NEW YORKER
“Amazing. An awesome film.” – Eugene Hernandez, FILM COMMENT
“It’s a real achievement, this film. Gorgeously composed…Vital, necessary and groundbreaking. It’s a significant work of investigative journalism.” – Nic Rapold and Eric Hynes, FILM COMMENT PODCAST
“Remarkable. Maing becomes so embedded with his subjects, we get to see them up close and personal. We need to recognize that the way racism functions in our society is out in public, and we must stand with those who are brave enough to put their livelihoods on the line to change the system. Crime + Punishment makes that argument clearly, persuasively, and with immediacy.” – Matt Goldberg, COLLIDER
“Maing doesn’t seek to offer any solutions; instead, he does something that we often fail to do in our embattled society, he gives these particular officers and the people that they police their humanity back.” – Aramide A. Tinubu, SHADOW AND ACT
In Andrew Bujalski’s comedyLisa (Regina Hall) is the last person you’d expect to find in a highway-side “sports bar with curves,”– but as general manager at Double Whammies, she’s come to love the place, and its customers. An instinctive den mother, she nurtures and protects her ‘girls’ on the staff fiercely — but over the course of one trying day, her optimism is battered from every direction… Double Whammies sells a big, weird American fantasy, but what happens when reality pokes a bunch of holes in it?
Director Andrew Bujalski’s Statement –It seems like just about the simplest business concept you could imagine — “What if all the waitresses in this restaurant wore tight, cleavage-y halter tops?”— but I couldn’t get over how bizarre it ultimately was. No culture besides present-day America would ever produce mass-scale demand for such a place, a business that seems about 10% strip club and 90% TGI Friday’s / Applebee’s / Chili’s / Cracker Barrel. Strippers are supposed to make men feel like badass transgressors. But these women are just supposed to make you feel normal — the proverbial “red-blooded American male.” You don’t see many stories set in this slice of Americana, and with good reason. It does not lend itself to grand dramatic arcs, or, really, to gut-busting comedy. But it certainly is full of contradictions, and incredibly fertile with opportunities for subtle spiritual conflicts. I couldn’t pretend to untangle these from an insider’s perspective, so I dreamed up a kind of outsider character, Lisa the general manager, to walk in there with a spirit of openness and love — and plenty of her own pathologies–to see what she might discover in there. While it is a very specific story in many ways, I hope that anyone who’s ever worked for a living will relate. Most of us have to buy/sell one crazy “concept” or another to pay our bills, and some days, you’re not sure if your humor and dignity will survive to the end of the shift…
Director and writer Andrew Bujalski (Beeswax, Computer Chess, Results) joins us to talk about his insightful “girl power” comedic drama with a ground-level take on masculine hurly-burly in a vanishing American paradigm.
“Its light, sweetly frisky exterior and easygoing pace camouflages what a subtle and brilliant piece of bracing social commentary it is; a deft portrait of sisterhood existing under the thumb of capitalistic patriarchy.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
“Hall’s superb, deeply felt performance keeps the movie grounded, allowing the supporting cast to provide hilarious liftoff at regular intervals.” – Mike D’Angelo, AV Club
“Bujalski frames most of Support the Girls as an almost real-time delineation of chaos, but his storytelling elegance – delicate, nearly invisible foreshadowing; cogent evocations of backstory – adds reflective layers to the surface anarchy.” – Danny King, Village Voice
“The sharp-elbowed humor is laced with aching tenderness, tightrope-tense frustrations over money and love, and an underlying mix of social pathologies that bubbles through the show-biz surfaces…” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“Hall’s performance – tender, tough, empathetic, controlled – crumples from tears to laughter in a blink. It’s phenomenal.” – Amy Nicholson, Variety