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Pure Nonfiction: Inside Documentary Film
34 minutes | 21 days ago
127: Remembering Robert Fisk
Journalist Robert Fisk died in October at age 74. He spent decades reporting in the Middle East as a newspaper columnist and the author of books including “Pity the Nation” and “The Great War for Civilization.” Filmmaker Yung Chang profiles Fisk in the film “This is Not a Movie.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Fisk and Chang at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival where the documentary has its world premiere.On Twitter: @yungfilms @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 127: Remembering Robert Fisk appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
37 minutes | a month ago
126: Loira Limbal on “Through the Night”
“Through the Night” profiles a 24-hour child care run by Deloris “Nunu” Hogan and her husband Patrick from their home in New Rochelle, NY. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the DOC NYC festival and was a NY Times Critic’s Pick. It had an Oscar-qualifying run in virtual cinemas and will air on POV in the spring. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to the director Loira Limbal about her hopes and fears in making the film. She’s known in the documentary community for her behind the scenes role at Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab where she’s been a mentor to other filmmakers of color. She talks about the gap after her 2009 directing debut “Estilo Hip Hop” (co-directed by Vee Bravo) and what it took to embark on “Through the Night” while also holding a full-time job and being a single mother.On Twitter: @DJLaylo @ThrutheNightDoc @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 126: Loira Limbal on “Through the Night” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
31 minutes | 3 months ago
125: Garrett Bradley on “Time”
Garrett Bradley is having a moment. In January, she won the Sundance Documentary Directing Prize for her film “Time” that comes to Amazon this month; and she has a multi-channel video installation coming to MoMA in November. “Time” focuses on the quest of a New Orleans mother known as Fox Rich to get her husband out of prison over more than 20 years. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Garrett about growing up as the daughter of artists, the making of her two companion films “Alone” and “Time,” her relationship to New Orleans where both films take place, and how she’s responded to the tumultuous events of this year.Footnotes: Garrett references the 2010 article in The New York Times What Is It About 20-Somethings? For further reading, see interviews with her in The New York Times, Filmmaker Magazine, and Film Comment. On Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 125: Garrett Bradley on “Time” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
46 minutes | 3 months ago
124: Jeff Orlowski on “The Social Dilemma”
“The Social Dilemma” interviews former insiders at Google, Facebook and Twitter who confess they’re now afraid of the technology they helped to create. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews the film’s director Jeff Orlowski, who previously made “Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral.”Links to references that arise in the conversation:Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now book by Jaron LanierThe Mechanics and Psychology Behind the Social Dilemma Medium article by Jeff Seibert Moment led by Tim KendallOne Project led by Justin RosensteinThe Center for Humane Technology led by Tristan HarrisI Have Blood on My Hands Buzzfeed article on Facebook whistleblower Sophie ZhangCoded Bias documentary directed by Shalini KantayyaWeapons of Math Destruction book by Cathy O’NeilAlgorithms of Oppression book by Safiya Umoja Noble The post 124: Jeff Orlowski on “The Social Dilemma” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
31 minutes | 4 months ago
123: Yoruba Richen on Breonna Taylor & Harry Belafonte
The New York Times Presents episode on “The Killing of Breonna Taylor” made its debut in September, the same week as The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show. Yoruba Richen directed both documentaries and discusses them with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers. Starting in June, Yoruba investigated the Louisville police shooting of Taylor in collaboration with reporter Rukmini Callimachi. Her project on Belafonte looks back to 1968 when he took the place of Johnny Carson for one week as host of the Tonight Show. The film was inspired by an article in The Nation by Joan Walsh. In talking about documentaries that rely on archives, Yoruba quotes filmmaker Shola Lynch: “commercial archives need to understand they can’t hold our history hostage.” Yoruba’s upcoming project is How It Feels to Be Free for PBS American Masters. On Twitter: @redrubes14 @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 123: Yoruba Richen on Breonna Taylor & Harry Belafonte appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
25 minutes | 4 months ago
122: Free hajooj kuka
The Sudanese filmmaker hajooj kuka (who spells his name in lowercase) came to prominence in 2014 with his film “Beats of the Antonov” that won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. On September 17, 2020 he was sentenced to prison in Khartoum along with four other artists on dubious charges of disturbing the peace. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to hajooj’s longtime producer Steven Markovitz who’s helping to organize the campaign #ReleaseTheArtistsSudan with the support of the International Coalition of Filmmakers at Risk, the Academy of Motion Pictures (in which hajooj is a member) and others around the world.For other resources, see Variety’s review of “Beats of the Antonov” and hear hajooj interviewed in 2018 on The Guardian’s Small Changes podcast. Update: On Oct 1, hajooj and four other artists were released from prison. Six other artists remained imprisoned, as reported in Vice. On Twitter: @hajooj @stevenmarkovitz @bigworldcinema @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 122: Free hajooj kuka appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
41 minutes | 4 months ago
121: Mark Cousins’ Cinematic Road Trips
Mark Cousins has changed the way film history is understood. He opened up a global perspective in his book and film series called The Story of Film and now he’s uncovered a hidden history in Women Make Film. The 14-part series is rolling out on TCM this fall along with 100 films by international women directors. Tilda Swinton, one of Mark’s longtime collaborators, is executive producer and a key voice in the series. In June 2019, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Mark in his hometown of Belfast for the inaugural Docs Ireland festival. Mark reflects on his connection to the city that he also explored in the film I Am Belfast. The wide-spanning conversation covers an earlier book that Mark edited with Kevin MacDonald Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary and his efforts to look beyond the western canon. He describes his personal discoveries of nonfiction directors like Japan’s Noriaki Tsuchimoto and India’s Mani Kaul. In discussing “Women Make Film,” Mark highlights the work of Malvina Ursianu and Xhanfise Keko as examples of directors who were largely ignored by film history. Throughout the conversation, he returns to the theme of looking to re-enchant himself with cinema. On Twitter: @markcousinsfilm #WomenMakeFilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 121: Mark Cousins’ Cinematic Road Trips appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
28 minutes | 4 months ago
120: Cameron Bailey on #TIFF20 and Planet Africa
Cameron Bailey is the artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The 2020 festival takes place September 10-19 adjusting to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. In this interview with TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers, Cameron discusses what shaped his career path and explains the significance of the image on his office wall (of M’Bissine Thérèse Diop in Black Girl). He also describes the history of TIFF’s Planet Africa section that he started in 1995. In honor of Planet Africa’s 25th anniversary, Cameron will host free online conversations on its Origin Stories (Sept 13) and on Black Film Now (Sept 16).Among the documentaries playing at #TIFF20 are works by past guests of Pure Nonfiction. Hear their prior interviews and learn more about their new films at these links:Frederick Wiseman’s City HallWerner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer’s Fireball: Visitors from a Darker World Sam Pollard’s MLK/FBI Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno Dawn Porter’s The Way I See It Other films discussed in this episode are Downstream to Kinshasa and 40 Years a Prisoner. On Twitter: @cameron_tiff @TIFF_NET @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 120: Cameron Bailey on #TIFF20 and Planet Africa appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
32 minutes | 5 months ago
119: Going Undercover with “The Mole Agent”
Comedy meets poignancy in Maite Alberdi’s “The Mole Agent.” The Chilean director follows a private investigator who goes undercover to infiltrate a retirement home. His client fears the staff is mistreating the residents. Inside the retirement community, the mole agent Sergio witnesses a generation struggling with loneliness and lost connections to their families. Alberdi’s earlier film “Tea Time” (2014) also looked at senior citizens and won countless festival awards. She followed with “The Grown Ups” about people with Down Syndrome striving to gain more independence in middle age. Her films have a distinct visual style that appear more like fiction than a documentary with careful framing shot with heavy cameras on a tri-pod rather than handheld. Some viewers wonder how much of her films are constructed. She answers that question and more in this interview with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers. “The Mole Agent” is currently available on VOD on Apple, Amazon and other platforms.On Twitter: @moleagentfilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 119: Going Undercover with “The Mole Agent” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
38 minutes | 5 months ago
118: Meet Ja’Tovia Gary
Ja’Tovia Gary was recently profiled in The New York Times. If you don’t know her work yet, let this podcast be your introduction. Her most recent project “The Giverny Document” exists both as a 42-minute film and an art installation. It’s a work that makes eclectic connections between Nina Simone, Claude Monet’s gardens and the police killing of Philando Castile. It also pays homage to the classic French documentary “Chronicle of a Summer” as Ja’Tovia stands on a Harlem street corner to ask Black women, “Do you feel safe?” You can read more about her work at jatovia.com and newnegressfilmsociety.com.On Twitter: @jatovia @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 118: Meet Ja’Tovia Gary appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
37 minutes | 5 months ago
117: The Making of McMillion$
McMillion$ is a 6-part HBO series that details an elaborate scam over the McDonald’s Monopoly game. For over 10 years, the key game pieces worth up to a million dollars were being stolen and given to hand-picked “winners.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews the filmmakers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte who spent several years uncovering stories about the scam told for the first time. The conversation also includes two people featured in the series: A.J. Glomb who got involved in the distribution of stolen game pieces and George Chandler who unwittingly received a stolen piece worth a million dollars. This conversation was recorded before a live audience at the IFC Center in February, 2020.On Twitter: @IAmJLH @thompowers @PureNonfiction #McMillionsHBO The post 117: The Making of McMillion$ appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
39 minutes | 5 months ago
116: Iyabo Boyd of Brown Girls Doc Mafia
Brown Girls Doc Mafia started as an impromptu meet up in 2015 and has grown into an organization with a membership of more than 4000 women and non-binary people of color working in documentary.Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews the group’s founder Iyabo Boyd. She talks about her work at the grant funder Chicken & Egg, as a producer of the documentary “For Ahkeem”, and how covid-19 and this summer’s street protests over racial injustice have galvanized BGDM. The organization has just launched a new directory on its website and is currently crowdfunding for its growth. Please support them on GoFundMe. Beyond her documentary work, Iyabo also directed the short feminist comedy “Me Time” and is working on her first fiction feature. More details at iyaboboyd.com. On Twitter: @iyabo_iyabo @browngirlsdocm@thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 116: Iyabo Boyd of Brown Girls Doc Mafia appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
29 minutes | a year ago
115: Uncovering China’s “One Child Nation”
“One Child Nation” investigates China’s policy of pressuring families to have only one child. Filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang grew up in China during the years of the policy that lasted from 1979 to 2015. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews them about the making of the film and their strategies to avoid government surveillance and intimidation. Nanfu previously came under suspicion from Chinese authorities for her first film “Hooligan Sparrow” about a female human rights activist. On Twitter: @OneChildNation @WangNanfu @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 115: Uncovering China’s “One Child Nation” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
29 minutes | a year ago
114: “For Sama” Inside Syria
The Oscar-nominated documentary “For Sama” takes a personal journey through the war in Syria. Waad Al-Kateab became a citizen journalist, capturing the siege of Aleppo and events of her own life. We watch her fall in love and get married to a doctor, Hamza, who shares her commitment to stay in Aleppo. The film is framed as a message for their daughter Sama who’s born during the war. In 2016, Waad and her family were finally forced to evacuate. In exile, she teamed with British filmmaker Edward Watts to shape her footage through a long editing process. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Waad and Edward about their collaboration. On Twitter: @forsamafilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 114: “For Sama” Inside Syria appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
38 minutes | a year ago
113: Inside “American Factory”
Barack and Michelle Obama picked the film “American Factory” to be the first film backed by their company Higher Ground. Now the film is Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Feature and available on Netflix. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert about their long history filming inside the factory in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. They previously made “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” that chronicled the demise of its original incarnation. That film was Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Short in 2009. Several years later, the city gained new hope when the Chinese company Fuyao reopened the plant to manufacture industrial strength glass for vehicles. Bognar and Reichert gained access to all levels of the factory from the Chinese management to the American workers. They benefited from working with Chinese field producers Lulu Men, Siyan Liu, Danni Wang, and co-producers Mijie Li and Yiqian Zhang. The interview lingers over the challenges of maintaining such intimate access, especially after the tensions rise over a battle to unionize at the factory. “It’s one thing to gain access and it’s another thing to gain trust,” says Reichert. This conversation was recorded in New York at the School of Visual Arts MFA program for Social Documentary in August 2019. Two recent events loomed in the background and come up in the conversation. One is the passing of documentary pioneer D.A. Pennbaker. The other is a mass shooting in Dayton that took place just a few days prior. On Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 113: Inside “American Factory” appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
20 minutes | a year ago
112: Sundance 2020 Preview
Hear insider tips and exclusive clips on documentaries at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers got an early look at over 25 films premiering at the festival. In this annual preview episode he discusses his favorites that will be looking to secure distribution deals. Last year, our Sundance Preview gave listeners early exposure to films like “Knock Down the House” and “American Factory” that went on to Sundance acclaim. This year, Powers’ picks include:The FightBoys StateThe DissidentWhirlybirdTimeGiving VoiceThe Truffle HuntersThe Mole AgentOn Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 112: Sundance 2020 Preview appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
18 minutes | a year ago
111: Profiling Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison, who passed away in August at age 88, is the subject of a new documentary currently in theaters “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.” Filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders had known Morrison since the early 1980s when he began photographing her. In 2006, she gave him the inspiration to create the documentary trilogy “The Black List” in collaboration with Elvis Mitchell.Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Greenfield-Sanders in May at the IFC Center. They discuss his long history with Morrison, his interview with Oprah and his collaborators on the project including interviewer Sandra Guzman.On Twitter: @ToniMorrison @tgsfilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction The post 111: Profiling Toni Morrison appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
23 minutes | a year ago
110: Joshua Wong on Hong Kong
“Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower” on Netflix follows the Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong who started leading protests at the age of 14. His actions helped give rise to a democracy movement that brought over a million people to the streets this summer. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Joshua and the film’s director Joe Piscatella at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 when the documentary made its debut and Joshua was 19. Since then, Joshua served time in prison for charges related to organizing a demonstration. He was released from prison after two months in June 2019.On Twitter: @joshuawongcf @PureNonfiction @thompowers The post 110: Joshua Wong on Hong Kong appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
29 minutes | 2 years ago
109: Running with Beto
Beto O’Rourke rose from obscurity to political stardom in 2018 when he ran for the Texas Senate seat against incumbent Ted Cruz. Filmmaker David Modigliani follows that journey in “Running with Beto,” now playing on HBO. On this podcast, Modigliani is joined by three Beto volunteers who are prominently featured in the film: Shannon Gay, Marcel McClinton and Amanda Salas. Their discussion was moderated by DOC NYC senior programmer Karen McMullen in front of a live audience at New York’s Metrograph theater. On Twitter: @PureNonfiction @thompowers The post 109: Running with Beto appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
39 minutes | 2 years ago
108: Asif Kapadia on Ayrton Senna, Amy Winehouse & Diego Maradona
“Diego Maradona”, making its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, is the latest from director Asif Kapadia. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Asif about that film along with his previous documentaries “Senna” (about Formula One race car driver Ayrton Senna) and the Oscar-winning “Amy” (about singer Amy Winehouse). Their conversation took place in March at the CPH:DOX festival in Copenhagen. On Twitter: @asifkapadia @PureNonfiction @thompowers The post 108: Asif Kapadia on Ayrton Senna, Amy Winehouse & Diego Maradona appeared first on Pure Nonfiction.
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