Documentary Film

The 13th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival will showcase 80 of the latest independent feature, documentary, short and family films from 28 countries from May 31 to June 3 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and from June 1 to 3 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The festival features screenings and various special events including three “Tea Talks”. One of this year’s Tea Talks features Berkshire based Academy Award winning filmmaker, Cynthia Wade, and a screening of her new documentary, “Grit.”

"Grit" is co-directed and co-produced by Wade and Sasha Friedlander and follows the lives of Indonesian citizens in East Jakarta displaced from their villages when an underground mudflow, struck by a natural gas drill, bubbles up and buries their homes and everything they own beneath 60 feet of mud.

Cynthia Wade joins us.

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville ("20 Feet from Stardom"), "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers.

A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.

The highly anticipated and already much lauded film will be the closing night presentation of this year's Berkshire International Film Festival. BIFF takes place May 31-June 3. Nicholas Ma is a producer on "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and he joined us to talk about the movie and his relationship with Fred Rogers.

Boxes of film reels from the Dawson City Recovery site—an entire lost archive in need of preservation, 1978.
Kathy Jones-Gates / Dawson City Archives


  “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is the latest film from award winning documentary filmmaker, Bill Morrison, whose previous films include “Decasia,” "The Miners' Hymns" and "The Great Flood."

 

The film will be presented by Pothole Pictures in Shelburne Falls on May 4th and 5th and at The Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany, NY on May 11. Morrison will attend the Pot Hole Pictures screening on May 4th and will be at The Opalka Gallery screening on May 11.

 

"Dawson City: Frozen Time" pieces together the strange true story of a collection of some 500 films dating, from 1910s to the 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until being discovered in 1978 buried in a subarctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory

Morrison used these permafrost protected, rare silent films and newsreels, archival footage, interviews and historical photographs to tell the story of Dawson City’s gold rush boom-and-bust and the remote location’s unlikely ties to several aspects of early film history.  

Using a trove of footage unearthed from the National Geographic archives, the new documentary film "Jane" tells the true story of Jane Goodall as a young woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.

Filmmaker Brett Morgen joins us. Dubbed the “mad scientist” of documentary film by the New York Times, Brett Morgen has been directing, writing, and producing ground breaking documentary films for the past 15 years.

After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. Through the eyes of volunteer rescue workers called the White Helmets, "Last Men in Aleppo" allows viewers to experience the daily life, death, and struggle in the streets, where they are fighting for sanity in a city where war has become the norm.

The film is nominated for a 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary and is currently available to view on Netflix. It will also air on PBS on March 1. Director, Feras Fayyed, joins us.

In the documentary film, The Rape of Recy Taylor, Nancy Buirski reconstructs events from 1944, when Recy Taylor, a twenty-four-year-old black woman in Abbeville, Alabama, was abducted on her way home from church by six white men who then raped her. Though Taylor identified her attackers, a local grand jury did not indict anyone for the crime. The NAACP mobilized a national campaign on Taylor’s behalf, sending Rosa Parks, its leading rape investigator to Abbeville. She and others recognized that, if justice could be served, it would be the result of reporting outside the immediate area. They nationalized the case yet the perpetrators remained uncharged, and the case slipped into oblivion.

The film will screen in Woodstock on Saturday at 10 a.m. as part of the Woodstock Film Festival and Nancy Buirski will be there for a Q&A following.

Griffin Dunne
Chronogram Magazine

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold is a biographical documentary featuring the life of influential American writer, Joan Didion. Directed by Joan's nephew, Griffin Dunne, the film enlightens the viewer with an unprecedented, intimate perspective on Joan's life and career accomplishments.

The film features interviews from Joan herself, as well as close family and friends, interwoven with contextual archival footage/stills to visualize Joan's astute writing. Joan, famous for bringing order to disorder through her words, exposes, examines and divulges the most pivotal events in American history, making her one of the most recognizable and influential voices within the literary world. The story of this film not only considers Joan Didion the writer, but gives light to Joan Didion, the individual. 

The film will be screened at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY on October 13th at 5:45pm as part of the Woodstock Film Festival with a Q & A to follow with Griffin Dunne. 

Celebrating 18-years of innovative filmmakers & filmmaking, the Woodstock Film Festival has unveiled its line-up of nearly 120 films, panels, and events, screening Wednesday, October 11th through Sunday, October 15th, in Woodstock NY, and neighboring towns of Rhinebeck, Saugerties, Kingston and Rosendale.

The festival which is featuring 4 World Premieres, 5 North American Premieres, 1 US Premiere, 20 East Coast Premieres and 9 New York Premieres.

WFF's Co-Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein joins us for a preview. 


  The new documentary STEP shares the story of three young women in the first graduating class at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and their experiences with school, their families, boyfriends, friends, and their Step team.

 

Pushed to succeed by devoted teachers, teammates, counselors, coaches and themselves, they chase their dreams: to win a step championship and to be accepted into college.

 

STEP which won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance this year, will have its Massachusetts premiere as the opening night film at the Berkshire International Film Festival -- screening tonight at 6pm at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington.

 

The film is directed by Amanda Lipitz who joins us.

In Anne Makepeace’s new documentary, two Native American judges reach back to traditional concepts of justice in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities, and create a more positive future for their youth. By addressing the root causes of crime, they are providing models of restorative justice that are working. Mainstream courts across the country are taking notice.

The film will screen at The Moviehouse in Millerton, NY on Sunday, March 26 at 11 a.m. The screening is presented by FilmWorks Forum.

Anne Makepeace has been a writer, producer, and director of award-winning independent films for more three decades. Tribal Justice, will premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2017, and will culminate in a national PBS broadcast later this year.

April 15, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts--The winner of the marathon crossed the finish line hours ago, but Boylston Street remains vibrant as friends and families cheer a steady stream of runners coming down the final stretch. Suddenly the unthinkable happens...BOOM! BOOM! Two massive blasts instantaneously transform triumph to tragedy, killing four and leaving a blood-soaked trail of shrapnel and severed limbs in their wake.

Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg focus not on the politics or sensationalism, but instead offer a patchwork of deeply moving portraits of the victims, struggling to move forward on prosthetic limbs and recreate their lives.

Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing will screen twice as part of the the Woodstock Film Festival

  The 4th Annual Beacon Independent Film Festival gets underway later this week - September 16th - 18th where they will screen features, shorts, documentaries and more.

Panel discussions, food vendors, green space, interactive activities for kids and adults make it an event for the whole family.

Terry Nelson is the Executive Director of the festival and we welcome him to The Roundtable this morning.

  The film Everybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray is an intimate portrait of the groundbreaking artist Elizabeth Murray. The film explores the relationship between Murray’s family life and career, and reconsiders her place in contemporary art history.

The film will be shown as part of the Reel Women in Film Series at The Linda in Albany on Saturday night at 8PM.

The film is directed and produced by Kristi Zea who will be speaking after the film is shown Saturday. Zea has been in the contemporary film scene for three decades. She has been acclaimed for her work as a production designer, costume designer and producer of major feature films and we welcome her to The Roundtable.

  The Woodstock Film Festival and Upstate Films in Rhinebeck will presents a screening of Newtown on August 24th at 8:15 p.m.

Filmed over the course of nearly three years, the filmmakers use unique access and never before heard testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history on December 14, 2012. Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose.

Kim A. Snyder’s most recent film, NEWTOWN premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and was hailed in Entertainment Weekly as among the “Best of Sundance.” NEWTOWN will continue to screen at premiere festivals worldwide and is poised to have a theatrical release in September 2016, with a national broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in early 2017.

Maria Cuomo Cole is the award-winning producer of the feature documentary, Newtown, which will be premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. In her career, she has tackled such relevant subjects as gun violence, homelessness, veterans’ PTSD, Domestic Violence and sexual assault.

They will be at the screening in Rhinebeck and join us to talk about the film.

  The new film Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now will be seen Thursday night at 7PM at The Linda: WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany.

Narrated by actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, the film is a direct appeal to President Obama as he shapes his environmental legacy, but it is also a very loud shout-out to every elected official in the country to carefully consider the growing evidence that proves that leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the only reasonable energy path forward.

The film is written and directed by Jon Bowermaster.

  The documentary feature film, Life, Animated, will be The Berkshire International Film Festival’s opening night film in Pittsfield, MA at The Beacon Theatre on Friday, June 3rd at 7pm.

Life, Animated tells the story of how Owen Suskind, who is autistic, found a pathway through Disney animation to language and a framework for making sense of the world. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. Owen’s father, Ron Suskind, wrote a book of the same name to tell his family’s story of losing Owen.

The film interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality.

Life, Animated won the Directing Award for a U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and director, Roger Ross Williams, join us now. Roger Ross Williams is an Academy Award winning documentarian -- winning in 2010 for the Documentary Short Subject, Music by Prudence.

  The 11th Annual Berkshire International Film Festival will take place from June 2nd through the 5th in Great Barrington and June 3rd though the 5th in Pittsfield, MA.

The festival will bring films, filmmakers, industry professionals and film fans together for a celebration of independent film featuring documentaries, narrative features and short films – along with special tributes, parties, and discussions.

Kelley Vickery, Founder and Executive Director of BIFF and she joins us with a preview.

  Nationwide statistics have proven in-prison educational and rehabilitation programs to be extremely successful, yet many states across the country have cut large portions of the funding for these programs.

The film, The Game Changer, the winner of multiple festival awards, follows New Paltz’s renowned choreographer Susan Slotnick in her work rehabilitating prisoners through dance at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility.

The film will screen at Unison Arts Center in New Paltz, NY this Saturday, May 14th at 8pm in a special event that will also feature dance performances and discussion.

Susan Slotnick joins us.

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we're speaking with Tatyana Kleyn whose new film, Una Vida, Dos Paises [One Life, Two Countries] explores some of the stories of those living between two countries, cultures, languages and education systems.

Tatyana Kleyn is a documentary filmmaker, a professor of bilingual education at the City College of New York, and one of the New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholars.

  Darius Clark Monroe, award-winning film director, producer, and screenwriter, will provide commentary and answer questions immediately following the screening of his film, Evolution of a Criminal this Friday in Page Hall on the University at Albany’s downtown campus.

The film reexamines, in strikingly candid fashion, an event from Monroe’s own teenage years: his participation in a 1997 Texas bank robbery and his subsequent incarceration. The film includes a variety of interviews with Monroe’s family members, teachers, and law enforcement officials. Monroe also talks to the two men who robbed the bank with him and stages a reenactment of the crime.

The event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with the School of Criminal Justice’s Crime, Justice, and Social Structure film series.

  In How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change, Oscar Nominated director Josh Fox continues in his personal style, investigating climate change. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

Josh Fox is best known as the writer/director of Gasland Parts I and II. He is internationally recognized as a spokesperson and leader on the issue of fracking and extreme energy development. Gasland premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2010 and was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for best documentary.

There will be a Woodstock Film Festival screening of How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change and a Q&A with director Josh Fox this Wednesday March 16th @ 6PM at Onteora High School in Boiceville, the event is part of The Let Go and Love tour.

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we check in with the Vermont Humanities Council and documentary film producer Jeff Kaufman. Kaufman directed The State of Marriage, which shows the struggle for same-sex marriage equality in Vermont.

The film will be screened with a special panel discussion in Montpelier, Vermont on February 23.

Muppeteers and Big Bird
http://www.iambigbird.com/

  The Northampton Arts Council presents a special screening of I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story on Friday February 12th at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton.

The film will be followed by a Q&A session at which Mr. Spinney, his wife Debra and a very special guest will be discussing their journey and answering questions.

The documentary chronicles the life of Caroll Spinney, the man who has been Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969. For over 4 decades, Caroll's characters have been cherished by generations of children. At 81 years old, the tenacious and enthusiastic performer has no intention of slowing down.

Caroll Spinney joins us this morning.

  Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester spent 25 years investigating tough cases in Ocean County, New Jersey, protecting the rights of victims and putting her life on the line. She had no reason to expect that in the last year of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that her final battle for justice would be for the woman she loved – as she struggles to transfer her earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree.

Laurel Hester’s story was shared in Cynthia Wade’s documentary, Freeheld, which won an Academy Award in 2008 for Best Documentary Short Subject. The doc has been adapted into a narrative feature film directed by Peter Sollett and starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page.

The Berkshire International Film Festival will present a screening of the new film on October 4th at The Triplex in Great Barrington. Berkshire resident, Cynthia Wade, will be in attendance to introduce the film and participate in a Q&A afterward. Laurel Hester’s sister, Lynda, will also be in attendance.

  The Williamstown Film Festival is now in its 17th year, but this year’s festival will reflect some major changes. The festival is complete with new faces, a new name, and new programming focus.

The festival runs from October 15-18. Now called: WFF presents: Wind-Up Fest. It is a nonfiction festival with documentary film as its core. Other forms of nonfiction will be in conversation with documentaries, including long-form journalism, radio podcasts, photography, and social practice art.

The festival’s new artistic director Paul Sturtz, new managing director Sandra Thomas (the former executive director of Images Cinema) and board Member Joe Finnegan join us.

Jimmy Chin

  In the high-stakes game of big-wall climbing, the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru may be the ultimate prize. Sitting at the headwaters of the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, the Shark’s Fin has seen more failed attempts by elite climbing teams over the past 30 years than any other ascent in the Himalayas.

The layout of the 21,000-foot mountain’s perversely stacked obstacles makes it both a nightmare and an irresistible calling for some of the world’s toughest climbers. Hauling over 200 pounds of gear up 4,000-feet of technical, snowy, mixed ice and rock climbing is actually the simple part of this endeavor. After crossing that gauntlet you reach the Shark’s Fin itself: 1,500 feet of smooth, nearly featureless granite. There are few pre-existing fissures, cracks or footwalls. It is simply a straight sheet of overhanging rock.

  What would you do if you started to disappear? At the age of 45, friend Laury Sacks - an actress and mother - had a reputation as the quickest wit in the room. At the age of 46, she began forgetting words. Soon she could barely speak.

The documentary film, Looks Like Laury Sounds Like Laury, captures one year in her journey with  frontotemporal dementia, a little-understood disease that strikes people in the prime of life.

Looks Like Laury Sounds Like Laury will screen at the Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury, CT at 7pm this Friday, April 24th.

    

  Today in our Ideas Matter segment, we are talking with filmmaker Ian Cheney and Pleun Bouricius, Director of Grants and Programs for Mass Humanities, about this year's Massachusetts History Conference, which is called, “Chew on This: Presenting Food in Massachusetts Public History” and will take place on June 1 in Worcester, where Cheney s giving the keynote address.

With them, we will discuss Cheney's new documentary, The Search for General Tso, which was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film is about the importance and excitement of learning to understand where our food comes from and how it got to the shelf.

Paige Fisher / Radical Media/Al Jazeera

“The System,” a new documentary series now airing on Al-Jazeera America, covers some familiar ground for Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger.

    Sam Green is an Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker.

For his most recent film, The Measure of All Things, he was inspired by our collective fascination with The Guinness Book of World Records and traveled across the world to gather footage of record-holding (and nearly record-holding) people and places. The result is a fascinating “live documentary” film and performance featuring video, Green’s live narration and an original live score composed and performed by indie-classical chamber ensemble yMusic.

This special live-documentary experience will be presented at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA this Saturday at 8:30pm.

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