All Posts by Thom Powers

105: Sam Green & David Harrington on Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet performs live for the documentary “A Thousand Thoughts” about the group’s history. The film is directed by Sam Green, who narrates the live performances, and Joe Bini.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Green and Kronos founder David Harrington about this unique act of live cinema.

On Twitter: @kronosquartet @PureNonfiction @thompowers

104: Penny Lane on “Hail Satan?”

“Hail Satan?” looks at the Satanic Temple that started six years ago as political provocation and grew into an international movement. Director Penny Lane (“Our Nixon,” ‘Nuts!”) and producer Gabriel Sedgwick got drawn into the topic by a Village Voice article by Anna Merlan.
Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Lane about key members of the Satanic Temple including co-founder Lucien Greaves and Detroit artist Jex Blackmore. Lane chronicles how tensions arise from both outside and inside the organization.

On Twitter: @lennypane @hailsatanfilm @PureNonfiction @thompowers

103: Alison Klayman on Steve Bannon in “The Brink”

Director Alison Klayman (“Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry”) spent a year on the road with Steve Bannon as he met with European right wing leaders to spread his nationalist ideology. That journey is captured in “The Brink.”

The film’s producer Marie Therese Guirgis started the project with a Bannon connection from outside politics. Fifteen years ago, she worked at the arthouse film distributor Wellspring that was acquired by Bannon’s media company. Guirgis and Klayman discuss what they learned about Bannon and the making of “The Brink” with Pure Nonfiction’s Raphaela Neihausen. 

On Twitter: @aliklay @TheBrinkFilm @PureNonfiction

102: Baseball on Drugs in “Screwball”

“Cocaine Cowboys” director Billy Corben and producer Alfred Spellman talk to Pure Nonfiction  host Thom Powers about their new comic documentary “Screwball” covering  the baseball drug scandal that disgraced Yankee Alex Rodriguez and other players.

Hear their previous interview on episode 42 discussing “Cocaine Cowboys.”

On Twitter: @billycorben @alfredspellman @thompowers @PureNonfiction

101: Alex Gibney on how Theranos fooled Silicon Valley

HBO’s documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” looks at the case of Elizabeth Holmes who created the company Theranos promising to revolutionize the field of blood-testing. The company swiftly rose to be valued at billions of dollars, but was eventually exposed as a fraud.

Host Thom Powers interviews director Alex Gibney and producer Erin Edeiken about the making of the film.

Pure Nonfiction’s theme music is composed by Andre Williams who passed away this week at age 82. We send our condolences to his family and friends. See Tricia Todd’s documentary “Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year with Andre Williams”

On Twitter: @alexgibneyfilm @HBODocs @thompowers @PureNonfiction

100: Inside “The Case Against Adnan Syed” on HBO

Serial, the podcast, won millions of listeners to the story of the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee that sent her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed to prison. Now the case is re-opened by private investigators in a new 4-part series “The Case Against Adnan Syed” on HBO. Episode one had its world premiere at Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center.

Host Thom Powers interviewed director Amy Berg, author and advocate Rabia Chaudry, and Adnan’s classmate Laura Estrada Sandoval who appears in the series.

On Twitter: @disarmingfilms @rabiasquared @HBODocs @thompowers @PureNonfiction

99: D.A. Pennebaker, Seth Meyers, John Mulaney & more on Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”

D.A. Pennebaker’s1970  documentary “Original Cast Album: Company” captures the dramatic recording session of the Stephen Sondheim musical. The film is a cult classic among Broadway fans. Now it’s the target of a loving parody in the third season of Documentary Now!, the IFC TV series created by Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Rhys Thomas. Their version is called “Original Cast Album: Co-op” set inside a New York co-op apartment building.

Both Company and Co-op were screened as a double feature for Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center on February 19. Host Thom Powers led a discussion with cast and crew of both productions. Featured on this podcast from “Company” are D.A. Pennebaker, cast members Teri Ralston, Dona Vaughn, Marilyn Saunders, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and record producer Tom Shepard.

From the cast and crew of Co-op, we hear from co-creator Seth Meyers, writer and guest star John Mulaney, director Alex Buono, plus actors Renée Elise Goldsberry (“Hamilton”), Alex Brightman (“School of Rock”) and Richard Kind (“Red Oaks”).

The discussion combines talks that took place at IFC Center on February 19, 2019 and a previous screening at DOC NYC on November 9, 2018.

On Twitter: @PHfilms @sethmeyers @mulaney @AlexBuono @ReneeGoldsberry @ABrightMonster @RealRichardKind @thompowers @purenonfiction

98: Tim Wardle, Sandi Tan & RaMell Ross on “Pushing Boundaries”

“Three Identical Strangers,” “Shirkers” and the Oscar-nominated “Hale Country This Morning, This Evening” are the focus of this conversation about pushing stylistic boundaries in documentary. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed the filmmakers at DOC NYC in November 2018.

This is the fourth and final installment of conversations from the DOC NYC Short List. Previous episodes were:

90: Getting Political 
91: Portrait Documentaries
95: Getting Personal

On Twitter: @ttwardle @sanditan @ramellross @thompowers @purenonfiction

97: “United Skates” with Tina Brown & Reggie Brown

Tribeca Audience Prize winner “United Skates” treats you to a dazzling display of roller skating styles in black communities across America. For several generations, roller rinks provided a place for skaters to come together in harmonious movement. Now that tradition is threatened by rinks closing throughout the country. Cities are more likely to give tax breaks to corporate stores than to havens of black culture. Filmmakers Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler spent several years documenting the trend of rink closures and the activist skaters fighting to keep them open.

Host Thom Powers interviews Tina Brown and skater Reggie Brown (no relation). The conversation took place in front of a live audience at Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center in New York City. “United Skates” will be available on HBO starting February 18.

On Twitter: @UnitedSkatesDoc @HBODocs @thompowers @purenonfiction

If you’re in New York, visit us at Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center.

96: Talal Derki on filming in Syria

Syrian director Talal Derki has twice won the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Best Documentary Award for “Return to Homs” and “Of Fathers and Sons.”

That first film traced the early years of Syria’s civil war. Derki working with a team of camera people followed two peaceful protestors – national soccer star Abdul Basset Sarout and his friend Ossama – as they grow more militant and take up arms.

By the time “Return to Homs”  debuted in 2013, Derki and his wife had become exiles in Berlin with their young son. But Derki quickly returned to Syria to embark on his next film “Of Fathers and Sons.” For two and half years, he filmed in northern Syria with a jihadist named Abu Osama and his family. Osama was one of the founders of Al-Nusra, the Syrian arm of Al-Qaeda. In the film, we watch his sons Osama (13) and Ayman (12) go through jihadi training camp. “Of Fathers and Sons” is now Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Derki on the morning he was headed to the Oscars nominees brunch. Derki discusses the life-threatening situations involved in making both films.

On Twitter: @thompowers @purenonfiction

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