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 Truffle Hunters
The Mole Agent
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
“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
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
“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.
“Knock Down the House” captures four working class candidates running for Congress in West Virginia, Nevada, Missouri and New York City. That last one is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who overcame enormous odds to become the youngest woman elected to Congress at age 29.
Director/producer/cinematographer Rachel Lears and her husband producer/editor Robin Blotnick follow AOC early on from her days as a bartender. Their previous film “The Hand that Feeds,” about immigrants forming a union in a Manhattan deli, won the 2014 DOC NYC Audience Award.
“Knock Down the House” is now playing on Netflix. This interview, moderated by DOC NYC senior programmer Karen McMullen, was recorded with a live audience for the screening series Pure Nonfiction at IFC Center.
Werner Herzog talks about the history of Germany, the Soviet Union and dispenses marital advice on this episode. His latest film “Meeting Gorbachev” is based on interviews he conducted with the former Soviet leader over 2017-18. The film was co-directed by his longtime producer André Singer.
Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Herzog at TIFF Doc Conference in September 2018. Hear their previous interview about “Into the Inferno” on episode 29.
On Twitter: @PureNonfiction @thompowers
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.
“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
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.