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 TimesFilmmaker Magazine, and Film Comment

On Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction

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 Lanier
The Mechanics and Psychology Behind the Social Dilemma Medium article by Jeff Seibert 
Moment led by Tim Kendall
One Project led by Justin Rosenstein
The Center for Humane Technology led by Tristan Harris
I Have Blood on My Hands Buzzfeed article on Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang
Coded Bias documentary directed by Shalini Kantayya
Weapons of Math Destruction book by Cathy O’Neil
Algorithms of Oppression book by Safiya Umoja Noble

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

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

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

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 Hall
Werner 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

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

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

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

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

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