All Posts by michaelscottijr

PN 26: Ava DuVernay on 13th

Selma director Ava DuVernay has a new documentary on Netflix called 13th. The title comes from the Constitution’s 13th amendment that abolished slavery with the loophole clause “except as a punishment for a crime.” The film explores American history to follow the path from the 13th amendment to our current criminal justice system and its impact on African Americans. DuVernay interviews a wide range of charismatic speakers including authors Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy) and Van Jones (Rebuild the Dream).

In this conversation with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers, DuVernay discusses how she took inspiration from other documentaries including Sam Pollard’s Slavery By Another Name and Dawn Porter’s Gideon’s Army (discussed on PN episode 2). Powers asks DuVernay about her education in politics and filmmaking, starting with her first documentary This is the Life. She talks about people who were instrumental to making 13th including her longtime editor Spencer Averick and Netflix executive Lisa Nishimura.

On Twitter: @AVAETC @13thfilm @thompowers @purenonfiction

Ava DuVernay website

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

Mark your calendar for the DOC NYC festival, America’s largest documentary festival, on Nov 10-17.

PN 25: Directing “Amanda Knox”

Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, the directors of “Amanda Knox,” discuss their five-year effort to bring the story to Netflix.

Knox was a Seattle college student studying for a year abroad in Perugia, Italy. In 2007, her British roommate Meredith Kercher was found murdered in their apartment. Local prosecutor Giuliano Mignini accused Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of committing the murder. The case was portrayed by tabloids as a lurid sex crime. For years, it dragged through Italian courts where Knox and Sollecito were convicted, acquitted, then re-convicted and finally acquitted for good.

Blackhurst and McGinn first reached out to Knox in 2011 when her case was still in court. On Pure Nonfiction, they talk to host Thom Powers about shepherding the project as an independent production before Netflix came on board. Eventually they got to interview all the key characters along with reporter Nick Pisa who broke several headlines on the case, including information that later proved false.

For years, the case has divided onlookers interpreting Knox’s behavior. McGinn describes her case as exemplifying the “Kuleshov effect” where the same image looks different depending on how it’s juxtaposed with other images.

This episode was recorded at the School of Visual Arts MFA Social Documentary program

On Twitter: @rodblackhurst @brimcgi @thompowers @purenonfiction
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 24: Kirsten Johnson on “Cameraperson”

Laura Poitras and Michael Moore are only two of many filmmakers who have turned to the skills of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Now Johnson has directed her own film “Cameraperson.” It’s a kind of memoir of her past 25 years shooting documentaries. “It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before,” wrote A.O. Scott in his New York Times review. “Cameraperson” has been named to the DOC NYC Short List of the year’s most impressive documentaries. In this conversation with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers, Johnson speaks candidly about her experiences working with Poitras, Moore and other directors and the moral quandaries stirred up by her work.

On Twitter: @Cameraperson16 @purenonfiction @thompowers

Pure Nonfiction

This interview was recorded on May 5, 2016 at the Montclair Film Festival’s Audible Lounge.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 23: Demme on Talking Heads, Neil Young & Justin Timberlake

Jonathan Demme is receiving a retrospective this fall at the Stranger Than Fiction screening series at New York’s IFC Center. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers leads this conversation with Demme about his concert films with Talking Heads, Neil Young and Justin Timberlake. Demme shares behind the scenes details of “Stop Making Sense,” “Neil Young: Heart of Gold,” and a little bit on his newest film “Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids” that’s coming to Netflix. This interview was recorded before a live audience at TIFF Doc Conference. Earlier this year, Powers interviewed Demme about his portrait films including “The Agronomist,” “Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains,” and “I’m Carolyn Parker” on Pure Nonfiction episode 6.

On Twitter: @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

Stop Making Sense
Neil Young: Heart of Gold
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

PN 22: Nanette Burstein Investigates John McAfee

“Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee” explores the murky history of the anti-virus software pioneer who moved to the jungle of Belize and lived out a modern Heart of Darkness. After his neighbor Greg Faull was found murdered in 2012, Belize police sought McAfee for questioning. He fled the country and returned to prominence this year when he sought the nomination to be President of the United States under the Libertarian Party. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nanette Burstein (“On the Ropes,” “The Kid Stays in the Picture”) talks with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers at the Toronto International Film Festival where “Gringo” had its world premiere. The film will debut on Showtime on September 24.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers

“Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee”

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 21: Raoul Peck on James Baldwin

“I Am Not Your Negro,” directed by Raoul Peck and based on the writings of James Baldwin, made the list of Rolling Stone’s “25 Movies We Can’t Wait to See” at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This past week, the audience reception at the world premiere met those expectations. The film was acquired for distribution by Magnolia Pictures with plans to qualify for Oscar consideration. Thom Powers interviewed Peck during TIFF Doc Conference on September 13th. This episode presents an edited version of their conversation. Peck discusses how he gained access to Baldwin’s manuscript “Remember This House” that looks at three civil rights leaders – Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. The film connects their legacy to our times.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers

I Am Not Your Negro

PN 20: Women Directors at #TIFF16

“Girl Unbound” and “Karl Marx City” are among the documentaries directed by women making their world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Pure Nonfiction host and TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers talks to both directors.

In “Girl Unbound,” filmmaker Erin Heidenreich makes her feature-length debut profiling the Pakistani squash player Maria Toorpakai Wazir who has received death threats from the Taliban for being a prominent female athlete.

In “Karl Marx City,” veteran director Petra Epperlein explores her family’s history in East Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, her father received letters accusing him of collaboration with the notorious Stasi secret police. Petra and collaborator Michael Tucker dig into the Stasi archives to solve the family mystery.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers @girlunboundfilm @KarlMarxCity

Girl Unbound
Karl Marx City

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 19: New Docs on True Crime

“The Skyjacker’s Tale” and “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” are two new docs on crime and justice making their world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Pure Nonfiction host and TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers talks to both directors.

In “The Skyjacker’s Tale,” filmmaker Jamie Kastner profiles Ishmael Muslim Ali (aka Ishmael Labeet) who was among a group of men convicted for the Fountain Valley Massacre killing of eight people on the island of St. Croix in 1972. Ali professed his innocence and twelve years later, during a prison transfer, he managed to hijack a plane to Cuba where he still lives.

In “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” filmmaker Steve James (known for “Hoop Dreams” and “Life Itself”) investigates the aggressive prosecution of a bank in New York’s Chinatown. The Abacus bank was founded by the Chinese immigrant Thomas Sung. After the 2008 financial scandals, Abacus was the only bank to be prosecuted by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers @SkyjackersTale @AbacusMovie

The Skyjacker’s Tale
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 18: Jazz Legends on Screen

Trumpet player Lee Morgan was murdered at age 33. Saxophonist John Coltrane died of cancer at age 40. Now both these jazz greats are the subjects of ambitious new documentaries. Thom Powers interviews the filmmakers Kasper Collin (“I Called Him Morgan”) and John Scheinfeld (“Chasing Trane”) as we begin Season Two of Pure Nonfiction.

“I Called Him Morgan” explores the life of the prolific Blue Note recording artist best known for the crossover hit “Sidewinder,” who was killed by his common law wife Helen in 1972. “Chasing Trane” brings fresh perspective to the innovative saxophonist known for albums such as “Giant Steps” and “A Love Supreme.” Both films are playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) that takes place September 8-18.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers @tiff_net

I Called Him Morgan
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

Season Two Preview

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is just two weeks away. Pure Nonfiction will have extensive coverage of documentaries premiering at the festival. In this preview of the podcast’s Season Two, host Thom Powers samples upcoming conversations with filmmakers John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane), Steve James (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail), and Petra Epperlein (Karl Marx City), who are all debuting their work at TIFF. Pure Nonfiction will continue its weekly schedule every Thursday starting September 1st with episode 18 devoted to music documentaries at TIFF. Subscribe on iTunes and spread the word.

On Twitter: @purenonfiction @thompowers @tiff_net @karlmarxcity

Season Two is supported by the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) podcast network.

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