Category Archives for Latest Episodes

PN 65: Sam Pollard on Sammy Davis Jr, Spike Lee & St. Clair Bourne

Sam Pollard reflects on collaborating with Spike Lee, Henry Hampton and St. Claire Bourne; and on directing his latest film “Sammy Davis Jr: I Gotta Be Me.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Pollard at TIFF Doc Conference in September 2017. You can watch an extended version of this interview at TIFF Originals on YouTube.

Hear Jon Else discuss Henry Hampton’s work on “Eyes on the Prize” on episode 40.

“Sammy Davis Jr: I Gotta Be Me” had its world premiere at TIFF. It’s currently playing film festivals and will come to PBS American Masters in the fall.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 64: First Person Documentary with Yance Ford, Bryan Fogel & Jeff Orlowski

Directors Yance Ford (“Strong Island”), Bryan Fogel (“Icarus”) and Jeff Orlowski (“Chasing Coral”) each put themselves on camera in different ways. The three filmmakers sat down with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers at the DOC NYC festival last November to discuss how they chose their first person approach.

In “Strong Island,” Ford investigates the 1992 murder of his older brother William and reflects on racial bias in the American justice system.

In “Icarus,” Bryan Fogel sets out to examine sports doping by testing a drug regimen on himself as a bicyclist. In the process, he meets Russian doping expert Grigory Rodchenkov and they uncover an Olympic scandal.

In “Chasing Coral,” Jeff Orlowski teams with undersea divers to document the destruction of coral reefs due to the ocean’s rising temperatures. The film is a follow up to his previous work “Chasing Ice” about the melting of glaciers.

All three films are available on Netflix. Both “Strong Island” and “Icarus” are Oscar-nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

For more, hear our previous interview with Yance Ford on Pure Nonfiction #59.

On Twitter: @yford @StrongIslandDoc @bryanfogel @IcarusNetflix @chasingcoral @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 63: Tabitha Jackson + 2018 Sundance Preview

The Sundance Film Festival is always a great place for documentary discoveries. This year features new films about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Fred Rogers, Imagine Dragons, Kronos Quartet and more. Pure Nonfiction founders Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen have gotten an early look at several Sundance premieres and have 11 recommendations. Even if you won’t be in Park City, you can look forward to these films being released later this year.
In the second half of the show, Powers interviews Tabitha Jackson, the head of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program that provides vital funding and support for filmmakers. The interview took place as part of DOC NYC PRO in November.
Films discussed in this episode (in order of mention):
Three Identical Strangers
The Imposter
American Animals
The Sentence
On Her Shoulders
Minding the Gap
Our New President
Clinica de Migrantes
Shirkers
Believer
RBG
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
306 Hollywood
A Thousand Thoughts
Cameraperson
I Am Not Your Negro
Faces Places
On Twitter: @sundancefest @thompowers @purenonfiction
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 62: Errol Morris, Brett Morgen & Ceyda Torun on Documentary Style

From “Wormwood” to “Jane” to “Kedi,” documentary directors are making bold stylistic choices. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers led a discussion titled “Finding the Style For the Story” at the DOC NYC festival in November 2017. The guests are filmmakers Ceyda Torun (“Kedi”), Brett Morgen (“Jane”) and Errol Morris (“Wormwood”). They discuss how they achieve their distinct visual and aural approaches.
On Twitter: @errolmorris @brettmorgen @catsinistanbul @thompowers @purenonfiction @docnycfest
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.
For more, listen to:
Try our other podcast:
Documentary of the Week, produced by WNYC.
If you’re in New York City, join us for Stranger Than Fiction’s winter season (Feb-March) on Tuesday nights at the IFC Center.

PN 61: Jennifer Brea on “Unrest”

The Oscar Documentary Feature Short List of 15 films includes the underdog entry “Unrest” by first time director Jennifer Brea. Her film explores the disease commonly known as “chronic fatigue syndrome” – a name many patients resent as misleading. The official name is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or M.E. Jennifer contracted the disease in her late 20s just as she was about to be married to her husband Omar Wasow. Her film chronicles her struggles and highlights the overlooked population of other people who suffer from it. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Brea during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where the film had its premiere. It’s now playing on iTunes, Amazon and other platforms.
On Twitter: @jenbrea @unrestfilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction
Unrest website: www.unrest.film
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 60: Alex Gibney & Blair Foster on “Rolling Stone”

John Lennon, Tina Turner, Hunter Thomspon and Annie Leibovitz are among the many figures covered in the new 2-part HBO documentary “Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge.” Filmmakers Alex Gibney and Blair Foster talk to Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers about telling the magazine’s 50-year history. The conversation also touches upon “Sticky Fingers,” the recent biography  written by Joe Hagan about Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. The documentary and book are separate projects that shed light on the magazine in different ways.

On Twitter: @alexgibneyfilms @JigsawProds @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 59: Yance Ford on “Strong Island”

Winner of the Gotham Awards for Best Documentary, “Strong Island” investigates the 1992 killing of filmmaker Yance Ford’s brother William in Long Island. With a black victim and a white shooter, race was a key factor in the case. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Yance about how the Ford family felt betrayed by the justice system. “Strong Island” is now streaming on Netflix.

On Twitter: @yford @thompowers @PureNonfiction

This interview was recorded at SVA MFA Social Documentary program in New York City.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 58: Brett Morgen on Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is the subject of the new documentary “Jane” that draws upon rediscovered footage from the 1960s capturing her early work with chimpanzees. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to “Jane” director Brett Morgen at TIFF Doc Conference about the challenges of making the film and working with composer Philip Glass.

Brett Morgen’s films discussed in this episode
“On the Ropes” (1999)
“The Kid Stays in the Picture” (2002)
“Chicago 10” (2007)
“Crossfire Hurricane” (2012)
“Cobain: Montage of Heck” (2015)
“Jane” (2017)

Also discussed: “For All Mankind,” directed by Al Reinert with a score by Brian Eno.

On Twitter: @BrettMorgen @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 57: DOC NYC Preview

Eric Clapton, Susan Sarandon, Dan Rather are among over 300 special guests coming to the 8th annual DOC NYC festival, running from November 9-16. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers is the festival’s artistic director. On his episode, he interviews his colleagues Raphaela Neihausen and Basil Tsiokos to guide listeners through the bounty of films and guests. Even if you won’t be in New York City for the festival, this conversation is full of film tips and discoveries.
FILMS DISCUSSED IN THE INTRO HIGHLIGHTING SPECIAL GUESTS AT DOC NYC

Streetlight Harmonies (with Doo Wop singers from The Crystals, The Drifters, The Chantels)

Soufra (with Susan Sarandon)
Fail State (with Dan Rather)
Maddman: The Steve Madden Story (with Steve Madden)
Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco (with Pat Cleveland)
Metropolis Competition (on New York stories)
Itzhak (with Itzhak Perlman)
Hello Hello Hello : Lee Ranaldo : Electric Trim (with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo)
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars (with Eric Clapton)
Short List section
Risk (with Laura Poitras)
Faces Places (with Agnès Varda)
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (with Errol Morris)
Wormwood (with Errol Morris)

FILMS & FESTIVAL SECTIONS DISCUSSED

The Final Year (opening night)
New World Order section
Eurotrump (US premiere)
Sky & Ground (world premiere)
Fight the Power section
Baltimore Rising
Sonic Cinema section
David Bowie: The Last Five Years (US premiere)
The Beatles, Hippies & Hell’s Angels (US premiere)
Father’s Kingdom (world premiere)
Repeat Attenders (world premiere)
Centerstage section
A Murder in Mansfield (world premiere)
True Crime section
Zero Weeks

VIEWFINDERS COMPETITION FILMS 

Viewfinders Pass
Mole Man (world premiere)
The Stranger (US premiere)
Naila and the Uprising (world premiere)
The Judge (also discussed on PN 54)
Silas (also discussed on PN 54)
Love Means Zero (also discussed on PN 53)
Love, Cecil
This is Congo

Coming up on Pure Nonfiction ep 58: a discussion of DOC NYC PRO 8-day conference.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

This episode was recorded at SVA’s MFA SocDoc department.

PN 56: Agnès Varda & JR on “Faces Places”

Winner of the Cannes Golden Eye Documentary Award, “Faces Places” is a wondrous collaboration between the 89-year-old Agnès Varda and the 34-year-old street artist known as JR. In the film, they visit small towns in France, creating mural projects that celebrate workers on farms, docks and factory grounds. We also witness the deepening of their friendship across generations. The film, now in theaters, was selected for the DOC NYC Short List that highlights 15 of the year’s standout documentaries. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers (who served on the Cannes Golden Eye jury) interviews Varda and JR about their journey.
 

You can find Varda’s past work on Sundance Now and Filmstruck.

On Twitter: @facesplacesfilm @jrart @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

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