PN 45: Matt Tyrnauer on “Citizen Jane”

Jane Jacobs, author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” changed the way we think of urban planning. Matt Tyrnauer’s new documentary “Citizen Jane” tells the story of her epic battles with New York power broker Robert Moses.

On this episode, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Tyrnauer about the film and his previous documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” about the Italian fashion designer.

On Twitter: mtyrnauer @janejacobsdoc @thompowers @purenonfiction

This interview was recorded at SVA’s MFA Social Documentary program.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF Podcast Network.

PN 44: From Indiana Jones to Guatemala’s Civil War – Frank Marshall & Ryan Suffern

“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic World” and “Sully” are among Frank Marshall’s stellar producing credits. Now his company Kennedy/Marshall has a documentary division. Their latest film is “Finding Oscar” about the search for a boy who survived an infamous 1982 massacre in Guatemala’s civil war in the jungle hamlet of Dos Erres. The film’s director Ryan Suffern started his career as Steven Spielberg’s assistant and rose up to run the documentary division at Kennedy/Marshall.

On this episode, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Marshall and Suffern about the making of “Finding Oscar” (opening in theaters on April 14). The film played last fall at the Telluride and DOC NYC festivals.

On Twitter: @LeDoctor @suckatash23 @FindingOscarDoc @thompowers @PureNonfiction

This interview was recorded at SVA’s MFA Social Documentary program.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF Podcast Network.

PN 43: Laurent Bouzereau & Mark Harris on “Five Came Back”

Steven Spielberg is the executive producer for the new 3-part Netflix series “Five Came Back” about the Hollywood directors who put their fiction careers on hold during World War II as they went to make propaganda documentaries for the U.S. government. The five were Frank Capra, John Ford, William Wyler, George Stevens and John Huston.

On this episode, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers speaks with the key creators of the series, writer Mark Harris and director Laurent Bouzereau. The series is based on Harris’ book “Five Came Back.” Bouzereau has a long career directing documentaries about the making of Hollywood films, including several of Spielberg’s.

For the Netflix series, they enlisted contemporary Hollywood directors to talk on camera about their predecessors: Spielberg on Wyler; Guillermo Del Toro on Capra; Paul Greengrass on Ford; Lawrence Kasdan on Stevens; and Francis Ford Coppola on Huston.

Among the films discussed are Capra’s “Why We Fight”; Ford’s “The Battle of Midway”; Wyler’s “The Memphis Belle”; Huston’s “San Pietro” and “Let Their Be Light”; and also the lesser known contributions of African-American writer Carlton Moss to the film “The Negro Soldier.” All these films are streaming on Netflix for a limited time.

On Twitter: @MarkHarrisNYC @nedlandmedia @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network. This interview was recorded at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Social Documentary program.

PN 42: Made in Miami – Billy Corben & Alfred Spellman on “Cocaine Cowboys”

“Cocaine Cowboys” is a cult classic exploring the 1980s drug trade in Miami. Packaged like a gangster film, the documentary links the criminal underworld to the city’s real estate boom. On this episode of Pure Nonfiction, host Thom Powers interviews “Cocaine Cowboys” director Billy Corben and producer Alfred Spellman during the 2017 Miami Film Festival.

Both natives of south Florida, Corben and Spellman formed the production company Rakontur (along with editor David Cypkin) with a commitment to tell Miami stories. At age 22, they debuted at Sundance in 2001 with their first documentary “Raw Deal” about an alleged frat house rape. They followed with “Cocaine Cowboys” in 2006. Their other films include ESPN’s “The U” and “The U Part 2” about the rise and fall of the University of Miami’s football team; “Square Grouper” about Miami’s marijuana trade; and “Dawg Fight” about backyard fighters.

In this conversation, they discuss the making of “Cocaine Cowboys”; and reflect on Miami’s cultural sensations from the tourist-driven Art Basel to the homegrown Borscht Film Festival and the Oscar-winning “Moonlight.”

Learn more at Rakontur.com

On Twitter: @billycorben @alfredspellman @rakonturmiami @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF Podcast Network.

PN 41: Danae Elon on “P.S. Jerusalem”

Danae Elon’s latest film “P.S. Jerusalem” is a first person account of moving back to the city of her childhood after living abroad for 17 years. A key presence in the film is her late father Amos Elon who was a widely read author of books and essays on Israel. Before his death in 2009, he had become so disillusioned with the country that he moved to Italy and cautioned Danae not to move back. But she couldn’t resist the pull. She moves with her husband Philip and their three sons, documenting the city’s tensions and what it means to her family.

Her previous films “Partly Private” (about circumcision) and “Another Road Home” (about her childhood caregiver) also feature her family. In this interview with Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers, Elon reflects on her complicated relationship with Jerusalem and the challenges of having her family as subjects.

For more on “P.S. Jerusalem”: http://www.psjerusalem.com

On Twitter: @danaeelon1 @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network. Check out the new podcast TIFF Long Take interviewing key figures in the film world.

PN 40: “True South” – Jon Else on Henry Hampton & “Eyes on the Prize”

“Eyes on the Prize” is a landmark documentary series chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. Debuting on public television in 1987, it remains just as riveting 30 years later. Now the making of the series is covered in a new book called “True South” by the filmmaker-turned-author Jon Else. He gives a vivid portrait of the pioneering black filmmaker Henry Hampton and the Boston-based company Blackside that created “Eyes.”

Else has deep roots in this story. As a student in the sixties, he worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer voter registration drive. Else went on to direct the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Day After Trinity” about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb in 1980. Later, he joined the Blackside team to be a cameraman and series producer for “Eyes on the Prize.” Else has made other documentaries while teaching at the University of California in Berkeley.

On this episode, Else talks to Thom Powers about the making of “Eyes on the Prize” and capturing the experience in “True South.”

“True South” is published by Viking

“Eyes on the Prize” is available on DVD and on iTunes
On Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 39: Marina Zenovich on Roman Polanski & California’s water crisis

“Chinatown” created a mythology out of California’s water politics. Now Marina Zenovich investigates a modern version of that story in her documentary “Water & Power: A California Heist” airing on National Geographic. Her film, executive produced by Alex Gibney, draws upon the reportage of journalist Mark Arax, questioning the collusion between California politicians and Big Agriculture to transfer water rights into private hands. The film throws a spotlight on the deal-making of Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the landowners behind the Wonderful brand of pomegranates, almonds, and pistachios.

It’s no surprise that Zenovich would be attracted to a topic made mythical by “Chinatown” director Roman Polanski. She previously spent a decade profiling him in two films. Her breakthrough work “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) investigated the prosecution of Polanski for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Zenovich interviewed figures from all sides including Polanski’s attorney Douglas Dalton, prosecutor Roger Gunson, and the victim Samantha Geimer. The film raised troubling questions about Judge Rittenband whose erratic behavior in the case prompted Polanski to flee the United States. After Zenovich’s film gained worldwide attention, the Swiss police arrested Polanski again in 2009. She felt partially responsible and documented that saga in a follow up film called “Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out.”

On this episode, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Zenovich about her films on Polanski and her latest on California’s water. The conversation was recorded the day “Water & Power: A California Heist” had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

“Water & Power: A California Heist” opens theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on March 3 and debuts on National Geographic on March 14

“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” is available on HBO

“Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out” is available on iTunes

On Twitter: @MarinaZenovich @PureNonfiction @thompowers

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 38: Clay Tweel on “Gleason”

New Orleans Saints football player Steve Gleason became a sports hero one year after Hurricane Katrina when he blocked a kick that became a symbol of the city’s comeback. In 2011, he announced he had ALS – known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease – that typically causes death in two to five years. The documentary “Gleason” follows the athlete as he copes with the disease, supported by his wife Michel Varisco. The film has a strong theme about the meaning of fatherhood as we watch Gleason leave a video record for his young son Rivers.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews “Gleason” director Clay Tweel about the making of the film. This is Tweel’s fourth documentary after “Make Believe” about teenage magicians; “Print the Legend” about pioneers of 3D printing; and “Finders Keepers” about a bizarre dispute over a mummified leg. Tweel broke into documentary working as an associate producer on “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” directed by Seth Gordon who’s a producer on “Gleason.”

Other names that come up in this episode are “Gleason” cinematographers David Lee and Ty Minton-Small. And Tweel discusses his family connection to Muhammad Ali.

This episode was recorded at SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film Program.

On Twitter: @GleasonMovie @TeamGleason @PureNonfiction @thompowers

Thanks to our supporters True/False Film Fest. Subscribe to their new podcast: True/False Podcast
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 37: Oscar Nominees for Documentary Feature

Hear the five Oscar nominated directors for Documentary Feature. We present highlights from our past interviews with filmmakers Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”), Gianfranco Rosi (“Fire at Sea”), Ava DuVernay (“13th”), Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”), and Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”).

Want to hear even more? Listen to these episodes:

Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”) ep. 10
Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”) ep. 13
Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”) ep. 21
Ava DuVernay (“13th”) ep. 26
Gianfranco Rosi (“Fire at Sea”) ep. 28

On Twitter: @ezraedelman @RogerRossWill @IAmNotYourNegro @ava @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by TIFF podcast network.

PN 36 – John Heilemann on “Trumped”

John Heilemann, the veteran political reporter, is one of three creators – along with Mark Halperin and Mark McKinnon – of the new Showtime documentary “Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time.” The project draws upon their reportage from the weekly series “The Circus” that spanned the entire campaign season over 26 episodes. Heilemann and Halperin are also known for their books including the best-seller “Game Change” about the 2008 election. In this interview, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Heilemann about his evolution from print to television. They discuss influential campaign documentaries including “Primary,” “The War Room,” and “Mitt”; balancing political coverage between the issues and the soap opera; and navigating relationships with Trump insiders like campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

On Twitter: @jheil @MarkHalperin @SHO_TheCircus @SHO_Docs @thompowers @purenonfiction

Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time

The Circus

Article: “The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates” by Thom Powers

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

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