85: Maxim Pozdorovkin on Trump, Putin & Pussy Riot

During the 2016 US election, Russia Today offered a steady stream of English-language reports that disseminated to American audiences via YouTube and Facebook. Filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin digs into those reports and other Russian media coverage to offer an immersive look at propaganda in “Our New President.” The film was originally crafted as a short for Field of Vision, then expanded into a feature length work now playing festivals.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Pozdorovkin about his new film as well as his breakthrough work “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.”

This film was recorded in March 2018 at the Miami Film Festival.

On Twitter: @maximpoz @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

84: Matt Tyrnauer on “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”

Gore Vidal played a key role behind the scenes in helping Scotty Bowers tell his secret history of Hollywood. Starting in the 1940s, Scotty operated an infamous gas station in Hollywood where he would arrange sexual trysts for celebrities who needed to keep their gay, lesbian or bisexual lives hidden. With Vidal’s help, Scotty published his controversial memoir “Full Service” in 2012. Around that time, Vidal introduced Scotty to Vanity Fair writer and filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer. That started a two-year journey of making the film “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” that tells many facets of the story not covered in the book.

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talked to Tyrnauer about his friendship with Vidal, the making of “Scotty,” and why so many people are resistant to dismantling the myths of Hollywood.

Tyrnauer was previously interviewed on Pure Nonfiction #45 discussing his films “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” and “Valentino: The Last Emperor.” His upcoming film “Studio 54” will be released this fall; and his next documentary on political operative Roy Cohn is coming in 2019.

On Twitter: @mtyrnauer @scottythemovie @ScottyBowers @thompowers @PureNonfiction

This interview took place at the School of Visual Arts in the MFA Social Documentary Program.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

Note: This episode contains explicit content.

83: Jason Kohn on “Love Means Zero”

Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier and Kathleen Horvath are only a few of the champions who came out of Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy. Bollettieri ran a controversial program taking kids at a young age to live away from their parents, but he turned out more champions than any other coach. The new Showtime documentary “Love Means Zero”  questions what was the price of pursuing success?

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews filmmaker Jason Kohn about “Love Means Zero” as well as his first film “Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)” on escalating crime in Brazil. Jason also discusses his years directing television commercials and his early job working for Errol Morris.

This interview was recorded at the Miami Film Festival.

On Twitter: @jasonkilo @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Related: Errol Morris interviewed on episode 51 and episode 62.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

82: Kevin MacDonald on Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston had an angelic voice, but fought demons in her personal life. The new documentary “Whitney” explores her talents and tribulations. Filmmaker Kevin MacDonald previously directed the documentaries “Marley,” “Touching the Void,” and the Oscar-winning “One Day in September,” as well as the fiction film “The Last King of Scotland.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to MacDonald about creating a nuanced portrait of a complicated singer.

On Twitter: @Whitneythefilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction

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

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

81: “Three Identical Strangers” director Tim Wardle

Separated at birth, the triplets Bobby, Eddy and David discovered each other by accident at age 19 in 1980. They became media sensations. Madonna cast them in a movie and they opened a Manhattan restaurant called triplets. Their lives took many twists and turns that are documented in the film “Three Identical Strangers.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed British director Tim Wardle at the Miami Film Festival in March. The conversation avoids spoilers.

On Twitter: @ttwardle @thompowers @PureNonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

80: Jonathan Safran Foer & Christopher Quinn on “Eating Animals”

Relax, “Eating Animals” isn’t proselytizing for vegetarianism. But author Jonathan Safran Foer and filmmaker Christopher Quinn are asking you to think more seriously about factory farming. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Foer and Quinn touching upon how factory farmed meat affects our health, the environment and the economy. Foer also remembers his discussion with Anthony Bourdain on this topic.

On Twitter: @EatingAnimalsUS @thompowers @PureNonfiction

This interview was recorded at SVA MFA Social Documentary Program.

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

79: Judd Apatow on Garry Shandling

Comedian Garry Shandling is remembered for creating two ground-breaking TV shows: “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” He was also a key mentor to Hollywood writer and director Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”; “Knocked Up”). After Shandling’s death in 2016, Apatow gained access to his mentor’s diaries. He draws upon them for his two-part HBO documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.”

Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Apatow about Shandling and his search for meaning. Apatow gives credit to his collaborators including producer Michael Bonfiglio, editor Joe Beshenkovsky and composer Mike Andrews. He also invokes Doug Block’s documentary “51 Birch Street”  as an influence on putting diaries into a documentary.

The conversation touches upon the #MeToo movement and references two articles by Janis Hirsch:

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

78: Liz Garbus on The New York Times in “The Fourth Estate”

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus (“What Happened Miss Simone?”) follows The New York Times team of reporters and editors covering the first year of the Trump administration in the four-part Showtime series The Fourth Estate. Garbus talks to Pure Nonfiction  host Thom Powers about the making of the series. She was previously interviewed on episode 5.
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

77: Wim Wenders on Pope Francis

Buena Vista Social Club, Pina Bausch and Sebastiao Selgado are among Wim Wenders past documentary subjects. Now he profiles the head of the Catholic Church in “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” released in theaters by Focus Features. Wenders talks to Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers about the making of the film. He also reflects on the state of cinema (referencing his 1982 documentary “Room 666” set at the Cannes Film Festival) and discusses what worries him about America.
During this interview, Wenders refers to the Interrotron invented by Errol Morris. Hear Morris discuss his misbegotten attempt to patent the device on Pure Nonfiction episode 62.
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

76: Filming Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is profiled in the new documentary “RBG.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews the directing duo of Betsy West and Julie Cohen on Ginsburg’s career fighting for women’s rights. They discuss their personal experiences of enduring sexism in the worlds of broadcast news and public radio.

This interview was recorded during the Miami Film Festival at the offices of Rakontur. Thanks to sound recordist Khaleel Bailey.
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.
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