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.

PN 35 – Syrian Filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia In Exile

Before Trump’s travel ban for Syrians, we sat down with Orwa Nyrabia at the Sundance Film Festival where he was attending workshops. Three years ago, he produced “Return to Homs,” directed by Talal Derki, about the resistance movement in his hometown. The film won Sundance’s Jury Prize for World Documentary and is now available on Netflix.

In this conversation, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Orwa about his many activities in support of Arab documentary. Prior to Syria’s civil war, Orwa and his partner Diana El Jeiroudi co-founded the Damascus-based festival Dox Box. They took inspiration from the dissident Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay who comes up in this conversation.

In 2011, when Syrians took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations, Orwa helped organize a letter to denounce government violence co-signed by hundreds of international filmmakers. The following year, he was jailed for three weeks, prompting an international “Free Orwa” campaign that won his release. In addition to “Return to Homs,” he also produced “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait,” directed by Ossama Mohammad and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, that played at the 2014 Cannes and Toronto film festivals.

On Twitter: @orwany @doxbox_ngo @purenonfiction @thompowers

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 34: Island President Mohamed Nasheed in Exile

The Sundance Film Festival is always full of surprises. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers begins this episode with reflections on the 2017 festival and the real-life characters who passed through it.

The center of the episode is a wide-ranging interview with Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, who was profiled in the 2011 documentary “The Island President.” Nasheed was at Sundance to appear on a panel with Al Gore on climate change. Powers took the opportunity to conduct a wide-ranging interview about Nasheed’s overthrow by his opponents, his recent stint as a political prisoner and his current life in exile.

The episode concludes with an overview of the 2017 Academy Award nominations.

There are five Oscar nominees for Documentary Feature and all five directors have been featured on past episodes of Pure Nonfiction:

Ezra Edelman, “OJ: 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

In the Oscar Documentary Short category, we give a special shout out to “Joe’s Violin” director Kahane Cooperman who appeared on Pure Nonfiction’s first episode.

On Twitter: @MohamedNasheed @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

Sundance Now Panels

In Park City this week? Check out Thom Powers moderate two Sundance Now panels! Both panels are free to attend.

Take 5: A More Perfect Patriot Panel

When: Friday, January 20th 1:00-2:00pm

Where: the SundanceTV house (268 Main St, Park City, UT 8406)
Note: This location is different from the Sundance Lodge and is located up the street from the Egyptian Theatre.

Sundance Now’s boundary-pushing short film series Take 5 is back for its second season in Take 5: A More Perfect Patriot. The notion of patriotism remains at the forefront of American political discourse, at a time when the country is more divided than ever. Are the only true patriots the brave souls who put their lives on the line to defend the country’s enduring values? Or are those who challenge their country to live up to those values just as patriotic? The idea of patriotism is as fluid as it’s ever been and Sundance Now’s Take 5: A More Perfect Patriot brings together six filmmakers to discuss and challenge those definitions.

Jason Cohen
Keith Maitland
Kiran Deol
Razan Ghalayini
Jehane Noujaim
Jordan Ching


Getting Emotional with Documentary Filmmakers

When: Monday, January 23 from 1-2pm

Where: the SundanceTV house (268 Main St, Park City, UT 8406)
Note: This location is different from the Sundance Lodge and is located up the street from the Egyptian Theatre.

Four documentary makers with new films at Sundance discuss what it took to capture highly emotional moments on screen.

Jennifer Brea (Unrest)
Jonathan Olshefski (Quest)
Peter Nicks (The Force)
Lucy Walker (Untitled Buena Vista Social Club Documentary)

DOC NYC: November 9 – 16, 2017

DOC NYC burst upon the scene in 2010 with an inaugural event that was hailed as “ambitious” (New York Times) and “selective but eclectic” (Village Voice). By 2014, DOC NYC had become America’s largest documentary film festival and voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the “top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world”. Based at the West Village’s IFC Center, Chelsea’s SVA Theater and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema, the eight-day festival showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations. It also seeks to make connections that happen “only in New York.”

In 2016, the festival showcased 300+ films & events, presented by 300+ filmmakers & special guests. Past guests include Hillary Clinton, Jim Carrey, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, Big Bird, Sarah Polley, Jared Leto, Noam Chomsky, Ricki Lake, Michael Moore, Michel Gondry, Omar Epps, Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Franzen, Kathleen Hanna, Spandau Ballet, Greil Marcus, Grace Lee Boggs, Bela Fleck, Nat Hentoff, Chuck Workman, and The Mekons. Audience attendees have included Harry Belafonte, Rosario Dawson, Fred Armisen, Jim Jarmusch, Michael Stipe, Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Russell Simmons, Darren Aronofsky, Cornel West, Naomi Watts, among others.

PN 33: Inside Sundance w/ Josh Braun

The Sundance Film Festival remains a hot spot for launching documentary films. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers got an early look at several films premiering at the festival.

In Part One of the podcast, he previews prominent trends from the U.S. Documentary Competition represented by the films “Trophy”, “The Force” and “Strong Island”; and notable themes in the World Documentary Competition with films such as “Tokyo Idols”, “The Worker’s Cup” and “In Loco Parentis”.

In Part Two, Powers interviews the sales agent Josh Braun who runs Submarine Entertainment with his twin brother Dan. In his role as producer’s rep, Josh has played an instrumental role in negotiating the distribution deals of past Sundance hits such as “Man on Wire”, “Searching for Sugar Man”, and “20 Feet from Stardom” that all went on to win Oscars. He shares the stories behind those deals.

Josh took a circuitous route to his job. He talks about his early career playing music with his brother Dan in New York bands such as Circus Mort, the Del Byzanteens (with lead singer Jim Jarmusch), and Deep Six. He also discusses how he recorded a demo with Madonna in the early 1980s and what led him to into the documentary world.

At this year’s Sundance, Submarine brings a full slate of documentaries including “Whose Streets”, “Chasing Coral”, “Nobody Speaks”, and “Dina”. Josh also offers his insights into the current documentary marketplace.

2017 Sundance films discussed in Part 1:
In Loco Parentis
Strong Island
The Force
The Worker’s Cup
Tokyo Idols

On Twitter: @sundancefest @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF Podcast Network

PN 32: Laura Poitras & Henrik Moltke on Project X

What mystery lies behind the windowless building in Manhattan at 33 Thomas Street? In the short documentary “Project X,” Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”) teams with journalist Henrik Moltke to explore the building’s secrets. The film employs the voices of actors Rami Malek and Michelle Williams reading from NSA documents in the Snowden archives. Now streaming for free on Field of Vision, “Project X” complements an article in The Intercept written by Moltke and Ryan Gallagher called “Titanpointe: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight.” Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews the filmmakers about their collaboration and Poitras’ work with Snowden.

Watch: Project X

Read: “Titanpointe: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight”

On Twitter: @fieldofvision @moltke @purenonfiction @thompowers

This interview was conducted on November 28, 2016 at SVA’s MFA Social Documentary department.
Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 31: Race, History, Trump & Documentary

Bryan Stevenson, Raoul Peck & Ezra Edelman took part in a panel titled “American Histories,” moderated by Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers. It took place at the DOC NYC festival just three days after Donald Trump was elected President. The discussion covers three films – “I Am Not Your Negro,” directed by Peck; “OJ: Made in America,” directed by Edelman; and “13th” in which Stevenson (author of the book “Just Mercy”) is interviewed by filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

This conversation was a major highlight of DOC NYC, so we wanted to share it now, even though our podcast is mostly on break until Season Three begins in January.

For more on these films, listen to the previous Pure Nonfiction interviews with Ezra Edelman (ep 10); Raoul Peck (ep 21); and Ava DuVernay (ep 26) that cover different areas than this panel.

On Twitter: @13thfilm @eji_org @IAmNotYourNegro @ezraedelman @OJMadeInAmerica

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

PN 30: Madam President: Sheila Nevins on HBO Documentary Films

Sheila Nevins is a lover and a fighter. When she joined HBO in its early years, the label “documentary” evoked something educational. She turned it into something entertaining with her passion and tenacity. In this wide ranging interview with host Thom Powers, Nevins discusses her early days working with the Maysles brothers, her forays into “Real Sex,” her acquisition of “Citizenfour,” and HBO’s upcoming documentary “Marathon: The Patriot Days Bombing.” Always outspoken, Nevins doesn’t hold back: “I’m too old to give a shit.” (Nevins photo by Brigitte Lacombe).

This concludes Season Two of Pure Nonfiction. Watch for Season Three coming in January 2017.

Twitter: @thesheilanevins @HBOdocs @thompowers @purenonfiction

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

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