Answering the Call from Herman in ‘The Deeper They Bury Me’

Sometimes a story is so tragic that it needs multiple media versions to encompass its depths and traumas more fully. Herman Wallace’s more than 40 years of solitary confinement offers just that kind of story. Solitary confinement isolates a prisoner within a 6-by-9-foot cell for 22-24 hours a day. Prison guards provide the only human… Read More Answering the Call from Herman in ‘The Deeper They Bury Me’

Superglue-ing Dead Flies to Create Reality: Two Wildlife Filmmakers’ Memoirs

Nature documentaries can be amazing: The majestic scenery, the wild bird’s melodic call, the killer snake’s dramatic close-up, the lion’s gruesome assault on the savanna. But these documentaries’ awesome spectacles hide the obstacles that go into capturing them. While human participants generally offer some degree of decorum, animals don’t sign consent agreements or take direction.… Read More Superglue-ing Dead Flies to Create Reality: Two Wildlife Filmmakers’ Memoirs

Book Goes Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Connected Documentary Productions

Documentary production processes differ greatly from the more streamlined (factory?) approaches of mainstream fiction media. Without the written script, paid actors, and deep budgets, documentary makers face many variables that might advance, pause, or change a film’s progress. Some of those variables might even halt the film’s production altogether. Learning about what happens on other… Read More Book Goes Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Connected Documentary Productions

Navigating Violence and Alma’s Story in an Interactive Documemtary

In order to make interactive documentary reviews more focused and systematic, I will use the following outline: platform(s) used, story and structure, user role, navigation directions, navigation execution, and overall comments. Released first in 2011, Alma: A Tale of Violence represents my first application of this approach. Alma: A Tale of Violence is an interactive… Read More Navigating Violence and Alma’s Story in an Interactive Documemtary

Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience

With every new blockbuster arrives a bevy of branded media, merchandise, and cross-promotions. Soundtracks, television specials, DVDs, and novelizations expand your media collections. Elsa dolls, Batman key chains, and Shrek Twinkies extend your movie experience while they shrink your wallet. Sometimes, you have to wonder if Hollywood will ever let it go. Documentaries for the… Read More Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience

‘My Life I Don’t Want’ Tells Story through Girls’ Eyes

My favorite film from last month’s Speechless Film Festival is My Life I Don’t Want, created by Nyan Kyal Say. The appeal of My Life I Don’t Want lies in its simplicity in story and style, though that simplicity also belies much complexity about girls’ experiences in Myanmar and elsewhere. My Life I Don’t Want… Read More ‘My Life I Don’t Want’ Tells Story through Girls’ Eyes

Speechless Film Festival Offers Marathon Viewing with 52 Films in 24 hours

Serving as an audience jury member for a film festival makes for quite a different experience from playing octopus at the information booth. I watched 52 films in less than 24 hours during the Speechless Film Festival in Mankato, Minnesota, in mid-March. Celebrating its fifth year, the Speechless Film Festival focuses on the art of… Read More Speechless Film Festival Offers Marathon Viewing with 52 Films in 24 hours

Frozen River Film Festival Maintains Strong Commitment to Regional Identity and Documentary

My first time volunteering for a film festival introduced me to rural festival culture and helped me perfect my octopus impersonation. In February 2017, I volunteered for the information desk at the Frozen River Film Festival in Winona, Minnesota. Winona nestles among the bluffs along the Mississippi River. Sugar Loaf, a unique bluff on the… Read More Frozen River Film Festival Maintains Strong Commitment to Regional Identity and Documentary

The Stories Documentary Archives Tell

While watching old documentaries provides an interesting look into nonfiction film history, sometimes the coolest discoveries lurk in dusty cardboard filing boxes. This summer I enjoyed the opportunity to delve into Kartemquin Films‘ archives. Kartemquin has been busy making documentaries for more than 50 years, and with three new titles so far in 2016 alone,… Read More The Stories Documentary Archives Tell

Exhibit Highlights 50 years of Kartemquin Films History

“Kartemquin Films: Democracy through Documentary, 1966-2016” is a retrospective highlighting 50 years of Kartemquin history. The exhibit is available at Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St., Chicago. I had the chance to check it out when I visited the windy city a couple weeks ago. Centered around themes of craft, community, and change, the curated… Read More Exhibit Highlights 50 years of Kartemquin Films History