After two years of preparation, the visual journalism wing of The Intercept goes public this month, led by an episodic series directed by Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras (Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour) that offers a dramatic firsthand chronicle of the events that led Julian Assange to seek asylum in London, set to premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27. During this calm before the storm, Poitras was joined by her two collaborators — fellow filmmaker AJ Schnack (Caucus, We Always Lie to Strangers, co-founder of the Cinema Eye Honors) and Charlotte Cook, until recently the director of programming for Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto — to talk about their vision for Field of Vision, the glories of working in shorter forms, and the richly fertile ground between cinema and journalism.

Where did the idea for Field of Vision come from, and what was the motivation behind it?

Laura Poitras: In 2013, when I was reporting on the Snowden material, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and I decided to work together. What I wanted to do is use visual journalism in a different kind of way. I proposed a structure where we had a really small team that would commission work that would expand the language of visual journalism. I was in the process of editing Citizenfour, and when I finished that I reached out to Charlotte and AJ to see if they wanted to build this unit with me. I’ve known them both for many years, and in terms of their skills and knowledge of the documentary community, both have such vast experience. Field of Vision is very much a collaboration.

Why open this up to a wider community of filmmakers instead of taking the standard TV news tack of working with a fixed crew?

AJ Schnack: It seemed like a great time to engage the community in a way that was different from the ways that they tend to be engaged. For a lot of people, the notion of doing something in the short form and also quickly responding to something that’s happening in the world is something that, as both an exercise and as a way to create a piece of art, is somewhat new. Not just have a team of five filmmakers who will constantly churn stuff out, but instead to say — here’s an event happening right now in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s a filmmaker who would be perfect for it. Let’s call them and get them in the field next week. That was something that was really interesting to us, as a way of getting a bunch of different perspectives, as well as different people’s styles of nonfiction.

Poitras: We’re trying to be creatively exploratory. We’re very much approaching this as filmmakers and creative people. We are interested in intersections between visual storytelling and newsgathering, and how writing and video journalism can work together. When we think of things that inspire us, it’s like Life magazine, which was such a great platform for photography and print, or World In Action, a British series that was responding to events as they were unfolding in very cinematic ways.

Charlotte Cook: Traditionally, art hasn’t been seen as having a place within journalistic filmmaking. But Laura and AJ’s work shows this isn’t the case — that it can have a place. We’re really excited about pairing very artistic filmmaking with journalism.

Schnack: We also like the challenge aspect of it. Laura and I worked together, along with a bunch of other filmmakers, on a film called Convention, and it was in many ways an exercise. It was like, here’s your camera, here’s your assignment — go.

Poitras: With Convention, AJ invited filmmakers that he trusted to work in a verité style to film the 2008 Democratic Convention. We had less than a week on the ground — we didn’t have time to prep. We’d all go out and shoot and then at the end of the day we’d debrief. It’s an experience that’s scary, but it’s also creatively exciting — not doing just what you know, what’s safe or predictable. It’s also great because oftentimes working in long form is really tough. It’s like a marathon. We don’t get to use our chops as much as we want to. So to be on the ground, trying to do things with a quicker turnaround, we can respond to the world around us more quickly, and also the life cycle of the creative process is accelerated.

Cook: The beauty of this form is that it allows filmmakers to play with the craft. They’re not putting three years into a feature, they’re doing a short film, and they can think about perhaps different ways that they’ve never told stories before. We’re keen on looking at things from a different perspective, whether it’s a story that people are familiar with, or something that perhaps hasn’t been covered properly. And then being able to work with different kinds of artists, photojournalists, and data-literate journalists, to really see how people think visually about topical stories.

Poitras: We’re also excited about working with other journalists at The Intercept. For instance, Jeremy and Glenn do incredible reporting, let’s assign filmmakers to work with them.

We’re interested in visually driven storytelling. It doesn’t need to be verité. It could be data visualization. How do you communicate about the world through the tools that are available to us, as people who work in a visual medium? How can we understand the world differently through images? We’re going to have different interests among us, and I’m interested in a journalism component, a news component, in being responsive. I definitely have a leaning towards that, as opposed to something that’s just purely poetic and visual. I want that news edge, that journalism edge. But I don’t want it to be all that either.

Do you see it as potentially a news-breaking outlet?

Poitras: Absolutely. If people come to us with something that’s breaking that’s visual, we’d be really interested in doing that. Yet everything we do has to have relevance beyond the news cycle. We’re not interested in just feeding the news cycle — we want things that have resonance beyond that.

With the long process of making a feature film, there can often be a stage of, ok, that didn’t really work so let’s go edit for another three months. That would seem harder to do here, considering the quicker turnaround and timeliness of some stories.

Poitras: We’re not going to publish anything that’s not ready. There’s one particular filmmaker working on access right now, and this was a film we had hoped would be ready early, but we’re just going to be patient because we all know that access is worth being patient for. We understand the filmmaking process, and that sometimes things can’t happen quickly. But we also like the idea of working with a faster turnaround — that is very exciting to us.

Cook: That’s why World In Action has been an inspiration for us. They had many ongoing productions at a time, so they weren’t bound by, “We must have something tomorrow.” Some will take a little bit longer, others will happen very fast.

Are you mainly pursuing filmmakers with stories or will they come to you as well?

Poitras: It’s everything.

Cook: We’ve led the story so far, but it’s going to be fascinating to see what comes in once we launch. To see the hive-mind of the filmmaking community look at what we’re doing and interpret it in their own way.

Schnack: We’re less interested in someone who’s already made a film giving us a piece of it, or riffing on that. We’re not a film fund, and we’re not here to help people get their development money for their feature. But maybe somebody’s in the middle of working on a project — let’s say the film itself isn’t going to be out for four or five years — and there’s some piece of it that really should be told right now.

Cook: Or there’s a sideline story that doesn’t quite fit into their feature that they’re desperately trying to get out there. Every filmmaker I’ve ever met has told of stories they would love to have made, but that just didn’t work as a feature.

Schnack: As filmmakers we have ideas all the time, but a lot of our challenge is determining, “Is it an hour? Is it 90 minutes? And what’s the commitment that’s going to be made to figure out what that is?” And you know if it’s a feature, you have to raise a bunch more money, because you have to be able to do a lot more shooting. I think it would be freeing if you thought there’s an interesting story happening and maybe it’s only a 5-minute film. Maybe it’s 10. There’s not really a process that exists in our world where you can say — there’s a story happening next week and I want to go out and shoot it, and these people over here are interested in making that film with you. A lot of the system that’s been set up is more related to, “Oh that sounds good — go film it and then come back to us and then we’ll talk about it.”

Of the first batch of films you’ve commissioned, there’s a variety in terms of length and structure. What do you envision in terms of form?

Cook: We really want to experiment. We’re very free in that we’re not bound by a broadcast schedule. We’re not bound by deadlines. We can choose when we go.

Schnack: We’re also really excited about episodic, multipart or thematic storytelling. Some projects that grow into something that should be a little longer, others can be told over two parts, or over a week of episodes, or via an episode each week. How you tell stories is one of the great things we’re all wrestling with right now. So how great to not feel bound by it needing to be this one thing. It could be 13 episodes, or it could be three parts. It could be five different filmmakers with different takes on an idea or event.

Poitras: Or it could be a project that’s one shot. I’m not sure that it should always have an arc. Maybe it only has a beginning. And there’s no middle or end. Or there’s only Act 2. I’m really interested in not always arcing things out, not having a resolution at the end. An episodic approach can be an example of that — the end is handing off to something else. This is something that will grow as we try things. Some things are going to work and some things aren’t. We’re going to be open to saying you know that film’s not quite working, and that’s fine. But what we want to do is take risks. Let’s think differently about how structure can work.

Cook: It could even be a moment — something that really makes people think in one moment. We’re open to everything from 30 seconds to full episodic.

Poitras: I also want to reach out to fiction filmmakers to work on nonfiction. Mix things up and see what people come back with.

Laura, can you talk a bit about your upcoming series about Julian Assange? It’s my understanding that you hadn’t necessarily conceived of that footage as an episodic series.

Poitras: After finishing Citizenfour, AJ, Charlotte and I started talking about the things that excite us in terms of the storytelling form. We all really love episodic as a way of telling stories. Where it’s like reading a novel — you put it down and go about your life but it’s still in your head, and then you return to it. So we said let’s look for stories that can be told in an episodic way, or that could be linked thematically. Afterwards I began thinking I have this really incredible narrative with Julian Assange that I’d filmed, which led up to him seeking political asylum in the embassy in London. The first assembly of Citizenfour included Snowden’s story and Julian, but in editing it became clear it was a separate film. In many ways it foreshadows Citizenfour. My experience of watching how Assange handled the release of the information, how he partnered with all these different media, etc. So then I emailed Charlotte and AJ and said I have this idea. What if we do a series about Julian?

Cook: That email kind of blew our minds. AJ and I were chatting online and we were like, is this for real?

Poitras: The experience we have with episodic storytelling is unique, it’s a different type of experience for the audience than long form. I’m a huge fan of House of Cards — you can’t stop watching it. It’s really exciting as a storyteller to work in that form.

Laura, you’ve worked on several occasions with The New York Times on their Op-Docs short film series. What was your experience with that, and how do you see this enterprise as distinguishing itself from what they do?

Poitras: What Jason Spingarn-Koff did at the Times was really fantastic — bringing in independent filmmakers and raising the dialogue and sophistication around nonfiction storytelling. It really does inform this. And it also informed me as a creative person, to be able to tell a story quicker, to be able to work within a shorter creative life cycle. On Death of a Prisoner, I combined new footage with footage I’d shot in Yemen in 2007, and it was published on the 11-year anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. As an American I want to keep reminding people Guantánamo is still open. But how many long-form films can you make about it? So let’s do short form. And so this is very much informed by that. But we also want to do something different. We want to do original stories, new works.

How are the three of your working together on this? Do you have separate emphases and approaches, or are you all doing it all?

Poitras: We’re co-collaborators. We’re working under the umbrella of The Intercept — the fact checking and the final editorial will be through that. But we have the ability to greenlight projects within our unit. In terms of the process, with rough cuts we all weigh in to the filmmakers and give our individual opinions. So they have to wrestle with that, to decide what resonates and doesn’t, and deal with sometimes contradictory opinions. But then we give notes on the final edit in a collective way.

Cook: It’s very important that two-thirds of us are filmmakers. Because there’s no other unit right now doing this that’s filmmaker driven. That we’ve set this up so that Laura and AJ can keep working and making films is incredibly important. That leaves me with some time to look for talent and start bringing people in. Traditionally my background is journalism, and programming kind of came out of the blue. This pairs both of those things really nicely. We’re in a vacuum as programmers, so being able to build things and look at exhibition in a different way is exciting.

Laura and AJ, in terms of your own filmmaking, how will you determine what to work on for The Intercept, and what to pursue outside of it?

Schnack: We’ll both have ideas that will feel right for this project. But there will also be ideas that are definitely features, and those won’t be part of this. I’m going to keep doing some of the political work that I’m doing, and that won’t be part of Field of Vision. There will also be ideas that we’ll get to assign to other filmmakers. I think the reason why it makes sense for the three of us to do this is not only our love of documentary film but also our love for making connections within our community, being available to filmmakers and encouraging young talent.

Have you tried to structure things in a way that’s supportive to filmmakers?

Cook: From the moment Laura came to us about this it was agreed that it has to be filmmaker friendly. We have to make sure they have a good experience and feel like it’s nothing but beneficial to them.

Poitras: We’re licensing the work itself that’s coming to us, but the rushes, the footage, the copyright, stays with the filmmaker. Filmmakers can devote a decade to a set of themes or stories, so we’re just licensing that particular work — we’re not trying to restrict what filmmakers can do in other ways. We’re open to working with some projects that could potentially become long form, but we are not a development fund for features.

Cook: It’s more like something that organically comes out of a story, rather than somebody having a feature in mind and us supporting that. Also we’re very conscious of making sure to pay what these cost to make.

Poitras: We’ll agree on the budget, and they’ll allocate how they see fit.

Schnack: We’re not expecting filmmakers to donate their time to make these films. If it takes them a month of their lives, then their expenses for the month should be covered in the work. That’s another thing — as filmmakers, a lot of time people think they’re doing you a favor by providing you a platform. It’s important to us that we don’t have that perspective. People need to pay the bills.

How do you think about this enterprise in terms of audience?

Cook: I think about audience all the time. Audience has been my obsession for my entire career. I’ve been one of those creepy people who stand at the back of every screening I can get to. You know — what are they laughing at, what are they responding to, who’s coming to this screening? It’s been interesting seeing how documentary has evolved, and how filmmakers are having to adapt to the online space. We really have to. Because as much as filmmakers love traditional distribution — and I think that we should always protect and fight for that, because it’s incredibly important — we also have to think about where the audience is right now. And a lot of it is online. So to be able to have filmmakers play with this is going to be really interesting. Hopefully we’re bringing art into this space, and maybe broadening the audience for that kind of filmmaking. Which is the most important thing for me. The kinds of people who watch visual journalism online probably aren’t going to be used to our approach. We’re opening a different kind of visual medium, and that’s only going to benefit the documentary community at large.

You don’t feel obliged to meet the traditional expectations for visual journalism?

Cook: No. I think people always underestimate audiences for documentary. It’s something I’ve heard from broadcasters and distributors — that there isn’t an audience for this. And that’s not my experience. People are desperate to see interesting, beautiful content, and it’s just very hard to find. So hopefully by having this amazing platform, we’re going to actually give people what they want.

Schnack: In nonfiction storytelling, the thing that people always seem to respond to in the biggest way always seems to be the thing that a month prior everybody said no one’s interesting in consuming or viewing. Then all of a sudden it’s like, oh, we need that. We should do that kind of thing.

Cook: The audience is always ahead of those people who say there’s not an audience for documentary. We’ve heard that so much, and it’s just not true. The moment people are aware of what’s out there they go and see it. Because they’re always looking for interesting filmmaking that makes them think and makes them look at things in a new way. They are there. It’s a myth that they’re not.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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Field of Vision announces today a new fellowship and its first-ever artist-in-residence. 

The Field of Vision fellowship is a year-long, collaborative program designed to support filmmakers in achieving their long-term artistic goals. The four 2018 Field of Vision fellows are: director Garrett Bradley (AloneBelow Dreams); director, actor, and activist Michelle Latimer (RiseChoke); filmmaker Charlie Lyne (Fish StoryBeyond Clueless); and Lyric Cabral, director of the Emmy-winning documentary (T)error.

“We are establishing this fellowship program to support filmmakers beyond project-based commissions, and to invite artists to collaborate in our editorial process," said Field of Vision executive producer Laura Poitras.  

The first year of fellows were selected from filmmakers who had worked with Field of Vision over the last three years. In addition to creating a framework for idea development, creative support, and a grant, Field of Vision will conduct workshops throughout the year in the areas of digital security, research, and legal issues. Fellows will also be invited to participate in Field of Vision’s editorial process, from identifying urgent stories to offering filmmaker feedback and guidance.

“We have wanted to support filmmakers in as many ways as possible since the beginning of Field of Vision,” said executive producer Charlotte Cook. “We are so thrilled to create these fellowships to be able to collaborate further with these incredible artists, all of whom are visionaries whose work is at the forefront of exploring the ways of combining art and storytelling and expanding the form.”

In addition to the four fellows, Field of Vision and First Look Media are jointly supporting data artist Josh Begley as an artist-in-residence in 2018. On staff at The Intercept since 2014, Begley has regularly collaborated with the publication’s co-founder Jeremy Scahill on multiple projects, including The Drone Papers. Begley’s first project as artist-in-residence is Concussion Protocol, a short film made with footage of all reported concussions sustained in the NFL this season. It has been viewed over 1.6 million times. 

January was a landmark month for Field of Vision. Yance Ford’s Strong Island, made with support from Field of Vision, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, marking the first nomination for an openly transgender director. 

Five Field of Vision-supported documentaries also screened at Sundance Film Festival, and three received special jury awards: Steve Maing’s Crime + Punishment; RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening; and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s Our New President

Founded in 2015, Field of Vision has funded over 70 shorts and provided support for 10 feature documentaries. Field of Vision is the recipient of the International Documentary Association’s Best Short Form Series award and a News and Documentary Emmy nomination. 

About the Fellows:

Garrett Bradley

Garrett Bradley is a New Orleans-based filmmaker. Her debut feature documentary,Below Dreams, premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Her work has been exhibited in several prominent venues, including the Getty Museum, Hammer Museum, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Festival du Nouveau Cinema Montreal, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rooftop Films, New Orleans Film Festival, Hot Docs, and SXSW. Her short film Alone (Sundance 2017), which was released as part of the New York Times’s Op-Docs series, won a Sundance Jury Award and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. She has received fellowships from the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation, and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Garrett is also the co-founder of Creative Council, an artist-led afterschool program that helps high school students develop strong portfolios and applications for college. She currently teaches filmmaking at Loyola University.

Recent Field of Vision films: Like (SXSW 2016), The Earth is Humming (to be released)

Lyric Cabral

Director Lyric R. Cabral creates investigative work that exposes new information for the public record. Cabral’s directorial debut (T)error won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Documentary and was hailed by Variety as "a vital exposé.” (T)error has screened at more than 50 film festivals worldwide and is now available on Netflix. Lyric is a recipient of the International Documentary Association’s Emerging Filmmaker Award and has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. A current Rockwood/ Just Films Fellow, Lyric is a former Sundance Women in Film Fellow and a veteran of Sundance Institute’s Edit Lab and Creative Producing Lab. Prior to making films, Lyric worked as an editorial photojournalist; her photography was recently on exhibit in Gordon Parks: The Making of An Argument at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

Recent Field of Vision film: The Rashomon Effect (in production)

Michelle Latimer

Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin) is a Toronto-based writer, director, activist, and actor. Her body of work includes Choke (Sundance 2011), which received a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Honorable Mention in International Short Filmmaking and was chosen as one of TIFF Canada’s Top Ten in 2012; The Underground (TIFF 2014); Nimmikaage (Oberhausen 2016); the feature-length documentary ALIAS, which was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award; and the Viceland docuseries Rise (Sundance 2017). Michelle is currently working on her first dramatic feature The Freedom Project, adapting the bestselling novel The Inconvenient Indian (HBO/NFB) for screen, and being the showrunner for the seriesRed Nation Rising, which is in development for Sienna. She has programmed for ImagineNATIVE, Hot Docs Film Festival, and the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.

Recent Field of Vision film: Nuuca (TIFF 2017, Sundance 2018)

Charlie Lyne

Charlie Lyne is a filmmaker and film critic, best known for the essay films Beyond Clueless and Fear Itself. He has also directed a number of shorts, including the award-winning documentary Fish Story, and the 10-hour protest film Paint Drying. His work has screened at festivals including Sundance, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and SXSW.

Recent Field of Vision film: Personal Truth (IDFA 2017)

About the Artist-in-Residence:

Josh Begley

Josh Begley is a data artist and app developer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the creator of Metadata+, an iPhone app that tracks U.S. drone strikes. Begley’s work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, NPR, The Atlantic, The Intercept, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and at the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Recent Field of Vision films: Best of Luck with the Wall (Doc Stories 2016, True/False 2017), Concussion Protocol

Field_Notes

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American football is a beautiful sport. There’s a tremendous amount of grace that goes into it. For a moment, men can fly; the highlight reels are spectacular.

It can also be horrific — like watching someone get hit by a car.

Since the season started, there have been more than 280 concussions in the NFL. That is an average of 12 concussions per week. Though it claims to take head injuries very seriously, the National Football League holds this data relatively close. It releases yearly statistics, but those numbers are published in aggregate, making it difficult to glean specific insights.

I have been tracking these injuries all season. Using a variety of methods, including reviewing daily injury reports from NFL.com, I have created what I believe is the most complete dataset of individual concussions sustained during the 2017-2018 season.

The resulting film, “Concussion Protocol,” is a visual record of every concussion in the NFL this year.

This film does not make an argument for ending football. Rather, it invites a set of questions. In the spirit of Saidiya Hartman, I am interested in “defamiliarizing the familiar.”

When we watch American football, what are we seeing?

By cutting together only these scenes of injury — moments of impact, of intimacy, of trauma — and reversing them, I hope to open up a space to see some of this violence anew.

In his recent book “Black and Blur,” Fred Moten asks, “What is it to rewind the given? What is it to wound it? What is it to be given to this wounding and rewinding?”

Representing this series of collisions in reverse — and in slow motion or “dragged time” — I hope to make strange what has for many of us become normative: the spectacular, devouring moment of a football hit that knocks a player out cold.

Rather than making a film about concussions with a flurry of hard hits, however, I am interested — inspired by Hartman — in looking elsewhere. How might we see the totality of this violence without just replaying the violence itself? “By defamiliarizing the familiar,” Hartman writes in “Scenes of Subjection,” “I hope to illuminate the terror of the mundane and quotidian rather than exploit the shocking spectacle.”

In a moment when black athletes are being chastised for kneeling in protest of police violence, it should not be lost on us that calls to “get back on the field” or “stick to football” are also calls for players to subject themselves to the slower forms of violence the football field contains.

Field_Notes

Interviews with the filmmakers, announcements and other news from Field of Vision.

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Field of Vision is debuting their new film, A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN by Marshall Curry.

A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN (Dir. Marshall Curry)

In 1939, twenty-thousand Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism – an event largely forgotten from American history. A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN uses striking archival fragments recorded that night to transport modern audiences into this disturbing gathering. With chilling resonance in light of events in Charlottesville and around the country, the film is a reminder about the power that far-right ideology once had in America and a wakeup call about the importance of to addressing it today.

From Field of Vision Co-Founders:

Laura Poitras: "When Marshall approached us with the film two days after Charlottesville, my first thought was, 'we need to put this film in cinemas,' and release it like a newsreel."

Charlotte Cook: “When Marshall first showed us this footage we were stunned. We felt that due to this political climate it was essential to get this film out fast, but also that to do so we needed to try a different style of distribution. By playing in theatres across the country first we hope this the film will be able to reach beyond our usual audience, and into a range of communities and cities around the US. Creating a conversation around the film from the ground up. It’s extremely exciting to be able to do this with Marshall, a filmmaker we’ve been wanting to work with for a long time. And this film is so incredibly well, and thoughtfully, made. We can’t wait for people to see it.”

On Sunday September 24, the film will be shown across the country at 22 screens in Alamo theaters in:

Kansas City

https://drafthouse.com/kansas-city/show/american-assassin

https://drafthouse.com/kansas-city/show/it-2017

https://drafthouse.com/kansas-city/show/kingsman-the-golden-circle

https://drafthouse.com/kansas-city/show/mother

Yonkers

https://drafthouse.com/yonkers/show/3-d-rarities

https://drafthouse.com/yonkers/show/solaris-4k-restoration

San Francisco

https://drafthouse.com/sf/show/ingrid-goes-west

https://drafthouse.com/sf/show/beach-rats

https://drafthouse.com/sf/show/infinity-baby

Brooklyn

https://drafthouse.com/nyc/show/zardoz

https://drafthouse.com/nyc/show/dunkirk

https://drafthouse.com/nyc/show/good-time

https://drafthouse.com/nyc/show/mother

Austin Lakeline

Austin Mueller

Austin Ritz

Austin Slaughter

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/mother

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/grindhouse

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/stronger

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/the-big-sick

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/brads-status

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/tough-guy-cinema-repo-man

The film is also playing at the IFC Center in New York until Friday playing before the 12:30pm showing of “The Unknown Girl."

The film will be part of a special event at the NYFF, and more festivals to come, along with an online release.

About Marshall Curry: MARSHALL CURRY is a two-time Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker. His film, “Street Fight,” follows Cory Booker’s first run for mayor of Newark, NJ and was nominated for an Oscar and an Emmy. His follow up documentary, “Racing Dreams” tells the story of two boys and a girl who live in rural America and dream of one day racing in NASCAR. It won numerous awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, and aired on PBS and the BBC. His third film, “If a Tree Falls, a Story of the Earth Liberation Front” peels back the layers of a radical environmental group that the FBI called the number one domestic terrorist group in the United States. That film won the award for Best Documentary Editing at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to be nominated for an Oscar. Marshall was Executive Producer and an additional editor of “Mistaken For Strangers,” a comedy rock-doc about indie band, The National. Most recently Marshall directed and edited “Point and Shoot,” a documentary about a young Baltimore native who set out on a 30,000-mile motorcycle trip through Northern Africa and the Middle East and wound up joining the rebels in Libya fighting Gaddafi. It won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released in theaters and aired on PBS and the BBC. Marshall is a graduate of Swarthmore College where he studied Comparative Religion and has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Duke, Columbia, NYU, and other colleges. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.

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Before directing Field of Vision’s latest film, “Duterte’s Hell,” with Aaron Goodman, Luis Liwanag worked as a photojournalist for local and foreign press in the Philippines. In the following essay, he reflects on his transition from taking still photographs to filmmaking, and what it was like to capture the horrors of President Duterte’s “war on drugs.

I discovered photography when I was 11. My family did not own a single camera, but our neighborhood sorbetero [ice cream vendor] had a twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera and would take our family photos for us. I remember we had so many that when I opened my mother’s closet, dozens of photo albums would cascade down from the shelves. My dad, an artist and illustrator, kept stacks of old National Geographic, Time, and Life magazines tucked away in his filing cabinet. I bought my first camera at age 12: a Kodak Instamatic. I guess you could say I was destined to be in this line of work.

As a kid, I would just snap pictures of my friends in school. As an adult, being a photographer has given me the power to make observations about daily life in my country and voice my opinion on certain issues.

When President Rodrigo Duterte came into power, the rampage of extrajudicial killings started. My fellow journalists were covering the night shifts at the police headquarters. Reports would come in—either from radio dispatch or via Twitter—and they would travel to crime scenes in convoys. It was only a matter of time before I decided to started going with them, to see the effects of Duterte’s war on drugs for myself.

Shooting this and other documentaries has been transformative experience for me. When working as a hired photojournalist, I didn’t really set up my shots—I just filmed whatever is happening right in front of me.

And as I witnessed the aftermath of the slayings, I felt like I was reconnecting to my old self. I was a police beat photographer at the onset of my career, but later shifted to more varied issues and mainstream news coverage. I became focused on issues dictated by the editorial policies of media entities that employed me.

Now, as a freelancer—and particularly with this film—I’ve had the leeway to choose stories that I feel I can interpret better visually. And although the nightly spate of killings numbed me in some ways, I felt for the people directly or indirectly affected by them.

A couple of months into photographing the killings in Manila and its surrounding metro area, Aaron Goodman, an educator and video journalist whom I had worked with previously, saw my images on social media and asked me if I was interested in collaborating with him on a video documentary about Duterte’s drug war.

While filming, we had to maintain a low-key lighting style, and only expose for the midtones. I wanted to be unobtrusive and invisible while shooting the events so that we left as few traces of ourselves as possible.

We had a limited amount of time to set up each shot. When you’re filming events as they unfold, you don’t really have control over what is going to happen. You have to visualize the image in your mind’s eye beforehand, and shoot whatever occurs in the moment.

While filming, we were very attuned to the sounds, textures, emotions and details of each scene. My approach was to linger in a single framed shot as if it was a single image and slowly transition into another well-composed frame and capture the entire story happening between those frames.

Although I am an advocate of still photographs and what photography great Henri Cartier- Bresson calls “the decisive moment,” I have discovered that video, though more fleeting, can be equally powerful in stringing together single images to make a powerful statement.

See Goodman and Liwanag’s film here:

To see more work by Luis Liwanag, visit his website here. To see the work of Aaron Goodman, visit his website here.

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STANLEY NELSON AND LAURA POITRAS PRODUCED DOC SHORT SERIES TO PREMIERE ONLINE AT FUSION

New York, NY (May 17, 2017) - Starting May 18, 2017, Fusion will unveil the first in a series of short films from the Our 100 Days initiative from Firelight Media and Field of Vision. The films explore threats to U.S. democracy and the stories of targeted communities in the current highly polarized political climate. Episodes will be released weekly, beginning with directors Sofian Khan and Nausheen Dadabhoy’s Act of Worship, a rare behind-the-scenes look at CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a champion of civil rights for Muslims in the US that finds itself in the crosshairs of a new administration’s policies.

“The current moment in the U.S. is a result of our collective refusal to tell the whole story of America. Not only do we need new stories, we need new storytellers. At Firelight, we have been committed to supporting storytellers of color for many years,” shares documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson. “The partnership with Field of Vision has allowed us to deepen that support by providing filmmakers of color with the resources and platform necessary to create powerful cinematic narratives that deepen our understanding of these frightening times.”

The series will also feature work from filmmakers: Cecilia Aldarondo, Chelsea Hernandez & Iliana Sosa, Adele Pham, Lorena Manriquez & Marlene McCurtis, Nadia Hallgren, and Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman. The films examine, among other topics, the immigration issue through the intimate lens of motherhood; a history of racially-motivated violence in one of America’s most iconic liberal cities; the fight for protections for trans students through the lens of one Virginia teenager; and the rapid response by Muslim attorneys navigating the chaotic rollout of the travel ban.

“This collaboration with Firelight is a way to channel our collective horror about Trump's election. By documenting these first 100 days from the perspective of communities most at risk - immigrants, Muslim Americans, transgender men and women - we want to reveal the threats our country is facing, and not normalize this political moment,” says Field of Vision co-creator Laura Poitras.

Fusion Editor-in-Chief Dodai Stewart adds, "This series of beautiful short films — highlighting social and economic injustices — aligns with Fusion’s mission to cover underrepresented people and amplify the voices of the vulnerable."

In an effort to maximize the reach and impact of the films, local and national organizations will participate in weekly Twitter chats to engage the broad public in online conversations about the issues in the films. The Twitter chats will occur at 1pm ET / 10am PT every Thursday throughout the series run using the #Our100Days hashtag and will be moderated by Firelight Media. The weekly Twitter chats will give online viewers an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues and engage with the film directors, protagonists, and partner organizations.

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ABOUT FIELD OF VISION

Field of Vision is a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions and creates original short-form nonfiction films about developing and ongoing stories around the globe. Field of Vision is committed to making cinematic work that tells the stories of our world from different perspectives. Our films are distributed through a variety of partners including news organizations, film festivals, online platforms, broadcast, streaming and cable.

ABOUT FIRELIGHT MEDIA & FIRELIGHT FILMS

Firelight produces award-winning films that expose injustice, illuminate the power of community and tell a history seldom told, and connects films with concrete and innovative ways for diverse audiences to be inspired, educated, and mobilized into action. Through our Documentary Lab, Firelight is dedicated to developing and supporting talented, diverse documentary filmmakers who advance underrepresented stories, moving them from the margins to the forefront of mainstream media through high quality, powerful productions.

ABOUT FUSION

Fusion is news for the new America: a young, diverse, social justice-minded audience.

MEDIA CONTACT After Bruce PR Tracy Nguyen-Chung tracy@afterbruce.com 503-701-2115

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