filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI, film school
filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI, film school

December 23, 2008
An interview with COURTNEY HUNT the director of FROZEN RIVER — the story of Ray Eddy, an upstate New York trailer mom who is lured into the world of illegal immigrant smuggling when she meets a Mohawk girl who lives on a reservation that straddles the US-Canadian border. Broke after her husband takes off with the down payment for their new doublewide, Ray reluctantly teams up with Lila, a smuggler, and the two begin making runs across the frozen St. Lawrence River carrying illegal Chinese and Pakistani immigrants in the trunk of Ray's Dodge Spirit. Hunt holds an MFA from Columbia University’s Film Division. Her thesis film, ALTHEA FAUGHT, a short about the American Civil War, which she wrote and directed, was purchased by PBS in 1996 and aired on American Playhouse. It screened in film festivals including the Tribeca First Look Series, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Montreal Festival des Film du Monde, and the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. The film also won Colombia’s first Prize in Directing from New Line Cinema. FROZEN RIVER was originally Hunt's second short film. It premiered in the New York Film Festival in September, 2004. The feature version won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.


December 16, 2008
An interview with JON ELSE the director of WONDERS ARE MANY: THE MAKING OF DOCTOR ATOMICthe story of making a grand opera about the atomic bomb. This behind-the-scenes documentary follows composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars over the course of a year as they work to forge the tale of J. Robert Oppenheimer into a music drama like no other: the strange and beautiful “Doctor Atomic.” As creation of the opera unfolds, as Sellars and Adams struggle to make high art from the most savage weapon in history, the film also explores the unnerving 60 year history of nuclear weapons. It shows the real events behind the drama on stage, and the unintended consequences of actions (and inactions) of men working on the first nuclear device. Weaving together the intense and sometimes hilarious process of making an opera with striking newly declassified historical film, Wonders Are Many focuses on the 48 hours leading up to the Trinity atomic test in July of 1945. Else’s film The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb was described by Tom Shales in the Washington Post as “the best film ever made about living intimately with doom of our own design.” Winner of the first-ever documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1980, it has been broadcast repeatedly in virtually every developed country over the past 20 years. It is used widely in schools, universities, and institutions as varied as the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Wonders are Many will premier on PBS Tuesday, December 16.


December 2, 2008
An interview with PATRICK CREADON the director of I.O.U.S.A. — an examination of the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the United States and its citizens. Burdened with an ever-expanding government and military, increased international competition, overextended entitlement programs, and debts to foreign countries that are becoming impossible to honor, America must mend its spendthrift ways or face an economic disaster of epic proportions. Creadon interweaves archival footage and economic data to paint a vivid and alarming profile of America's current economic situation. The ultimate power of I.O.U.S.A. is that the film moves beyond doomsday rhetoric to proffer potential financial scenarios and propose solutions about how we can recreate a fiscally sound nation for future generations. Creadon began his career as one of the youngest cameramen in the history of PBS, shooting and producing cinema-verite style stories for the critically acclaimed series "THE 90's". As a cameraman his work has appeared on every major network, including NBC, CBS, ABC, MTV, VH1, and ESPN. He has also done work for Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Sony, Universal Studios, and Disney. Wordplay, Creadon’s feature-length directorial debut, is a documentary film about The New York Times crossword editor and National Public Radio personality Will Shortz. Wordplay became only the fourth documentary ever to be awarded the "Golden Tomato" from for "Best Reviewed Documentary of The Year."


November 25, 2008
An interview with KURT KUENNE the director of DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER. On November 5, 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered in a parking lot in western Pennsylvania; the prime suspect, his ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, promptly fled the United States for St. John’s, Canada, where she announced that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child. She named the little boy Zachary. Kuenne, Andrew’s oldest friend, began making a film for little Zachary as a way for him to get to know the father he’d never meet. But when Shirley Turner was released on bail in Canada and was given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the U.S., the film’s focus shifted to Zachary’s grandparents, David & Kathleen Bagby, and their desperate efforts to win custody of the boy from the woman they knew had murdered their son. What happened next, no one ever could have foresee. Kuenne is an award-winning filmmaker and composer of both fiction and documentary films.


November 18, 2008
An interview with ABIGAIL DISNEY the producer of PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL — a film chronicling the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of women - ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim - came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks. Disney is is also the Founder and the President of the Daphne Foundation, a progressive, social change Foundation that makes grants to grassroots, community-based organizations working with low-income communities in New York City.


November 11, 2008
An interview GONZALO ARIJON the director of STRANDED: I HAVE COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED IN THE MOUNTAINS — a documentary that details the October 12th, 1972 crash of a passenger airplane carrying a team of amateur rugby players in the Andes. For 10 days the search and rescue teams sent out by Argentina, Chile and Uruguay could find no trace of the plane and its passengers. Particularly heavy snow falls had all but buried the white-roofed wreck of the plane, making it almost invisible from the air. Nobody believed that there was any hope of finding any of the 45 crash victims. Ten weeks later, a shepherd herding his flock in a high Andean valley saw the outline of two men in the distance, waving their arms to attract his attention. After the rescue, at a noisy press conference, the survivors admitted that they had been obliged to eat "the bodies of our friends" in order to survive. The world’s media, gathered to hear their story, was stunned. How did they survive the appalling conditions at 4.000 metres? How did they organize their daily lives during the ordeal? How did two of them manage to get out of there on foot to fetch a rescue party? This is a story that transcends the personal, a philosophical tale about the importance of friendship and solidarity in extreme situations. Arijon was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and lives in France since 1979. He's both, uruguayan and French. He studied anthropology and film-making and for the past 15 years has directed numerous documentaries.


November 4, 2008
An interview with LANCE HAMMER writer, director, editor, and producer of BALLAST the story of a single mother and her embattled son who struggle to subsist in a small Mississippi Delta township. An act of violence thrusts them into the world of an emotionally devastated highway store owner, awakening the fury of a bitter and longstanding conflict. With the boy's future hanging in the balance, the two adults must reckon with the past while together searching for a new way forward. Hammer was born in 1967 in Ventura, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Architecture and worked as an art director in the studio film system. He resides in Los Angeles. Hammer was awarded the Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance ’08 for BALLAST, his first feature as a writer and director.


October 21, 2008
An interview with TOMAS ALFREDSON director of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - arguably one of the finest vampire films ever made. A fragile, anxious boy, 12-year-old Oskar is regularly bullied by his stronger classmates but never strikes back. The lonely boy's wish for a friend seems to come true when he meets Eli, also 12, who moves in next door to him with her father. A pale, serious young girl, she only comes out at night and doesn't seem affected by the freezing temperatures. Coinciding with Eli's arrival is a series of inexplicable disappearances and murders. One man is found tied to a tree, another frozen in the lake, a woman bitten in the neck. Blood seems to be the common denominator – and for an introverted boy like Oskar, who is fascinated by gruesome stories, it doesn't take long before he figures out that Eli is a vampire. Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson weaves friendship, rejection and loyalty into a disturbing and darkly atmospheric, yet poetic and unexpectedly tender tableau of adolescence. The feature is based on the best-selling novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.


October 14, 2008
An interview with PETER GALISON and ROBB MOSS co-directors of SECRECY — a film about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government's ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy. From extraordinary rendition to warrant-less wiretaps and Abu Ghraib, we have learned that, under the veil of classification, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses. Secrecy increasingly hides national policy, impedes coordination among agencies, bloats budgets and obscures foreign accords; secrecy throws into the dark our system of justice and derails the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government. Moss's recent film, The Same River Twice, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit award, and played theatrically in more than eighty cities across North America. As a cinematographer he has shot films in Ethiopia, Hungary, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Turkey-on such subjects as famine genocide and the large-scale structure of the universe-and many of these pieces were shown on Public Television. He was on the 2004 documentary jury at the Sundance Film Festival and has thrice served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute documentary labs. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past 20 years.
Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, "Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma" has been shown frequently on the History Channel.


October 7, 2008
An interview AZAZEL JACOBS writer and director of MOMMA'S MAN which chronicles the increasingly anxious dilemma of Mikey (Matt Boren), a young husband and father who stops off at his parents’ loft during a business trip to New York and finds himself emotionally unable to leave. One of the most acclaimed films of this year's Sundance Film Festival, Jacobs' third feature is both a tribute to his parents (avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs and painter Flo Jacobs, who play Mikey’s mother and father) and an acutely perceptive, slyly humorous take on a universal experience: the fear of growing up. Jacobs' theses film, Kirk and Kerry, won Best Short Film at the 1997 Slamdance Film Festival. Filmmaker Magazine named him among the "25 Directors to Watch."


September 30, 2008
An interview with STEFAN FORBES writer and director of BOOGIE MAN: THE LEE ATWATER STORY - a gripping political thriller about Lee Atwater, a blues-playing rogue whose rambunctious rise from the South to Chairman of the GOP made him a political rock star. He mentored George W. Bush and Karl Rove while leading the Republican party to historic victories, helping make liberal a dirty word, and transforming the way America elects our Presidents. In eye-opening interviews with elite Republicans and friends of Atwater, Boogie Man sheds new light on his crucial role in America's shift to the right. To Democrats offended by the 1988 Willie Horton controversy, Atwater was a remorseless political assassin aptly dubbed by one Congresswoman "the most evil man in America." But he remains a hero to many Republicans for his irreverent sense of humor, his deep understanding of the American heartland, and his unapologetic vision of politics as war. This film builds to a moving portrait of a cynic's desperate deathbed search for meaning.




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