June 2008

Documentary 2.0: Making Media That Matters

Katy Chevigny, Executive Director of Arts Engine, Inc., the nonprofit arm behind the festival, and Gina Teleroli of Meerkat Media Collective, one of the seven collaborators behind Every Third Bite, another of this year’s official selections, discuss artistic collaboration, trends from this year’s festival, and how the Internet is changing the way we make and view film.


Some members of the Meerkat Media Collective discuss decisions in the editing room.

The Independent catches up with Katy Chevigny, Executive Director of Arts Engine, Inc., the nonprofit arm behind the festival, and Gina Telaroli of Meerkat Media Collective, one of the seven collaborators behind Every Third Bite (watch the film), another of this year’s official selections, to discuss artistic collaboration, trends from this year’s festival, and how the Internet is changing the way we make and view film.

Each June, The Media That Matters Film Festival selects a group of 12 shorts by independent filmmakers designed to spark action and debate in twelve minutes or less. Unlike other festivals, MTM works to promote its selections year-round through online streaming, broadcasts and community screenings.

Filmmaker's Journal: So Much for Taking a Break

Jason Rosette went to Southeast Asia to take time off after his second film wrapped. That's where the subject of his third and latest film grabbed him


In His Element: Filmmaker Jason Rosette (with camera) started a production company and film festival in Cambodia.

Jason Rosette made two films in the U.S.—Bookwars and Susan Hero—before moving to Southeast Asia. His original plan was to travel a bit and learn how to teach English as a second language. But on a stopover in Cambodia, Rosette found himself infatuated with the country and its people. And since the once-troubled nation lost a generation of artists and journalists, he also saw an opportunity and even a responsibility to put his media-making skills to good use. So he organized a film festival and started a production company that works for a number of NGOs. He chronicles his work in this first journal entry for The Independent.

In 2007, an article in the New York Times hailed Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, as “the next Prague.” Soon thereafter, every footloose hipster in the West seemed to home in on the place. But the city they found was a far cry from “the next Prague.” It is still too alien to most Western sensibilities, and it is at times dismayingly dark, violent, and desperate.

For Inspiration, Judd Ehrlich Looked to the Subject of His New Film, "Run For Your Life"

A look at the crowd-pleasing Fred Lebow biography that premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival


A Place in the Run: Fred Lebow, shown in the red Mercedes, in the subject of Judd Ehrlich's "Run for Your Life."

Though this year's Tribeca Film Festival was dominated by Scandanavian vampires, a decidely American documentary about, yes, a Transylvanian immigrant from Brooklyn also drew crowds. The film is Judd Ehrlich's Run for Your Life (view the trailer), a biography of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon. He was also an impresario, a canny politician, a PR machine, a womanizer, a visionary, a hot head, and—in Ehrlich's words—"a survivor in every sense of the word." The challenge in making the film, then, was not digging up material, but sorting through a mountain of interviews and other footage. Ehrlich recently talked about the film with The Independent's Mike Hofman.

While vampires made a big splash at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, a documentary about a son of Transylvania carved out a decidedly different niche for itself.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "Muskrat Lovely"

A look at Amy Nicholson's film, which aired on PBS's "Independent Lens"


The Fur Flies: Filmmaker Amy Nicholson shot "Muskrat Lovely" in less than three weeks.

To make Muskrat Lovely (view the trailer), her first full-length documentary, Amy Nicholson packed a small crew into a car and drove from New York City to rural Maryland. Her subjects were the women participating in the 50th anniversary muskrat-skinning competition, which they refer to as a pageant. She had only one camera and under three weeks to get all of the footage she needed. Here, she explains how she pulled it off. Also, check out the Doc Doctor's previous Anatomy columns.

About this column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

The Trailer for "Susan Hero"

A look at Jason Rosette's second film

Subtitle:

A look at Jason Rosette's second film

Jason Rosette's Susan Hero

The Trailer for "Bookwars"

A look at Jason Rosette's first film

Subtitle:

A look at Jason Rosette's first film

Jason Rosette's Bookwars

The Trailer for "Run For Your Life"

A look at Judd Ehrlich's Tribeca crowd pleaser

Subtitle:

A look at Judd Ehrlich's Tribeca crowd pleaser

Judd Ehrlich's documentary about the life and times of New York Marathon founder Fred Lebow debuted at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

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