Mar 30, 2013

Women Filmmakers and Filmmakers of Color

The First in a Series of On-Camera Interviews

I have recently begun two related projects to highlight the work of filmmakers whose movies I have either been unable to write about in print, or have written reviews of, but not interview/feature articles. I ask these filmmakers to agree to on-camera interviews. The first appears below, as part of this post, and is an interview with the co-directors of a new documentary, The Revolutionary Optimists.

One project brings attention to women filmmakers (“Interviews With Women Filmmakers”) or those who make thoughtful, progressive movies about women and girls, and another will focus on filmmakers of color (“Interviews With Filmmakers of Color”) or those who tell similarly thoughtful stories about people of color around the world. I am interested in both narrative and documentary films, and you will see a mix of these in both of my interview projects.

These on-camera interviews are conducted in the same way I would an interview for a print publication. Questions are not submitted in advance, and while filmmakers are offered a chance to review the footage, or a transcript of the interview, this is done for the purpose of ensuring accuracy. These videos are not advertisements. I have no financial or artistic connection to the films or filmmakers, nor do I benefit financially from the making of these videos. I have no aspirations with regard to making my own films, and that is immediately obvious from the simple videos you will see here.

On March 27th, Nicole Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen (Rare, 2006) spoke with me about their documentary The Revolutionary Optimists, which opens in New York on March 29th, and will open in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco in April. In the course of the interview we discuss the film’s child subjects, Shika, Salim, Priyanka and Kajal, who live in one of the 5,500 slums of Kolkata (Calcutta), the capital of West Bengal, India. The program which brought them to the attention of the filmmakers, “Prayasam,” was founded by another subject in the documentary, Amlan Ganguly, a charismatic Bengali activist.

In the video, seated left to right are: Me, Ms. Newnham and Ms. Grainger-Monsen.

My review of the documentary appears in Film Journal International:

Since this project seeks to highlight the work of these filmmakers, should anyone wish to add the resulting videos to their website, I simply ask that the title cards remain intact and that I receive recognition for my work. (I would also appreciate hearing from you.) As you can imagine, film journalists spend long hours watching the films they write about (I never interview any filmmaker without having watched their movie at least twice), and researching the topic of the film in order to ask informed questions during an interview. I hope this project will foster a greater appreciation for movies known in the industry as “small films,” a woefully inadequate sobriquet for movies that so often alter people’s view of the world.