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CATEGORY: Behind the Films

Still Mushing: An Update from Joe, George Attla’s Grandnephew

We are pleased that we could get Joe Bifelt, the grandnephew of legendary dogsled racer George Attla, to send us an update on his life since the film about George’s life, ATTLA, ended. George may have technically been Joe’s great uncle but as you’ll see here he considers George another grandfather, and despite George’s passing, … READ MORE

Decade of Fire Filmmakers Change the Narrative About the South Bronx

The three-headed team as it were, of co-directors Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran, and producer Julia Steele Allen, each brought something different and special to the table in the making of the film Decade of Fire, which tells the shocking but untold piece of American urban history, when the South Bronx was on fire … READ MORE

Filmmakers Capture Young Men Wrestling to Succeed and Be Seen

The story of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School–a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools–and their tough-love coach coming to terms with his own past, Wrestle is “superb,” wrote Kenneth Turan in the LA Times. “Just as sports mirror society, so do the best sports films not only take us inside games and those who play them but also provide insight into our world and how it works.” He rightly adds, “One reason Wrestle is so effective is that [the directors] and cinematographer Sinisa Kukic made the decision to move to Huntsville for the duration of the shoot. What resulted was not only 650 hours of footage but the benefit of countless additional time spent just hanging out with the protagonists.”

Herbert and co-director Belfer spoke to us about how they came to make this film and that decision to move to Alabama for a long while, as well as how the kids are doing today.  READ MORE

Bernardo Ruiz Tells Story of the Central Role Latinos Play in California Wine Industry

Two-time Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn, made his directorial feature debut with the PBS film Reportero, about attacks on the press in Mexico, which New York Magazine called “a powerful reminder of how journalism often requires immense amounts of physical and psychological bravery.” He’s followed that up with … READ MORE

Filmmaker Follows Incarcerated Native Hawaiians Discovering Their Indigenous Traditions

Native Hawaiian filmmaker Ciara Lacy has had her work aired on PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E, and was an inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow for Indigenous Artists. A graduate of Yale and Hawai’i’s Kamehameha Schools, Lacy’s first documentary short, shot for the Guardian Online, chronicled a unique homeless encampment in Hawai’i and yielded over … READ MORE

Acclaimed Filmmaker David Sutherland Tells the Story of a Family Torn Apart by Deportation

David Sutherland takes his time to tell a story, both in the years he spends with his subject, the amount of footage he shoots, and the ultimate running time — which always feels earned.  His film Country Boys took seven years to bring to fruition as Sutherland returned again and again to the hills of Appalachian … READ MORE

How a Lifelong Fascination with Medicine Turned into a Film About the Rural Healthcare Crisis

[UPDATED April 6, 2019: We reached out to filmmakers Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin to gather their thoughts on why they titled their film The Providers.] The filmmaking team behind the Independent Lens documentary The Providers live on opposite coasts from each other — Laura Green in San Francisco, Anna Moot-Levin in Brooklyn — but they came … READ MORE

Director Explores Live Streaming Revolution and How Technology Affects Human Happiness

Technology executive-turned-filmmaker Hao Wu takes a raw and human approach to storytelling in an era when culture evolves online, and for his very first feature film, People’s Republic of Desire Wu won a SXSW Film Festival Grand Jury Prize–pretty impressive for a self-taught filmmaker. He expertly tells a real-life Black Mirror-esque tale that is, wrote … READ MORE

RaMell Ross Charts “the Visual Story of Blackness” in Oscar-Nominated Doc

Just one year after RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening won a Special Jury Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, the filmmaker will follow his film’s television debut on PBS by awaiting the Academy Awards, where it is one of five finalists for Best Documentary Feature. Quite a journey for the photographer-teacher-turned-filmmaker, for … READ MORE

Three Things About “The King,” with Eugene Jarecki and Steven Soderbergh

Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki’s pedigree is impressive. He has twice won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Peabody Award for: The House I Live In, his 2013 film about America’s War on Drugs (which had its broadcast premiere on Independent Lens); and for his 2005 film about American foreign policy, Why We Fight. … READ MORE

Director Duo Show No Easy Answers in Fight Over Land

The team behind the new Independent Lens film My Country No More, Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling, told us they were drawn to Hammerling’s native North Dakota to make this film “because his hometown, as well as much of rural America, was changing rapidly and we wanted to document those changes. And we also wanted to explore the importance … READ MORE