Docs of Dissent…a belated recap…

Back on April 7th (I know…I’m a lazy blogger) I went to the Academy’s Documentaries of Dissent, Part II. It’s nice that the Academy does so much to expose docs throughout the year, the Oscar’s Docs series, the Academy/UCLA Documentary Series and this, The John Huston Lecture on Documentary Filmmaking. The idea was to get a group of likeminded renegade filmmakers together and talk about “hot-button” issues. In walked Kirby Dick, Kathleen Glynn, Robert Greenwald, Jahane Noujaim and Morgan Spurlock to chat up moderator and LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan.

Turan started off with an intro, “digital equipment plus the times we live in – the worse it gets is this country the better it gets for docs of dissent.”

Kathleen Glynn has produced all of Michael Moore’s films. What’s it like working with him? “It’s exciting, there’s always surprises and there’s some control issues.” On the films, “when you see the truth, there’s the truth and want to share it.” Now she and Michael are working on their goodbye film to George W. Bush, they’re gathering footage for a film called Sicko about the American healthcare industry.

As Robert Greenwald took his seat on the stage, Turan slips, “How do you pick your targets? I’m so tempted to call them targets, I should say subjects.” Greenwald talked about his producing experience and how it helps him with story structure for his docs. On Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, “every good New York instinct for taking on bullies came out.” As far as the distribution, which has been oft talked about, he joked, “I love going two the movies. I love buying my popcorn and paying my $10 or $20 or whatever it costs by the time we get out of here tonight. But using MoveOn.org and the Center for Social Media Wal-Mart had over 8000 screenings.” His next subject is Tom Delay, he’s gone, but the culture of corruption is still in play.

Control Room director Jahane Noujaim calls being a filmmaker a little like being a glorified spy. When asked about her subjects, “If you’re unfunded you might as well be with people you want to hang out with.” She seems incredibly honest and real about her filmmaking process. They all do, that’s documentary.

As always at Academy events, the night ended with an extensive question and answer session. And we all went home a little drained.

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Morgan Spurlock talks to the press at the Academy Doc event.

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The panelists smile for the camera.

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