Operation Filmmaker (2007) Nina Davenport
In 2004, American actor Liev Schreiber saw an MTV segment on Iraqi film student Muthana Mohmed, whose dreams of becoming a filmmaker had been thwarted by the bombing of his university during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Schreiber, then preparing to film his directorial debut, Everything is Illuminated, in Prague, invited Muthana to work as a production assistant on the film.
Nina Davenport was hired to document Muthana’s experience as an intern on the Hollywood movie. But Schreiber’s well-intentioned gesture doesn’t result in the inspiring story everyone had hoped for, as differing expectations and agendas clash. In particular, Muthana begrudgingly performs or shirks responsibility for the tasks assigned to him, repeatedly squandering a golden opportunity
For OPERATION FILMMAKER, Davenport chronicled Muthana’s story over a two-year period, from his work in Prague as a P.A. on Schreiber’s Holocaust drama and later on Doom, a sci-fi film starring “The Rock,” to a stint at a London film school, periodically contrasting his experiences abroad with scenes of Muthana’s family and friends in wartorn Baghdad.
While documenting Muthana’s relationships with the producers, crews and stars of both films-characterized by a psychologically fascinating stew of good intentions, bad faith, liberal guilt, and opportunism. Davenport herself eventually becomes embroiled in the young man’s perennial financial difficulties and visa problems. In its continuing but futile search for a “happy ending,” OPERATION FILMMAKER exposes the often mutually manipulative relationships between filmmakers and their subjects.
Les statues meurent aussi
Chris Marker & Alain Resnais 1953
"I never had any special appetite for filmmaking, but you have to make a living and it is miraculous to earn a living working in film."- Alain Resnais 1922-2104
The Substance (2011) Martin Witz
Martin Witz’s THE SUBSTANCE: ALBERT HOFMANN’S LSD is an informative and entertaining investigation into the history of a drug so potent that mere fractions of a milligram can alter a subject’s perception of reality.
Chock-full of rare archival footage of LSD-defining celebrities from Timothy Leary to Jimi Hendrix, as well as interviews with principal historical witnesses-including scientists, psychiatrists, and Hofmann himself, interviewed just before his death - THE SUBSTANCE: ALBERT HOFMANN’S LSD follows the story of LSD on a fascinating historical, scientific and cinematic trip.
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (2012) Tinatin Gurchiani
A filmmaker puts out a casting call for young adults, aged 15- to 23. The director wants to make a film about growing up in her home country, Georgia, and find commonalities across social and ethnic lines. She travels through cities and villages interviewing the candidates who responded and filming their daily lives.
The boys and girls who responded to the call are radically different from one another, as are their personal reasons for auditioning. Some want be movie stars and see the film as a means to that end; others want to tell their personal story. One girl wants to call to account the mother who abandoned her; one boy wants to share the experience of caring for his handicapped family members; another wants to clear the name of a brother, currently serving a jail sentence.
Together, their tales weave a kaleidoscopic tapestry of war and love, wealth and poverty, creating an extraordinarily complex vision of a modern society that still echoes with its Soviet past
Far from Vietnam (1967) Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, and Alain Resnais.
Initiated and edited by Chris Marker, FAR FROM VIETNAM is an epic 1967 collaboration between cinema greats Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch and Alain Resnais in protest of American military involvement in Vietnam—made, per Marker’s narration, “to affirm, by the exercise of their craft, their solidarity with the Vietnamese people in struggle against aggression.”
A truly collaborative effort, the film brings together an array of stylistically disparate contributions, none individually credited, under a unified editorial vision. The elements span documentary footage shot in North and South Vietnam and at anti-war demonstrations in the United States; a fictional vignette and a monologue that dramatize the self-interrogation of European intellectuals; interviews with Fidel Castro and Anne Morrison, widow of Norman Morrison, the Quaker pacifist who burned himself alive in front of the Pentagon in 1965; an historical overview of the conflict; reflections from French journalist Michèle Ray; and a range of repurposed media material.
DIsco & Atomic War (2009) Jaak Kilmi
Winner of the Best Documentary prize at the Warsaw International Film Festival, this witty, charming, and provocative film recounts how in the mid 1980’s, the nation of Estonia still lay firmly in the grip of the Soviet Union, and the repressive authorities controlled virtually all aspects of Estonian life. The totalitarian government’s power was derived in no small part from their ability to censor cultural life and keep Western culture on the other side of the border. Rock and Roll was but a rumor and the only television shows on the air were dreary propaganda. But one day everything changed. Just a few miles across the border in Finland, a huge new television antenna was built that broadcast western signals in all directions—including directly into the heart of the Talinn, the capital of Estonia.
Teenagers went to their school dances and imitated the disco moves they saw on television, clothing and hairstyles began to change radically, and things would never be the same. The government controlled media scrambled to create western-style soap operas and disco-saturated television programming that vaguely reinforced communist values, but it was far too little, and much too late. The genie was out of the bottle, Estonians were now in the grip of American television, and they began to dream that one day, they too would spend their days working in skyscrapers and their nights drinking fine whiskey by the pool, alongside their robot car. - Synopsis courtesy of Rooftop Films.