3 Silver Docs 2012 articles from Pat Auderheide and the Center for Social Media









The following three stories are from the Center for Social Media blog and were written by Pat Aufderheide.

Public TV and Documentarians at Silverdocs 
Posted by Patricia Aufderheide on June 21, 2012

At this year’s Silverdocs film festival, the largest documentary festival in the nation, public television had a central role. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was the lead sponsor, and on a panel I had the pleasure of moderating, PBS had some good news for independent documentarians: It’s showcasing indie work like never before.

PBS announced its new lineup, which puts Independent Lens and POV—the two pubtv series that feature point-of-view, authorial indie work—in a great spot on Monday nights after the popular Antiques Road Show and its reality-show spinoff, Market Wars. (Did you know PBS had a “collectibles night”? That’s the night that indies are moving into, according to PBS’ Donald Thoms.) Kartemquin’s Tim Horsburgh explained that PBS made the move after indies wrote a letter—signed by a thousand people—protesting a move that had dropped the shows from PBS’ main schedule. Thoms pointed out that discussions were already underway. Read more

Silverdocs’ Hottest Topics: Are Filmmakers Journalists? Can Filmmakers Help Themselves?
Posted by
Patricia Aufderheide on June 21, 2012

AJ Schnack sure knows how to stir up trouble.  His panel, “Hot Topics,”at Silverdocs, became one of the most talked-about at the fest for pushing the hot button of ethics.

Both audience and panelists (Hot Docs curator Charlotte Cook, producer Daniel Chalfen, film producer Esther Robinson, IDA’s Michael Lumpkin and I) noted a rash of doc-related scandals (harassment of Josh Fox; Joe Berlinger’s failed attempt to keep Crude outtakes away from litigants; Fredrick Gertten’s run-ins with Dole over Bananas!; the federal government’s surveillance of Laura Poitras after The Oath) . Read more

Is This What a Documentary Looks Like? Silverdocs 2012
Posted by Patricia Aufderheide on June 27, 2012

Silverdocs, the largest documentary film festival in the U.S., showcased a striking range of documentaries this year, and of course far more of them than I could ever hope to see.  The styles ranged from highly personal to big-picture essay, from meditative to thriller-paced, from celebrity-focused to featuring the people you usually pay no attention to.  The commonality?  All the ones I saw richly rewarded my attention.

At Work, On Screen
I’m a sucker for films that feature workplaces. The cultures of work, something most of do for most of the day, are a big hole in American movie storytelling.  The challenges of working people at work go untold, mostly, in the movies. (Compare this to TV, where there are plenty of workplace programs, and some of it—think of The Wire, or Six Feet Under, or The Office, which are funny, dramatic and insightful all at once.) 

At Silverdocs, I loved watching Downeast, A. Sabin and David Redmon’s tracking of the reopening of a closed Maine sardine factory as a lobster processing plant. The locals distrust the new Italian owner (not a local), but they love having a job. The owner wins their attention but struggles with the banks.  Betting the Farm tells a similar story of an attempt to set up a milk distributor for Maine’s rural dairy farmers; the film needs a serious haircut, but the bones of the story are great. Drivers Wanted follows a new driver navigating taxi work. Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein and written and edited by Jean Tsien (whose dad was a cab driver), it’s not only a window into the world of the drivers but a commentary on an economy that drives such a wide array of the formerly employed through the front door of the New York taxi business featured in the film. Job creation at the grassroots is full of drama, as well as frustration. Read more


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