|Bay Area Documentary Filmmakers
The Bay Area has an international reputation as a bastion of documentary filmmakers. Over the last 40 years, local filmmakers have gravitated to exposing contemporary social injustices at home and abroad and reviving ignored or forgotten history.
There are only three places in the country—New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area—where a different lineup of independent documentary filmmakers could be assembled for a class year after year. Bay Area doc makers are a highly political breed, dedicated to exposing social injustices at home and abroad and reviving ignored or forgotten history. Each session of the class features a recent film followed by a discussion with the director. We’ll focus on the practical and ethical challenges of making documentaries, from conception through production and post production to distribution.
Films: This class is mainly about the filmmakers and construction...the films are lined up as the class approaches. These films are typically not available to the public and these are exclusive viewings. See below for titles and descriptions
Apr 16 Sara Maamouri We Are Not Princesses (work in progress, 2018) 69 min --- The Greek heroine Antigone ignites the spirits of four Syrian women living in Beirut’s refugee camps. Feminine wisdom, passed through the ages, connects the inner lives of the women and gives them a sense of belonging and rootedness. Through animation and intimate vérité footage, the film illustrates what is invisible to the eye: the thoughts, memories, and dreams of mothers, sisters, and wives as they grapple daily with past traumas and future uncertainty.
Apr 23 Ken Schneider and Abby Ginsberg And Then They Came For Us (2017) 45 min --- 75 years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way for the violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Featuring George Takei and others who were incarcerated, along with newly rediscovered photographs by Dorothea Lange, And Then They Came for Us brings history into the present by following Japanese American activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.
Apr 30 Mike Seely The Most Distant Places (2010, 35 min) + Exiled (2017, 30 min) --- Dr. Edgar Rodas is dedicated to improving health conditions for underprivileged communities in his native Ecuador. Cinterandes is his visionary mobile hospital and rural health care project. The film follows Dr. Rodas and his team to the far reaches of Ecuador, weaving portrayals of the doctors with stories of their patients. Traveling from indigenous hamlets in the Andes to fishing villages on the coast to Amazonian river communities, the film illustrates the challenges of providing health care for impoverished people far from adequate medical facilities.
May 7 Richard O’Connell and Annelise Wunderlich The Corridor (2017) 72 min --- What’s it like to go to school while incarcerated? The tools in your bike repair class are locked to the table, and classrooms come equipped with panic buttons. Room assignments take gang affiliation into account. These are some of the challenges facing participants in the S.F. Sheriff Department’s pioneering program for inmates to earn their GEDs. Tracing their progress from orientation to graduation, observational footage of school and jail routine is supported by a soundtrack of reflections from guards, teachers and inmates. The Corridor premiered at the 2017 Mill Valley Film Festival, where it was named Best Bay Area Documentary by a S.F. Film Critics Circle jury. It will air on PBS.
Michael Fox is a San Francisco journalist and critic who has written about movies for more than 40 publications since 1987. He hosted KQED's "Independent View" and wrote the "Reel World" column in SF Weekly for a decade. Fox has sat on juries, moderated panels and contributed program notes for the San Francisco International, Mill Valley, United Nations Association and Cinequest film festivals. Fox is a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.