n this episode, I speak with the publicist and one of the founders of NOISE Film PR, Mirjam Wiekenkamp. During our conversation, we get into her publicist origin story, some of the differences between PR firms in the US and Europe, the unique ways a publicist can position documentary films in the European documentary festival landscape, and how publicist and impact producers can often build upon and support one another’s work on behalf of a filmmaker. Mirjam and NOISE Film PR are representing several films at DOKLeipzig and IDFA that are part of the Steps’ Generation Africa program. To celebrate these young filmmakers from the Continent, this week’s song is Kokoroko’s “Abusey Junction.” KOKOROKO (meaning 'be strong' in Urhobo), are a collective of young musicians brought together by a love for Afrobeat led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey. They specialize in a soul-shaking, horn fuelled sound with West African roots and inner London hues. “Abusey Junction” is a ballad written by guitarist Oscar Jerome. It was written on the roof of a compound in Gambia where the band spent time last year immersing themselves in the soundscapes of the region.
D'autres épisodes de "What's Up with Docs Podcast"
Episode 35 - Laura van Halsema - “Chelas City”
53:53In this episode, we continue our celebration of the 2021 edition of IDFA as I chat with the Senior Programmer of the festival, Laura van Halsema. We talk about how she got into docs, her nearly 20 years with IDFA, and take a deep dive into the unConscious Bias Focus program at the festival this year. The song for this episode is from the film Chelas Nha Kha which is part of the unConscious Bias strand and is entitled “Chelas City,” music by Bataclan 1950 and lyrics by Baguera, Islu, and Gohu. The film is a collaboration between Bagabaga Studios and Batalan 1950 is about the people and kids growing up in Chelas which is a neighborhood in Lisbon. During our conversation, we spoke about the anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s concept of the “webs of influence.” Laura thought of this film and about the filmmakers who live in that area as they learn to define for themselves their own realities. The first love of Bataclan 1950 is making music which is prominently featured in the film. Here is our conversation which was recorded in November 2021.
Episode 34 - Mostafa Youssef - “Hello Sunshine”
1:03:43In this episode, I speak with the film director & co-founder of Seen Films, Mostafa Youssef. We chat about his near lifelong love of film, the entertainment industry in Egypt and its impact throughout the Arab-speaking world, and the unique challenges of filmmakers on the Continent. We also get into the many artist development programs and resources that are under the Seen Films umbrella including a crowdsourced post-production unit and their magazine, Terr.so, the only online magazine and portal on cinema, audiovisual media, film criticism, and filmmaking in Arabic. Mostafa is also the producer of Homemade Stories which will have its world premiere at IDFA 2021. Mostafa is a Bruce Springsteen fan, so this week’s song is “Hello Sunshine.”
Episode 33 - Raven Two Feathers - “Burn Your Village to the Ground”
1:02:04In this episode, I speak with friend and writer, director, co-producer, Raven Two Feathers. During our conversation, we chat about when we first met and my struggle with the Seattle hills, the 4th World Media Lab, their VR project, “A Drive to Top Surgery,” which screened at ImagiNative this year. their zine “Qualifications of Being,” and their new production company, Raven and Relatives. Raven is unapologetically Cherokee, Seneca, Cayuga, Comanche and because American Thanksgiving is just right around the corner, Raven selected the Halluci Nation’s (formerly known as A Tribe Called Red) “Burn Your Village to the Ground.” The band themselves delivered the following message about the holiday:On this fourth Thursday of November, you might ask yourself: do Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? Well… Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday for Native people. In a way, each day is a day of thanksgiving to the Creator for the original people of Turtle Island. This doesn't mean that we don't enjoy turkey, pie, and family as much as the next person, but at the same time, the Thanksgiving myth largely shared in mainstream culture perpetuates a one-sided view of a complicated history surrounding this holiday.
Episode 32 - Mirjam Wiekenkamp - "Abusey Junction"
1:11:17n this episode, I speak with the publicist and one of the founders of NOISE Film PR, Mirjam Wiekenkamp. During our conversation, we get into her publicist origin story, some of the differences between PR firms in the US and Europe, the unique ways a publicist can position documentary films in the European documentary festival landscape, and how publicist and impact producers can often build upon and support one another’s work on behalf of a filmmaker. Mirjam and NOISE Film PR are representing several films at DOKLeipzig and IDFA that are part of the Steps’ Generation Africa program. To celebrate these young filmmakers from the Continent, this week’s song is Kokoroko’s “Abusey Junction.” KOKOROKO (meaning 'be strong' in Urhobo), are a collective of young musicians brought together by a love for Afrobeat led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey. They specialize in a soul-shaking, horn fuelled sound with West African roots and inner London hues. “Abusey Junction” is a ballad written by guitarist Oscar Jerome. It was written on the roof of a compound in Gambia where the band spent time last year immersing themselves in the soundscapes of the region.
Episode 31 - Brenda Avila-Hanna - “Pueblos”
1:08:47In this episode, I speak with Mexican filmmaker and Co-Director of Video Consortium Mexico, Brenda Avila-Hanna. During our conversation, we chat about her latest feature project Libertad, the professional needs of Mexican content creators outside of urban strongholds such as Mexico City, the immigration conversation that’s happening or actually not happening in Mexico, and the educational distribution co-op New Days Films. The song for this week’s episode is PUEBLOS, by Lila Downs and Sara Currichich. The song speaks about Indigenous solidarity and strength without borders. Currichich is Guatemalan and Downs is Mexican-American with roots in Oaxaca, which feels particularly resonant to Libertad and many other themes of transnational solidarity addressed throughout the episode. As a plus, one of Libertad's Producers and DP's, Casandra Casasola, is the DP for the video to this song. Casandra is a Mexican, Indigenous (Mixteca) filmmaker.
Episode 30 - Ina Finchman - “Hallelujah”
1:21:21In this episode, I speak with Canadian producer extraordinaire, Ina Finchman. During our conversation, we chat the nuts, bolts, and knowledge needed to be a great international co-production partner, her work with the Documentary Organization of Canada, and the specific steps the organization took to ease some of the stress of pandemic for Canadian filmmakers. We also discuss some of her most recent work on films such as Laila at the Bridge, Stray, and The Gig Is Up, and her ongoing support of Palestinian filmmakers. For this episode, Ina chose a masterpiece written by her fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah.” Regarding the meaning of the song, Leonard Cohen said: “This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah’. The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.” When one looks at Ina’s body of work, it is clear that documentary is the medium she has chosen to find meaning and reconcile the many contradictions that we face in life.
Episode 29 - Ann Kaneko & Jin Yoo-Kim - “We Are the Children”
1:14:31In this episode, I speak with director, producer, and writer Ann Kaneko and producer Jin Yoo-Kim about their latest project, Manzanar: Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust. We chat about Ann’s very impressive matchmaking skills, their work on K-Town ‘92 and their reflections of the 1992 Rebellion, and how they successfully weaved the stories of environmentalism, the Indigenous, and Japanese-Americans into a beautiful tapestry. This episode’s song is classic, “We are the Children” by Chris Iijima, Nobuko Miyamoto, and "Charlie" Chin. The song was one of the first bits of artistry that defined the Asian-American identity. And the chorus is a call for all of us to unapologetically embrace every aspect of our beings. It reads, Sing a song for ourselves, What have we got to lose, Sing a song for ourselves We’ve got the right to choose.”
Episode 28 - Adam Benzine - “What's Happening Brother”
1:34:32In this episode, I speak with Oscar-Nominated, United Kingdom-born, and Canada-based filmmaker Adam Benzine. During the episode, we chat about his career in journalism, his move to Canada, his critically acclaimed work, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, and his latest documentary project, The Curve, which is about the first 90-days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Because in so many ways the battles we are facing now so closely resemble those are parents and grandparents fought in the past, this episode’s song is Marvin Gaye’s timeless classic, “What’s Happening Brother.” Adam specifically connects to the following lyrics from the song, “When will people start gettin' together again? Are things really gettin' better, like the newspaper said? What else is new my friend? Besides what I read. Can't find no work, can't find no job, my friend. Money is tighter than it's ever been. Say, man, I just don't understand What's going on across this land.” Our conversation was recorded in July 2021.