If you love documentary films, hear from the top storytellers on Pure Nonfiction. Host Thom Powers is well-connected in this world as a documentary curator for the Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and SundanceNow Doc Club. He leads conversations that are frank, funny and revealing. Listen to interviews with Oscar-winning filmmakers Barbara Kopple, Alex Gibney, and Roger Ross Williams; as well as the directors of “Making a Murderer,” “Weiner” and “OJ: Made in America.” Often the stories behind the scenes are as dramatic as what’s on the screen. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: @purenonfiction. Subscribe now.
167: Sébastien Lifshitz on "Casa Susanna"
39:12"Casa Susanna," playing on PBS Passport, tells the secret history of a Catskills resort in the late 1950s and early 1960s that was a safe haven for transgender expression. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews director Sébastien Lifshitz on how he won the trust of the film’s participants to share their stories after six decades. Further reading: photo historian Isabelle Bonnet on Casa Susanna.
166: Maite Alberdi on "The Eternal Memory"
36:51Maite Alberdi has become Chile’s most prominent documentary maker. Her films include "Tea Time," about a monthly salon of women; "The Grown-Ups", about adults with Downs Syndrome; and "The Mole Agent" that’s a comic detective story inside a nursing home.Her new work is "The Eternal Memory." She follows the journalist Augusto Gongora and his wife Paulina Urrutia as they cope with Augusto’s experience with Alzheimer’s syndrome. The film won the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival where it was bought by MTV Documentary Films for distribution.Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Maite in March at the CPH:DOX festival. Hear their previous interview about "The Mole Agent" on episode 119.On Instagram: @maitealberdi @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
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165: D. Smith on "Kokomo City"
39:29No shade to Barbie, but our favorite summer film is "Kokomo City" that won audience prizes in Sundance and Berlin for its raw and raucous profile of four black transgender sex workers.First time filmmaker D. Smith had a successful career as a Grammy-nominated music producer. But when she came out as transgender, she was effectively blacklisted from that industry. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Smith in her hometown at the Miami Film Festival about the desperation and inspiration behind this film.On Instagram: @truedsmith @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
164: Asif Kapadia on Highs and Lows
37:35Asif Kapadia has won renown for his biographical portraits in "Senna", "Diego Maradona" and the Oscar-winning "Amy". In this wide-ranging conversation, he speaks about the setbacks and breakthroughs in his career. The topics include his clash with Harvey Weinstein over his fiction feature "The Warrior" and being plunged into an Oscar campaign with "Amy". Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Asif in March at CPH: DOX in Copenhagen. Asif was there to present "Creature", a dance film that's a collaboration with the choreographer Akram Khan, starring Jeffrey Cirio. The Guardian described "Creature" as "something genuinely strange which can’t be pinned down to a single explanation." Asif previously appeared on episode 108 where he went deeper into the making of his documentaries.On Instagram: @asifkapadia1 @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
163: John Leguizamo Does America
32:12John Leguizamo has a versatile writing and acting career from Broadway to Hollywood. Now he hosts the series "Leguizamo Does America" that explores Latin American communities across the country. He makes stops in New York, Miami, Washington, Chicago, Puerto Rico and Los Angeles interviewing prominent locals on their history, cuisine and culture. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Leguizamo about what he learned along the way.On Instagram: @johnleguizamo @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
162: Roger Ross Williams on Donna Summer, "The 1619 Project" and "Cassandro"
43:25Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams has a bounty of new releases this year. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Williams at the CPH:DOX festival about three of those works: Love to Love You, Donna Summer on HBO, The 1619 Project on Hulu and his fiction feature debut Cassandro coming this fall from Amazon Studios. Williams also discusses his stint serving on the AMPAS Board of Governors when he led a campaign to increase enrollment of women and BIPOC members. For more on Williams' career, hear his interview from 2016 on episode 13.Instagram: @onestoryup @rogerrosswilliams @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
161: Elvis Mitchell on "Is That Black Enough for You?!?"
36:15Elvis Mitchell explores the flourishing of American Black cinema from 1968 to 1978 in the documentary "Is That Black Enough for You?!?" (Netflix). Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers sat down with Elvis in their hometown of Detroit during the Freep Film Festival.The conversation delves into Elvis’s Detroit roots - with local references ranging from the Fox Theater to the Electrifying Mojo. He shares insights from his new film and explains why he left his job as a New York Times film critic.As mentioned in the podcast, here’s a link to his 2002 Pinocchio review. On Instagram: @theelvismitchell @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
160: Inside "Couples Therapy"
33:02Showtime's acclaimed series "Couples Therapy" is now in its third season. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers sat down with its star Dr. Orna Guralnik along with co-creators Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg and one of its directors Pax Wasserman. The interview was recorded before a live audience at New York's IFC Center.This week, Pure Nonfiction debuted the email newsletter Producer's Notebook that covers latest developments in documentary producing. You can subscribe for free at PureNonfiction.net.Instagram: @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
159: Lisa Cortés on "Little Richard: I Am Everything"
41:34Lisa Cortés has a multi-faceted career working for Def Jam and executive producing the award-winning fiction film "Precious". Now she's directed the documentary "Little Richard: I Am Everything" that helps to rewrite the history of rock and roll. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Lisa about her background in the Black church, the music business and her move into making documentaries.On Instagram: @misscortes @thompowers1 @purenonfiction
158: Harry Belafonte on "Sing Your Song"
34:30Harry Belafonte died this week at age 96. Years ago he resolved to leave behind an account of his life in the memoir "My Song" and the documentary "Sing Your Song". Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Belafonte and his daughter Gina in 2013 as part of the Montclair Film Festival. The conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey."Sing Your Song", directed by Susanne Rostock, is available on video on demand.