What does it take for a writer/actress to perform a play she’s written about prisons, at a prison? And in particular, at one of the most notorious prisons in the country, Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, America’s largest prison-plantation. A new documentary about that performance and its aftermath, titled Angola Do You Hear Us?, has been shortlisted for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. I was happy to speak with the director of the film, Cinque Northern, and the playwright/performer, Liza Jessie Peterson.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview as broadcast on the Arts Express radio program today, aired on WBAI -FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The American mass obsession with guns is clearly unique and filmmaker Richard Chisolm has made an intriguing short documentary called Gun Show which details one artist’s attempt to come to grips with the national gun worship.
Click on the triangle above or the mp3 link to hear my review as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Imagine a world where meat is produced from animal cells rather than a slaughter house. Dr. Uma Valeti, the co-founder and CEO of Upside Foods claims such a world is now within reach. A new film documentary, Meat the Future—that’s meat spelled M-E-A-T–follows Dr. Valeti over a five-year period as he attempts to make his dream a reality. From the world’s first cell-based meatball which cost $18,000 per pound to the establishment of a growing industry, Meat the Future presents a different kind of meat-eating future. I was happy to have as my guest on Arts Express, Meat the Future’s director, Liz Marshall.
Click on the triangle above to hear my interview with director Liz Marshall, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 2002 a Mauritanian engineer named Mohamedou Slahi was bundled onto a military transport plane and imprisoned by the US at Guantanamo for 14 years enduring years of physical and psychological torture. He wrote a book about it while he was in there that eventually got made into a film called The Mauritanian. But after the film’s release, journalist John Goetz found himself enlisted by Slahi on an obsessive mission that Goetz could never have predicted. Goetz documents his journey with Slahi in a new film called Guantanamo Diary Revisited. I was very happy to speak with Goetz about his new film.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with John Goetz as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
When I was a child, my father took me to a Shangri-la. A beautiful high-ceiling building filled with people sitting at tables; the walls were made up of scores of little windowed cabinets filled with slices of lemon meringue pie, or coconut crème pie, or bean soup or dozens of other treats. And if you put your nickels into the magic slot, the window popped open and it all could be yours. Of course, I’m talking about the Automat. I was happy to speak with Lisa Hurwitz who has made a nostalgia-filled film documentary called The Automat.
Click on the gray triangle or mp3 link above to hear the discussion of The Automat with director Lisa Hurwitz, as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
There’s a long history of actors and variety performers who have had their first taste of theater with a basement childhood puppet stage. But actor Robert Brock of Lancaster PA was determined to make good on his childhood dream of building a marionette theater for the public and living in an apartment upstairs. Now in a new documentary, director Alexander Monelli brings to life the joys and woes of Robert’s single-minded adult pursuit of his childhood dream in Monelli’s new film Marionette Land.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Alexander Monelli, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
In the early nineteen sixties, a hidebound Catholic Church attempted to modernize with a movement known as Vatican 2. But some Church people, nuns and priests, wanted changes that were a bridge too far for Vatican 2. In Los Angeles, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary went toe to toe with the church hierarchy, involving themselves in anti-war and social justice movements. I was happy to speak with Pedro Kos, the director of a new film documentary called Rebel Hearts about those women of the Immaculate Heart who insisted on staying true to their consciences.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the interview with Pedro Kos as broadcast today on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
In 2016, Californians voted “Yes” on proposition 64 which made cannabis legal for recreational purposes. But perhaps counter-intuitively, the consequences of that act were decidedly mixed and complex. A new documentary, Lady Buds, focuses on a group of six cannabis growers, mostly women, who had to wrestle with the many unforeseen circumstances that came along with pot legalization. I was happy to be speaking with the director of Lady Buds, Chris J Russo.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Chris Russo, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
Kurt Vonnegut’s humorous and fantastical novels are all still in print today. Certainly, if you were a college student of the 60s, 70s or 80s, you probably know lines from Vonnegut novels by heart. Producer, director and writer Robert Weide has come out with a new documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, which includes Mr. Weide’s personal relationship to Vonnegut, called Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. I was happy to interview Robert Weide for Arts Express.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Robert Weide, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
It’s the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature, The Kid, and that’s as good an excuse as any to celebrate all of his films. But who was Chaplin off-screen? A new Showtime documentary, TheReal Chaplin directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney purports to get to the bottom of the real Charlie Chaplin…does it?
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
Some fifteen years ago the art world was aghast over what was called the biggest discovery of the 21st century: a newly found painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Originally bought for about $1000, it eventually sold at auction for an astounding record breaking 450 million Euros. But was all what it seemed? Was the painting really by Da Vinci? And who was the mysterious buyer? And who were the shadowy middle men and agents taking their cuts? Was the whole art world just one large international scam operation? In a fascinating new documentary film, Savior For Sale: Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece? the full tangled story is explored. I was happy to interview the director and writer of Savior For Sale, filmmaker Antoine Vitkine.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Antoine, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
California is once again on fire and it’s unlikely to end anytime soon. But the firefighters fighting those fires include a large number of incarcerated youth who have been trained to combat the fire on the ground. I was happy to speak with filmmakers Drew Dickler and Jake Hochendoner, director/producers of a wonderful documentary film, Fireboys, about those youth who are risking their lives to fight the fires.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jake and Drew, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC, and Pacifica stations across the country.
The Conductor is an excellent documentary film about Marin Alsop, who struggles against enormous odds to become the first female conductor of a major symphony orchestra in the US. It’s a wonderful story told by Director Bernadette Wegenstein, with a compelling theme about the world of high stakes musicianship, along with the high cost of success for a woman in that field.
Click the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica stations across the nation.
In 1968, the winners of the Olympics 200 meter sprint, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, stunned the world when they stood on the winners’ stand and as the Star Spangled Banner played, they raised their black-gloved fists in an image that was destined to be remembered around the world and through time. Now Glenn Kaino, a noted artist, and Afshin Shahidi, a noted cinematographer and photographer, have documented the meaning and enduring repercussions of that moment in a new documentary about Tommie Smith called With Drawn Arms. I was happy to have spoken with the two co-directors of the film.
Click on the triangle or link above to hear my conversation with Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi as broadcast today on WBAI NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 1980, Joel Sucher made a film called Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists, which was a portrait of immigrant life in the U.S. as seen through the eyes of sweatshop workers who made up the Jewish anarchist movement. Between 1900 and World War I, these Yiddish-speaking anarchists constituted an influential political movement affecting trade unions, newspapers, left-wing culture—and hysteria—in the US. Now 40 years later, that film has been re-released. I was happy to interview one of the original directors of Free Voice of Labor, Joel Sucher.
Click on the triangle or link above to hear my conversation with director Joel Sucher as broadcast today on WBAI NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In 2017, Mark Baumer an artist activist with all the energy of a young Jim Carrey, started walking across the United States, barefoot. His aim was to warn of the dangers of climate change, but came up against his own dangers. I spoke with Julie Sokolow, the director of a new documentary called Barefoot about that journey. In interviews and on-the-road footage she paints a portrait of an artist fighting to save the natural world he loved so much while grappling with his own need to find significance in his life.
Click on the triangle or link above to hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show over WBAI.org and Pacifica stations across the nation.
I recently had a pleasant email exchange with noted author and producer Jerry Zolten who told me that he had picked up a one-sheet poster for the Keaton short from a collector who ran an appliance store. The collector had been deeded a bunch of movie posters by the daughter of a movie house owner who didn’t know what to do with the extra posters lying around, so she gave them to him.
Jerry kindly gave me permission to display the poster here.
Jerry is a very interesting guy, and in addition to teaching university courses on stand-up comedy and the roots of rock ‘n’ roll he produced a remarkable audio documentary about the music and radio of the Vietnam War. It’s so difficult to capture the true spirit of a former time, but if you were alive at the time, this will give you flashbacks:
Last week , I posted Part One of an interview with Dr Ken Paul Rosenberg, the creator of the book and film documentary, Bedlam. He talked about the present crisis state of mental health care in the US. This week we continue with the final part of that conversation as we talk about political considerations —-and Dr. Rosenberg’s personal stake in the story.
Click on the triangle above to hear the conversation as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
The cliché is that time is money, and it must be true because there are plenty of folks out there looking to steal our time. My guest, Cosima Dannoritzer is the writer and director of an award-winning documentary film called Time Thieves, which takes an international look at the way time has become commodified and manipulated in modern capitalist society.
Click on the triangle above to hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.
As readers of this blog know, I’m a longtime fan of cartoons from The New Yorker magazine—and the man who wrote and illustrated almost 2000 of those cartoons was a prolific artist named James Stevenson.
But Stevenson, as Sally Williams’s new film documentary, Stevenson—Lost and Found, uncovers, led an unexpectedly complicated, rich, varied, and sometimes dark artistic life. I was happy to talk with Ms. Williams, the director and producer of the film, about her film and her enigmatic subject.
Click on the triangle above to hear the radio interview, as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI 99. FM NYC, and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
You may know of the great British director Michael Apted for his thrillers including the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, or you may know him for his outstanding work with Sissy Spacek in the Academy Award-nominated Coal Miner’s Daughter, or his work with Jodie Foster in Nell. But for many, Michael Apted’s greatest achievement was begun 56 years ago when he selected 14 British schoolchildren from different social and economic classes for the documentary called 7 Up. He subsequently chronicled their physical, emotional, social, and mental lives in ongoing 7-year installments. In a remarkable coup, Apted is now releasing 63 Up, and the 7-year-olds we met in 1964 are now all 63 years old.
I was lucky to interview Mr. Apted for the radio program Arts Express. Click on the triangle to hear the interview as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM, NYC
Last Thursday WBAI broadcast the interview I did with filmmaker Ken Burns, whose new PBS documentary Jackie Robinson airs April 11-12. Burns talks with me about the myths that have grown around the legend of Jackie Robinson, and the whole process of filmmaking.
If you have any interest in baseball, film, or American history I think you’ll greatly enjoy listening to this interview with a great American documentarian.
Thanks to Mario Sanchez for helping to edit this radio piece.