Alex Gibney

Sundance Review: Fela Kuti’s Wild Life of Sex, Drugs, and Afrobeat Takes Center Stage in FINDING FELA

Article: Sundance Review: Fela Kuti’s Wild Life of Sex, Drugs, and Afrobeat Takes Center Stage in FINDING FELA

FINDING FELA, prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s latest work, faces the challenge of depicting a contradictory artist. But that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. On the contrary, the film — about the life, times and music of Afrobeat superstar and Nigerian revolutionary Fela Kuti — is exceptionally watchable. Kuti’s wild life never loses its surprise ingredients: from the time he married 27 girls in one ceremony to his involvement with a “spiritual guru” who slit throats for party demonstrations. The film’s challenge lays in its difficult hero, an enormously talented and charismatic man who was also troubled, stubborn, unpredictable, and probably not entirely sane.

Sundance Film Festival 2011 – indie mecca or Hollywood extravaganza?

Article: Sundance Film Festival 2011 – indie mecca or Hollywood extravaganza?

It must be January. Having packed the Golden Globes, the AFI luncheon, the Broadcast Critics Film Association awards, and a zillion other galas and parties into one weekend, it’s now on to the next thing: Sundance, which kicks off on Thursday, meaning Hollywood has exactly three days to get over their hangovers, charge a few more North Face puffy jackets to the AmEx, and figure out how, exactly, to fit in three movies, four dinners, and two after-parties into one Saturday night.

Documentary filmmakers rally around CRUDE director

Article: Documentary filmmakers rally around CRUDE director

CRUDE director Joe Berlinger.

Earlier this month, when a judge ruled that documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger was to turn over all 600-plus hours of footage he shot for his film CRUDE to the oil giant Chevron, which is seeking the footage to help the company defend itself from the litigation efforts depicted in the film, several of Berlinger’s fellow directors immediately expressed dismay at the decision and support for their colleague.

“It makes me shudder to think that all that stuff would be turned over,” documentarian Ric Burns (who produced THE CIVIL WAR (1990) with his brother Ken Burns) told the New York Times, “not because of any secrets that are revealed, but because of the killer blow to the trust a filmmaker cultivated, deeply, over a very long period of time.”

Burns contended that the ruling, if upheld, could have long-term effects. “Next time, there won’t be a CRUDE. There won’t be a film,” he said. “That’ll be good for Chevron, I guess. Because the next time you go, you’re going to have a much leerier group of informants.”

Michael Moore (of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE) agreed. “The chilling effect of this is, someone like me, if something like this is upheld, the next whistle blower at the next corporation is going to think twice about showing me some documents if that information has to be turned over to the corporation that they’re working for,” Moore told the New York Times, suggesting that Berlinger resist turning over the footage “if he can.” He added, “I think that he’ll find that he’ll have the support of hundreds of filmmakers who will back him in this.”

While Moore has occasionally been accused of exaggerating for effect, in this case, his prediction proved to be spot-on.

Read The Book

Article: Read The Book

We are continually told that Sundance is for the filmmakers. True enough, but at Dolly’s Bookstore on Main Street it is also for the authors. Right next to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – in case reading makes you hungry – Dolly’s takes advantage of the film festival by stocking up on film books and roping in authors for signings and readings. In recent years, producer Christine Vachon A Killer’s Life, Roger Ebert and others have showed up with their books. Manager Sue Fassett sets out to find literary connections the minute the Festival issued their line up.

Update: A Sad Sight: Iraq At Sundance

Article: Update: A Sad Sight: Iraq At Sundance

UPDATE: GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB had an exciting year with its nominations for three Emmys including: Outstanding Directing, Picture Editing, and Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming, and winning the Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Special. “Not only does the film thoroughly and skillfully explain the context in which something as heinous as Abu Ghraib could happen, it attempts to understand the psychology of those involved.” – James Greenberg (Hollywood Reporter)