Oscar nominated “The Square” is a powerful documentary that puts you right in the middle of the streets of Cairo- esp Tahrir Square, which was the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution.
People were fighting for their basic rights like food point out the filmmakers. People found each other says Jehane and that is where the filmmakers found the people whose story they follow in the film. And Tahrir Square became “the battle of narratives,” adds Karim.
The filmmakers spent over 2 years of the revolution that saw the fall of one government and the installation of another and the fall of that government too.
In Part-2 of our interview Jehane and Karim take you behind the scenes and share how they made this documentary. They also share how they re-cut the film and how their editor Pedro Kos helped with that.
“The Square” has won awards at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival.
The film was acquired by Netflix, where it is available.
You can listen to Part-1 of our interview in case you missed it.
This interview was recorded in San Francisco in December 2013 and you have the option to watch the video interview with the filmmakers.
In Part-1 Jehane and Karim take us behind the scenes and share how they made this very unusual documentary that traces the birth of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Sitting in the comfort of our homes, we watched the revolt unfold in Tahrir Square on our TV and computer monitors. We saw President Mubarak’s government topple and a new one come in its place and that government also collapsed.But, ever wondered what was it like to be right there in the middle of Tahrir Sqaure? That is what “The Square” is about. You are right there in the middle as the filmmakers take you through months of protest in Tahrir Square.
How did the filmmakers find the people whose story they follow in “The Square”? ”People found each other in the Square,” points out Karim. Through the lives of a young activist, a Muslim Brotherhood member and other activists the film puts you at the heart of the agitation and gives you a close view of that tumultuous period in Egyptian history. People were fighting for their basic survival needs like bread explain the filmmakers.
They also share how Netflix came to acquire their documentary. This is the first documentary Netflix acquired for its original content series and released it online in Jan 2014. “The Square” is up for an Oscar (2014) in the documentary category.
Jehane Noujaim has been making documentary films for close to 10 years now. She directed the film and Karim Amer produced it. Pedro Kos is the editor of the film.
We met with the filmmakers in December 2013 in San Francisco and recorded the interview.
Watch a short video clip on how Netflix acquired the rights for “The Square.”
Every year Silicon Valley holds its annual Cinequest film festival that is a fusion of technology and arts. This year Cinequest is celebrating its 24th year in downtown San Jose from March 3-16, 2014.
Our guest today is Halfdan Hussey, co-founder and director of Cinequest Film Festival, who shares the highlights of this year’s festival. Connect is the theme for the 2014 Cinequest. Connecting & discovering new worlds, artists and innovation is what the festival aims to do this year says Hussey.
“The Grand Seduction” is the opening night film. A Canadian comedy film it stars Taylor Kitsch, Brendon Glesson and is directed by Don McKellar. Director Joel Surnow’s “Small Time” is the closing night film starring Christopher Meloni, Dean Norris, Devon Bostick, Bridget Moynahan, and Kevin Nealon. Surnow (“24″ fame) and Meloni will attend the festival on the closing night.
Marty Cooper “father of the cell phone” and actor Mathew Modine will be at the festival to receive the newly instituted Maverick Innovator’s Award. Neil Gaiman, the sic-fi writer will be at the festival on March 9 to receive a Maverick Spirit Award. Gaiman is the author of the comic series “The Sandman.”
Cinequest is billed as one of the top 10 film festivals in the world points out Hussey and adds the festival has grown to become the second largest film festival in North America right behind The Toronto Film Festival (TIFF).
For tickets and information go to Cinequest’s website.
Indian independent filmmaker Nishtha Jain’s new documentary Gulabi Gang is a fascinating portrayal of one woman’s dedication to help and empower women in her community. Gulabi Gang (pink sari gang) is a grassroots woman’s organization founded by Sampat Pal Devi in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Through the documentary you come to know and understand Sampat Pal, a plain-speaking, no-nonsese and savvy advocate for women’s rights in her community. With barely any education or a family to support her Sampat Pal has fearlessly championed for the poor women in her neighborhood.
Gulabi Gang is a powerful documentary that highlights how Sampat Pal is forging a new way of empowering women in her community in Bundelkhan. Women don’t help other women points out Sampat Pal and she goes on to add that when a girl child is born into a family there is instant sorrow and unhappiness, but that is not the case if a boy child is born. And then when a woman marries and goes to her new family she is made unwelcome there and sometimes loses her life. There is no one to fend for women at times of crisis Sampat Pal adds. To help other women in crisis and to empower them Sampat Pal founded “gulabi gang,” or the “pink sari,” gang that rallies and helps women, and in some cases seeks justice if the woman dies under mysterious circumstances. Under Sampat Pal’s leadership the organization has about 40,000 members.
We spoke with Nishta Jain in San Francisco during the 3rd i South Asian Film Festival to find out what prompted her to make this film, and how she plans to distribute the film. We also find out more about Sampat Pal and her future plans, which apparently may include a foray into the world of politics.
Gulabi Gang was shows as the 3rd i South Asian film festival in San Francisco and Palo Alto in November 2013.
Related Link: Nishtha Jain video interview
Academy award winner Lisa Fruchtman has worked as an editor in Hollywood films and television. She has worked in such iconic films like Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, Children of A Lesser God, Godfather-3 among others. And recently she released her first documentary film Sweet Dreams that she made with her brother Bob Fruchtman.
Lisae got her start with Chicago-based Kartemquin Films and then moved to San Francisco Bay area where she worked in documentaries and Hollywood films. In the 1970s and 1980s Francis Ford Coppola and Phil Kaufman made their iconic films from the bay area.
n Part-2 of our conversation Lisa talks about how she began her career in the film industry as an editor and what it was like working with Coppola and Kaufman. For instance, they worked on Coppola’s Apocalypse Now for over 2 years. Besides mainstream Hollywood films Lisa also worked on The Grateful Dead documentary.
Photo credit: Sweet Dreams website
Academy award winner Lisa Fruchtman has worked as an editor in Hollywood films and television, and now has her first documentary out called “Sweet Dreams.” She collaborated with her brother Rob Fruchtman in making this unusual film that captures the dreams, hopes and the healing of a group of women in Rwanda.
Through “Sweet Dreams,” the Fruchtmans’ highlight how drumming and opening an ice cream shop helped a group of women rebuild their lives in post-genocide Rwanda. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda left the country badly scarred and battered with uneasy relationships between the various tribal groups in the country. Healing and rebuilding their lives was a major challenge for many, who had lost their family members. A group of women found their way to healing and happiness in an unusual way. They first created the first all-women drumming group and then went on to open an ice cream shop with the help of 2 New York entrepreneurs.
In Part-1 of our interview we spoke with Lisa on how and why she got to make this unusual film set in Rwanda.
“Sweet Dreams” has won a handful of awards in various film festivals and releases in San Francisco bay area on Dec 6, 2013.
Lisa has worked as an editor in many well-known Hollywood films like “Godfather 3,” “Apocalypse Now,” ”The Right Suff,” and others.
Photo credit: Sweet Dreams
When you think of Americans in India in the early 20thc not too many names may come to your mind right? But, there was a small trickle of Americans who came to India in the early 20thc and one of them was Samuel Evans Stokes, who later was known by his Indian name Satyanand Stokes. He [...]
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Oscar nominated “The Square” is a powerful documentary that puts you right in the middle of the streets of Cairo- esp Tahrir Square, which was the epicenter of the Egyptian Revolution. Tahrir Square or the “maidan” is where director Jehane Noujaim and producer Karim Amer spent many months capturing the unfolding of the revolution. “The [...]