#16: Meet CHARISE STUDESVILLE

23 10 2009

CHARISE STUDESVILLE, writer/director/producer

Film: THE HANDS

Screens: Saturday Oct. 24, 4:45 pm – Emerging Stars: Filmmakers on the Edge program

The Hands is a story of the love between a father and daughter that can’t last in its original pure state. As the grown-up daughter now sits at her father’s bedside in his final hours, she becomes fixated upon his hands and how they have come to represent all of who he was, as a man and as a father.

The Hands

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I have spent most of my life in the midwest, growing up for much of my childhood in Madison, WI, and returning there to attend the University of Wisconsin.  Since graduating from college, I have lived in Chicago.  For the past two years, I have split my time between Los Angeles and Chicago.

I was born a multi-cultural baby before it was chic.  Coming from different worlds on either side of my family, I learned very early on to look beyond the surface to view who people really are, at their core.

While there were definitely times when my being culturally different from the blond-haired, blue-eyed standard of beauty that defined the population where I grew up, I have to say that I always felt my mixed-race status was a bonus.  From the very beginning, I loved and was loved by very different people from very different worlds.  It’s funny, but no matter where I go in the world, people assume I am one of them, a member of their cultural tribe.  I really think this has informed my filmmaking. I have always been able to hone in on the humanist element in people, and in the characters I create in my writing and filmmaking.  You can’t learn that in school.  You either have the sensibilities, or not.  I am thankful for all of the nations that live within my heart, and I think the world is finally catching up with my view.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I was trained as a journalist at the University of Wisconsin School of journalism.  I went on to use my writing skills within politics, the law, non-profits, etc., but always circled back to fiction writing.

A few years ago, I began studying screenwriting and filmmaking, first during my graduate studies at DePaul University, and then at the Iowa Writers Workshop.  I subsequently wrote several screenplays that won awards in various writing contests.  After learning the production side of the business during an internship at Martin Chase Productions (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Cheetah Girls, The Princess Diaries), I knew that the one piece left to learn was directing.  I was accepted into the USC/Warner Brothers Directing & Producing Program, where it all sort of came together for me.  I was able to come out of the program and head directly into production of my directorial debut, along with executive producing another film.

My instructor at USC really helped me in placing a template of organization over the already-honed film aesthetics that came from studying the craft for so many years.

With all of that said, I still feel that my most useful training came from the year I spent as a young girl in a body cast, literally forced to watch the world go by.  My imagination served as my friend all of those months, and now it serves as the basis for my career.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

One of the screenplays that I wrote is a modern version of The Big Chill, but populated by a multi-culti cast of women friends.  Each woman has a complicated and sometimes haunting background story as they come into the present.

The Hands is one such back story.  It is based upon the real-life experience of many women I have met, myself included, who idolized their fathers as little girls, but who as adults had to come to grips with the reality that Daddy was just a man, a flawed human being.  It is a pivitol moment for both daughters and fathers, and I wanted to look at it up close. I also wanted to explore the ideas of memory, loss, and forgiveness within the confines of the father/daughter relationship.  This story seemed the perfect way to do just that.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

It’s the last spoken words of the film:  Joy and sadness are not exclusive of one another.  One can be happy to be free of the imprisonment, but still long for the familiarity of the captor.

It applies to a lot of different kinds of relationships.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Room With A View was the first film I remember seeing and thinking that I would love to create something that could transport the viewer so completely to another place and time, and relay the longings and experiences of the characters to the viewer, both visually and emotionally.

Daughters of The Dust and Eve’s Bayou left a longing in my heart for the experience of actually becoming a filmmaker.  Both of these films drove me to begin the dig, to figure out how story and picture become one.





#15: Meet HAIK GAZARIAN

22 10 2009

HAIK GAZARIAN, director

Film: VENEZZIA

OPENING NIGHT Feature Film: Friday Oct. 23rd – Red Carpet 6:30/Screening 8:00pm*

*North American Premier!

Official Site: http://www.venezzia.net/

It is February 1942. Pearl Harbor has been bombed and the Second World War is in full swing. A team of Allied military technicians arrives off the Venezuelan coast to patrol German U-boats. Frank Moore (Alfonso Herrera) is assigned to the remote town of Puerto Miranda. There, Frank becomes embroiled in a Nazi plot to sabotage oil supplies destined for Allied ports. He also meets the beautiful and mysterious Venezzia (Ruddy Rodríguez), wife of his commander Captain Henry Salvatierra (Rafael Romero). Longing to escape from the clutches of her domineering husband, Venezzia senses an instant mutual attraction with Frank. Will the two unleash the passion that lies within?

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

In my early years as a Talent Manager I lived in Bogotá , Colombia; Lima, Peru; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Paris, France;  Moscow, Russia; NYC, Miami and LA and of course Caracas Venezuela. I have been influenced a bit by all these places. But I can say that Latin American has helped shape the way I live and think, and most importantly, my point of view of our cultures.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I started making films when I was 6 years old. At that time my father help me to shoot, develop and edit my film – first in Super 8 mm, and then I moved to 16 mm. I remember going to a TV station and watched how editors edit their news reels. Then I learned the craft and experience by just doing it: shooting and then looking at the results. In 1990 I did my first music video and after 6 years of working in TV commercials, music videos and TV shows I went film school in NYC to learn the rest.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

I grew up listening WWII stories from my dad, always from the European and Asian points of view, but when I was in NYC attending film school I started to learn about Venezuela during those years and how important Venezuela was in supplying oil to the allies.

I wanted to make my first film a Love story and surround  a clasic tale of love and Duty with a fresh point of view of WWII. I spent several years creating the background story of my main characters (Frank, Venezzia, and Salvatierra).  I went to Margarita Island and Trinidad Island to interview survivors and from there to help build the story of Frank and Venezzia.

The historical facts are accurate: on February 16 Nazy U-Boat 502 topedoed and sank 7 Oil Tankers of the coast of Venezuela. VENEZZIA is built around that tragic weekend

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

‘You are one out of Many”

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Apocaliptico, Shielder List, Braveheart, The Lives of Others, Kite Runner

New Venezzia Poster





#14: Meet Erika Cohn

21 10 2009

ERIKA COHN, writer/director

Film: WHEN THE VOICES FADE

Screening: Saturday Oct. 24th, 3:30pm – Peace in the Middle East program

When the Voices Fade is a portrait of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict seen through the eyes of a Lebanese-American dance instructor, Nadia, and an Israeli Defense Forces pilot, Amir.

When the 2006 war breaks out, Amir is called back to duty, forcing him to evaluate his moral objections to serving again. After Nadia and Amir coincidently meet at a coffee shop, Amir’s decision to return to Israel becomes more complicated. Despite the powerful voices who are in opposition to Nadia’s and Amir’s respective sides, they are both able to reconcile their differences, until Beirut is bombed.

When Voices Fade

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I was born and raised in an interfaith family in Salt Lake City, Utah – a city where faith defines who a person is.  Growing up in this kind of environment gave me an appreciation for all different faiths and cultures while cultivating my drive to help reconcile differences between various groups in conflict.  Art was my way of doing so.  I had started acting, singing and dancing at an early age and loved expressing myself creatively.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

In addition to Utah being a place of faith, it also hosts the Sundance Film Festival.  I grew up with the film festival practically in my backyard and became fascinated with the art of filmmaking.  I made my first film, Searching Faith, when I was 16, which was sponsored by the Sundance Institute and Spy Hop Productions.  The film explores interfaith relationships and marriages in predominantly Mormon, Salt Lake City.  Making this film helped me to better understand my family’s dynamics in addition to being a universal topic that many individuals struggle with. After that experience, I was hooked.  I continued my filmmaking education at Chapman University in Orange, California where I obtained a BFA in Film Production a BA in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in theatre.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

My co-writer, Natasha Atalla, and I began writing the script during the 2006 war and poured ourselves into the story.  Over the 2 years of script development, ideas changed corresponding with what was happening in our lives.  From conversations that we had about the conflict to my experiences through being a bellydance instructor,When the Voices Fade is very much based on our own personal lives.  Therefore this has always been a film that is close to my heart.

Why the 2006 war?  It was a war that greatly affected Natasha and I.  Whether we liked it or not, we were immediately emotionally involved in a conflict that was thousands of miles away from our Southern California comfort, because of our ethnic backgrounds. Natasha and I both had family and friends who were in the region during that summer and were keeping up with their travel logs.  I read about the kidnappings in the news, but for those in the Middle East, it wasn’t an event worth noting in our correspondence. I never would have predicted a war, and reading the headlines, “Warfare In The Middle East,” was shocking.  I listened to the stories of my family and friends who were immediately trying to catch flights from Beirut and Tel Aviv, some who were unable to leave after the Beirut airport was bombed.  In the United States, many people who I spoke with were ill informed of a “new war.”  They thought the Middle East was always at war.  I wanted to make a film that challenged this idea and humanized the conflict.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

During Nadia and Amir’s dance exchange, they have several witty comments back and forth which are just wonderful.  I won’t be specific in order to save the surprise.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

I’ve been inspired by so many filmmakers in both the documentary and narrative worlds- it is difficult to name just a few.  My favorite films keep changing depending on the project I’m working on or the mood I’m in.  I would have to say that Born into Brothels definitely inspired me to continue my work in the documentary field, and to not solely focus on narrative filmmaking.





#13: Meet LUCY MARTENS

21 10 2009

Film:  VOICES FROM INSIDE – ISRAELIS SPEAK*

LUCY MARTENS, director/producer

Screening: Oct 24th, 3:30pm – Peace in the Middle East Program

*DISTINGUISHED FILM: Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award Winner, 2009*

This film is based on the stories of 16 Jewish Israeli voices of conscience, each representing a different facet of the peace movement inside Israel. Through their eyes and unique perspectives, the film traces Zionism from its beginnings to the reality that exist today, with brutal honesty.

It is a film about personal development, the evolution of consciousness of each person, moving from a perspective of nationalist myths to a revelation regarding moral choices for their society – a society that is permeated and defined by militarism and denial.

These cross-generational voices have all chosen to break Israel’s silence. They have created a path of transcendence, reconciliation and solidarity alongside the Palestinians, forging a path for real peace.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Having a german father and an english mother I was confronted with two different cultures from a young age. My grandparents and parents lived in the far east for many years and passed on to me a curiosity and openness towards traveling and experiencing other countries.

I studied Film and History in London, finished my degree and then left to live for three years in the Middle East, using Dubai as my main base. It was in Dubai that I discovered the world of documentary as a vehicle to explore and understand what is going on around us.

My first job consisted of logging hours of wildlife footage for “Arabia’s Cycle of life”, a 13 part series designed to create awareness of the diversity of Arabia’s wildlife. And thus I began my editing career. When the project was finished, I could not wait to create something myself. And so, with a friend,  I set off to Beirut. There, for two months, we followed and filmed the Druze Faith in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel. We never finished editing the film, but the whole making of it was a learning experience.

After Beirut, I went to Israel, where I stayed for two months. There I shot my first feature film: “Voices From Inside”.

I loved the region and wanting to see more of the Muslim World, I went to Afghanistan for the first time in 2006. Even though my base is now Berlin, I still frequently go back to Kabul. My current project is a documentary on the Afghan cricket team’s quest for World Cup qualification, which will be broadcasted on BBC summer 2010.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I always knew that I wanted to combine work with traveling and experiencing situations first-hand. And I found it important that my work had meaning and could help bring about change. Before I went to university in London, I saw a documentary which affected me deeply, so deeply in fact that it made me realize that uncovering the injustices of the world was what I wanted to devote my life to. The film was about the dying rooms in China, where orphaned girls are tied to chairs and just left to die. It was appalling. The one-child chinese policy and the second-rate status of girls means that only boys are valued and wanted.

My first great challenge was when I traveled alone to Israel to film “Voices From Inside”. My camera skills were still not highly developed then, but I knew I had the will and passion to learn. I was scared of the military presence and border police, but I had a mission. After Israel I knew that I had the strength and ambition to improve my film making and go to places that were not always danger-free. Since then I have been several times to Afghanistan, filmed for CNN, UNICEF and other charities.

Even though I had studied Film at University, I think that I only really learnt this craft by being constantly thrown into cold water and having to deal with it. I knew that I wanted to be a documentary film maker and never lost touch of my aim. I love the challenges and am still learning from my experiences today.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

The idea came from Marjorie Wright, the producer of ‘Voices From Inside’. I met her in Dubai and she was very much involved in the peace movement in Palestine. I got to know her and she started sending me articles from alternative media sources that changed my mind about the situation in Israel and Palestine. As a german, I was used to the kind of one-sided media indoctrination that never allowed any questioning of Israel’s use of military force. I had never heard of the occupation, hadn’t heard of the settlements, hadn’t heard of the only jewish roads, didn’t understand why the building of the wall affected so many Palestinian lives, never understood what the Palestinians were actually fighting for. But after spending time in the West Bank and experiencing first-hand the incredible injustices that are happening there on a daily basis, I could not let the topic go.

Marjorie’s idea was to base this film on the “one state solution”, as written in the book “Obstacles to Peace” by Jeff Halper. She offered to pay for my trip, and asked me to interview solely jewish Israelis to hear their side. With the help of Angela Godfrey, a highly engaged peace activist, we contacted 16 different characters involved in the peace movement in Israel, all who were very willing to talk. These interviews were much more than pure factual accounts for they became highly personal and branched far beyond the issue of the one state solution. Perhaps this is because even in a peace movement most activists don’t have the answer.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

My favorite line is when Yehuda Shaul, one of the IDF soldiers from the organization “Breaking the Silence” looks into the camera and says: “You don’t know what to do with yourself, you look into the mirror and all you see is evil. This is when we decided to break the silence.”

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Documentaries have helped me to see how much injustice is going on in the world. One of my favorite documentaries is “War Dance”, which tells the story of refugee children in Northern Uganda taking part in a national dancing competition. It is beautifully shot, edited and narrated. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in a film.

“Into this World”  by Michael Winterbottom is another amazingly honest film. It is a documentary about two Afghan children trying to flee to Britain.





#12: Meet MEHMET BINAY & CANER ALPER

20 10 2009

Films: “WHISPERING MEMORIES” and “TALKING PICTURES”

Mehmet Binay & M.Caner Alper

Screening: Oct. 24th, 12:30 pm – Armenian Program 1

WM-TP posters

Whispering Memories” is not a story of Armenians who had to leave Turkey but of those who stayed behind and silently became Muslims: they are now called the ‘Converts’.

This film documents ‘Armenian Converts’ and how they survived 1915 by remaining in the small village of Geben, in the Taurus mountains of Anatolia.

Talking Pictures,” is the sequel to Whispering Memorie. It shows the photographic journey of Ghazaros Kerjilian returning to his paternal home town of Geben, Turkey – and his search for his lost great uncle in 1915.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

We come from different backgrounds; Caner Alper, an engineering graduate but a self-taught screenwriter and Mehmet Binay, a political science graduate with professional experience in TV journalism. We’re trying to incorporate the power of fiction and non-fiction by getting inspired from real life and weaving these facts into dramatic stories.

Our family roots are also from different parts of Turkey. Mehmet has got roots in the Balkans and in Central Europe whereas Caner was born in the most western city of Izmir into a family of eastern Anatolian descent.

We’ve also been spending half of our time traveling in Asia, North America, Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East for business and inspiration. One requires a stranger’s point of view to life and people in order to be able to create compelling stories which few have noticed before. We need to alienate ourselves to our own culture, people and traditions for objectivity and creativity. This is how we define our way of story telling.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

Caner is a published writer and a self-taught screenwriter and he’s always been a cinema lover whereas Mehmet learned the craft of filmmaking in television productions. Reading non-fiction and literature is also a very important component of creating stories because your imagination in written texts has no limits but you face the challenge of turning these into visuals. Filmmaking is an art form where your imagination constantly needs to evolve and it needs to be supported with new techniques.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

“Whispering Memories” developed from a number of visits by Mehmet to Geben, a mountain village in southern Turkey, where village youngsters showed a desire to learn about their local history and, while investigating, came across Armenians who used to live in the area until 1915. Some of the witnesses of this era and members of the local Oral History Project were saying that some people in this village are direct descendants of converted Armenians who either silently or by force became Muslims to be able to avoid deportation in 1915. Mehmet’s initial journalistic instinct was to keep a distance to these rural historic conversations by using the camera as an observer only. Caner, later on, helped establishing strong cinematographic links by integrating a three-day rural wedding into the visual story and having it serve as a leitmotif throughout the film…

The sequel “Talking Pictures” to “Whispering Memories” showed us that documentaries are always alive and they evolve within time…”Kerjili” was the only Armenian name villagers of Geben in “Whispering Memories” remembered clearly and they told us how he left the village in 1915 and never came back. Soon after our premiere at the Golden Apricot Film Festival in Armenia, we received an email from someone telling that his father was from Geben and that he always wanted to go back there. The email was from Ghazaros Kerjilian which really surprised us because it immediately reminded us of the name “Kerjili” in Whispering Memories.

Our short documentary “Talking Pictures” tells the photographic journey of Ghazaros Kerjilian returning to his paternal home town of Geben and his search for the lost great uncle in 1915. In “Talking Pictures”, we used a different filmmaking technique and used only still photographs to tell our story. We took nearly 7.000 pictures and created continuous sequences after a long process of colour grading. We believe that photographs from archives and still photographs mix well together and they leave an eternal mark in people’s memories and we wanted to instigate that feeling among our viewers.

At the same time, music also plays an important role in our creative process serving as an indispensable part in our stories. In “Talking Pictures”, we worked with an Italian film music composer who listened to the Armenian song “Cilicia” which we’d recorded by one of our protagonists while shooting the documentary. Composer Paolo Poti carefully rearranged the music and based the entire soundtrack on this famous Armenian song with a classical approach. We are very excited about the international debut of “Talking Pictures” at ARPA International Film Festival in LA and we’re hoping to receive a lot of feedback from the screening.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

From WHISPERING MEMORIES: “A coward, a real coward is one that is afraid of one’s own memories.”

From TALKING PICTURES: “I had to go, I had to find out…”

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

So many! We basically love movies that cover many aspects of the identity issue. Some of the films that have influenced us are: Europa, The Edge of Heaven, Baader Meinhof Komplex, Le Dernier Metro, Hable Con Ella, The Reader, Tous les matins du Monde, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, City of God, Remains of the Day, Bicycle Thief, Sophie’s Choice, Constant Gardener, Reds, Being There, Lives of Others, The Crying Game, The City of Lost Children, A Short Film about Killing, Delicatessen, Ice Storm, Wedding Banquet.

Whispering Memories Trailer –

Talking Pictures Trailer –





#11: Meet ALEX WEBB

20 10 2009

ALEX WEBB, writer/director/producer

Film: “HOVE” (“THE WIND”)

Screening: Saturday Oct. 24th, 7pm

Two Armenian women’s friendship is deeply affected by a chance encounter with the past and the powerful, unresolved legacy of the Armenian Genocide.

Zara (played by Olympia Dukakis) is visited by her friend Nina (played by Shirleyann Kaladjian) at her Armenian cultural bookstore. Zara is reading a mysterious book that has deeply disturbed her.

Hove poster

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I married into the Armenian community some years ago and was welcomed with open arms.  Right from the beginning I felt very comfortable in the community,  and as a result I have become as some say “ABC” = Armenian By Choice.  Through my son, Andranik and my wife, Shirleyann Kaladjian, the Armenian community has become my community and as a writer it has influenced what I am thinking about and writing about.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

When I was 11 I discovered that our local library had 8mm films (Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy).  For my next birthday I got a used 8mm projector from a pawn shop and started showing these films to family and friends.  I think this was the beginning of really considering filmmaking.  As an actor, I have worked in front of the camera for twenty years.  While on the set, I have always used my down time to talk with cinematographers, gaffers, and directors.  I have made my working life as an actor my film school.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

I knew that I wanted to build a story around some photographs from the Genocide.   I grew up a fairly typical American kid and I knew that throughout school and watching films and TV I had seen many indelible images from the Holocaust but it struck me that I had never seen an image from the Armenian Genocide.  I thought what would it do to the denial efforts of the Turkish government if more people had just seen these photos?  Once you have seen the photos, I feel that it almost makes you a witness to the event.  I believe that people that have seen these photos will hopefully be less vulnerable to the ridiculous disinformation that is put out there.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

Olympia’s character (Zara) says to her younger friend (Nina played by Shirleyann Kaladjian), “Yes, you’ve seen before … But now you understand.”  This is really the center of the film.  The moment when someone discovers a deeper understanding of something important to their own identity, and who they are within their family, within their culture.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

“You Can’t Take It With You” is a very important film to me, it is everything you could want in a film:  very entertaining, brilliantly written, beautifully directed by Capra,  amazing characters, funny and in addition to all that, deeply subversive and powerful.  A simple message, life is much more interesting than the bean-counters, the politicians and some of your teachers tell you.  There are endless choices and it’s up to you to pick the most challenging and passionate you can find.   When I saw this film, just out of college, at the American Film Institute it really made me pause.  What am I going to do with my life?  I think that film asks us to make a true choice not the easy one.  More recently “Alien” (Ridley Scott is a model for detail, frame and never compromising) and “Pulp Fiction” (Tarantino reminds us that the only limits to filmmaking are your own creativity) and Truffaut’s “Day for Night” for just being in love with films and filmmaking.





#10: Meet JOIE WALLS

19 10 2009

JOIE WALLS, co-writer/director/producer

Film: RETURN TO MEXICO CITY

Screening: Saturday Oct. 24th, 5:45pm, Window to the World Program

Return to Mexico City is a documentary about Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos and their actions during the1968 Olympics in Mexico City. After winning medals, both men bowed their heads and raised a black-gloved fist toward the sky as the national anthem played – an action both men said represented not only the American struggle for racial equality but the universal struggle for basic human rights.

The film, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, focuses on their dramatic actions and the aftermath of their struggles over the ensuing 40 years. It also features Smith and Carlos returning to Mexico City together for the first time since their controversial dismissal from the 1968 Summer Games. It features interviews with Tom Brokaw and President Barack Obama.

Co-Written, Directed and Produced by Maura Mandt and Joie Walls

Return to Mexico City

1. Please tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life:

I was raised in Los Angeles, California, but my family is from Jamaica.

I attended a prestigious private high school in Los Angeles, and was one of only 5 minority students in the graduating class. This was a difficulty I found throughout my education from elementary to college – that there were very few people of my culture and ethnicity around me at school.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I studied filmmaking in college, as I was about 20 when I decided that was what I wanted to do. I was a double in major in film and political science. I thought that if I could apply some of my political education into my filmmaking I would be able to make a difference in society.

I practiced the craft in my student films, and upon graduation I received a job at ESPN in New York. There I was able to hone my skills into directing and producing short features. Eventually, I gained a reputation for making politically conscious pieces with a sports angle.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

Return to Mexico City began as a short feature for the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for the 2008 ESPY Awards.

After the 7 minute piece premiered in July of 2008, we had so much compelling material left that we felt it would be an injustice to let it all sit on the cutting room floor. But what could we add to the story?

As we watched the two men interact at the ESPY Awards, old friends who had lost touch for various reasons over the years, we could see that a big aspect of the story was their relationship. Again, we returned to the men to discuss doing further interviews and taking them back to Mexico City together for the first time in 40 years. After some encouraging, they were finally convinced.

They too felt as though their full story had never been told and that perhaps the missing variable had always been the fact that they had never told it together. We agreed that the perfect time would be the anniversary of the stand, October 16th, 2008 and started working on the project as full length documentary.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

John Carlos:  I ask myself over and over again if I knew my wife woulda took her life  would I have done that? You know and that’s a heavy question. But my wife would have had to die again. Because I’d a done it because it was so necessary to do. I think that was more important than her life or my life.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Requiem for a Dream, Dancing in the Dark & Breaking the Waves, American Beauty, Wall-E, Do the Right Thing & School Daze, Bowling for Columbine, everything Hitchcock, Grey Gardens documentary, Born into Brothels