STF Spring Season begins Tuesday, April 14!


Our twenty-seventh season begins with KING GEORGES following Philadelphia’s famed chef Georges Perrier as he faces pressures to close his restaurant Le Bec-Fin. The line-up includes sneak previews of highly anticipated docs such as SUNSHINE SUPERMAN and THE WOLFPACK along with revivals of classic docs such as Alan and Susan Raymond’s THE POLICE TAPES (1977) and Nick Broomfield’s AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER (2003).

“Spring is a time for discovery and that’s what this season offers,” said STF Artistic Director Thom Powers. “For people who have never been to STF or haven’t come in a while, this line-up has a little of everything – food, art, true crime, politics, history and characters who truly embody the phrase Stranger Than Fiction.”

Download the STF Spring Calendar here.<a href="http://stfdocs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/STF-Spring2015-Calendar.jpg" target="_blank">Download the STF Spring Calendar here.</a>

The season starts on April 14 with KING GEORGES, playing only a few days after its world premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Festival. Several other STF titles have won recognition on the festival circuit including AFTER THE DANCE (April 28) about an Irish filmmaker looking for lost family in NYC; MADINA’S DREAM (May 5) set against the backdrop of war in South Sudan; SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (May 19) about BASE-jumping pioneers; and THE WOLFPACK (closing night of the spring season on June 2) about six brothers who grew up locked inside a Lower East Side apartment. Playing as a work-in-progress NAM JUNE PAIK & TV LAB (April 21) explores the father of video art and an experimental era of public television. Three nights bring acclaimed veteran doc makers to STF: AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER (a special Thursday presentation on April 23) with Nick Broomfield; THE POLICE TAPES (May 12) with Alan and Susan Raymond; and HOT TYPE: 150 YEARS OF THE NATION (May 26) with Barbara Kopple.

The regular STF spring season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night for eight weeks, starting April 14 (plus a Thursday special on April 23). Each event includes a discussion with the filmmaker or special guests, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar.

Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $16 for the general public and $13 for IFC Center members. Click here to purchase tickets and watch trailers. A Season Pass, available for $99 ($80 for IFC Center members), covers admission to all 9 evenings, plus additional perks including free popcorn at each STF screening and a free DVD courtesy of Docurama. Click here to order a season pass.


STF Winter ’15 Season Announced


Join us this season for an eclectic mix of sneak previews and retrospectives, including appearances by filmmakers Marc Levin, Ian Olds, Liz Garbus and film subject Seymour Bernstein.

Our season opens on Feb 3 with THE HAND THAT FEEDS, winner of the DOC NYC Audience Award, focusing on a labor battle at a Hot & Crusty restaurant on the Upper East Side. The STF line-up features four other sneak previews: Marc Levin’s FREEWAY: A CRACK IN THE SYSTEM (Feb 10) about drug dealer “Freeway” Rick Ross; Ethan Hawke’s SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION (Mar 10) about piano teacher Seymour Bernstein; Anthony Baxter’s A DANGEROUS GAME (Mar 12); about protestors fighting Donald Trump; and, for the season’s closing night, THE MUSES OF ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER (Mar 24), directed by Shaul Betser & Asaf Galay, about the Nobel prize winning author and his harem of translators. The season also features four retrospective screenings: THE BEST OF EGG THE ARTS SHOW (Feb 17) celebrating the WNET arts program that was ahead of its time; OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND (Feb 24), the 2005 Iraq war doc by Ian Olds & the late Garrett Scott for its 10th anniversary; THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA (Mar 3), the 1998 Oscar-nominated prison doc by Liz Garbus & Jonathan Stack; and TO TELL THE TRUTH: A HISTORY OF DOCUMENTARY 1928-46 (Mar 17) Cal Skaggs & David Van Taylor’s profiles of non-fiction film pioneers. The STF winter season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night at 8:00 pm for eight weeks, plus special screenings on Jan 19 and Mar 12. Each event includes a discussion with the filmmakers, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar.

“Sharing great documentaries with an audience is a great way to beat the winter blues,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers, who also programs for the Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC and SundanceNOW Doc Club. “This selection of films will entertain, inspire, anger and illuminate.”

Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $16 for the general public and $13 for IFC Center members. Click here to purchase tickets and watch trailers. A Season Pass, available for $99 ($80 for IFC Center members), covers admission to all 9 evenings, plus additional perks including free popcorn at each STF screening and a free DVD courtesy of Docurama. Click here to order a season pass.


STF Season Passholder Perks


winterpassuse

We’ve just announced the STF Winter ’15 Season! The season will showcase an eclectic mix of sneak previews and retrospectives, including appearances by filmmakers Marc Levin, Ian Olds, Liz Garbus and film subjects such as Seymour Bernstein.

Save money with a winter season pass that gains you admission on Jan 19 and all STF winter screenings, a total of 10 films for $99 (or $80 for IFC Center members). Additional perks include:

  • Free popcorn at all STF shows
  • a free DVD courtesy of Docurama
  • AND if you can’t attend, you can transfer your pass to a friend.

 

Tickets and season passes now available! Click here to purchase a season pass, or to buy individual tickets.


Capturing Stax Records’ soul and R&B legacy


This post was written by STF blogger Krystal Grow.

The legendary Stax recording studio produced some of the finest and most influential soul and R&B music of the 60s and 70s. Now all that remains is a vacant lot in Memphis, TN. There’s a tarnished sign on the sidewalk that bears tribute to the former music mecca with a list of names that reads like a roll call of soul singers, from Otis Redding to Rufus Thomas, Sam and Dave to The Bar-Kays. In 1999, with journalist Roger Friedman in tow, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus set out to find these legends, and document not only their impact on the development of an entire genre of music, but to preserve their legacy.

“We’ll probably never see anything like that ever again,” Pennebaker said following the screening of ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE, the last film in Stranger Than Fiction’s eight-week tribute to the filmmaking duo. “I grew up on jazz. I had no idea this incredible music was right here in the middle of America.”

Through a series of candid interviews and observations, as well as a healthy serving of live performance footage, Pennebaker, Hegedus and Friedman follow some of the most important figures in the evolution of Memphis soul music. Standing outside the site of the former Stax studio, Carla Thomas, the ‘Princess of Soul,’ and daughter of Rufus Thomas, tells the story of her entrance into the soul scene as a teenager, singing sugar-coated songs in a girl group, and later as a solo artist. Having left her music career behind to pursue a college education, she returns to the studio to record updated versions of her most popular songs, and like they did with the cast of COMPANY and Dave Lambert, Pennebaker and his team capture all the energy of a live studio session through their unobtrusive yet intimate lens.

Outside the studio, many of the Stax legends were still performing when the film was made in 1999. From venues with revolving stages to banquet halls in small southern towns, the smoldering sound resonates with the same intensity that soul music is known for. From Wilson Pickett to Mary Wilson, Pennebaker and Hegedus reveal a resilience in these artists that has traversed profound personal tragedies and the downfall of the Stax, the epicenter of the Memphis sound.

“I wanted it to go on forever,” Pennebaker said. “It was really amazing to see these performers, whose names I knew, but who I’d never seen perform, and didn’t know were still even performing.” Hegedus agreed,”Most of these performances weren’t in the biggest venues,” she said, “but everyone really just went for it and gave it their all.”

Valerie Simpson, of the influential Ashford and Simpson songwriting/production/performing duo, was in the audience at the IFC center for the screening, and during the Q&A said that while her memories of soul music were still strong, the film itself achieved something that few people could have accomplished.

“Your love of the music allowed you to have a relationship with people that other people couldn’t have had,” she said to Friedman, who helped Hegedus and Pennebaker gain access to the subjects they followed in the film. “I loved seeing the people I love in this film in their natural state, like they really were, and that was because of you.”

Stranger Than Fiction’s twenty-fifth season featured an eight-week tribute to the careers of D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Krystal Grow is an arts writer and photo editor based in New York. She has written for TIME LightBox, TIME.com, LIFE.com, the New York Times Lens Blog, the Magnum Foundation and the DOC NYC blog. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kgreyscale.


The War Room: The Clinton Campaign and The Politics of Personality


This post was written by STF blogger Krystal Grow.

Elections are always electric. In it’s worst form, political turmoil is abrasive and dangerously discouraging to potential voters. But the energy that radiates from the political process is helplessly contagious, and on this past Election Night in New York City, a crowd gathered at the IFC Center to see filmmaking team D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus dissect the campaign machine behind Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential victory.

THE WAR ROOM was intended as a portrait of a candidate on his way to the Oval Office, but after Pennebaker and Hegedus unsuccessfully attempted to follow the Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, who was largely unaccessible on the campaign trail, they realized that the charisma the Clinton brought to podiums and press conferences was in abundance among the campaign staff.

Led by James Carville, the whip-smart, fast-talking southerner, and the brilliant and charming George Stephanopolous, the Clinton campaign team was a new breed of political organizers. A grassroots team that was mobilizing voters in the pre-crowd-sourcing days, Clinton staffers were endlessly enthusiastic, and determined to succeed.

“We walked into George’s office and told him we wanted to do a film about a man becoming president, which was foolish of us, really,” Pennebaker said in the Q&A following the film. “They were after the sound bites for the six o’clock news, but George said that if James said it was ok, we could do it.”

Luckily, Carville was already a fan, having seen Pennebaker’s rarely seen 1964 film CAMPAIGN MANAGER that followed John Grenier as he orchestrated Barry Goldwater’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. After Carville OK’d the project, Pennebaker and Hegedus dove in, employing their fine-tuned vertie techniques to capture the campaign chaos and Clinton’s eventual triumph in the 1992 Presidential election.

“We didn’t go in as press,” Pennebaker said, “we just hung out and soon we became a part of it.” Following the early stages of the primaries and capturing the campaign team’s candid responses to attack ads and tabloid controversies, the duo uncover the personal triumphs behind the political machine. In one of the most moving moments of the film (of which there are many), an emotional James Carville addresses his colleagues in The War Room, the official name for wherever the Clinton campaign staff had converged, on the evening before election day. Holding back tears while others around him wept openly, Carville paid his respects to a team about to deliver the next president to the White House.

“When you see a film like this so many years on, the context changes,” Hegedus said, “but looking back, it was really an incredible campaign. We would have voted 5 times if we could have. The energy was just infectious.”

Stranger Than Fiction’s twenty-fifth season features an eight-week tribute to the careers of D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Krystal Grow is an arts writer and photo editor based in New York. She has written for TIME LightBox, TIME.com, LIFE.com, the New York Times Lens Blog, the Magnum Foundation and the DOC NYC blog. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kgreyscale.