imageAs Robin Hessman’s MY PERESTROIKA opens this week in theaters across the country (some of you may have caught it at STF last May), we thought it would be an appropriate moment to publish an interview STF conducted with author Jonathan Brent back in January 2009 about his book Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the new Russia.  Both MY PERESTROIKA and Inside the Stalin Archives make incredible use of Russian archives to illuminate the history and reality of Russia, then and now. 

Below is a transcript of the conversation between STF artistic director Thom Powers and author Jonathan Brent.

Thom Powers: As a film person, one of the anecdotes that intrigued me was that you found the files of correspondence between Upton Sinclair related to the Eisenstein film.  Was there any other example of Stalin’s interest in film or connections to film that stood out?

Jonathan Brent: He was always interested in film.  He was particularly interested in American Westerns and American films of all sorts.  He would call the members of the Politburo together very late at night to come to the Kremlin and watch a film with him, usually an American one.  Khrushchev writes about this in his memoirs.  In the archives themselves, there is a variety of material about film and Stalin’s interest in seeing film used to project Soviet ideology, Soviet power, and all of these things.  He clearly understood the power of film.  Clearly he recognized that this was the great mass medium and wished to exploit it as much as possible.  So he reviewed all films.

Powers: Were the films that he was watching with the Politburo allowed to be seen by the general public?

Brent: (laughs) For the most part, no.

Powers: What was his source for these prints?

Brent: Well, if they could steal atomic bomb secrets, they could get American films a lot easier.  (laughs)  They had people working in Europe, they had people in America – there were various trading links with the West, even in the 1930s, whereby these materials could enter the Soviet Union.  But for the most part, these films and materials like them were restricted to the nomenclatura – the elite of the Soviet system.

Powers: As you concentrate primarily on written documents in your work, do you stay in touch with archivists who are plowing through the film records? What is the state of film archives?

Brent: I know there is a huge film archive. I don’t spend that much time dealing with that since my main interest is the politic history of the Soviet Union.  But what became extremely apparent to me, and to anybody who studied this, is that that there’s almost no differentiation between cultural policy and political policy.  And this is a very important thing to understand.  In the United States, it’s pretty clear that matters of culture are dealt with by the left-brain, statecraft and the budget with the right-brain, and the two hardly ever meet. There is Lincoln Center on one hand and there is the Pentagon on the other.  The differentiation was never as distinct in the Soviet Union because they understood the power of culture to shape the mentality of the people and it was precisely this mentality that they recognized as the guarantor of the security of their system.  So they had to continuously nail that down. 

Powers: Can you describe where your overall project on Communism is today and where it is going in the future?

Brent: Today we are digitizing the personal archive of Joseph Stalin.  This is a huge project that will take 3 or 4 years and involves digitizing some 404,000 pieces of paper and putting them up on an electronic platform so that there can be worldwide access to these materials.  We have the project underway right now in Moscow and here in the United State and expect to have the first fruits of this about a year from now. 

In addition to this project that is going to yield incredible material about Stalin – how he thought, what he wanted, what his real ideas about Soviet ideology were and so forth – there are a number of other projects that are also continuing, including a very major one that I initiated 10 years ago called “The Children of the Gulag”.  It occurred to me that even after Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and a variety of other memoirs and studies, no one really had dealt with the subject of what had happened with the children.  What happened with the kids whose parents were both arrested and they had no relatives – who took care of them? And I discovered that the KGB had in fact orphanages for these kids and they were being drawn into the system in this fashion.  In fact, the KGB thought these kids would become the shock troops of Soviet power for the future.  Instead most of them became criminals or went into the army.  Many of them simply disappeared.  But a lot of them are people you meet on the street in Moscow today. 

Powers: How many people are we talking about?

Brent: We’re talking about millions of kids.  Of course they also left behind drawings.  And I’m trying very hard to get my hands on these drawings.  But as of now, they are still classified as top secret, if you can imagine that.

Powers: But they’re actually collected and saved… that in itself is extraordinary.

Brent: In these orphanages, kids drew just as they do… they were normal kids.  Traumatized, but normal.  These drawings, if we could get them, would give us tremendous insight into the psychology of that time because it would be unmediated expression of their feelings and their thoughts.  It would be extremely important to see these materials.  And I think the KGB recognizes the power of them, which is why, as I understand it, it is still considered top secret.

Powers: As you talk about that it makes me think about documentary work that I’ve seen done about children illustrations from Nazi concentration camps and makes me wonder that there’s so much film documentary work done on that era and nowhere near as much on the Soviet system.  Do you find filmmakers approaching you about this kind of work?

Brent: No.  It’s very very difficult to explain.  I don’t understand it.  There should be a major film, and it should be called Gulag.  This is the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, and I do not wish to minimize the horror of the Holocaust, but this catastrophe of Soviet communism was responsible for the incarceration of at least 50 million people over time – of whom, a minimum of 20 million were sent to the Gulags.  The numbers of children who died unrecorded, whose names are unknown, whose births were unknown, whose parents were unknown, and whose causes of death were unknown – that number will never be discovered.  They were herded onto trains – and this is before Nazi Germany and Auschwitz – they were herded onto cattle cars in the 1930s, shipped from all regions of the Soviet Unions to Siberia where they were often simply left to die on the tundra.  Nobody knows who they were, what they did, why they died.  It is a tragedy of unbelievable proportions and nobody is interested in this.  It is a disgrace, I feel, in Russia today that despite the opening up of the Archives and the “liberalization of Soviet society” and all of that, there is still no museum of the Gulag. 

Powers: From the articles that I’ve read, it sounds like the archives are getting even harder to access under Vladimir Putin’s regime.  Is that your experience?

Brent: Well, that is a complicated matter.  In a way the publishing of these materials does not contradict the interests of this regime.  What they wish to do is not obstruct the publishing of these materials; they wish to centralize and control the publishing of these materials.  And there are many reasons for this – and some of them quite legitimate.  Just think about how our government protects the secrets of the FBI and national security going back 100 years.  Not that there was an FBI 100 years ago, but nevertheless, state secrets.  Try to get something on Martin Luther King out of the FBI.  What you get is 500 pages, all of it redacted.  So there is nothing abnormal about a state wishing to protect its secrets. 

What is very strange about this is that in 1991 the Soviet Union was declared defunct.  Yeltsin announced the disappearance of the Soviet State.  They renamed it, they called it the Russian Federation.  Government officials were thrown out of office.  A new administration was elected and people thought it would be a break from the past.  The protection of these secrets from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s by the present government is a clear signal that they wish to restore continuity with the Soviet past.  Now, what the exact nature of that continuity is, we don’t know exactly at this point, but obviously it has an authoritarian base.  The behavior of Putin in many different areas, and Yeltsin before him by the way, is very authoritarian, not really structured as a liberal democracy and it’s not entirely clear where that government is going.  However, repudiating the Stalinist past is not antithetical to their present aim.  And so in our project, we have almost unfettered access to the Stalin materials.  As you get past Stalin into more recent history, it becomes more difficult. 

Powers: You asked a provocative question in the book that you were alluding to earlier: why isn’t the villainy of Stalin better appreciated and why doesn’t it bring the shock of horror that other 20th centuries crimes do?  I’m sure there is a unique answer for why that’s true in Russia and I’m not quite sure if you answer it in the book…

Brent: No, I don’t because I’m not sure there is one answer to it frankly.

Powers: But I wonder what your guesses are for why that’s true in the US where his villainy ought to be as appreciated as anyone’s villainy.

Brent: Well, it’s complicated.

Powers: Is the academia full of Reds?

Brent: Perhaps to some extent, but I don’t like to put it that way.  There is a bias in academia that has grown up over several generations that it is the protector of liberal democracy over the authoritarian impulses of the Right in this country, as symbolized in Joe McCarthy.  And it produced a very very odd consciousness, which was as follows: Joe McCarthy was bad; therefore as an upstanding American citizen, I have to oppose Joe McCarthy.  Joe McCarthy hated Stalin; therefore anybody who hates Stalin is somehow sympathetic to Joe McCarthy.  And this is a very normal kind of thing.  I don’t want to call it guilt-by-association, but it’s comparable to guilt-by-association.  In other words, whoever attacks Communism is inevitably suspected by the Left-wing in this country of harboring Right-wing ambitions and sympathies, which will ultimately lead you back to Joe McCarthy.  So, for instance, I am branded by a lot of people as a Right-wing reactionary Joe McCarthyite – which I’m not.  I’ve never been that. 

Powers: That’s what you get for writing for The New Criterion.

Brent: Yeah, well what did I write for The New Criterion? (laughs) That’s the funny thing about the Right in this country that in some places, like in The New Criterion, they’re actually open to things.  No Left-wing magazine would publish the things I write because it was exposing Russia and exposing Soviet crimes.  Certainly not The Nation, but I’ve also written for The New Republic and The New York Times and elsewhere and they were interested in what I was doing. 

Powers: I understand the generation of academics that came up in McCarthy’s time and came up with a memory of it, but I wonder if those generations will give way to a new understanding.  I think anecdotally of a book like Martin Amis’ Koba the Dread which when it came out, there were a certain number of reviewers saying “doesn’t everyone already know this”?

Brent:  Right.  Well, think of how long it took for Susan Sontag to repudiate Stalin.  She didn’t do that till the late 60s or early 70s.  No, no, no.  Up until Morton Sobell confessed publicly that he had been an accomplice with Julius Rosenberg, The Nation and Victor Navasky – who I love, who is a wonderful man – was still unwilling to give up the belief that Julius was innocent.  There are those kinds of deeply held beliefs.  Think of all the controversy that has sprung up even over this last 12 month period about the guilt or innocence of Alger Hiss.  It was all over the news when a couple of academics decided Hiss could not have been where the VENONA documents said he was at certain points of time and therefore Hiss could not have been the spy that the Right-wing in this country makes him out to be.  And this kind of translates quietly through individuals like Richard Nixon, and is passed on to the Right in this country today.  It gets transmogrified into questions of Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, Gay Rights, Women’s Rights… and I think although it’s true that the image of Stalin is far less vivid and vital in the minds of most young people today, there is still a sensibility that somehow attaches to feelings of sympathy for Socialism.  And if you have feelings for sympathy for Socialism, well then maybe the Soviet Union wasn’t all that bad.  So what are you doing digging up all this dirt? I can’t tell you how many people came to me when we first published The Secret World of American Communism.  And they said to me – here at Yale – why don’t you just let sleeping dogs lie? Why are you interested in stirring all this stuff up again?

Powers: I appreciate your time and your point of view.  My own political trajectory is on the Left, but my wife and her family are Latvian Jews who lived through several layers of that before they came over here in the 70s and I think that on the Left, there is a certain disregard for that history or a failure to come to terms with it.

Brent: I think that’s a good way of putting it. It’s a failure to come to terms with it.  Even though Anne Applebaum’s book on the Gulag was successful and a couple of others have been fairly successful, there is no real attempt to grapple with that history and to understand America’s engagement with it, and that’s the thing that’s disappointing to me. 

Related Film

My_Perestroika
MY PERESTROIKA

  • Bud Parr

    Congrats! This is exciting.

  • Pamela Cohn

    I have a wonderful conversation on my blog with Astra—talented, talented woman!

    http://stillinmotion.typepad.com/

  • Bud Parr

    Great essay, Thom. Many of us who write about books, serious literary fiction and literature in translation in particular, feel the same way; it’s a complaint commensurate with the shift/decline in print media.

    Don’t discount blogs though. At least in the book world there are a lot of avid writers not only picking up where the old mainstream media left off, but finding new ways to critique and engage books (and pushing the blog format) – new online literary journals are popping up too, for the very same reason that there are more filmmakers: technology has reduced the barriers to entry. And now, former professional critics are becoming online critics, paid or not, and enjoying the freedom of the format and the connection with their audience that rarely existed in print. The result is an eclectic and vibrant mix of voices and I’d assert that if there’s an audience for doc films, which there is, then there’s the potential at least for the same sort of renaissance in doc-film criticism.

    Bud Parr, blogger,
    Chekhov’s Mistress
    Words Without Borders

  • David Van Taylor

    Nice going, Thom!

    I’ve bemoaned the sad state of docu criticism on many occasions, but never really considered that there might be an alternative.  Reading your piece made me realize what a boon reliably in-depth and insightful criticism would be to my work (and others’). 

    Maybe you should contact Pat Aufderheide.  Now that she’s successfully revolutionized copyright, perhaps she can help fix things up in this arena.  But seriously, I bet her Center could make a real contribution.

    Thanks for opening eyes and pushing the field forward.

    dvt

  • Bill Jersey

    Thanks for the thoughtful analysis.
    Problem is that we are dealing with “the Tyranny of Large Numbers”
    When I was doing Network television in the early 60’s there were 4 channels- and a push from the FCC to do “ed B’castin” How does one do justice now to the abundance of programming bombarding us.
    and more importantly-What in our contemp society encourages reflection, much less contemplation- we believe the lies because it’s easier than searching out the truth- and if they confirm our assumptions- so much the better.
    But I, like you ,and thousands of others soldier on
    —because even if unwanted or ignored- the pursuing of truth beauty and justice is our way of being in the world and I for one have no intention of changing course.
    Bill Jersey

  • Sean Farnel

    great essay Thom.

    As a smalltown boy my own love of cinema was heavily reliant on film criticism. I didn’t have access to many of the films I was reading about (via by Pauline Kael, Ebert, and especially J. Hoberman, when I could find a Village Voice in Northern Ontario), but the writing fueled my interest and passion, and eventually led me to film school.

    In Toronto, our best film critic, Geoff Pevere, become quite addicted to docs, and wrote incisively about them. I tangibly noticed what a difference it made in developing audience interest for the form here. Unfortunately we lost him to the Book Section!

    But, I agree with Rosenbaum that sites like ROUGE (which is excellent) are picking up the critical slack, even if industry gossip sites continue get most of the hits.

  • Robyn

    Wow, this sounds great. Wish I had been there. Ever since I read her autobiography Dust Tracks on the Road, I have been obsessed with ZNH!

  • Andrew Berends

    Also deserving a mention: the first Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Awards. Perhaps the fanciest documentary party ever, or, as one of the grantees commented, the scruffiest Gucci party ever. Not scruffy at all though.

  • Shashwati

    Hey Thom, when are you going to head East and check out all the great stuff being made in East Asia? can’t you come to the Iron Horse, the Golden Horse or something?

  • Brian

    Here’s a look back at the STFs I attended this past year:
    http://www.thefilmpanelnotetaker.com/2008/12/thom-powers-top-10-favorite-doc-events.html

    As well as my own top 10 list:
    http://www.thefilmpanelnotetaker.com/2008/12/reflections-on-2008-and-top-10-favorite.html

    Looking forward to the new season!

  • Nigel Beale

    I spend most of my time reading and reviewing books, and interviewing authors. Engaging with the printed word is simply much more stimulating than watching 90% of the movies that are currently served up to the public..of the 10% that are worth thinking and writing about, I’d say most are documentaries…

    This is, as you say, an interesting field in which to practice criticism; given the state of today’s media however, few are likely to be hired based on any particular knowledge of the documentary genre.

    Good criticism is a function as much of what is criticized as of how the critic writes…and talented critics, when they have a choice, will always seek out the most challenging material, regardless of which medium it may appear in.

  • Tom Hall

    I saw VSPRS in Paris in October 2007 (on my honeymoon), and its was GREAT; I had no idea this was happening! Big fan of Sophie’s… glad to see PERVERT’S GUIDE get a run… and no idea she had done a VSPRS film…

    Thanks for the update, Thom!

  • Deanna Kamiel

    Great piece, Thom.  Essential.  A new doc criticism is necessary if only to encompass documentary filmmaking in countries like China, India, Africa and eastern Europe.  Jia Zhangke, for example—Useless, 24 City—says he makes non-fiction films to stop the disappearing of images and stories and landscapes, endemic to postwar Chinese history.

    Many thanks,

    Deanna Kamiel

  • paula longendyke

    Thanks Raphaela for your account of the festival.  I read evey word and felt like I was there.  You and Thom are the best.  Hope Kevin and I will get to see you soon at IFC for a screening!
    Happy New Year
    Paula

  • Sean

    Beautiful evening. I especially enjoyed the screening of the 12-minute short on “The First World Festival of Negro Arts” I loved how Greaves captured the optimism of that early period of African independence so well.

    Sean Jacobs
    http://theleoafricanus.com/

  • Naomi Woddis

    just read it – now am in tears. Britical you write so bloody well, I want 1000’s and more to read your words !

  • james

    nice enjoyment had taken place i m feeling jealous.

    motorcycle insurance quote

  • tully

    It was initially disappointing to see so many empty seats in that room the other night, for this will certainly turn out to be one of the real cinema-going treats of 2009, but the post-film Q&A;felt more intimate because of it (although that one dude telling Peter Davis what he did and didn’t stage was… well, I would rather not get into that right now).

    Lucky for us, and shame on everyone else for missing out (though maybe Cannes had something to do with that?). It sounds like there are no immediate plans for Icarus to release the Middletown series in a more affordable DVD boxed set edition, but maybe if enough of us complain it will kick them/someone else into gear. After having only seen Seventeen and Second Time Around, this already stands tall as the Decalogue of nonfiction. I might consider lopping off a finger to see the others. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

  • Nick

    It was mildly disappointing, I suppose, that the theater wasn’t jam-packed, but the real disappointment is that these films aren’t available on DVD.  In an age when EVERYTHING is available for download or rental or Netflix, it’s inexplicable that we shouldn’t all be able to order up these six beauties with the touch of a button (and, okay, maybe a credit card).

    As for the so-called ‘argument’ about what was staged and what wasn’t—with all due respect, you missed the point.  It wasn’t that anything was staged, and no one, not I, who got the conversation started, and not the other dude in the row behind me (who I think is the dude to whom you’re referring), was suggesting that any scenes were staged, but merely the rather obvious fact that the actions of the subjects of documentary films are of course altered by the presence of the camera. 

    (My point, and I am happy to make it again, and complete it, is that the scene where the couple talks about how much money the guy spends on his stamp collection was in particular affected by the camera’s presence; that without a camera there, it is likely these two may not have recognized how silly and wonderfully trivial the conversation was; that they might not have laughed so charmingly about the whole thing… I think it’s one of the strongest scenes in a very strong film, and the moments of acute self-consciousness on both their parts contributes to the scene being so terrific.)

    And by the way, not that it matters (and it doesn’t), but I happen to know that Peter Davis agrees with me on the larger point.  Other families talked politics at the dinner table; as much as Dad may like to think we talked about politics too, what we really talked about was stuff like this.

  • John G

    Nice synopsis of the panel. It’s interesting that journalists trapped in the world of mainstream media have a very difficult time of portraying the news and the underlying message due to the pressures of the companies they work for. grand rapids lasik

  • sooran

    <a > thancks </a>
    this post very very helped me !

    Good Time

  • Peter Davis

    My vote for a great sports documentary goes to Blood, Sweat and Gears directed by Nick Davis

  • Nina Seavey

    4TH AND GOAL – Coming soon. Sometimes the best is yet to happen.

  • Sloane Cooper

    Best Sports Doc?  Blood Sweat + Gears Directed by Nick Davis

  • judith Helfand

    Thanks Thom for creating the CLIFF NOTES for the new indie distrib frontier. much much appreciated!!  xo

  • Sarah Miller

    I was at that IFP conference panel too and found it really fascinating. Thanks for filling me in on the TIFF and MoMa events. This is such a hot topic right now!

  • Andrew Catauro

    Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait would be near the top of my list; and maybe Speedo! (Why not)

    Racing Dreams would also be worth some discussion—a great recent entry in the motorsports doc canon.

  • Patti Villegas

    One of my faves is Quantum Hoops directed by Rick Greenwald.

  • Eddie Rosenstein

    How about that little diddy, “OLYMPIA”, by Leni Riefenstahl?

  • Admin

    STF should start a dvd/streaming video platform!

  • Admin

    “The box office on MRS GOLDBERG should be higher – except most of the tickets are at senior citizen prices.”

    Hah! Great piece, Thom.

  • Laura Poitras

    Raphaela & Thom,
    We are all so happy for you both and expect to be updated on the big news. 

    Raphaela was radiant last night!

    Laura

  • Carolina

    CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BEAUTIFUL FAMILY!!!

  • Rabbi Eva Goldfinger

    What do you mean ‘uncharacteristic’ profanity.  Don’t be fooled by that sweet face smile.  Bez looks like he’s saying “Thank you very much, but I would have preferred the warmth and comfort of ‘inside’ rather than being forced to endure the cold wintry American weather.  Ah, but in the last two photos he seems more reconciled and perhaps comforted by being embraced in dad’s arms and snuggling up against mom’s warm breasts.

    What an amazing production!  Hope you will reap lots of benefit from your work…..

    Looking forward to seeing you in Toronto (I hope) later this year.
    Love,
    Eva

  • Dima, Anastasia and Nica

    Congratulations! Having recently concluded similar negotiations, albeit with the use of drugs (on the part of the father of the deal), we are glad to hear that yours was successful and not especially protracted, though, it probably did not seem that way at the time.

    Congratulations to Thom, Raphaela, Bez and the Powershausen families!!!Wishing you health, quick recovery and the occasional bit of sleep.

  • Cristina and Dominique

    What a production!!!!!
    Without a doubt the best STF experience! Besos to both and congratulations!!!!

  • Shelley Powers

    What a cutie! (no Thom, I was talking about Bez)This newest little addition is oh-so-lucky to be on board with a such great team.  Welcome Bez!!

  • Daphne :0)

    What a beautiful baby!!

  • Kyla Dunn

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! What wonderful news! Welcome to the world, Bez! Well, if you’re not ready to compete with Nina Davenport on the home-documentation front, maybe you could just do a Nikita Mikhalkov and film him once a year on his birthday! smile xoxo

  • ale and danish

    !!congratulations to the powershausen clan!!  fantastic work on the delivery, rafferty of my heart!  can’t wait to meet Bez soon

  • Annemarie Jacir

    Congratulations to both of you!! Wonderful news! Mabrook!!

  • Mark Crilley

    Congratulations, Thom and Raphaela. That lucky little guy’s got an incredible life ahead of him guaranteed, courtesy of two of the coolest parents he could’ve hoped for.—mark

  • Teri

    You used the BEST Doula in all of Brooklyn. Congrats on the birth !

  • Heidi and John Hood

    Pleased to meet you Bezalel!
    You brought your charms into a really terrific family…AND you sure will woo your singing Grandmother.
    We wish all of you lots of love and hugs!

  • Erin Donovan

    Too cute! Congratulations to your family smile

  • Maureen O’Shea

    Congratulations and Best Wishes Welcome Bez

  • Grandma and Pappa Powers (Thom’s mom and dad)

    We sit here with tears streaming down our faces as we first see our beautiful grandson, Bez, held by his daddy and mommy.
    How blessed you are, Thom and Raphaela, and both families too, to have this precious gift of life in our midst.  We laughed out loud when we saw the doula’s name was Meghan, the very Irish name we’d chosen had a second daughter been added to our family of Thomas, Patrick, Jr and Maureen. And so the greatest journey ever begins for Bez and his parents.

    With hearts bursting with joy and gratitude to God, we send you our love.

  • Uncle PJ

    Congrats, bro and sis! Such a beautiful baby. Shelley and I can’t wait to see him in NY in a few weeks.

    Is it true that there is a bidding war for the Director’s Cut of the Bris?

  • Anna Kreditor

    Raphaela looks beautiful and glowing:) Great job, guys:)

  • roger Berkowitz

    Welcome Bez! And Mazel Tov to your parents. WE can’t wait to see all of your joyous faces in person

    R

  • Joe Terrasi

    Tremendous! Congrats.

  • Maria Luise

    I have a feeling……. that Bez was already very present at our lunch last Sunday and – even more so -in the afternoon.
    Please come soon to the farm and stay long!

    Abbracci,
    ML and Horst

  • Nina Davenport

    OHMYGOD THAT IS THE SWEETEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i love the name!!!!!!!
    so feminist too!!!!
    can’t wait to meet him!!!
    jasper loves him already.

  • Alex T

    Dear Bez,

    Mazel tov! You couldn’t have picked a finer pair of parents to, er, represent you. Or to develop you? Make you manifest, express you—whatever they did, Powers and Raphaela did it beautifully! We can see that you’re a serious fellow, but we do hope you take the time to savor these first few days.

    I’m so excited for you both, you all three, and I can’t wait to see you. Congratulations and love.

  • Helen Leis

    Raphaela and Thom—Congrats and so glad everyone is doing well!  Can’t wait to meet Bez and welcome him to the world—enjoy your precious miracle!

    Love,
    Helen

  • Brian Geldin

    Congratulations Raphaela and Thom! Will Bez be moderating the next Q&A smile

  • Suni and Stephan

    We are absolutely thrilled for you three.

    Welcome to the world little Bez—many kisses await you.

    Suni and Stephan

  • Jeanne

    Congratulations! So much has happened since I was first introduced to you two. I can’t imagine two better parents for this lucky boy.

    Best,
    Jeanne

  • Ry

    A big big congrats!!
    I look forward to meeting him.

  • Andrew Rossi

    So cute! Congrats!

  • Russ Baker

    Marvelous accomplishment! My best to baby, mother, and father. Also my nomination for “best press release.”

  • Stella Fitingof

    Welcome Bez!  Warm congratulations to your parents Raphaela and Thom, and the PowerHousen families!

    Being a parent requires a sense of humour.  I would like to share with you a wonderful editor’s message from a Toronto parent magazine.  It goes like this:

    A parent’s job description, if it was advertised:

    Parents Wanted – Apply Within:
    Long-term team players needed for challenging permanent work in a chaotic environment.  Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work days, evenings, weekends and 24-hour shifts on-call.

    Responsibilities:
    The rest of your life!  Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.  Also, must possess the physical stamina of a buck mule and go from 0 – 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, in case screams are not someone crying wolf.  Must maintain character and coordinate homework projects.  Must be willing to be indispensible one minute and embarrassed the next.  Must assume final; complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

    Possibilities for advancement:
    None!  Your job is to remain in the same position for years, constantly updating your skills without complaining.

    Salary:
    None!  You pay them.  A balloon payment is due when they turn 18, of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left.

    Benefits:
    While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays, and no stock options are offered, this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, lots of laughter, and free hugs and kisses.

    Raphaela and Thom, you are obviously up for the job!  Mazel Tov!

    All our love,

    Stella, Kobi and Eitan

  • James Longley

    How wonderful! The world is already a better place. Congratulations, Thom and Raphaela!

  • Irina Konon

    The fruit of creation of your love that you have for one another is the perfect joy of having that baby boy cuddling warmly in your arms. Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy, BEZALEL!!)

    My Best wishes!
    XOX

  • Debraj Ray

    Dearest Thom and Rafaela

    Warmest congratulations!

    Thom, your fathering an infant truly puts this event in the STF category. (You would probably respond that it’s Bezness as usual.)

    Much love to both of you and Bez.

    Debraj

  • Zeva (mother of twins)

    Congratulations Thom and Raphaela!
    He’s beautiful and best of all—he’s only one!

  • Veronica Velez-Burgess

    felicitaciones! i hope our boys can meet one day soon!

  • Ilona & Andy Mack

    Congratulations to you all – what wonderful news! And big big CHAPEAU for doing it all without silly interventions and drugs!!!

    Welcome to the beautiful exciting world, Bez!

    Lots of love from London

  • Helen Erlich and Barry Razmov & Families – Thorn

    Mazel Tov !!!!!!  We are all very excited by this wonderful news. Way to go Raphaela and Thom. We know that your parents, grandparents and all family members are elated. We look forward to seeing you in Toronto later this year.

    Best wishes !!

  • Auntie Marianna

    BRAVO FOR BEZ!!!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to all 3 of you!!!!!!

  • Amelia Hanibelsz

    What a brilliant article and an even more brilliant ending !!!

    Can not wait to see you both and I am so very happy for you – congratulations .This is very exciting !!!

    STF Groupie and Filmmaker

    amelia oxoxoxoxo

  • Almudena Carracedo

    Raphaela and Thom, CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a beautiful baby. It’s so awesome, just 9 months of production… 20 years of distribution though!

    We’re next in the production pipeline -hoping for an equally auspicious premiere!

    Our best wishes,

    Almudena and Robert

  • Jennifer

    Mazel Tov!

    I remember reading a story in religious school in the ‘70’s about a kid with that name (the gentile teacher wanted to call him Butch or Buzzy), but google-fu is failing me as to who wrote it.

  • Theresa Loong

    Dear Thom and Raphaela,

    I love the blog post and the photos!  I was distracted by my first visit to Sundance (spectating and meeting folks) and arrived home to read about the great news.

    Congratulations and best wishes.

    -Theresa

  • Madlena

    My warmest congratulations, Raphaelochka! Molodetz!
    Your new Commander in Chief is great! Lots of joy, happiness and strong health for little Bez and his wondrful parents!
    Very happy for you,
    Madlena, Dima Kroshka’s mum.

  • Elizabeth Westrate

    Standing ovation. Much love to you.

  • Anonymous

    What was the third doc about Russia?

  • Dusty

    BEZ!!! Congratulations Thom and Mrs. Thom! I have indeed been lost in the Sundance fog, but this is definitely the best news of the week. Very cool. Wishing you the best of luck and at least a little sleep.

    dusty

  • Howard Weinberg

    And the winner for the best photo layout and script introducing a new actor with superb supporting roles for his parents…Bez!  Congratulations! —Howard

  • Gita Pullapilly

    Congratulations! What a gorgeous addition to the family!

  • Matt Smith

    Beautiful baby!  I hope the furniture is ready.  Can’t wait to meet Bez.

    Love,
    Matt, Alicia and family

  • Pat Aufderheide

    Congratulations on the cutest baby ever and pretty much the best baby announcement too! Enjoy every minute!

  • Roli Chaturvedi

    Congratulations once again !!
    This is the most unusual and a beautiful welcome note…would love to see him sometime.

  • Birender & Kulvir

    Wow,  how amazing.  Congrats to the whole family!!  Bez is adorable.  Hold him tight, because he is going to grow up before you know it.  We loved the announcement.  Can’t wait for regular updates.  Hope to catch up with you guys in the summer.  All our love,

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  • Theresa Loong

    I enjoyed watching “The Kids Grow Up” and attending drinks afterwards (I usually have to head home!).  FYI, the nurse in the photo is also documentary filmmaker Claire Panke.

  • Claire Panke

    Thanks for ID’ing me Theresa! I’m a documentary filmmaker AND a nurse – thanks.

  • julia reichert

    Just came across this.  Great idea, especially presenting work from radio, audio, photography, writing etc.  Needed. We have noticed that some festivals are including audio documentary.  Our little Fest in Dayton does that. Will tell our audio buddies out here and in the City to submit work.

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  • Charlotte

    Hi Raphaela,
    The link for the Season pass doesn’t seem to be working. Please let me know how I can purchase it.
    Thanks and looking forward to another great season of STF.
    Happy New Year!
    Charlotte

  • Diego Mas Trelles

    We have also the pleasure and the honour to show it in competition at Ronda International Film Festival.

  • Tom Hall

    Planning to see almost all of these… great preview!

  • Betsy

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  • Todd Holteta

    Thom, Chris and I spent 4 years of home room and a couple of German classes together. He was the first guy I met at Terry Sanford (that I did already know as he went to another middle school. We laughed for 4 years and after college would have a beer or three at a local pub called the Highlander. And although I haven’t seen him in a few years I followed his work through his pictures and along with other Fayetteville natives and classmates on FB. Your words ring true. I will remember his smile and his work ethic. He was truly a unique soul and I find it hard to explain why it has hit me so hard. I sum it like this. Several years ago when my life seemed to be falling apart I ran into him in Fayetteville. He seemed to know that I was going through something and he said “Hey Holtet, let’s get beer.” Sadly we didn’t. But I have remembered that day for a long time. You just don’t get the chance too have friends like that in your life very often. He will be missed. Thank you for your words..

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  • Jean Manuel Beauchamp

    This article written by Aaron Cael, while well-informed in its correct views of the film, is wrong in the lack of respect shown in its final sentence: “the game of international politics that will likely keep his grandfather imprisoned for life.”

    While my grandfather is currently serving time in Paris, against all Geneva Conventions, without evidence against him, on behalf of the United States Government, the actions currently being taken by the President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli and the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make his safe return to Panama imminent. While it was supposedly assumed that the United States should have had no role to play after the completion of his sentence in Miami, all actions point the opposite, and Barack Obama’s current Democratic presidency has to make up for the Republican scheming in the respect of my grandfather’s case.

    Despite the use of the word ‘likely’ in the final sentence of this review, this sentence not only provokes unnecessary drama to my requested participation in the screening, but it also takes part in the deception of the media that the film discusses at length by suggesting a continued lack of justice.

    -Jean Manuel Beauchamp

    .

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    But the manipulation and lazy political correctness of this TV show shaped my own writing and reporting in the opposite direction. Approach your subject with an open mind, gather information and viewpoints, and THEN tell your story.

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    P.S. Berlinger and Sinofsky were robbed!

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    Hi Wayne,Yeah watching the soduim is, what I think, the first step in the right direction. You should at least feel your pressure in the ear going down by that. I would also recommend you to watch coffee and alcohol. I personally feel a correlation between my Meniere’s and Alcohol more than with coffee or salt. Let’s say, if I drink 2-3 beers on empty stomach (after work) I can bet that my ear is getting worse if not that night, than the next day. So, salt, coffee and alcohol. And smoke. Cigarette smoke is also well known to affect the ear.  About the ringing in the ear: Tinnitus is very difficult to treat. I personally don’t know of anything except   acupuncture. And that’s something, if you read my last article there, I am just trying out. Now with Acupuncture that’s one of these things: 1. You need a good Acupuncturer otherwise the symptoms will not improve 2. In traditional Chinese Medicine they treat Meniere’s with Acupuncture EVERY day   you can guess that this is something very unlikely achievable for us here. So, for the ringing but also for the overall improvement of your Meniere’s I would say find a good acupuncturer and try to create a short, frequent treatment. With that I mean   3 times for 1/2 weeks. I had 2 treatments and my dizziness attacks (I had for some reason 4-5 last week) disappeared and I feel less pressure in my ear. I do still have Tinnitus and hearing loss is pretty bad. But I am going to write an entry about that experience soon   Mate, good luck with that and let me know how you are going and write me your experiences!

  • Monica

    Tarkovsky is my favourite dietorcr so I own all of his movies (all 7 of them) from Kino International to Criterion versions.  I own the book that Stalker’s loosely based on,  Roadside Picnic , and I’ve played the 3 PC games that were inspired by the film. :O)The reason behind why I’m not a Godfather fan is because I don’t like the Italian mob.  Cosa Nostra et all really bother me because of the Italian cliche9s that has resonated throughout the decades and the whole living with your mother who cooks spaghetti for you, etc is an annoyance.  I also hate the you mess with one of us you, mess with all of us ideal because I believe that everyone can fight their own battles, which is why I much prefer the Yakuza; they almost never get into fights because they’d end up in wars and bloodshed.  I’m going to rewatch The Godfather one day just so I could watch the second at one point in my life.  I’m told that the first two films are basically one long movie and that the third’s the epilogue.  Again, I hate the Italian mob so I’ll need to get in the mood.  But Goodfellas is a movie that I love.  It’s not mainly about the riches and the power, it’s about the hard work that goes into being a footsoldier and that I can relate to.I also didn’t like Pacino in the first Godfather film; I thought that his performance was decent at best but also that his character would not have become the Godfather that he turned into because I didn’t see it in his character to become that.  It was lacking the portrayal.  But that’s just me, and now that I’m far more experienced in movie watching I may enjoy it more, especially its cinematogrphy.

  • Johanna Samuel

    Hi Thom- I will also be there acquiring documentary films and selling our doc catalogue worldwide. Just acquired Joel Katz’s WHITE: A MEMOIR IN COLOR, Dani Menkin’s DOLPHIN BOY, Vic Sarrin’s DESERT RIDERS, David New’s TEACHING THE LIFE OF MUSIC, a film called THE LAST NAZI HUNTER, a new feature doc GREENWICH VILLAGE;MUSIC THAT DEFINED A GENERATION, “THEIR EYES WERE DRY”, Gabrielle Pfeiffer’s A POET ON THE FRONTLINE, THE HOUSE OF SUH,…and many more! Love to you and to Rafaella!!
    Johanna
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/johanna.samuel@gmail.com   416-566-2994

  • Pingback: Recommended Reading: Top 10 Twitter Tips for Filmmakers | POV Blog | PBS()

  • http://www.tastythailand.com/ Rachel – Tasty Thailand

    I saw both documentaries recently and they are absolutely excellent and so accurate about the reasons why so many Thai women end up with western husbands. Thailand is a hard country to live in if you are poor as there is no social service net, so you can’t blame the women doing what they do to help their children hopefully have a better life.

    It was also nice to see a film that really did put the western men it followed in a good light, as it showed they were only trying to find someone to love which, let’s face it, isn’t a bad thing :)

  • Johanna Samuel

    Congratulations!!!! So happy for both of you- Love, Johanna

  • http://www.writersandfilmmakers.com Jonathan Krimer

    But if you follow these people, they are not going to follow you. Right? Why would they? We fund writers and filmmakers,@writerfilmmaker

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    Don’t forget @sima_awards :)

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  • syanat3

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    للاستفسار يمكنك الاتصال على الرقم التالي :
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  • syanat3

    مراكز صيانة الكتروستار تقدم خدمات مميزه جدا لعملاءها ومستخدمي اجهزة ماركتها ومن مميزات المركز انخفاض تكلفته عن كثير من المراكز المعتمده
    للتواصل عبر:
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