imageStringing together a narrative that scans like a solid heist flick, the film Better This World by directors Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega explores the actions of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, a pair of young, idealistic radical activists who, in the leadup to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, constructed several gasoline bombs that they never used. Following an early morning police raid, the pair were arrested and labeled domestic terrorists by the government, then prosecuted as such. Clearly sympathetic to McKay and Crowder, Duane de la Vega and Galloway laudably grant federal investigators and prosecutors ample screen time in which they present a reductive picture of the two defendants as domestic terrorists. But it’s a picture that doesn’t gibe with the evidence uncovered by the filmmakers, which bolsters the claim that McKay and Crowder were led to potentially violent action by an undercover FBI informant. What makes the film truly chilling is the questions it raises regarding the role the government itself plays in creating these so-called terrorists, and the complicity of law enforcement informants acting as agents provocateur. Following the screening, friend of Stranger Than Fiction Hugo Perez spoke with director Katie Galloway. Click “Read more” below for the Q&A.

[Photo: Director Katie Galloway, courtesy of Simon Luethi]

Stranger Than Fiction: I have to say that this is a really fantastic film—powerful, provocative. I watched it a couple of days ago and it provoked a lot of feeling. It just made me feel angry when I finished watching it, the situation that these two guys were in. How did you come to this story?

Katie Galloway: There’s an article in the movie, when the informant is revealed. And I assume many of you probably know a little bit about the story, and may have known the twist, but it gets a great response from audiences who don’t have a clue. When I first read about it in the New York Times it was early January 2009 and the headline was, “Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant.” The story was about two young activists from Midland, Texas, which I thought was interesting, this informant and the allegation of entrapment. I also assume many of you are familiar with the pattern of cases around the country since 9/11 where there’s an FBI sting, domestic terrorism accusations and a counter-allegation of entrapment. I know in the current issue of Harper’s there’s a piece by Petra Bartosiewicz, and she does a great job of telling the national story. The people who are mostly affected are Muslim youth in the U.S. I know Mother Jones is dedicating a whole issue to that broader story.

STF:
One of the things that struck me about this film, it’s not just a film about politics but it’s also about guys interacting with each other and male bonding and rites of passage. Can you talk about that powerful relationship that developed between Darby and Brad and David.

Galloway:
I don’t know how much you glean from the film, sometimes I forget where the film ends and my knowledge ends. Brad’s father and grandfather were rodeo cowboys. The grandfather was pretty close to Brad, but his father … was just not around much. [Brad] admits to sort of looking around for a father, even though he wasn’t conscious of it at the time. A powerful male figure closer to his age that he respected was something that he craved. David’s Dad, I think, is an incredible father. He’s a bit of a hothead. I don’t know how much of that you get from this, but he sort of pushed David toward trial … and David didn’t always feel comfortable with that. [David] had a very tumultuous childhood being bounced around, and was sometimes without his father for long stretches. [David and Brad] both acknowledge that that was a big part, sort of seeking this older male’s love and respect. They also describe Brandon as like a tough football couch that you love, but that is sometimes very troubling. Sort of putting them to the test again and again. It’s not just the father issues, but really what everybody goes through when becoming an adult, being put to a test by an older male figure.

STF: One question I had was about the interview with Brandon Darby. Did you shoot that or did somebody else shoot that, and when was it done? It seemed to have a different texture.

Galloway:
Fortunately for us, since he didn’t agree to participate in the film, he was the spokesperson for Common Ground Relief, which was an organization that did incredible work after Hurricane Katrina. He founded it with a former Black Panther named Malik Rahim and Scott Crow, and some others. Scott Crow, for any of you that caught the cover of the Times a few months ago, is the activist in Austin who’d been watched for three years. Brandon did tons of interviews, a couple of really good ones that we drew on mostly. One was by a German filmmaker, that sort of close up one. And so we were able to license it, thankfully, because for a minute there we thought we didn’t have a film. For a long time Brandon agreed to participate once the case was over, and then he changed his mind and we thought, oh shit, we don’t have funding.

STF: Did you milk that footage for every last second, or was there a lot of it?

Galloway: There will be more online at the POV website. We licensed it by the minute so the whole interview won’t be there, but there’s about an hour and a half there, and then another maybe hour and a half to two hours that another filmmaker made. That’s the footage where he’s sort of saying, we need to think about the people we love and we trust, and he’s got the fist behind him. That’s a student filmmaker.

Audience: How did you get the law enforcement agents and the prosecutors to talk candidly?

Galloway:
Here I owe a real debt of gratitude to Lowell Bergman, who Al Pacino played in The Insider about the tobacco industry and 60 minutes pulling the story and all that. He was an early funder of the film and a coproducer with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkley. When we went to go watch David’s trial, he said, when you’re in town just call the FBI and say you’d like to have coffee and meet with them and tell them what you’re doing. No cameras etc. So that’s exactly what we did and were sort of stunned to find that they were happy to meet us for coffee. We met with their public affairs officer, E.K. Wilson, the guy driving through the film. It turned out that he had worked the case and then it got transferred, so we got lucky that way. We met him, kept in touch with him, and then when we asked [FBI headquarters] for permission much later, they went back to Minneapolis and said, what do you think? They agreed to give us the interviews at that point. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, but I’ve made other films about prisons and at that initial point of human contact, some of the walls come down.

STF: Was the prosecutor and were the FBI as convinced of what they were saying in the film off-camera as they were on-camera? Did they 100% believe that what they were saying was the truth?

Galloway: I think those are two different questions. They had a complete poker face, a united front, on 99% of the time. E.K. Wilson admitted at one point that nobody wants to be put on domestic terrorism because there aren’t any domestic terrorists. It’s so incredibly bloated with so few real terrorists—they’re called aspirational, not operational. And I would argue that almost all of the cases since 9/11 have been aspirational, i.e. people who couldn’t have done anything. I don’t know if they believe it. I’ve seen again and again with prosecutors I’ve interviewed that there’s a true believer quality to some, and Jeffrey Paulson has that true believer quality. It’s really a black and white world and these are the bad guys.

Audience: I wanted to ask about the production of the film because there were so many interesting layers—the phone calls, journal entries. Some of those were reconstructed and some of those were source material. I’d love to hear about that process.

Galloway:
We thought we’d be covering the trial, and then we didn’t get access to the courtroom. So the idea of the heart of the story being following these two guys and their families going through the legal process—we found out pretty quickly the heart of the story was what happened between Brandon Darby, Brad and David in the six months leading up to their arrests. Fortunately for us, because there was a trial, there was a discovery process, and there was a lot of material presented at trial—phone calls, Brandon’s letters to the FBI. That’s a voice actor who’s our voice of Darby in this film. But all the words of Darby were his real letters to the FBI, and one was really the backbone of the entrapment case. We had a lot of surveillance footage. The Department of Homeland Security gave the Twin Cities a $50,000 grant just for surveillance cameras at the RNC. It turned out that we as taxpayers have access to that footage, and someone gave us a tip about that. We just went through hundreds and hundreds of hours to find our characters on these various corners where we knew they were. The Wal-Mart footage—Wal-Mart tapes us all, I’m sure you guys know that. It would have been a lot harder to get all that had we not had access to it through discovery and the kindness of the defense attorney. We didn’t get anything through the Freedom of Information Act, although we FOIA’d everything. For a year and a half we got nothing but redacted stuff. And then we had reenactments, and those are, I hope reasonably easy to detect. Although they’re sort of tricky because there are a couple of real scenes that we have—like Bradley calling his mother and saying, they’re threatening me. Or David talking to his girlfriend. People think those are recreations and they’re not. Everything pre-2009, there’s a kind of treated, abstract quality to the footage and it’s intercut with interview bites.

Audience: Given that the film’s subject is pushing up against government conspiracy and government oppression, I was wondering if you ever got any pushback from individuals or agencies yourself in the process. Did anybody say, there’s a line in the sand, don’t cross it?

Galloway: Very early on my film partner Kelly Duane de la Vega—she had been the one interacting with Darby initially. And her e-mail was shut down when we first got to Minneapolis, and we called her service provider and they said that it would be back up after we left Minneapolis. That seemed to be very clearly related to the story we were trying to tell. A sort of early scare tactic, and it was scary. A lot of paranoia on our parts through the making of the film. We went to Brandon Darby’s house after he told us he wouldn’t participate. He lives in an undisclosed location and we figured out where it was and showed up at his house. He called the FBI and threatened us and all that. I was waiting, when I went to Hot Docs [in Canada] to get stopped at the border and have my computer confiscated and all that, but no such drama.

Audience: Can you talk about why Brandon flipped and when he flipped, and when was he outed as being an informer?

Galloway: Somebody dropped his name in court, and then it was known. So he then wrote this open letter to the activist community. Why he flipped, there are all kinds of theories about. One is that he was never a, quote, real activist and I think that is trajectory from early on is very suspicious. We’ll talk about it over beers and I can tell you what I think. But I would say a majority of people believe that he really fell out with the activists he had founded Common Ground with. It was a nonhierarchical organization and he was a very hierarchical guy. All sorts of things were going on there and he sort of fell from grace within the organization. A majority of people you’ll talk to will say he had a hero complex and that didn’t fit with that organization at that point. He was befriended by this local police sergeant, and then became the hero in the eyes of the FBI, or so he thought. That was before he was involved with this case. He was involved with another case [as an informant] very briefly. A guy named Riad Hamad who was a Palestinian rights activist who Brandon was working with. He wound up bound and gagged in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, dead, and it was ruled a suicide within 48 hours. And so that now has its own life in conspiracy. That was a really hard one to leave on the cutting room floor, but there’s only so much you can do in one movie.

Audience: The government, what do they need to convict somebody?

Galloway: I’d say the heart of the answer is the definition of entrapment that gets accepted at trial. There are two main definitions. One is the one that the prosecutor gives you at the beginning of the trial. You can take someone to the edge of the pool, but you can’t push them in. That was arguably what happened here. This informant, over the course of six months took these guys to the edge, including telling them in the van on the way up about this Italian anarchist hero who was chucking Molotovs, but then didn’t tell them, go make the Molotovs, here’s the money. There’s another definition of entrapment that I think of as the common sense definition, which is, if the government had never been involved with the accused, would they have committed a crime. That’s the one that was ultimately accepted in David’s first trial. I think that’s why he got a six-six split, which is insane. An entrapment defense is notoriously difficult to prove. He was lucky he had that definition in his case. But then he says that his win was based on his lie.

Audience: Has David seen the film? What’s his state right now?

Galloway: David just saw it about a month ago, first by himself and then with 20 of his closest friends in prison. They really responded to the phone calls and being cut off at that moment where you’re trying to convey that critical piece of information to your loved one. Apparently there were shouts and screams in the room when that happened. That was one of my happiest moments, hearing that all of the people watching it feeling like their experience was reflected in the film. He loves the film, thankfully. The e-mail he wrote us, it’s beautiful and we’re going to ask his permission to post it at some point. But we have it tacked over our edit bay back at the lab, because that’s the review you care about more than any other.

Related Film

Better_This_World_-_stf
BETTER THIS WORLD

  • 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

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  • 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

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    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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    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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