imageGive Up Tomorrow follows in the tradition of some of the most powerful documentaries ever made, those dedicated to the exoneration of individuals convicted of crimes they did not commit. In the film, director Michael Collins and producer Marty Syjuco tell the story of Paco Larrañaga, a self-admitted juvenile delinquent accused of raping and murdering two young women in the Philippine island of Cebu in 1997. The only problem? Larrañaga was about 350 miles away from Cebu, in Manila, at the time he was supposed to have carried out the murders, as attested to by some 35 peers and instructors at the culinary institute where he studied at the time. Larrañaga found himself facing a government conspiracy of murky origins, intent on not only imprisoning him for his accused crimes, but on taking his life as well. He was also quickly convicted in the court of public opinion thanks to sensationalist media coverage that focused less on doing any investigation, and more on prurient details spoonfed to them by a compromised Philippine criminal justice system. Following the screening, Stranger Than Fiction Artistic Director Thom Powers spoke with Collins and Syjuco. Click “Read more” below for the Q&A.

[Photo: from left, director Michael Collins and producer Marty Syjuco, courtesy of Simon Luethi]

Stranger Than Fiction: Marty, you came to this story because Paco is an extended family member. Can you describe that connection?

Marty Syjuco:
My brother Jamie, who appears in the film, he’s married to Mimi, Paco’s sister. So Paco’s my brother’s brother-in-law. I didn’t know him very well when all of this was happening, he was about ten years younger than me. I met him at my brother’s wedding in Cebu. When all of this started happening I was already living in Manila, and then I moved to New York. We all knew they got the wrong guy, and we thought the courts would figure it out, correct their mistake. It was really only when the Supreme Court elevated the sentence to death—I was here in New York, and I was shocked. I remember telling Michael about that, and it was Michael’s idea to pick up the camera and start documenting the story.

STF: Michael, I know you’ve both just returned from Spain, where the film had it’s Spanish premiere. And you’ve recorded a new ending to the film which we were hoping to show tonight, but because of technical difficulties we weren’t able to do that. But can you bring us up to date on where the story is and what the screening was like in Spain?

Michael Collins: This ends with the Spanish prison really treating Paco pretty poorly. After we premiered six months ago, we had people from the Spanish embassy, luckily, that came to the New York screenings, and down in Washington, D.C. Paco said that things started to change, they started to treat him much better. They were basically treating him like he was a terrorist. They were trying to break him, and get him to admit his guilt for over a year, which was really strange. Now they’re treating him like someone they’re eventually going to put out on parole. They’re giving him more privileges than he’s ever had before, and it seems like they’re preparing him for the outside. But it’s a process that could take years. He’s more hopeful than he’s ever been. We went to spend some time with him when we were there, and his sister came, and we shot some more.

STF: And you were able to show him the film.

Collins: We were able to show him the film, which was kind of intense—watching him watch the film. Also, we were afraid it would be kind of traumatic. He hadn’t seen a lot of the stuff, he was in prison and was watching all of the media coverage. We had 50 hours worth of media that we harvested from. But he said he felt so empowered afterwards, he said that night he slept better than he’s ever slept. He has a lot of patience, he knows it will take a long time for him to get out. But he was in a country where everyone thought that he was a monster, and now to get sort of out there in the world, he feels sort of vindicated.

STF: What are the prospects of showing this in the Philippines?

Syjuco: Well, I’m Filipino and the end goal is to bring it to the Philippines, where it can have the most impact, not just for Paco, but the 40% that are languishing in prison that weren’t given a fair trial. That’s the percentage they say are in the prisons who could be wrongfully convicted, just like Paco. There are literally thousands of Pacos out there, not just in the Philippines. That’s where I do want to bring it. After Spain, that’s our next goal, hopefully sometime next year. It’s going to be a little challenging because there isn’t really an audience for documentaries there, but maybe the Filipinos in the room can help us spread the word.

Audience: How did you get access to Mrs. Chiong, and how did you frame the project to her?

Collins:
We were in touch with her from the beginning, and she would not talk to us for a long time. Finally, she said she wanted to air her side, and counter all of the lies that the Larrañagas are telling you. And that’s how she eventually let us through the door. She had three interviews with us over the six years we were in production, and I actually shot one of them. When you bring the camera to her, she doesn’t have a filter, she just kind of shows off a little bit. It was really strange. She knew that we were spending all of this time with the family, telling their story. She’d just never been challenged by the media before, and she couldn’t stop herself. We have so much more footage of her, kind of off-the-wall stuff. But we were very careful. She’s the first victim in this thing, her daughters went missing, and I think the challenge, aside from getting access to her, was also how to handle her as a character. Starting this project, and being so angry at her and hearing all the lies that she was telling people that were going to cost these seven guys their lives, I had to figure out a way to transform that to compassion a little bit. And treat her like the grieving mother that she is who just made some bad decisions.

Audience:
How do you maintain objectivity as a filmmaker?

Collins:
As far as our roles as filmmakers and participants, that’s a tough line to blur. Marty’s a member of the family, it was important to put it into the film. It becomes your life, I’m not going to lie. I love this family, Paco is like my family. You have to deal with that. But when you’re in the editing room, you have to make choices that are fair to everyone who’s involved. We took two years to edit this, and it was so complex. We brought in a really experienced editor to help us at the end, Eric Metzgar. It was important to have other people on our team who weren’t so closely connected help us sort through that.

STF: Given that it’s such an interconnected world now and the film has been in the news, have their been responses in the Philippines, word that may have traveled there?

Syjuco: So much time has passed since Paco’s story was the “trial of the century,” and people are now starting to allow themselves to think that perhaps there’s another side to this story. We thought there was going to be a little more backlash in the Philippines, but I think it’s because it hasn’t screened there yet. It’s on the internet, but we’ve been very careful about posting things online. We don’t give out DVDs, they are not yet available for sale, but they will be soon!

Audience: Where, if anywhere, did DNA evidence factor into forensics in the case?

Collins:
They didn’t collect any. We interviewed the medical experts, the forensic pathologist, the medical examiner, we’ve seen all of the records. There’s a lot of detail that we couldn’t put in the film, but the prosecution basically blocked the dental records from being presented. They said that they found half of one sperm, maybe, but that they found it with a blacklight. So it’s not even conclusive. Honestly, it’s a joke. Paco’s family really wanted to do DNA testing, and they said, we’ll pay for it, exhume the body. So they’re hiding something. There’s no evidence that she was even raped.

Audience: Is Paco’s story dead in the Philippines?

Collins: A Philippine story just came out yesterday about Paco, but it was their international reporter based in London. In the Philippines it’s old news, it’s 14 years ago. People remember it, there were some journalists who wrote about it for Philippine newspapers who came to the Tribeca Film Festival. It seems like people are ready to look at it a second time, to look at it from a new angle. A generation has almost passed, so people are open.

Syjuco: Now with online bloggers, the news and the media it’s a different world now. That’s why, hopefully with the film as well, Paco can have a second chance in life. He was 19 when he was arrested, and he’s turning 34 this year, so it’s almost 15 years.

Collins: We just launched a website, www.freepaconow.com. It’s being translated into Spanish, but it’s also in English. You can go there and sign a petition and send letters to officials. He is now, hopefully, on the path to parole. Like we said, it could take years and every single day that he’s there is one too many. We have a facebook page and are on twitter as well.

[Q&A has been edited for length and clarity]

Related Film

Give_Up_Tomorrow-website
GIVE UP TOMORROW

  • 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

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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.

    Be sure to notify the SALT Institute in Portland Me.  and the Duke Center for Documentary Studies…each have a focus on writing, audio and photo.

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    Thanks and looking forward to another great season of STF.
    Happy New Year!
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  • Diego Mas Trelles

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  • Tom Hall

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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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  • Mary Hunt

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    Apparently the producers didn’t have teens of their own, or didn’t pay attention to them.

    As I recall, the film focused on large, impressive homes—not the tiny ranch house in which one of the most popular talking heads lived.

    I had gone to Webster Groves High School a few years before “16 in WG” was filmed. It was a thrill to see the excellent photography capture the personalities of my teachers, and the self-satisfied energy of the Glee Club under the charismatic “Miss Rep,” singing, “This is my country, land of the free”—which I always found irritating.

    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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  • TheDocHierarchy

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    P.S. Berlinger and Sinofsky were robbed!

  • Jill W.

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  • Rahul Chadha

    Hey Tim. I just tried the Bowers link and it seems to be working now. Thanks for reading all.

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  • Johanna Samuel

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

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    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 :)

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