BEST OF EGG THE ARTS SHOW: Scrambled Eggs with a Side of Art

Following a one-night special showing the best of EGG THE ARTS SHOW, series producers Jeff Folmsbee and Mark Mannucci discuss the making of the unique PBS series with Beth Levison, Amy Teutenberg, Mary Recine and Tom Patterson. ©Lou Aguilar

From 2000 to 2003, EGG the Arts Show took audiences down weird and wonderful paths. Each with its specific theme, these paths coalesced around the various forms art takes within American culture and the curious characters behind its production. In Tuesday night’s screening at the IFC Center, audience members were in for a treat: The Best of EGG, a kind of scrambled medley representative of the unique and experimental PBS show.

In the Q&A following Tuesday’s screening, executive producer Jeff Folmsbee and series producer Mark Mannucci were joined onstage with other editors and producers instrumental in the television program’s genesis. Each emphasized the independent spirit behind the series’ formation.

“We had incredible creative freedom,” said Mannucci. “No one knew what they were doing.”

Folmsbee agreed that the show’s one of a kind style was a result of its creators’ willingness to experiment with the typical TV program format.

“It was like making a show that nobody else looked at.” Folmsbee said with a smile. “And we exploited that.”

The original show was 30-minutes long and composed of various stories that played off each other. Each had to have the ability to stand on its own, while also mixing in with other stories. All embodied a common theme. For those podcast listeners, think a quirky television version of This American Life.

EGG was an opportunity to "cull from the incredible New York talent pool," many of whom attended the STF Best of Egg screening.

The creators noted that for the production of “The Best of EGG,” it was difficult to capture the essence of EGG without having a hard theme to hone in on. Instead, they tried to simply include segments that illustrated high art versus art produced by unconventional, but equally passionate people throughout the country. A quick recap of the segments making up “The Best of EGG” is summarized below.

Act 1: What’s the big idea behind conceptual art? With self-portraits carved from aspirin and paintings done with paint-dipped hair, this segment honed in on artists who emphasized the idea behind their pieces over the objects utilized to actually convey that idea.

Act 2: A behind-the-scenes look at the work of Sid Laverents, an American amateur filmmaker who started making films at home at the age of 50. What began as just a hobby evolved into videos that, while eccentric, demonstrated impressive technical experimentation.

Act 3: When does something you love become something you don’t? “Giving Up the Ghost” followed photographer Sally Mann and her fascination with death.

Act 4: Never let age keep you from doing what you love. This segment highlighted a physical trainer and Alvin Ailey dancer who embody the spirit of that statement.

Act 5: Never did barbershop-singing tug at your heartstrings more than with this segment set in Harmony College. While the men come to better their craft and master the art of blending voices seamlessly, the sense of fellowship among the singers at Harmony College is this mini-doc’s main takeaway.

Act 6: A behind-the-scenes at Joe Sacco, a Maltese-American cartoonist whose series on the Bosnian War and ethnic cleansing uniquely blends the realms of serious journalism and cartoon art.

Act 7: Famed Broadway actress and singer Elaine Stritch’s one-woman show gives audiences an unfiltered look her rollercoaster life and career. The actress, who was also the voice of EGG during its series run, holds nothing back.

Act 8: This segment on Burning Man gives viewers an inside look at the creative minds and personalities behind the renowned week-long festival in Nevada’s desert. By depicting various radical takes on self-expression at the festival, this mini-doc highlights those who are no longer satisfied by just looking at art.

Stranger Than Fiction’s Winter 2015 season runs from February 3rd to March 24th, taking place each Tuesday night at the IFC Center. The season features an eclectic mix of sneak previews and retrospectives, including appearances by filmmakers Marc Levin, Ian Olds, Liz Garbus and film subject Seymour Bernstein.

Jenna Belhumeur is a current student at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. After graduating from UCLA in 2013, she moved to Thailand for 8 months to teach English and backpack around Southeast Asia. After Columbia, Jenna hopes to report internationally for a major broadcast network or pursue her passion for video through long-form documentary production. Follow her on Twitter @jenna_bel and on Instagram @jennabel.

Videography by Steff Sanchez, a filmmaker and designer based in New York City.



Monday Memo: Oscar Noms for Killing, Square and 20 Feet

20 FEET FROM STARDOM was one of the docs to receive an Oscar nomination this week.

This week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) loosed the list of nominees for the Oscar awards on the world. At, Christopher Campbell had coverage, along with a reaction from director Jehan Noujaim, with Adam Benzine on the news at Realscreen.  Larry Rohter of the New York Times also reported on the nominations with an eye toward the themes of politics and entertainment. At the POV blog, Tom Roston shared his impressions of the list and named snubs. Both Michelle Kung of the Wall Street Journal and Joan E. Solsman of cnet took note of the fact that THE SQUARE was the first Netflix “original” documentary to earn an Oscar nod. Paula Bernstein shared info on where nominated films could be screened online in a piece for Indiewire. And at the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire, Sheerly Avni interviewed Rithy Panh, director of doc THE MISSING PICTURE, which earned a nomination in the foreign language category.

The Sundance Film Festival also kicked off this week. At Realscreen, Kelly Anderson spoke with programmer Caroline Libresco to preview some of the docs to keep an eye on. In a piece for Indiewire’s Reel Politik section, Anthony Kaufman took a look at the film THE GREEN PRINCE. And in a separate piece for the SundanceNOW blog, Kaufman wrote a piece identifying trends and players to keep an eye on at Park City.  Paula Bernstein of Indiewire wrote on the influence that Chicken & Egg Pictures has had on getting women documentary filmmakers some festival shine. Ondi Timoner previewed the docs playing at the festival in an episode of Bring Your Own Doc. Writing for Variety, Addie Morfoot noted that most festivals, including Sundance, seemed to privilege left-leaning docs over their rightward counterparts. In a piece for the Sundance website, PARIS IS BURNING director Jennie Livingston wrote on the experience of being branded a failure as a filmmaker.

At the International Documentary Association (IDA) website, Michael Galinsky interviewed Jesse Moss, director of THE OVERNIGHTERS. Kevin Ritchie of Realscreen spoke with LIFE ITSELF director Steve James. Michael Dunaway of Paste Magazine also interviewed Steve James, as did Matt Zoller Seitz at

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Monday Memo: True/False 2013 Concludes

The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer was one of the films that screened at True/False this year.

The focus of much of the doc world was in Columbia, Missouri, this weekend for the 10th True/False Film Fest. At the POV blog, Tom Roston recapped his experience, explaining how the festival’s idiosyncrasies add up to a great film experience. Roston earlier in the week had also described why True/False is a standout among festivals. For a look at news that came out of the festival, you can head over to the news section of their website.

LEVIATHAN from directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel got a great press bump in advance of the theatrical release of the film this weekend at the IFC Center. Writing for Filmmaker Magazine, Robert Greene shared his take on the film, describing it as the “progeny of direct cinema, experimental film and ethnography,” while Anthony Kaufman of the SundanceNOW blog considered some of the film’s horror genre-like qualities. At the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell spoke with Castaing-Taylor, while Indiewire’s Eric Kohn spoke with both Castaing-Taylor and Paravel. Rich Juzwiak of Gawker also had an in-depth look at the film, and Forrest Cardamenis of The Film Stage and Melissa Anderson of the Village Voice both reviewed the film.

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Monday Memo: Searching For Sugar Man, Inocente Win Oscars

The film INOCENTE from directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine took home the Oscar for best short documentary this year.

Coming as no surprise to anyone, SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul–which screening in DOC NYC’s short list section last year–took home this year’s Oscar for best documentary, after going on an impressive awards run that lasted pretty much all year. The Oscar for best short-form documentary went to INOCENTE from directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine; the film follows a young, undocumented and homeless artist in San Diego.

For those interested in the practice of Monday morning quarterbacking, there was no shortage of prognostications prior to Sunday’s awards ceremony, with SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN named as the odds-on favorite by most, including Adam Benzine of Realscreen. He was joined by Richard Corliss of Time and Tom Roston on the POV blog. On the New York Times Carpetbagger blog Larry Rohter considered how the recent voting rules changes had helped SUGAR MAN. Rohter also spoke with HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE director David France about his filmmaking education, while Peter Knegt of Indiewire also talked to the team behind the film. At Christopher Campbell wondered whether the “most important” doc films would win awards. At, Brian Whisenant similarly considered how important docs stacked up against entertaining ones. In another post for POV, Tom Roston recalled Michael Moore’s 2003 acceptance speech denouncing the Iraq War. Writing for the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell made the argument that THE INVISIBLE WAR director Kirby Dick deserved greater recognition for his professional body of work. (Campbell’s argument was helped by the fact that Dick’s film picked up the best documentary award at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, and that it also won the 2013 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.)

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Monday Memo: Oscar Coverage Heats Up

Director Kirby Dick's The Invisible War is one of the five films vying for an Oscar this year.

With the Oscars just under a week away now, media attention on the nominated docs has been ramping up. This week WNYC host Brian Lehrer interviewed all five of the filmmakers behind the nominated films; you can find a link to all of the shows here. Ed Gonzales of Slate Magazine also provided a breakdown of the nominees and picked a favorite to win. Over at the Huffington Post, entertainment editors Michael Hogan and Christopher Rosen considered all of the nominees (although Rosen admitted that he had not seen any of them). Writing for the Tribeca Institute’s blog, Joe Reid gave readers a round-up of the Oscar-nominated doc shorts. At Vanity Fair, Alyssa Bereznak spoke with THE INVISIBLE WAR director Kirby Dick, while Sharon Waxman did the same for The Wrap. At the New York Times Carpetbagger blog, Larry Rohter took a look at the debate brewing over whether 5 BROKEN CAMERAS should be considered a Palestinian or an Israeli movie.

A number of interviews with directors also hit the web this week. Patrick Brzeski of The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Joshua Oppenheimer, director of THE ACT OF KILLING. (Oppenheimer this week also left the Berlin International Film Festival with the audience award for his film.) Christopher Campbell  of the Documentary Channel blog interviewed Chris James Thompson, director of THE JEFFREY DAHMER FILES, and also Lee Hirsch, director of the film BULLY. At Filmmaker Magazine, Sarah Salovaara also spoke with Hirsch, posing him five questions. At The Awl, Rick Paulus talked with filmmaker Spencer McCall about his film THE INSTITUTE, a look at the cryptic game The Jejune Institute. At Screen Daily, Andreas Wiseman interviewed Ken Loach about his new film THE SPIRIT OF ‘45, which recently screened at the Berlinale. Filmmaker Bonnie Boswell spoke with Maria Goodavage of the Independent Lens blog on her upcoming film THE POWERBROKER: WHITNEY YOUNG’S FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS. And finally, Sam Clements of Vice spoke with THE HOUSE I LIVE IN director Eugene Jarecki.

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