Stanley Nelson

Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival

HONORS STANLEY NELSON WITH CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
 

New York, September 21: The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival (HT2FF) has announced today that Stanley Nelson will be the recipient of this year’s Career Achievement Award at the festival which takes place in Sag Harbor (December 3 – 6, 2015). The award is given to filmmakers whose documentary contributions throughout the years have been significant and impactful, bringing an original vision and a clear voice to the documentary genre. Previous honorees include: Richard Leacock (2011), Susan Lacy (2012), DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (2013) and Barbara Kopple (2014). 

With 35 films and multiple industry awards to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. His films have earned five Primetime Emmys, two awards from the Sundance Film Festival, and two Peabodys, among other honors. He is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the NEH National Medal in the Humanities presented by President Obama in 2014. 

Founder and Executive Director of HT2FF, Jacqui Lofaro, said: “ It is a great privilege to present our 2015 Career Achievement Award to Stanley Nelson. His award-winning documentary films on social justice issues were early windows into race relations. His latest film, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution” continues the provocative dialogue, even more relevant in America today. We honor his commitment to honesty, truth and artistic rigor.”                 

Nelson remarked: “It is always great to receive accolades; it doesn’t get old. Documentary filmmakers don’t get recognition every day. To be recognized because people are seeing and liking my films is great and the award means this is happening”.

 

Stanley Nelson is the co-founder and Executive Director of Firelight Films and co-founder of Firelight Media, which produces award-winning films that expose injustice and illuminate the power of community by connecting the films with concrete and innovative ways for diverse audiences to be inspired, educated, and mobilized into action. As noted by Nelson: “One of the things that is essential to me as a filmmaker is to try to give the viewer a sense of what it has meant to be black in America and consider this within our contemporary context”.

 

 

In 2008 Firelight expanded its mission and created the Producers’ Lab, a flagship mentorship program that seeks out and develops emerging diverse filmmakers. 

Firelight is one of nine nonprofit organizations around the world to receive the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions which recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations which have demonstrated creativity and impact.

Although Nelson’s documentaries span many topics—the massacre at Wounded Knee, the life and times of Marcus Garvey, the tragedy of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, the music of Sweet Honey in the Rock—he has been deeply drawn to tell the stories of the civil rights movement via such award winning films as Freedom Riders (2010), The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1999) and The Murder of Emmett Till (1988), among others, which he says “set forces in motion that changed the world.”  

HT2FF will be screening Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, in honor of Nelson, at the festival. The film is a “definitive portrait of the Black Panther – its rise and fall…Nelson aims to paint a complete and accurate account of the revolutionary black nationalist organization, a film which should act as a reminder, as well as an education…” (Indiewire).

The Career Achievement Award will be given at a Gala Evening, Sat. December 5, 2015. 

For press inquiries, please contact: Arlene Hinkemeyer
ahinkemeyer@optonline.net Phone: 631-324-6713


Young Voices for 2015

 

Last year’s Young Voices brought 220 students, teachers, family to screen short films from local schools. The bonus: a brief filmmaker course by professional documentary filmmaker Roger Sherman. We are reaching out again to middle and high school students on the East End of Long Island, Suffolk County to be part of YOUNG VOICES. Teachers and parents recognize this as a unique opportunity. Share this HT2FF special program with the youngsters around you and in your classes. Encourage them to make films. Submit their films and bring them to the YOUNG VOICES program at our 8th annual film festival on December 3, 2015. An added bonus: Roger Sherman, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, will attend to teach the basics to create, shoot and edit a film with a video camera or cell phone.

Help grow an artist. Music, dance, paint and prose express young, fresh ideas. Yet the moving images of video film captivate fertile minds and spirits even more.  Cultivate their talents, nurture them, encourage them. There’s no telling what could develop. Years from now we might celebrate their film receiving an Academy Oscar.       

          

 

The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival has carved out a special segment in its upcoming 2015 film festival dedicated exclusively for YOUNG VOICES to see and share stories middle school and high school students document. Screening their films in a theater, on the big movie screen with a live audience is our festival’s way of sprouting careers in media arts.

Help grow an artist.  Thank you

Jacqui Lofaro, Executive Director

DOCUMENTARY FILMS FROM THE HEARTS & MINDS OF STUDENTS

Celebrating Barbara Kopple

A Revered Champion For Justice

 

 

You could call her an American treasure and you’d be right. Barbara Kopple was the first woman to win two Oscars in the Best Feature Documentary category (for Harlan County and American Dream) and Harlan County U.S.A. was placed on the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress in 1990 and designated an American Film Classic. Her list of awards is extensive—ranging from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award to the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize—and the number of films she has crafted over four decades averages one each year.

Kopple didn’t start out wanting to be a documentarian. She attended Northeastern University where she studied clinical psychology, but instead of submitting a term paper for one of her psych courses she made a film instead. That’s all it took for her to be hooked on filmmaking.

In 1972 she began filming the Miners for Democracy movement led by Arnold Miller. When the union moved to Harlan County to organize the miners, Kopple moved too and spent 13 months filming the struggle. Harlan Country took four years to make and cost about $200,000.

Harlan County was the first of dozens more feature-length, non-fiction films for Kopple; she’s also directed both non-fiction and fiction films and series for television. Her non-fiction films follow her belief that documentarians shouldn’t have an agenda going into a project. Her approach to filmmaking is to let the story emerge. As she told Bright Lights Film Journal in 2006, “The fascination and the excitement of documentary is that you don’t know, so why guess? Just put your sneakers on and go. Go on the journey.”

Over the years she’s taken viewers on many journeys: to the deep South to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the killings of three civil rights workers in 1964 (Civil Rights: The Struggle Continues); to the Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota during the six-month strike in 1985-1986 (American Dream); to Robben Island in South Africa and the reunion of 1,500 political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela (Prisoners of Hope); to the road with the Dixie Chicks from the top of their popularity as country music darlings through their now infamous anti-Bush comment made by lead singer Natalie Maines in 2003 (Shut Up and Sing).

Kopple’s films celebrate the people she cares about, whether it’s the American worker or patients challenging the drug regulatory system in Fight to Live. She also examines the lives of the famous and infamous, the three Hemingway sisters in Running From Crazy; the journalist and philanthropist, Ellen Ratner in A Force of Nature; Mike Tyson, the controversial boxer in Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson; and Woody Allen as he tours with his New Orleans Jazz Band in Wild Man Blues.

Kopple has a gift for getting people to open up. She has called herself an “intimate filmmaker.” She told filmmaker Roland Legiardi-Laura in an interview for Bomb Magazine in 1992, “I like to be able to get underneath what people think.” To do that, she has to gain people’s trust and immerse herself in their community. “What I would call a really good documentary is one in which you never feel the presence of the camera or the filmmaker,” she told Legiardi-Laura. “It’s like peeking under a blanket where you’re not supposed to look and seeing real life and real people unfold.”

Her ability to blend in and keep her crew small (often just one other person) has allowed her to be present at many struggles. It’s also made her one of America’s enduring champions for justice.

 

Harlan County U.S.A.

DIRECTOR: Barbara Kopple
PRODUCER: Barbara Kopple
EDITORS: Nancy Baker, Mirra Bank, Lora Hays, Mary Lampson
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Kevin Keating, Hart Perry

This Oscar-winning documentary follows the 1973 Brookside Mine strike of 180 coal miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company, owner of the Kentucky mine. Kopple and her crew documented the dire straits the workers found themselves in while protesting for safer working conditions, fair labor practices and decent wages. Rather than using narration to tell the story, Kopple let the words and actions of the strikers speak for themselves.

Kopple spent 13 months in Harlan County filming the struggle. She believed it was important for her to be there, even if there was no film in the camera, because having a camera recording events kept the violence down. It also let the strikers know there were other people that cared about them and the outcome of the strike.

Despite the presence of the camera, violence was not avoided. Almost a year into the strike one of the young and well-liked miners, Lawrence Jones was fatally shot. He left behind a 16-year-old wife and baby. The miner’s death, said Kopple in a 1977 interview with Jump Cut was the “only reason” that the union and the government and the coal operators got together.

Violence was not limited to the miners. In an intimating scene where miners were being beaten, a group of scabs attacked Kopple and broke the camera. Kopple told Jump Cut, “I wasn’t scared when it was happening because I was so angry.” It’s that passion and sense of right and wrong that makes Kopple such a powerful documentarian.