Author Archive for Tessa Moran

Silverdocs: Call Me Kuchu’s Look at the Ugandan LGBT Community

“Kuchu” is the name the LGBT community in Uganda uses to describe itself, even as their country vilifies them as moral deviants and rapists. When a draconian anti-homosexuality bill was introduced,  filmmaker Katherine Fairfax Wright and journalist Malika Zouhali-Worrall set off to Uganda to tell the story of a group of Ugandan LGBT [...]

Silverdocs: Tokyo Waka’s Symphony of Crows

Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas, the husband-and wife team behind the Silverdocs flick Tokyo Waka: A City Poem, are proud that their documentaries eschew the three-act narrative structure. In fact, they named their company Stylo Films, after the French director Alexandre Astruc’s idea of a film essay written with a “camera-pen”—or "camera-stylo"—that disregards [...]

D.C. Independent Film Festival: Defining Beauty, Reviewed

There's a fine line between a promotional video about an organization and a documentary film centers on one. Defining Beauty closely straddles that line in its depiction of five competitors in the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America competition. What is otherwise an unflinching look at how these women challenge stereotypes of sex, femininity, strength, beauty, and [...]

Silverdocs: Talking The Interrupters With Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz

It took over 300 hours of video filmed over the course of a year to produce The Interrupters, Steve James' latest documentary study of urban America. While James' celebrated Hoop Dreams captures the rise of inner-city kids to college basketball fame, his latest flick studies the pervasive violence that plagues Chicago. Together with journalist and [...]

Silverdocs: A Chat With Bob & The Monster Director Keirda Bahruth

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who Bob Forrest is, or recognize his alt-rock band Thelonious Monster. His is the story of '80s and '90s rock in America. Silverdocs selection Bob & The Monster is a throwback to that time, including both the sublime and the ugly, and it’s all due to a [...]

DCIFF: Pricele$$

Don't completely blame politicians for being in the pockets of special interests. Blame the system, argues Pricele$$, a new documentary that attacks campaign financing. Running a campaign is an expensive business. "$4 million to lose, $8 million to win," remarks one senator. And it's big business that often fills those coffers.

DCIFF: Food Stamped

Food Stamped is yet another documentary film in a series that attempts to direct attention to some aspect of the American food system. The focus of the film is fresh–the food stamp system, how much is allocated to low income families, and the challenge of eating healthy on small tab. Yet as if finding their [...]

DCIFF: The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan

Eight-year-old Mir and his family live in the mountains of Afghanistan.  It's 2001 and the long-oppressive Taliban regime has been toppled by U.S. and allied forces. Mir and his family have already fled from the Taliban and drought in their village in the North to the caves of Bamiyan. It's here that filmmaker Phil Grabsky [...]

Masters at Their Sugary Craft: A Chat With Kings of Pastry Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

Watching a master at his craft has long been a tantalizing sight, in Greek amphitheaters long ago and seen from living rooms today. Reality television has continued the tradition, albeit crudely, with shows like Top Chef, Survivor, and Amazing Race. So has documentary film, in favorites like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom. Yet those flicks [...]

Frederick Wiseman’s The Boxing Gym, Reviewed

The boxing gym is a well-used—and perhaps overly romanticized—setting in film. The Rocky series will forever hold hearts, despite its cheesiness. And Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan's 1999 Oscar-nominated doc, On the Ropes, stands arguably in the company of the legendary sports study Hoop Dreams.
And so it struck me as an interesting subject for the prolific [...]