March 1, 2002

Member News, March 2002

Allison Argo of ArgoFilms Ltd. is nearing completion of a National Geographic Television Special titled Lost Empire of the Inca. Argo, who is producing, directing and writing the special, filmed on location in Peru with Co-Producer Malvina Martin and DP Andy Young. Scheduled to air in May 2002, the program highlights further discoveries of the Inca legacy, as well as Peru’s battle to preserve its endangered heritage. Argo received two Emmy Awards in September for her most recent film, The Urban Elephant, a PBS/National Geographic Television co-production.

Director of photography Peter Bonilla recently returned to Los Angeles after directing and shooting a two-hour long documentary about Semester at Sea’s Fall 2001 voyage (a 100-day, 21,500 mile circumnavigation of the globe with a five day stay in each port). Sailing out of Vancouver on August 31, the itinerary was to include Japan, Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Morocco. But after September 11, the U.S. State Department rerouted the voyage as a cautionary measure. Instead of proceeding from India up to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, the SS Universe Explorer sailed south from Madras, across the Equator to the Seychelles, then on to South Africa, Brazil and Cuba before finally docking in Miami on December 9. The shoot was on Betacam SP and preliminary editing took place on the ship with Final Cut Pro 2. Post-production continues stateside for release this month.

Hannibal Brown reports that his project Visions of the Little Prince will start shooting on location by the end of May. He is developing another doc about William Brown, an Irish hero who created the Argentinean navy in the 1800s and helped to free several South American countries, including Chile and Peru, from Spanish colonialism.

Michael Dominic’s documentary feature Sunshine Hotel has shown at approximately 20 festivals and screenings, including IDA’s DOCtober, winning three Best Documentary awards along the way. The film explores the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last flophouses left on New York City’s infamous skid row, the Bowery. Dominic reports that Amy Taubin of the Village Voice wrote, “Dominic’s affecting, honorable portraits of some longtime residents are hard to shake.”

R.J. Johnson has been hired as a producer for Second City Presents. The one-hour series will feature famous former members of the Second City improvisation group and will air on the Bravo cable network later this year.

Oscar®- nominated filmmaker Tod Lending, of Nomadic Pictures, has secured $675,000 to begin production on his new feature documentary entitled Redemption. The film will follow three African-American men six months before their release from prison and two years thereafter. The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation have provided major funding. A fellowship from the Foundation of Child Development was also provided for researching and writing the project.

Peter von Puttkamer reports that his project Monster Hunters, an international limited series for Discovery Channel, will air nationally in the US on TLC in late spring, 2002. Shot on 16X9 Digital Betacam, high-end DV CAM, 16mm film, and Digital 8mm nightvision, the beautifully-shot series travels with some strange people to look for creatures that science says don't exist. The project screened in Los Angeles at the NY International Independent Film Festival and aired in Australia.

Director/Producer Barbara Rick’s documentary SHE SAYS/Women in News aired nationally this past December on PBS. The film examines how women in news have changed the news and the world. Major funding was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Whitehead Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Sounds Sacred, Rick’s other documentary completed in 2001, played to a packed house at the 24th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival in Northern California this past October, and is currently available for distribution.

Andrew Rothstein reports a busy February and March. His documentary Mississippi State Secrets, a program about the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a state agency which secretly tried to destroy the civil rights movement from 1956-1976, aired Feb. 28 on the History Channel's History Undercover series. His documentary Surveillance: Who's Watching You?, a program that examines the loss of personal privacy in America, airs on March 11 at 10 p.m. on A&E's Investigative Reports.

BrotherMen, a one-hour performance-based documentary by filmmaker Demetria Royals, had a premiere screening in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Black Film Festival last month. The film then had its PBS broadcast premiere on WQED Pittsburgh. The national PBS broadcast of BrotherMen will begin in June.

Oscar®-winning documentary filmmaker and former British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles Chairman of the Board Arnold Schwartzman was appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. The honor was bestowed in recognition of services to the British film industry in the US. Schwartzman was recently elected a Governor of BAFTA/LA on his retirement as Chairman of the Board. For the past two years he has also served as Chair of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Documentary Executive Committee.

CINE has announced it will honor Matthew Testa‘s ITVS/PBS documentary The Buffalo War with a Golden Eagle, awarded to outstanding documentary programs. This award makes the film eligible for a Jury Prize in CINE's environment and nature documentary category. The Buffalo War, a moving portrait of the Native Americans, ranchers, environmentalists and government officials struggling over the yearly killing of America's last wild bison, was produced, directed and photographed by Testa. In addition to the CINE Golden Eagle, the film is also the winner of eight documentary awards, including Best Environmental Film at the 2001 San Francisco International Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the 2001 Newport Film Festival.

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