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Do Filmmakers Know Their Rights?

MaidanConversation on the filmmaker v. journalist distinction that happened at Sundance was also picked up at this year’s True/False Film Fest. Filmmakers who took some big risks took part in an “I Know My Rights” discussion that perhaps should have been more of a question than a statement. Nick Broomfield (Tales of the Grim Sleeper), David Felix Sutcliffe ((T)ERROR), Matthew Hieneman (Cartel Land) and Serhy Stetsenko (Maidan) spoke to many of the issues covered in the Center report released in February: “Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk When Telling Truth to Power.” Read more...

Dollars, Doughnuts and Distribution

Photo by Rebecca Allen via True/False Film FestA few dollars and a doughnut are what most filmmakers can expect to have leftover after a distribution deal has been milked by distributor, exhibitor, sales agent, deliverables and marketing costs. Prospects for money from this traditional model are grim according to a panel discussion at the 2015 True/False Film Fest, and self-distribution is the way to go. Read more...

Documentaries Telling Truth to Power

Dangerous DocumentariesMany of the issues most important to understand and discuss are also those that powerful people or institutions don’t want made public. How do independent makers of documentaries that tell truth to power cope with this reality? A just-released report by the Center for Media & Social Impact discusses the risks, and how they can be mitigated to encourage more and better expression on the important issues of the day.

The report, built on interviews with 53 people including makers, lawyers, insurers, funders and programmers, was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Read more...

Testify: Community Voices on Public TV and Diversity

PubTV ForumAn open forum on the future for independent, diverse voices on public TV packed the theater and featured testimony from dozens of people. The common theme: communities expect public TV to showcase diverse perspectives on important but often overlooked issues in primetime. 

The issue that drew them all to the School of Communication’s theater on a frigid February evening was PBS’ commitment to Independent Lens and POV, two series that feature diverse, independent voices on important but underrepresented public issues. In late December, just before the winter holidays began, WNET announced that it would drop the series from its primetime lineup on its primary station in New York—the largest market in the country. PBS was unsure whether the series would stay in their primetime slot—especially given the pullout by the largest-market station—when the new season is announced in May. Read more...

Field Report: LandofOpportunity Interactive Platform

LandofOpportunityLandofOpportunity the interactive web platform launched in 2014 after several years of development. CMSI has been tracking the evolution and outcomes of this multi-platform project for the duration and we have teamed up to release the LandofOpportunity Field Report.

The Land of Opportunity transmedia documentary project encompasses a feature film and interactive web platform designed to foster dialogue and social impact around community (re)building in the face of crisis/disaster. Read more...