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T/F People Watch: 10 Filmmakers

Find the fest's finest in Columbia

March 1, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Simon Barrett (Writer and producer, V/H/S)
Columbia native Barrett is attending this year's fest as one of the writers of a found footage horror anthology that he believes transcends the genre's typical failings. V/H/S' thrills caused one movie goer to faint and his girlfriend to vomit during a screening that Barrett attended at Sundance, where the film premiered. "There is this particularly kind of intense part that people tend to be responding to," Barrett says. "The couple that got sick actually did go back and watch the film and emailed us that they really liked it."

Mads Brügger (Director, The Ambassador)
Maybe the most recognizable director attending True/False, Brügger's iconic bald head, red chinstrap goatee and aviator glasses are tough to miss. His film Red Chapel was great enough to earn the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema competition at the 2010 Sundance Festival. In the satire master's latest film, Brügger exposes the corrupt world of African diplomacy.

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Karim El Hakim (Co-director, 1/2 Revolution)
El Hakim and co-director Omar Shargawi were skeptical at first about a call for people to protest on Egypt's National Police Day. But what they saw when they took to the streets of Cairo was the unfolding of a revolution. El Hakim recalls one moment when he joined with protestors in a large square. "We created three rivers of people coming in from different sides of the square and meeting in this jubilant intersection of this crowd," he says. "It was this liberating experience to hook with them, to join my friends."

Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Director, Abendland)
Geyrhalter's nominee for Best Documentary at the Austrian Film Awards uses Europe's night life to explore Western civilization's obsession with technology and security. In his usual technique, it has no voice-overs, letting the sound of the scenes bring life to the raw images of the locations he captures. Geyrhalter says: "I wouldn't like the audience to go there and think this is only about Europe and that it has 'nothing to do with me.' It is a film about the Western way of living, and it has just as much to do with people in Columbia."

Lee Hirsch (Director, Bully)
Hirsch could not believe a high-profile documentary had not been made about bullying, so he set out to define bullying as an intolerable cruelty. His True Life Fund winner illuminates the magnitude and intensity of extreme bullying in America. "As a kid, I was bullied," Hirsch says. "It was something I have access to emotionally, so I felt like I could relate, and I felt like there was a need to see how much of a crisis it is, how much people are really hurting across the country.”

Rachel Leah Jones (Director, Gypsy Davy)
Jones’ film, which had its international premiere at Sundance this year, takes audiences on a personal journey about her father, a famous flamenco guitarist who went by David Serpa and created a torn family tree. The filming of the documentary spanned 10 years, and Jones finished two other films before it. “I had 300 hours of stuff, some of it utterly useless for a film, but it can be wonderful for my grandchildren,” she says. “I knew that I had needed to stop.”

Alison Klayman (Director, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry)
Klayman accepted a Sundance award by asking the audience to raise their middle fingers at her while she posed for a photo, which won her a Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance. Her film subject, Ai Weiwei, is a Chinese artist with a knack for outspoken dissidence in a highly censored country. “He is not a deadly serious person,” Klayman says. “His attitude is often very playful. He looks for the humor in situations as well … I knew that people could watch him for 90 minutes and be engaged.”

Nicolas Lampert (Artist)
Lampert (left), a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee art professor, will be at True/False again. In 2011, he and Jesse Graves (center) taught Columbians mud stenciling, an environmentally friendly way to paint the town. Graves will be putting up a mural on Friday and Saturday nights. Lampert also collaborated with Paul Kjelland (right) on the 10 feet by 10 feet vinyl art on the storefront windows of Ragtag Cinema. The art, which is about “fighting for democracy and human rights through technology,” is a tribute to those in Egypt who fought the mass Internet blockade on Jan. 28, 2011.

Dan Lindsay (Co-director, Undefeated)
Lindsay’s first film depicted the world’s best beer pong players. An MU alumnus, he quickly transitioned from light-hearted entertainment about overzealous pong professionals to a serious sports docudrama about what football means to young athletes in a crime-ridden city. His latest film about an underdog football team in inner city Memphis earned Lindsay an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature this year.

Morgan Spurlock (Director, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope)
Only eight years ago, 41-year-old Spurlock was nearly eating himself to death by stuffing his face with French fries and Big Macs on theater screens across the world. Well-known for Super Size Me and its indictment of the nutrition level of fast food, Spurlock directed Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, an inspection of the world’s most avid comic book fans who gather each year in San Diego for the Comic-Con.

Comments on this article


    The Ambassador is subversive and incendiary documentary film in which, according to maker Brugger, he unveils himself as an unscrupulous forger and while doing so, purposely damages the interest of individuals and governments for his own glory to sell his product. The film is made with public money from the Danish Filminstitute and produced with a budget of €1 million by Lars Von Trier (Zentropa), a controversial Danish film-director who admitted to journalists at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 to being a Nazi, understanding Hitler. Organizers were not amused and declared him a persona no grata to the same festival. Under influence of Von Trier’s ideology, Danish journalist Brugger purposefully took several steps beyond the rules, both written and unwritten. It smells like a documentary film based on fascistic roots. Take a look at a photo in Politiken
    and see how Brugger presents himself as a neo Nazi on horseback. That maybe explains why he insults Africa and ridicules the TWA pygmy people. He confronts them with a sick Hitler joke about champagne and force them to listen to whale sounds. Clearly an inspiration out of Von Trier’s wine cellar. Brugger used hidden cameras and false pretences to record and film confidential meetings and telephone conversations without informing his victims or asking them permission or approval by means of adversarial response. Then he edited a documentary film with a specific “Tunnel Vision” to transform a fantasy-fetish into reality to proof his mistrust under the slogan “The end justifies the means!”. He hides that he received his desired position and does not tell the viewers the lawyer returned his money.

    Posted by Willem Tijssen on Mar 2, 2012 at 1:24 a.m. (Report Comment)

  explains why THE AMBASSADOR is not a documentary nor a mockumentary but a “f*ckumentary”

    Posted by Willem Tijssen on Mar 7, 2012 at 9:23 a.m. (Report Comment)