CecchineR's blog

Blogging SilverDocs: The Filmmakers

Q&As with four of the filmmakers screening at SilverDocs this year.


No Imact Man and his daughter shop for food at a local farmers' market.

The Independent's Randi Cecchine talks to four filmmakers screening at SilverDocs this month, and with subjects ranging from extreme attempts to reduce a carbon footprint, to a Romanian teenagers run-in with Sacha Baron Cohen, this preview gives a taste of the subjects and variety that SilverDocs has to offer this year. Read interviews with the directors of No Impact Man, Off and Running (view the trailer here), Carmen Meets Borat (view a clip from the film here), and Long Distance.

This week I’ll be heading to SilverDocs Documentary Film Festival and International Documentary Conference in Silver Spring, MD outside of Washington, DC.

I interviewed four filmmakers via e-mail before the festival and I look forward to meeting up with them and asking more questions at SilverDocs.

Long Distance
Moritz Siebert
28 min. | United Kingdom

Blogging History Makers: The Future of the Television Documentary

An overview of three panels at the History Makers Consortium in New York City.


Bill Nemtin makes introductions at the 2009 History Makers Consortium

Blogger Randi Cecchine attends the History Makers Consortium to glean some information on how to begin the distribution process for her latest film The Missile Dick Chicks Take On America (view the trailer here), and brings back some tips from media outlets across the globe, including the History Channel, NBC, BBC and WNET -- as well as some insight from surprise guest speaker, Tom Brokaw. Panelists discuss how history is told through the documentary as well as how to successfully impress commissioning editors.

Costing more than $1,000 for entry, the History Makers Consortium brought together broadcasters and producers to explore the state of programming related to history and current events. The audience consisted of a select group of well-funded producers and industry folks.

Blogging IDFA: Advice About Documentary Distribution

Experienced filmmakers share advice about distribution at IDFA's Docs for Sale.


A still from Franny Armstrong's "McLibel."

The Independent's blogger and filmmaker Randi Cecchine, director of The Missile Dick Chicks Take on America (see the trailer) shares her notes from the Independent Documentary Festival Amsterdam's Docs for Sale series with advice from Deborah Zimmerman of Women Make Movies, Diane Wireman of Participant Media (the organization behind An Inconvenient Truth) and filmmaker Franny Armstrong, whose most recent film, Billy the Kid, screened at IDFA. Speakers address how the market for documentaries is shifting and give advice on how to find a place for your documentary in a constantly morphing media.

In the true spirit of blogging, below are some notes I took during a presentation that was part of IDFAcademy and open to filmmakers whose work was presented in Docs for Sale. I hope this information is helpful to other filmmakers.

Blogging IDFA: Dinner with Filmmaker Velcrow Ripper

An inside look at the inspiration for the film Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, which screened at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.


Filmmaker Velcrow Ripper editing his latest film, Fierce Light, which screened at IDFA.

The Independent's blogger and filmmaker Randi Cecchine, director of The Missile Dick Chicks Take on America (see the trailer), sits down for a dinner table discussion with Fierce Light director, Velcrow Ripper and his business partner and producer, Cher Hawrysh, who reveal what inspired them to make a movie about change, and how filmmakers play an integral role in being a catalyst for that change.

I was delighted to discover an inspiring new film at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) called Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action by filmmaker Velcrow Ripper and producer Cher Hawrysh.

Blogging IDFA: Discussing Distribution

Blogger Randi Cecchine gives us the inside scoop on the Docs For Sale series at IDFA.


The Missile Dick Chicks, the subjects of Cecchine’s latest documentary.

Independent blogger and filmmaker Randi Cecchine, director of The Missile Dick Chicks Take on America (see the trailer), takes on the International Documentary Film Festival and Amsterdam's Docs For Sale informational sessions and boils down the best advice for the distribution and representation of independent films.

At the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), my documentary Trail of Feathers: The Missile Dick Chicks Take on America is playing on little cubicles at Docs for Sale where distributors, sales agents, festivals and broadcasters come to find new films.

Beyond Broadcast Interviews: Prometheus Radio Project

A conversation with Prometheus Radio Project's Pete Tridish about the fight to keep low power radio alive for the community


Urbana Indymedia Barnraising in Urbana, IL (Photo: JJ Tiziou Photography)

In its 10th year, the Prometheus Radio Project has been building low power FM (LPFM) radio stations with farm workers, civil rights organizations, and neighborhood collectives -- basically any underdog community group that wants a slice of the increasingly consolidated media.

Beyond Broadcast: A Report from the Conference

Highlights from a conference that focuses on the state and future of public media


A segment from a map of the blogosphere from the Beyond Broadcast conference.

Randi Cecchine reports from the 3rd Annual Beyond Broadcast Conference held at SILVERDOCS with a series of interviews with community media leaders: Pete Tridish from the Prometheus Radio Project, Kevin Weston from New American Media, and Ivan Sigal from the United States Institute of Peace.

On June 17, 2008, I attended the 3rd Annual Beyond Broadcast Conference, titled “Mapping Public Media,” at American University. It was organized by the Center for Social Media and ran at the beginning of the week of SILVERDOCS Film Festival and Conference.

Beyond Broadcast Interviews: New American Media

A conversation with Kevin Weston, New American Media's director of new media and youth communication


A protest in LA (photo by Ryan Furtado)

Hand-picked as a valuable investment by the Ford Foundation, New American Media serves the more than 3,000 ethnic media outlets in the US by hosting conferences and roundtables and by connecting maintream outlets to the outlets run by and for ethnic communities. Kevin Weston reflects on the value of ethnic media and the benefits of multilingual polling.

Calling themselves “the first and largest collaboration of ethnic news organizations,” New American Media (NAM) represents a consortium of 3,000 ethnic media organizations, typically organized by ethnicity -- African American, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and so on.

Beyond Broadcast Interviews: United States Institute of Peace

An interview with Ivan Sigal, a current fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, about how new media is changing war, peace, and the resolution of conflicts


Ivan Sigal (Photo by Joi)

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a nonprofit founded over 20 years ago, studies and supports peace. The organization focuses on conflict prevention, mediation, negotiation in conflict zones, and peace-building and stabilization.

Blogging Rotterdam, Part Five: Understanding Europe's Zeal for Media Literacy

It's great that policy makers in Europe want to promote media literacy. Let's just hope they talk to media makers before writing down their guidelines


Advocates for Artists: Gabriel McIntyre and Ulrike Söbbeke, who helped organize the conference on media literacy policy.

The Independent's Randi Cecchine, a filmmaker and educator from New York City, is impressed to learn that governments in Europe are eager to come up with policies to promote media literacy among their citizens, particularly young people. But as a European friend suggests, the role of the government in establishing guidelines concerning media literacy and education can be complicated—especially if media makers are cut out of the policy-making loop.

On Wednesday I caught the final session of the conference “How to Stimulate Filmsense(s) International Conference on Media Education from an Artistic Perspective " at the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Blogging Rotterdam, Part Four: Copyright Fear and Confusion

Comparing European notions about intellectual property with American ideals


Faces in the Crowd: The scene at the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam

The Independent's Randi Cecchine, a filmmaker and educator from New York City, attended a panel on intellectual property and copyright law at the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam. She came away from it thinking that European policy makers have spent more time thinking about ways to avoid disputes over the incorporation of one artist's work into a film created by another. She also likes the legal concept of "moral rights" in terms of intellectual property that prevails in Europe.

On Wednesday afternoon, I attended a panel about copyright law for filmmakers and educators, that was part of a fascinating conference-within-the-festival, on media education, policy, and the role of filmmakers in developing media literacy.

Blogging Rotterdam, Part Three: David Lynch Just Wants to Have Fun

Artists should suffer? No way. "If you don't enjoy the doing, do something else," the filmmaker says.


Auteur's Theories: The film "Lynch" lets David riff about meditation, collaboration, and monkeys.

At Rotterdam, The Independent's Randi Cecchine checks out Lynch, a mysterious character sketch of a film about the inventive and enigmatic filmmaker David Lynch. In the film, the director says that meditating regularly for 32 years has helped him chill out and focus. If that is the case, Cecchine wonders, how come he seems so tightly wound? And what do his experiences tell us about the process of making a film, and the disappointments that seem inevitable when you collaborate with a group of people on a project? You can watch the film's trailer, or a humorous clip of Lynch taking on the iPhone's cinematic aspirations.

The film Lynch, a portrait of filmmaker David Lynch, is described in the Rotterdam film festival catalog as “a documentary sketch about a period of two years, made around the production of his last film, Island Empire.” The film also has an air of mystery.

Blogging Rotterdam, Part Two: The Power of Breaking Taboos

Filmmaker X' Ho of Singapore packs his new film with images that could land him in jail


Censored in Singapore: The film "Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head" contains many explicit images.

Filmmaker and educator Randi Cecchine is blogging from the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdarm. Today, she writes about an explicit short film from Singapore with the catchy title Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head. Filmmaker X' Ho is not afraid to take risks, including many long sequences featuring explicit images. Cecchine is somewhat surprised that the film was included in the festival—despite their reputation, the Dutch are a little suppressed, she says—and wonders whether it's easier to watch this kind of film in a theater with an audience, or alone and on DVD.

My decision to watch Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head, a film by X' Ho, a director from Singapore, speaks volumes about having a film’s title begin with the letter "A" so it will appear at the beginning of the alphabetical catalog listing!

Blogging Rotterdam, Part One: Dust Lighting Up the Darkness

Randi Cecchine arrives in Holland, and checks out Harmut Bitomsky's Staub (Dust)


The Big Show: The scene at the 37th Rotterdam film festival

Filmmaker and educator Randi Cecchine blogs from the 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her first film? Staub (Dust), a documentary from Germany the explores the relationship between people and that familiar gray patina. Director Hartmut Bitomsky interviews obsessive cleaners, scientists who study dust to gain insights into the physical world, inventors who have tried to build dust-filtration contraptions, and health experts who worry about the effects of inhaling too much dust. In the end, Cecchine says the film is unexpectedly contemplative. To view a trailer for the film (without subtitles, and in German), check out our Watch page.

The 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam is a 12-day event taking place in fourteen festival locations screening more than 600 films in 26 screening rooms. It is considered to be the Netherlands’ biggest cultural event in terms of paying visitors.

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