2 items from 2017
Karin Jurschick is the co-founder of the International Women’s Film Festival in Cologne, Germany. Her award-winning films include “On the Rail of Evil,” “Chernobyl and its Consequences,” and “The Cloud.” She is also an active writer for radio and television.
“Playing God” will premiere at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on April 30.
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
Kj: Why is the life of a firefighter who died a hero in the Twin Towers on 9/11 worth a million dollars less than that of a stockbroker who lost his life in the same disaster? How much money should oil giant Bp pay the countless fishermen on the Gulf of Mexico who are fighting for their livelihoods in the wake of the largest oil spill in history? How can hundreds of ailing Vietnam vets be compensated for their suffering, which stems from exposure to Agent Orange?
These are questions that almost appear cynical — but not for America’s most famous compensation specialist, Ken Feinberg. Rarely has a national tragedy befallen the Us without Feinberg being called upon to play his part.
We accompany him on his current high-profile case. We recall his most challenging past cases. We also pay a visit to the victims’ families. Do they feel that they have been fairly treated by America’s “special master?”
W&H: What drew you to this story?
Kj: For me, “Playing God” is more than just the story of a charismatic man who maneuvers between capital and justice, between U.S. politics and people who have lost their loved ones, their health, or their livelihood.
The film reveals what happens within our Western system of values when economic interests and people’s lives become intertwined through tragedy. To question our way of life seems most necessary these days. It is a question for Americans, Europeans, and everybody else.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
Kj: I want them to question if they want to live in a society where money rules. I want them to think about Ken Feinberg’s role and the role — and value — of the law, both its good and its problematic sides.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
Kj: Following the 70-year-old Ken Feinberg through his day — from date to date, phone call to phone call — at a speed and energy that I would be grateful to have at the age of 70.
It was also important to meet very different people from all over the country with powerful, and often tragic, stories: Minneapolis retiree Dennis Kooren, who is trying to care for his Alzheimer’s stricken mother whilst facing the threat of losing half or more of his pension; Louisiana fisherman William Peterson, who still can’t find oysters in the Gulf of Mexico after the Bp oil spill; New Yorker Ana and her son, Luis, who lost their husband and father on 9/11, yet had to struggle to be accepted as victims of the tragedy because he was an undocumented immigrant.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
Kj: The film was produced by Bildersturm Filmproduktion. Its team includes Birgit Schulz, who is one of the rare female documentary producers in Germany.
“Playing God” was also funded by the federal film fund (Filmstiftung Nrw), by television (Swr/Arte and Wdr), and with the help of Dutch production company Windmill Film.
W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at Hot Docs?
Kj: It is my dream scenario because we pitched at Hot Docs. I love this important documentary film festival, and it is very well recognized in Europe.
But, of course, I would love to have a U.S. premiere too. The film is very much about the American system and the American way of live. It also reflects on a current political question by showing the threat of multiemployer pension plans going bankrupt — something that would hit millions of vulnerable retirees throughout the United States.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
Kj: I guess the best advice I gave to myself at one point is: Don’t give up. If you want to be loved by everybody, don’t become a director. Stand by your vision.
The worst advice has come from legions of anxious television commissioning editors who wanted a more streamlined film.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
It is about people who hunt for food and other discarded items. They collect what is leftover from industrial and agricultural production for their own survival, and sometimes just for fun.
Agnès Varda combines this forms of gleaning with her own work as a collector of images,ideas, and found footage.
W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.
Kj: Documentary filmmaking, at least in Germany, forces female and male directors into a financially precarious lifestyle. The few who succeed — and the few who get big budgets — are still mostly men. I don’t see that changing without a quota system.
But, we also have to fight together for our profession — for decent payment, for the freedom to develop one’s own language, and for freedom of speech against censorship of all kind.
Hot Docs 2017 Women Directors: Meet Karin Jurschick — “Playing God” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Kelsey Moore
By Todd Garbarini
William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A., which opened on Friday, November 1, 1985 to lukewarm notices and underwhelming box office despite being championed by Roger Ebert’s four-star review, is a highly stylized, dark, and uncompromising crime thriller that boasts a then-unknown cast with a story and a pace that feels more suited to the 1970’s. It also contains what I consider to be the greatest car chase ever filmed and edited for a major motion picture, which took no less than five weeks to plan and shoot. Having seen Mr. Friedkin’s brilliant East Coast police thriller The French Connection (1971) on VHS in 1986, I made it a point the following year to catch up with his West Coast-based story of a Secret Service agent, Richard Chance (William Petersen), whose best friend and partner Jim Hart (Michael Greene) has been murdered by artist/currency counterfeiter Rick Masters »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
2 items from 2017
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