TCFF 2019 Documentary Spotlight – ‘Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct’ + Interview with director Cady McClain

On its 10th anniversary, more than 60% of Twin Cities Film Fest’s 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers. It’s something I’m happy about of course, but I wish the general statistics about women in Hollywood is something to cheer about. As of right now, according to Women And Hollywood stats, women only make up for a mere 4% of directors.

So naturally I’m intrigued by documentaries that highlight women filmmakers. I featured the doc Be Natural about Alice Guy-Blaché (the Mother of Cinema). This time I had the privilege of chatting with Cady McClain, the director of Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct.

It’s a documentary film which emphasizes the opportunity for women to use their voice through media to change the social and political landscape and achieve full equality. Focusing on inspiring and uplifting young female storytellers through the mentorship and leadership of four diverse directors, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct opens the conversation up to ask “What is the broader role of storytelling in our society and how can women use filmed media as a unique opportunity to catalyze progress?”

The best documentaries are entertaining, insightful and fascinating. Well, this is one of those documentaries and then some. I love that there are clips from their projects along with the filmmakers’ interviews. I also adore the the stunning animation by Chilean artist Xaviera López that supports the themes of the doc.

I learned that Cady McClain is planning of turning this doc into a podcast series with female filmmakers and I really hope that would happen!


Check out the trailer:

Q&A with Director, Producer, Editor Cady McClain

1. What triggered you to make this film as your first feature? I read that it had started off as a 28 minute short, then an 58-minute version before this one (84 min) doc feature?

I actually started out with the idea of doing a feature. But there were two other women who wanted to make a similar feature and we each have our own vision. We all wanted to support each other but also wanted to have our own journey of going about it, which is kind of crazy but that’s how it turned out. So I didn’t want to compete by making another feature, so I thought I’ll make a series. So the short was supposed to be the first episode, the pilot. So I sent it to Soho Film Festival and they called me and said, ‘you should make it into a feature because they think it would be really competitive in their feature doc category.’

When a film festival called you, it was the encouragement I needed. I mean I never made a documentary before, I’ve never trained in documentary, but at least the short helped me understand what documentaries are. Plus I could build it from there, and the 84-minute film ended up winning the Audience Award at Soho International Film Festival which was amazing.

Then we also had a distributor come around who said, this isn’t long enough for iTunes (because it was under an hour). Now I have a little more understanding of how to make the doc feature I had wanted to make in the first place. So I went back and added more women [filmmakers] that I had wanted to but I hadn’t figured out how to fit them in. It’s like weaving a giant quilt to form a certain pattern, and you’re making the patterns as you go along.

2. Out of the filmmakers that were interviewed, I particularly love Lesli Linka Glatter, Li Lu and Sarah Gavron… I love their stories and the way they tell their stories. So how did you choose your subjects?



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A lot of it was happenstance. It was who I knew and who people I knew knew… you know, how certain people connect me to certain people. Suffragette [movie] happened while I was making this film, one of my friends who was a member of the DGA invited me to that screening and I was so blown away by it that I wrote to her agent. She said she was too busy touring for this film, but if you fly to London she’ll make time. So I flew to London to interview Sarah Gavron. I was also so inspired by the careers of the people I interviewed.

One was Joanna Kearns (best known for Growing Pains), who was an established actor before she became a director. Some people said it might be easier the fact that we started off as actors, but it’s still very hard to make that transition and to earn your place [as director]. And also with Lesli Linka Glatter, there is a lot of happenstance that comes in any one’s career. As she said in the film, if she hadn’t met that one man in the coffee shop in Japan, she wouldn’t have gone into directing. I learned that no career is a straight line. It’s helpful for me because intrinsically, you don’t just go to film school and then have a film career. It’s a lot to do with the people you’re in school with, the connections you made there, what’s being made now, what are you inspired to make, how you craft your forward movement, etc. Nothing is guaranteed And if you didn’t go to film school and want to be a director, you really have to look around you, what resources are available to you, who are the people you know and what stories you’re inspired to tell. You really have to work with the circle you have around you instead of thinking it’s out there or you’d have to come to LA and expect things to happen.

3. How has your background as an actress help you as a director?



I feel like I could help comfort the actors, even when they push back. Some actors could get very insecure and some deal with their insecurity by becoming very tough. I learn not to take it personally, and just read it as total insecurity as that’s all it is. They need me to be the one in control, to be the strong one. If I’m not the strong one then they get afraid and nervous, ‘oh she’s not in control.’ So they need to know that ‘I’ve got it. You can be nervous and I’m holding the line here for you and I’ve got your back. Everything’s gonna be fine.’

4. Seeing the grim statistics about women in film, what do you think, from your perspective as a female filmmaker yourself, needs to be done in the industry level?

I think there is a comfort factor for the guys. When they work together there is a code of behavior, I don’t know if I would call it a pack mentality, but there’s an unspoken code of behavior. They call it the ‘Boys Club’ for a reason, it’s like in an athletic club you know, if you think about it like that, there is a code of behavior that’s been long held that they’re comfortable with. So when you introduce a randomness, which is the female into that space, they’d have to get into a learning curve. So is this a friendly person, is she going to judge us for our code? What’s their take?? So as a female leader, I feel like I have to be kind about that, and not be like ‘I’m coming in to blow your game away.’ The way I’d do it is to say, ‘I’m coming in to make your show great, to respect the work that you’ve done thus far and respect your set up here, but now I’ll bring in my intelligence, my talent and ability to the story.’ It does take a certain kind of crafting in that conversation, so we can move from a gender conversation but more about ‘let’s talk about the work.’

5. I’m glad you included Alice Guy-Blaché in your film. I watched her doc Be Natural last year and I felt so guilty that I hadn’t heard of her. So who’s been your fave female filmmakers, or those who have helped path the way for you as a filmmaker?



I saw the film ORLANDO, directed by Sally Potter and I was so blown away by it. It’s such a huge production and it’s a stunning story about gender… a person, a being, moving through bodies, through time… yet there is something so inherently similar no matter whether she was a male or female.

Tilda Swinton in ORLANDO

There was a glimmer of me ‘Could I do that? Is that possible?’ I was trained intensely by my mother that no, it isn’t something I could do. ‘She [Sally Potter] was British, it’s different over there.’ That old argument… You see, my mom was, you know the 1950s mentality, where if you’re going against the patriarchy if you will, the consequences would not be small. You’d have to have a lot of resilience to buck the status quo. I don’t think she felt she had that external or internal support, she was fighting different battles. She wants us to be safe, you know, she wants us to be happy, to survive. Unfortunately, her understanding of the world of what is possible is so limited. I think for her, standing up for what’s right is more satisfying for her.

What’s next for you? I saw you’re in the process of directing two dramatic features (Paint Made Flesh and Journey to Now)?



I’m afraid I can’t say anything about the projects I’m working on, but yes I’m definitely excited to be working on a narrative feature. Storytelling is what I’m about. Although I enjoyed making a documentary, I don’t want to be branded that I’m only doing certain type of things. I like to jump from medium to medium, I’m glad that these films found me and it resonated in our conversations. It worked out, they like me and then I got attached, so now we’re in long conversations of developing something into being. It all came about in a happenstance way, someone I met while making the doc recommended me for one, and someone else I met through the the process of finding more women directors recommended me as a female director, ‘hey think about Cady McClain.’ I think people who saw the documentary thought ‘oh she could tell a good story.’


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks Cady McClain for chatting with FlixChatter!


TCFF screening time:
 Tuesday, October 22nd 4:15PM

Documentary Spotlight – ‘Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché’ + Interview with writer/director Pamela B. Green

One of the perks of covering film festivals is discovering cinematic gems that I otherwise would not have come across. This is one of those sparkling gems I got to see at MSPIFF this year. Not only is this film speaks of a topic that is near and dear to my heart as a female film critic/screenwriter/filmmaker, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is eye-opening, inspiring, captivating and absolutely delightful to watch!

Pamela B. Green’s energetic film about pioneer filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché is both a tribute and a detective story, tracing the circumstances by which this extraordinary artist faded from memory and the path toward her reclamation.


‘Be Natural’ Review

Directed by: Pamela B. Green
Written by: Pamela B. Green, Joan Simon

Have you ever heard of Georges Méliès? The Lumière Brothers? Thomas Edison? Most likely your answer would be yes. But how about Alice Guy-Blaché? If you say ‘Alice who?’ then you’re not alone.

PORTRAIT OF FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ IN 1912*

I remember feeling really guilty that I didn’t know who Alice Guy was, I mean I consider myself well-versed in cinema history. Or so I thought. But then the opening of this film asked that very question, ‘Have you ever heard of Alice Guy-Blaché?’ to a number of filmmakers working in the industry (i.e. Catherine Hardwicke, Jon M. Chu, Peter Farrelly) and many of them had never heard of her.

FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (WITH HAT) ON SET OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST IN FONTAINEBLEAU, FRANCE, IN 1906

By the time Jodie Foster’s voice came on as the narrator, I was glued to the screen, captivated and deeply curious to hear more about this untold story of Alice Guy, the forgotten ‘Mother of Cinema’ who’s seemingly been absent from cinema history through generations. Pamela B. Green has poured her passion and admiration for Alice Guy-Blaché and it shows. She utilized her background in motion design (she’s the founder/owner of Pic Agency in Los Angeles) in her storytelling style. I love that the film goes beyond showing talking heads and an immense wealth of archival photos/footage, but it’s also a thrilling detective story. The animation/motion graphics helped convey the filmmaker and team’s journey in finding the right people to tell Alice Guy’s journey, including her daughter Simone Blaché.

FILMMAKER ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (CENTER) DIRECTING A PHONOSCÈNE FOR GAUMONT**

It’s immensely inspiring to see a woman behind the camera in the late 1800s. Alice Guy is shown in various photos directing actors on set. By her own account, she made the first narrative films ever in 1896! However, despite having made over 1,000 films, it’s heartbreaking that Alice had to fight to get credit for her work. It’s also astounding that even a hundred years later, there’s still a huge disparity for women behind the camera. I’m SO glad I finally learned about Alice Guy-Blaché and her crucial place in the cinema history. This film is so overdue, yet it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. As more people are championing gender parity in cinema, this film would likely inspire to keep up the good fight.

I can’t recommend this film enough to anyone who loves cinema, whether you’re a casual movie-watcher or involved in filmmaking at any capacity. Check out where this film is playing next on their official website.

* Photo courtesy of Be Natural Productions
** Photo courtesy of Anthony Slide


Check out the trailer:


Quick Bio on Pamela B. Green

Originally from New York, Pamela B. Green lived most of her life in Europe and Israel and as a result, is fluent in English, French, Italian, and Hebrew. In 2005, she founded PIC, an entertainment and motion design boutique based in Los Angeles, California. Green’s work ranges from feature film main titles, motion graphics, creative directing, directing and producing music videos and commercials. She is known in the industry for creating titles sequences and story sequences using her knowledge of graphic design, animation, editorial, and archival rare stock footage research.

Q&A with filmmaker Pamela B. Green

As soon as I saw Be Natural film, I went on Twitter to share about the film and to thank Pamela for shining a light on such a cinematic pioneer & visionary who’s somehow forgotten/omitted from film history books. I then contacted Pamela via her official site and was thrilled that I got to chat with her over the phone last Wednesday. Check out my Q&A below on some insights into her filmmaking journey.

Q1: What inspired you to tell Alice Guy’s story and let the world know that she is the true #MotherOfCinema?

I saw a tv show about women pioneers in cinema which included her. The show mentioned Mary Pickford (who co-founded Pickford–Fairbanks Studio with Douglas Fairbanks) who’s also well-known as an actress. But the fact that Alice Guy had done so much and had her own studio, she stood out. I had never heard of her at that point, and the more people I asked, I realized that many people also had never heard of her. I did more research and talked to some people in the academics community who said ‘oh everyone knows about Alice’ which made me angry because that [statement] is not true. Only a small group of academics knew about her.

I kept asking people that I work with in Hollywood, those I do jobs for, studios, and nobody had heard of her. I decided to do something about it. At that point I wasn’t sure what it would be yet, but coincidentally I was working with Robert Redford on a couple of films. On a second film, I told him about Alice and he was shocked as well. He said ‘well what are you going to do about this?’ Then I said, well I think I should do a documentary because I don’t think there’s enough work has been done to really explore Alice besides the academic aspect, restoring her films, documenting what she had done, etc. but it wasn’t a full exploration of her.

FILM STILL OF BESSIE LOVE (CENTER) IN THE GREAT ADVENTURE (1918), DIRECTED BY ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ – Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

Q2: How long ago was this, that this journey started?

Oh a long time ago. In 2011 I was talking about this. Then we did a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 which was quite successful. Then the head of Geena Davis’ institute [SheJane.org] found out about it and then she talked to a big producers Geralyn White Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully, Jamie Wolf who came on board. They’re not part of Hollywood, but people who often fund social issues pertaining to women. Hugh Hefner and Jodie Foster also came on board as executive producers. They’re all visionaries who understood right away why I had to make this film. Instead of having to fight the system in Hollywood, I went the other way and they really helped me.

Q3: Did you face resistance from people who try to maintain the status quo of cinema history?

Yes. I get a lot of resistance from France, the Academics, professors. And Hollywood didn’t fund this movie. I mean they participated but Hollywood didn’t fund this movie. It’s completely donation-based. The ‘wallets’ just wasn’t available I guess, so I got funding from social media and these wonderful women. Barbara Bridges from the Denver Film Society is one, basically a lot of women behind the men who helped fund this movie, a lot of philanthropist women helped tell this story. The film is also distributed independently, outside of the studio system. But I see it as a positive thing, I was able to make the movie that I wanted to make, and marketed it the way I wanted to market it. There’s not many ‘fingers in the pot’ while I was making the film.

Q4: I love that the film also plays like a detective story, and the motion graphics helped convey that so wonderfully. Was that a conscious decision on your part to tell the story that way?

Yes, from the very beginning. I wanted to have Skype interviews, contact people around the world. Some people in the industry said to me ‘It wouldn’t be aesthetically correct. Why would you do that? It would look bad, what do you know about editing, etc.’ So I got a lot of resistance and people saying that I didn’t know what I was doing while making this film. So it’s similar to how Alice Guy was treated and had to deal with, that is having people second-guessing her as a filmmaker.

A still from the documentary

Q5: Where can people see Alice Guy’s extensive work? Is there plans to make her work readily available to the public?

Our film opened at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center on Friday, April 19. Then IFC Center in New York on April 26, then slowly we’re opening in multiple cities in the US and internationally [check out the film’s official site for schedule].

As far as Alice Guy’s films, there’s the Gaumont DVD collection [available on Amazon]. Kino Lorber Distribution company has some of her American films which they’ve released as part of the Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers disc [available on Amazon]. I’m also working on doing her American collections available for streaming. There are about 150 of her films in existence and we’re setting up a foundation that would hopefully support that venture.


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks so much Pamela B. Green for chatting with FlixChatter!

MSPIFF 2019 Spotlight: Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story & interview w/ filmmaker Louise Woehrle

There are countless of stories of war that have been depicted on screen, whether narratives or documentaries. They are inherently fascinating to me, and I’m especially intrigued by stories of survival, especially when told by the survivors themselves, as in the case of this remarkable WWII documentary with a Minnesota connection.

Told by U.S. Eighth Air Force Bombardier Lt. Charles Woehrle, one of 10,000 prisoners in Stalag Luft III – depicted in the movie ‘The Great Escape.’ At age 93 this remarkable man, a gifted storyteller, relives his experiences with vivid detail. His personal account of being shot down, captured by the Nazi’s and surviving two long years of tremendous hardship is filled with grit and grace.


MSPIFF Screenings:

Parkway TheaterTue, Apr 9 7:00 PM

St. Anthony Main Theatre 2 – Sun, Apr 14 4:15 PM (RUSH ONLY)

Marcus Rochester Cinema – Fri, Apr 19 7:00 PM


Stalag Luft III – One Man’s Story Review:

In the promotional material for the film fest, the film is billed as ‘saga filled with grit and grace.’ I couldn’t agree more after seeing the film, I feel that it was how the late Lt. Charles Woehrle lived all his life… up until he passed away at the age of 98. It’s truly a good thing that Mr. Woehrle’s niece Louise is a gifted filmmaker, as she brought her uncle’s story to life so beautifully.

Though this film depicts a harrowing story, it has such hopeful, uplifting tone, a certain quiet grace that shines through when the then 93-year-old Charles Woehrle told his story on camera. Director Louise Woehrle used footage from 13+ hours of interviews with her late uncle, and combined them with various photos, real footage, countless memorabilia, plus re-enactment scenes to tell an inspiring tale of survival.

Lt. Woehrle capture shot with fellow comrades in Allied prison camp

Lieutenant Woehrle spent 22 months at Stalag Luft III prison camp along with other Allied officers. This film allowed him to provide the voice for his fellow comrades who couldn’t tell their own stories. There’s also a delightful story about how he received an unexpected gift from Patek Philippe, the luxury watch company from Geneva while he was a prisoner of war. I was so invested in the soldiers’ stories that when I saw the footage of General Patton liberating the Allied prison camps, I literally cheered. As a movie fan, I was amused to see footage of classic Hollywood star Clark Gable who joined the Army Air Force and was part of the 351st Bombardment Group.

This is a film told with passion and care. The amount of meticulous details is astounding, and they’re woven together seamlessly with the ‘talking head’ interviews and re-enactments to tell a cohesive story that’s suspenseful, thrilling, deeply-touching and inspiring. I have to mention the wonderful music which mixes the classic theme from The Great Escape by Elmer Bernstein, as well as those made specifically for this film. Great music adds such richness to the whole experience and that is definitely the case here.

I’m glad I got to see this film and learn more about a real life hero, as well as others whose stories are told through him. A brilliant showcase of the triumph of the human spirit. Lt. Woehrle’s and his comrades’ experience certainly gives me a whole new appreciation about life and the freedom we enjoy every day.

Q&A with filmmaker Louise Woehrle

Q1. What sparked the idea that you wanted to tell your uncle’s story?

The idea was sparked after my dad died in 2006. I was still working on my feature documentary Pride of Lions (co-directed with my brother John Woehrle) so I knew it couldn’t happen right away. By 2010 when my uncle was age 93, I could wait no longer, and that’s when I got busy. I knew that even if my uncle passed away after I shot his interviews in the studio, I could still tell his story.

Q2. Sounds like you filmed this five years before your uncle passed (when he was 93), how long was the interview process with him specifically? 

The interview process happened in 3 in-studio interview sessions, lasting 3-4 hours each. I had subsequent interviews at his apartment later.

Q3. Did you learn new things about his tale you didn’t know before? 

Yes, I learned a lot of new things. The one that stands out the most is the watch story. We had been shooting at a Stalag Luft III reunion in Detroit. I was interviewing a PoW who was on oxygen. He was wearing a Rolex watch that was broken and he said he never took it off because he had it in prison camp. So, when my uncle and I were flying back to Minneapolis, I asked him if he had a watch in camp? He looked at me and said, “Let me tell you a story about a watch.” That’s the first time I heard about the Patek Philippe. I think it was never mentioned because his house was robbed in the 70s and the watch was one of the stolen valuables. He just moved on and did not talk about it. I knew, at that moment, what that watch meant to him and so began my search for the watch and ultimately a replacement watch from Patek Philippe.

Q4.When watching the film, I was astounded by the amount of details of footage, photos, memorabilia, etc. that really makes for effective documentary storytelling. Would you share a bit about the research and process of collecting all of those items?

My uncle held on to his WWII documents, logbook, journal, artifacts, letters from home, Patek documents and the negatives from the photos he took at the end of the war with the Voigtlander camera that ended up in the Nuremberg Trials. I also attained scans from Col. Clark’s photo collection from the Air Force Academy Library. Those photos were taken with clandestine cameras by the PoWs. I also worked with the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, MN. They provided uniforms, tin cups, red cross parcels, the French Box car and more.

Charles Woehrle’s POW ID card

I was able to attain 2 film reels from the footage that was used in William Wiley’s 1944 documentary film Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress. 16 mm reels from an archival film licensing online platform, Critical Past. I did a deal with them. If they sent me the reels of film, we would do the digital transfer for them. My colorist, Dave Sweet at Pixel Farm specializes in the transfer of 16mm and 35mm. Because we worked out an even trade, Critical Past did not charge for the use of the film. I also scored on the use of the B-17 from EAA in Wisconsin. That’s a whole other story of convincing them why they should work with me. All things led back to Uncle Charles and his true story. He lived it and we get to document that story!  It was a 95-degree day when they landed for 4 hours at Anoka Airport. I had to rent commercial air conditioning units so none of our re-enactors would pass out from heat stroke with all that gear on.

Q5.I thought the re-enactment scenes were well-crafted and looked very believable. How’s the process of casting the actors and recreating those air battle scenes? 

We used green screen while shooting the B-17 on the ground at the Anoka airport. The goal was to shoot as much as we could with the limited time that we had. VFX were always going to be a part of the equation but I had no idea how far we could take it. I saw this sequence as being critical to the film. I was working with one of my several shooters on the project, Alex Fournier, who also assisted in some editing too. He studied art at the Chicago Institute of Art so he had a real talent for learning VFX. Alex fell down the rabbit hole learning what he needed to make a bullet coming through the fuselage look real, taking a still image and animating it and creating a scene of jumping out of the B-17 look real. He must have worked for 3 months, straight. I was very involved in editing that sequence. I knew it had to have the right rhythm to work and so did Jim Stanger, my editor who seamlessly connected each piece. Splice came in and took the VFX to the next level with their contributions.

For the B-17 air battle sequence, I had to rely on Minnesota Military Museum’s help, specifically historians Doug Thompson and Charlie Pautler. I told them that I wanted young guys for the roles who were in shape and could wear their hair short. My historians delivered a great group. I also used some of the same guys on the forced march sequence. Three of the PoWs were family, my son Luke Enyeart (age 19), nephew, Dylan Woehrle and my uncle Charles grandson, George Kelly. Keep in mind, none of my reenactors were actual actors. The only true actor in the film was the voice over for Charles mother, Anna. That was voiced by veteran actor Sally Wingert. The woman who played the mother role, Joan Lambert had acted in high school and she was a mother, therefore, she could relate to the story. How I found Joan is yet another serendipitous event.

Q6. Did you make contact with any of Charles’ former crew that you’re making this film?

Actually, it was a family member of one of my uncle’s fellow crew members who contacted me. The daughter of Sgt. Charles Eaton (Top Turret) who is standing next to Charles in the photo of the 4 PoWs standing after they were captured. Eaton is standing next to my Uncle. They pretended they did not know each other. The daughter called me because her dad did not talk about the war and she hoped that Uncle Charles could shed some light on some unanswered questions. I arranged a conference call with Charles, the daughter and her sister and myself. They asked what their dad was like back then because the man they grew up with seemed fractured emotionally from the war. Their dad could never get over the fact that he could not get the radio operator to jump. The kid was too scared so he went down with the plane. After Uncle Charles told them about want a great guy he was and how you could always count on him, etc. they started to cry. Later they wrote to us and said how healing it was to talk to my Uncle and that it explained a lot. Uncle Charles also told them that their dad did everything he could to help the radio operator but had to jump at the last second to save his own life.

Lt. Woehrle cooking with his bunkmates

Q7. And was it Charles’ idea to honor their stories, as in providing a voice for those who didn’t make it?

Uncle Charles honored his fellow airmen, always. When he went to France as the last survivor of the crew, he took it upon himself to represent all his crew in the best way he knew how. He documented every part of the trip and put together books for each family of the crew and sent to them. He felt it was his duty as the last man standing. That’s just how he lived his life. So when you ask, was it his idea to provide a voice for those who did not make it, I would have to say yes. Was it my idea to include that theme in the film? Yes. The mission for Whirlygig Productions from inception in 2002: “Telling stories that help us see ourselves and others in new ways, promote healing and connect us as human beings.” I have shortened the tag line to “Shining a light on stories that need to be told.” For me, there always needs to be the purpose of a greater good that can come from a story. Uncle Charles lived his story, I was lucky enough to document it through this film.

Q8. Sounds like your uncle lives his life with ‘grit and grace.’ Would you share one personal moment of you and your uncle that you’ll always carry with you?

Yes – one day we were talking over dinner and I asked him who in the family reminded him of my Dad (his identical twin). I was thinking one of my 4 brothers, maybe my sons. He gently pointed his finger at me. I was moved. Uncle Charles and I were there for each other – at that moment, I understood our connection on another level.

Louise at age 14 with her uncle Charles at the piano

Q9. The moment where Charles went to a Detroit Air Show is very moving, esp when he got inside the bomber airplane similar to his B-17. Please tell me one of your favorite moments making this film.

Well, that was one of my favorite moments because up until that point he was telling me there would be no way he would ever get into a B-17 again after all he had been through. So when the young captain on the tarmac asked Uncle Charles if he wanted to go up into the plane and he said “no, no, no,” and the guy driving the golf cart said “yes, yes, yes,” or something like that…something switched in him and he did it! I was blown away. It brought a lot of joy to not only him, but the rest of us watching him.

Lt. Woehrle with Louise at the Detroit Air Show

Q10. I love the music used throughout and you’re credited as the Music Supervisor. I noticed that you used the theme from The Great Escape film by Elmer Bernstein.

Thank you. Music is the bedrock of my storytelling. I studied music growing up and into college. I became a music therapy major at the U of Minnesota. Music is integral to every story. When we were editing the Stalag Luft III prison camp sequence my editor, Jim Stanger asked if we could use the music from the Great Escape movie to get us in the spirit of being there. Of course, I said yes but was worried we would get so attached that I would never be able to find music to replace it. Elmer Bernstein composed beautifully to the spirit of that film. Well, as I thought, I got attached to the music so much that I reached out to the Elmer Bernstein Family Foundation. They referred me to Sony ATV. It took 4 months of emails back and forth with detailed examples of how the music cues would work with the sequences. Finally, they said yes and allowed me to use 4 cues at a minimal fee. They understood this was an independent film about a pretty impressive man who lived the real Stalag Luft III. I am very grateful that they got on board.

Q11. How did you select the music for this film?

I have a good sense of what a scene or sequence needs emotionally and musically. I used that inner knowing when diving into the various music libraries. The right music sort of jumps out at me. I lost myself for days looking for various music cues. There were a few cues that my editors used to cut to that we left in too. My music editor Ken Chastain did a great job providing transitional music or creating certain classics, like Silent Night, Amazing Grace or tonal segues.

My son Luke Enyeart composed 4 cues after Uncle Charles capture and during his time in the cold and hardship in prison camp. Luke wrote a couple of the cues with his good friend Will Honaker. Luke’s primary instrument is the guitar. He has composed music for 4 of my film projects and possesses great emotional intelligence in his music. You can’t teach that.

Q12. Lastly, what would you want people to take away from after seeing this film?

I hope they feel like their hearts have been opened and tended to by the life of Charles Woehrle. I hope they can walk away feeling inspired by kindness, compassion, and love for our fellow man. I want future generations to know how much we owe the Greatest Generation and hope that my Uncle’s story starts a conversation and offers some healing for families like the Charles Eaton’s.


Follow the film journey online:


Thanks so much Louise Woehrle for chatting with FlixChatter!

2018 TCFF Reviews – ‘Wunderland’ + ‘Witch’ + ‘Nor Any Drop To Drink’ documentary

The 9th annual Twin Cities Film Fest may have come and gone, but hey, we still have some reviews to share with you!

MANY THANKS to our blog volunteers Holly, Laura, Vitali and Andy for their great work before and during the film fest! For ALL of the 2018 coverage that include reviews AND interviews, click here or just type TCFF 2018 in the search box.


Review by Holly Peterson

Wunderland

Director: Steven Luke

Before you see Wunderland, you should know that it is more of an action movie than it is an historical drama. The story leads up to the Battle of the Bulge, but the events at the Western Front are very decidedly a backdrop, not a plot. The audience is left following the meandering adventures of Lt. Cappa (Steven Luke), which mostly consists of him speaking in his most gravely voice and pulling his rosary out of his jacket – when he’s not shooting Germans, of course.

The choice to make Wunderland an action movie is confusing because it is clear that the filmmakers did research surround WWII. This was most apparent in the historical profiles of men who fought in WWII that scrolled at the end of the credits, but as far as I could tell, none of those men were characters in the movie which is, again, confusing.

Director/Star Steven Luke

Wunderland is a beautiful movie. Editing is choppy at times, but Peter Wigand has an eye for capturing scenery and does a great bringing the audience into a winter “wunderland”. The score is also great, although sometimes misused. (For instance, there were a couple scenes where the soundtrack playing behind the Germans was so victorious that I started to think that I had missed something and they might actually be Americans.)

Tom Berenger as Maj. McCulley

The strongest part of Wunderland is the fight sequences. Steven Luke has one great bit of hand-to-hand combat about halfway through the movie and the firefights are fun to watch. It feels a little weird to enjoy watching people shoot each other when you know that the story is about actual events, but, like I said earlier, this is an action movie.  It is fun to watch everyone run around in a snowy forest shooting service rifles, anti-tank rifles, and setting up trip wires.

You should see this movie if you want to see some of your favorite Minnesotan actors in action, if you are looking for an action movie with just enough historical reference to give it a little weight, and if you like goats.  I’m not even going to explain that one.  See it for the goat.  Thank me later.


WITCH

Review by Laura Schaubschlager

Director: Vanessa Magowan Horrocks

Witch follows a babysitter, X, who plays an ongoing game with their ward, Aima, where they pretend to be in a constant fight with an evil witch. Soon, however, the lines of reality blur, and it begins to seem as if their game isn’t as imaginary as X originally believed.

While Witch is listed under the “horror” section on the TCFF schedule, I wouldn’t categorize it as such. While there are some horror aspects to it (especially the character design of the witch), it’s much more of a psychedelic sci-fi fantasy- which is awesome, but I wish I had known that going in, rather than assuming it would be a horror film, since I kind of had to mentally shift gears and adjust my expectations while watching. That said, this is an absolutely beautiful movie. It’s full of dream-like animation, lush set design, and detailed costuming. Even the sound is gorgeous, from the background noises to the score. There are some moments where the music and sound effects overwhelm the dialogue (which is unfortunate, because the script is lovely and really makes me want to read the novella the movie is based on), but overall, this is a stunning film, visually and in terms of sound.

The acting in Witch is excellent as well. The cast is small but solid. The standouts are, without question, the actors playing X and Aima. X is funny and genuine, and Aima is ridiculously talented for such a young actor. The two have excellent chemistry.

While Witch isn’t available for purchase yet, the filmmakers are working with a distributor, so if you weren’t able to catch it at TCFF, hopefully you’ll be able to buy or stream it soon. In the meantime, the soundtrack is available on Bandcamp and is absolutely worth listening to. I sincerely hope this movie is shown at more festivals in the future, because it definitely deserves the screen-time.


Nor Any Drop to Drink

Review by Andrew Ellis

Director: Cedric Taylor

Nor Any Drop to Drink takes a deep look into the problems that caused the water crisis in the first place as well as showing us how much has changed – or hasn’t. The documentary forgoes the tradition of having a narrator guide us through the story, and lets those involved in the fight tell it instead. While there were many captivating moments in the feature length documentary that kept you hanging onto every word, there were also those that made you wonder how long this was going to go on for.

The shining moments belong to the residents for Flint who have been effected by the crisis, and are still paying the price long after the reporters and activists are gone. The film opens on an older African American woman who we see throughout the documentary using bottled water for everything, and explaining the effect the lead-infected water has on the human body overall. Two other women talk about the effect it has on their kids and how it changed one of them to a point where her son is now homeschooled.

Then are the other interviews. These are with government officials and other experts who attempt to explain the circumstances that lead to crisis, and what kept it from being solved. While they were important they were explaining details that most viewers might find hard to follow. They have plenty of expertise, but when they get into the hard details of certain aspects it becomes hard to follow especially with no accompanying visual graphics to highlight key information for the viewer. And in the age of short attention spans it’s an easy way to allow one’s mind to wander away from the screen.

The heart is there. There is no doubt the filmmaker cares about this topic. Unfortunately, passion does not always lead to a well-crafted story.

Review by Andrew Ellis


Stay tuned for additional TCFF reviews/interviews… as well as two Halloween Specials coming tomorrow and Wednesday!

2018 TCFF Reviews – Belong To Us + Through The Windmill documentary

We’ve actually past the halfway mark for TCFF 2018! Wow, where has the time go? I can’t thank my blogging team enough for helping with the reviews and interviews! Special shout out to Holly Peterson for today’s pair of reviews! We’ve got a family film that’s in keeping with TCFF’s 2018’s Social Justice Cause (Changemaker Series), that is Animal Humanity, AND a fun documentary about miniature golf!


Reviews by Holly Peterson

BELONG TO US

An injured dog finds it’s way into the hearts of a family after escaping an underground dog-fighting ring.

Director: Patrick Rea
Writers: Kristin Rea

Belong to Us centers around a small family and a runaway dog. An animal-loving girl finds and falls in love with that dog – which recently escaped from a dog fighting ring. She names him Duke and sneaks him into her home with the assistance of her grandmother and big brother. The three of them hide the dog from the father: a well-intentioned man who is too preoccupied with his work and too hung up on his destroyed baseball career to be a good father to either of his children.

The biggest mistake that Belong to Us makes is that it takes itself too seriously and tries to do too much. Too much of the story relies on coincidence and overly dramatic events, and there are too many disjointed side stories that add little – if anything – to the overall story. What should be a cute, family friendly film is interrupted by a completely tangential love story and an unnecessarily dark side story about Duke’s dog fighting owner trying to find his dog. The movie clearly wants to argue that dog fighting is bad, but that point could have been made in a way that fit into the otherwise family friendly tone.

Most of the cast is great. Paige (Brooklyn Funk) and Decklin (Matthew J. Lindblom) are both great standalone actors, and their sibling chemistry is really fun. Lindblom is not a convincing teenager, but he makes up for the miscasting with a really solid performance regardless. Worth the ticket price alone, Kathleen Warfel was an absolute delight as the sassy grandma.

I wish that I could suggest this movie for families, but I’d probably respect the PG 13 rating. As it is, if you like feel good family movies and don’t mind a guy getting shot, beat up, and the friendliest bird flipping in the history of flipped birds, this is a fun one to add to your film fest roster. Plus, it’s one of our Changemaker films benefiting the Animal Humane Society! Yay puppies!


Through the Windmill

This film explores the past, present and future of miniature golf through the voice of the talented, often unsung, people who design, build and operate them.

Director: Amanda Kulkoski

If you enjoy people watching, you will love Through the Windmill. Producer and director, Amanda Kulkoski, finds some of the most unique golf courses across the United States and interviews the owners, artists, and fans that she finds at each one. Kulkoski spends the forward half of her film featuring older mini golf courses, most of which are still up and running and then essentially maps out what might be the greatest mini golf road trip of all time. She introduces us to a course centered around a giant (fake) volcano that explodes every twenty minutes, a course that is also a farm, and a golf course that is literally in the basement of a mortuary. And more. So much more.

Over the course of the film it becomes apparent that there is a particular variety of whimsy inherent to those who love mini-golf. The characters that Kulkoski finds in her cross country trip – especially the owners of the courses – are incredibly interesting. Proprietors have been everything from governesses to artists to farmers to formerly disenchanted 9-5ers and, more often than not, their personalities are reflected by their courses.

I disliked Kulkoski’s choice to spend so much time pretending that mini-golf is dying – only to then feature the multitude of ways in which people are re-inventing the pastime. Some courses closing and others opening does not have to be a pain point for the story to be interesting. Generally, the structure of the documentary was pretty haphazard, with historical tidbits sprinkled throughout the film and a really misplaced (but interesting) bit about competitive play.

Through the Windmill is worth seeing. The innovative new courses and classic old ones are fun to see.  The interviews are quirky and fun.  And you’ll learn some stuff!  Do you know the difference between mini golf and Putt Putt?  I didn’t.  Have you heard of guffle board? I hadn’t. And if that’s not enough for you, the Walker golf course is featured toward the end of the film and there are some very Minnesotan interviewees. We’re a delightful breed, us Minnesotans.

Oh, and look forward to an hour and a half of understated carnival tunes playing under the entire movie. 😉


Check out what TCFF 2018 has in store for TUESDAY!

TCFF 2018 Documentary Spotlight: INVENTING TOMORROW & interview w/ filmmaker Laura Nix

Every year TCFF has put together an amazing lineup of documentaries and Inventing Tomorrow that tick all the boxes of what makes an inspiring, fascinating AND entertaining film.

Considered the Olympics of high school science fairs, ISEF is the largest gathering of high school scientists in the world, attracting approximately 1,800 finalists from over 75 countries, regions and territories. Spanning the globe to film students from four different countries as they embark on a whirlwind of social activities and field trips, forming life-changing bonds. The filmmakers didn’t stop there, when the fair ends, Laura Nix and her team follow our characters home to witness how they process their experiences at ISEF. It’s absolutely inspiring, especially given today’s geopolitical climate, to see young people who believe in a shared vision of environmental stewardship and collective action.

INVENTING TOMORROW follows six young scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico as they tackle some of the most complex environmental issues facing humanity today – right in their own backyards. Each student is preparing original scientific research that he or she will defend at ISEF, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Framed against the backdrop of the severe environmental threats we now face, we immerse the audience in a global view of the planetary crisis, through the eyes of the generation that will be affected by it most.

Q&A with filmmaker Laura Nix

Q1. How did this project come about to you? Are you (or someone you know) involved in ISEF Science Fair prior to making this?

Like a lot of the general public, I had never heard about the fair beforehand. Which I hope changes after this film because it’s extraordinary, and everyone should be familiar with it in the same way we know the World Series or the Olympics. I was approached in 2015 by my producers Diane Becker and Melanie Miller to see if I was interested to make a doc about ISEF, so I attended the fair in Phoenix in 2016 to both film and scout, and I immediately realized there was a great story to tell there. First off it’s huge – almost 1800 kids attend, and 1000 volunteer judges show up to evaluate their projects. The sense of hopefulness and optimism there was infectious. But I was struck by the students I met who were doing projects with environmental impact, especially when they were addressing issues they were confronting at home – whether it was lack of clean drinking water, or air pollution, or some other type of environmental challenge. They weren’t doing research because it would be cool on their college application, but because they were deeply and personally motivated to save their home and the people they love who live there. Those were the kids who made me want to make the film.

Sahithi at ISEF Opening Ceremony

Q2. How did you select the students to feature in Inventing Tomorrow?

We started by reaching out to science teachers and fair directors all over the world, and asked them to identify students who were working on projects with the intention of environmental impact. We worked with local field producers in some countries, and sent out our own field producer to certain places. In the end, we probably interviewed over a hundred kids from all over the world and the US. We were looking for kids who were doing science with a sense of purpose; who were addressing an environmental issue that was local and personal. I was specifically looking for issues that were visual, and for students who could clearly describe their project to an audience. We also were looking for a range of environmental issues that dealt with air, water, and earth.

Most people might think that a documentary about science and the environment is boring, so it was really important to me to create an emotional and character-based film. I was also looking for kids who had a personal story or an obstacle that was compelling, so I could show how they were working to overcome it. We wanted diversity of region, culture, and gender parity. I traveled all over the world to meet the kids we eventually decided to film, and I followed them without having any idea of whether they would win something once they arrived at the fair. I spent time with all of them because I believed in them as people, and because I was fascinated by their ability to pay attention and ask the right questions about the world around them.

Jose in his home in Mexico

Q3. You’ve done over two dozen docs and doc shorts, how do you choose your subject/topic for your next film or do they come to you?

Many of the topics have been introduced to me, sometimes I find the topic on my own. When I look back on my work, I think the greatest similarity is my interest in people who want to make a difference – that seems to keep coming up. These films are really hard to make, and they take a long time as well, so you need to have a deep passion for the topic or you can’t make it through the whole process.

Jared birding with his father

Q4. For Inventing Tomorrow, you had to travel to various countries to film. What has been some of the challenges as well as unexpected delights you & your crew encounter?

When we’re traveling internationally as a film crew, one of the greatest challenges is the language difference. It’s so important to know what is actually happening when I’m directing a scene, so we used interpreters while filming. This is necessary to speak to the film’s subjects, families, sometimes the film crew. The sound person sets up a system where the interpreter stands off set with a remote microphone and interprets live what everyone is saying, and that translation is fed through the sound mixer back to the me and the camera woman as it happens. That way we can make better creative choices about what to shoot and how we shoot it. While we still encounter moments that are lost in translation, the interpreter is essential to the process. My favorite part of filming internationally is getting to meet people and go to places I would never ever have the opportunity to visit as a tourist. For example, getting to visit the armada of pirate tin mining dredges is not on anyone’s tourist itinerary, but that’s one of the most extraordinary places I’ve ever been.

Nuha taking a selfie with her friends

Q5. As I was born and raised in Indonesia, can you tell me just one anecdote about filming in Bangka for Nuha’s story?

People have asked at screenings how did we get access to the pirate dredges, who gave us permission? And because it’s the type of environment that doesn’t have an organized “pirate tin miners association,” we really had to wing it. Our local field producer reached out in advance to some people in the area who had contacts on the dredges, but they all were a no show on the day of the shoot. We had already driven 3 hours before dawn to get to where the ships were, so we just headed out to sea with great hope. And the moment where they gave us permission to film is actually on camera. Nuha, who is this incredible combination of being brave, and also clear about her intention, just asked “Hey can we come aboard your ship?” and they said yes, and so we went. Who could tell her no?

Nuha speaking with pirates in Bangka, Indonesia

Q5. What’s your goal as a storyteller with the release of this film?

We are working hard to have the film reach as many young people as possible, so people their age with courage, clarity of vision, and belief in their ability to save this planet can inspire them. We are using the film to promote equal access to high quality STEM education as well as youth environmental stewardship, so the next generation is empowered with the tools they need to ensure their own survival on this planet. I also want adults to see the vision of these young people and be galvanized to amplify their voices, their approach and their overall message. It’s clear we left a mess behind us, and we need the next generation to lead so we can follow.


Follow INVENTING TOMORROW on social media:

Official Site

Laura Nix on Twitter | Instagram


TCFF screening sponsored by


Check out the trailer below:


Thanks so much Laura Nix for chatting with FlixChatter!

FlixChatter Review: Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)

guestpost

Review by Vitali Gueron

Fahrenheit 11/9 might be Michael Moore’s best movie since he made and released Fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004. What Fahrenheit 9/11 did for millions of frustrated liberals living a Bush-era world where their democracy is threatened by a failed and dangerous presidency, this film plays on similar fears and frustrations of liberals living in the scarier and even more dangerous presidency of Donald J. Trump.

Michael Moore starts of by recounting the 2016 election, the nomination of Hillary Clinton who became the first woman to accept a major U.S. political party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the rise of reality television star and read estate tycoon Donald Trump. Moore was never a fan of Clinton, and made no attempt to hide his contempt for her in this movie.

Moore showed Clinton’s rise through the Democratic Party’s nomination process, the challenge for the nomination made by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and the seemingly undemocratic use of “superdelegates” by the Democratic National Committee help Clinton ascend to the nomination. He made sure to mention the case of West Virginia’s 2016 Democratic Primary, where Clinton lost every county in the state to Bernie Sanders.

A political analysis done by NBC News showed that Sanders victory was partially a rejection of the Obama administration’s own coal policies, but he was also helped by large numbers of Republican cross-over voters. Their own polling showed that thirty-nine percent of Sanders voters stated that they actually planned to vote for Donald Trump over Sanders in the November general election. Yet, Moore decided to leave out these facts, but rather conclude that while Clinton lost West Virginia’s pledged delegates 11-18 in favor of Sanders, all eight un-pledged delegates voted for Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, meaning the West Virginia delegation voted for Clinton over Sanders by one. There was an outright rejection of Bernie Sanders by the Democratic National Committee and not by the pledged delegates, according to Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 11/9 which can be seen as Moore’s attempt to advocate for his own preferred candidate — Bernie Sanders.

Once Clinton won the Democratic Party’s nomination and Donald Trump was able to knock of all of his Republican challengers to win the Republican Party’s nominator, Moore argues that Clinton made use of tiny bumper stickers and card board cutout of her to send across the country while Trump used the national media to televise all of his rallies, having them wait for him sometimes for hours upon end, with wall-to-wall coverage of the candidate, who bullied them for not showing his large crowd sizes or dismissing him as not a serious candidate. The local Minnesota connection in the movie comes when Moore shows an interview of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison in 2015 saying on ABC’s “This Week” that Donald Trump could be leading the Republican ticket in 2016, to which the other guests laugh him off and host George Stephanopoulos saying “I know you don’t believe that.” Well, Keith Ellison was correct in his prediction and even Michael Moore himself predicted on Bill Maher’s show, four months before the 2016 election that Donald Trump would win in 2016.

Moore criticizes Trump for talking about extending his presidency beyond the eight-year limit. Moore argues that Trump loves the dictators such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and says of China’s President Xi Jinping that “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great.” Fascism, Moore and Maher agree, “happens in little increments.”

While Fahrenheit 11/9 is a very somber and thoughtful movie, it lacks some important factual context. For example, Moore does little to mention that Russian meddling in our elections and their hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaigns in 2016. He doesn’t bring up the Russian’s government’s use of Facebook and other social media to spread fake news stories to make Hillary Clinton look bad and Donald Trump look good. He also doesn’t talk about the ramifications of disgruntled Bernie Sanders voters not voting in 2016 or Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s attempts to corral these voters for her own benefit. To Moore, these two figures had little or no impact on Clinton’s loss and Moore squarely places the blame for Trump’s win on a “rigged system.” Most surprisingly, Moore talks about Trumps’ win in the Electoral College but doesn’t provide the raw, startling numbers: 65,853,514 million people voted for Hillary Clinton while only 62,984,828 voted for Donald Trump. This is a net difference of over 2.8 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

The most touching moment in the documentary comes when Parkland, Florida High School student Emma Gonzalez reads off the names of the students who perished in the mass shooting at her school during the March For Our Lives rally. Emma says that no-one could comprehend the aftermath of the shooting or how far it’s devastating effects would reach. For those who still can’t comprehend the gravity of the effects because they refuse to, Emma tells them that their six minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15 went straight into the ground six feet deep. After she reads off the names of her lost classmates and what they would never do again, she pauses and stares straight into the camera, as if she were looking inside your soul for any humanity you had left.


Have you seen Fahrenheit 11/9? Well, what did you think?