A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy Archive

    2019 Conversations

    Southern Sustainability
    Friday, April 5 – 9:15 am

    As the Triangle region becomes a hub for nonfiction film, many documentary makers—both those originally from the South and elsewhere—wonder how they can maintain a livelihood while pursuing their profession. This discussion with local funders and employers explores the many ways that filmmakers can monetize their skillsets while working on their own documentaries. The International Documentary Association has hosted sessions about sustainability in documentary filmmaking across the nation, and IDA’s Dana Merwin moderates this session.

    Moderator: Dana Merwin, International Documentary Association
    Eric Johnson, Trailblazer Studios
    Rachel Raney, UNC-TV
    Susan Ellis, Footpath Pictures
    Naomi Walker, Southern Documentary Fund


    Some Other Lives of Time
    Friday, April 5 – 12:15 pm

    The seven films in the 2019 Thematic Program “Some Other Lives of Time” highlight how passing minutes, hours, and days resonate with deeper significance in cinema. This conversation with guest curator RaMell Ross explores the way that time manifests on screen in his selections, and in his own films Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Easter Snap.

    Eric Hynes, Museum of the Moving Image, Moderator
    RaMell Ross, Easter Snap


    #DocsSoWhite: The Path Forward
    Friday, April 5 – 3:15 pm

    In this fourth annual #DocsSoWhite discussion about equity and inclusion in the documentary industry, filmmakers and curators reveal their challenges, obstacles, and successes as leaders in the field. In this conversation, they identify pathways forward and examine what work needs to be done, and by whom.

    Moderator: Seena Hodges, The Woke Coach
    Gina Duncan, Cinema at Brooklyn Academy of Music
    Maori Karmael Holmes, Blackstar Film Festival
    Edwin Martinez, Decade of Fire
    Bernardo Ruiz, Harvest Season


    #DocsStillSoWhite: “Moving From Ally to Accomplice”
    Saturday, April 6 – 9:15 am

    This session examines how filmmakers of privilege can successfully move from being “allies to accomplices.” The teams from two 2019 films, Where the Pavement Ends and Mossville: When Great Trees Fall, discuss their experiences documenting stories in which the films’ directors are from different backgrounds than the characters in their films. How can filmmakers go beyond saying that they want to be helpful to colleagues of color and actually make change?

    Moderator: Seena Hodges, The Woke Coach
    Jane Gillooly, Where the Pavement Ends
    Alexander Glustrom, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall
    Khary Saeed Jones, Where the Pavement Ends
    Michelle Lanier, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall


    The Pathway to Producing
    Saturday, April 6 – 12:15 pm

    Experienced documentary producers discuss a filmmaking role that defies easy definition, including how they came to their careers, the collaborative process of working with directors, and their essential involvement even after films are finished.

    Moderator: Ian Kibbe, The Documentary Producers Alliance
    Jameka Autry, Ernie & Joe
    Jessica Hargrave, Ask Dr. Ruth
    Carolyn Hepburn, One Child Nation
    Esther Robinson, Memories of A Penitent Heart


    Framing the Conversation: Stanley Nelson
    Saturday, April 6 – 3:15 pm

    Our continued series of discussions with documentary trailblazers welcomes Full Frame founder and award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski back to the moderator’s chair. Our 2019 interview is with celebrated filmmaker Stanley Nelson. A winner of multiple Emmys and a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” as well as the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama, Nelson is one of the most significant documentarians of the African American experience. Nelson also founded Firelight Media, inspiring generations of new voices in documentary film.

    Moderator: Nancy Buirski
    Stanley Nelson, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

    2018 Speakeasy Conversations

    Watch the 2018 A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy Conversations on vimeo

    Running with Scissors
    Friday, April 6 – 9:15 am

    Moderated by Toby Shimin, This Is Home
    Penelope Falk, STEP
    Carla Gutierrez, RBG
    George O’Donnell, Jackie Robinson

    Esteemed documentary film editors come together to discuss their essential role in the storytelling process. How do editors choose projects? When should an editor come on board? How do editors communicate with directors about where their own ethics lie? This conversation examines the multi-layered issues that editors confront.



    A Discussion with Jehane Noujaim
    Friday, April 6 – 12:15 pm

    Moderated by Deirdre Haj, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

    Full Frame Tribute recipient Jehane Noujaim will join festival director Deirdre Haj to reflect on her body of work—her experiences balancing intimacy and urgency as she navigates unfolding stories—and examine the ways her films bring new perspectives to international events and continue to resonate today. Noujaim’s acclaimed films include The SquareControl RoomRafea: Solar Mama, and Startup.com.



    Documentary in the Time of Fake News
    Friday, April 6 – 3:15 pm

    Moderated by Christopher Clements, The Cleaners, Inventing Tomorrow
    Stephen Maing, Crime + Punishment
    Laura Nix, Inventing Tomorrow
    Maxim Pozdorovkin, Our New President

    Documentary film thrives in the space between impartial journalism and biased propaganda. But today there is increasing hostility towards media, and what passes for truth-based storytelling changes almost daily. How can documentaries retain their reputation for authenticity amidst a climate where public figures and advocacy groups are quick to discredit content that does not support the loudest tweet?



    Crime and Punishment with Joe Berlinger
    Saturday, April 7 – 9:15 am

    Moderated by Sadie Tillery, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

    This conversation with Thematic Program guest curator Joe Berlinger will explore the ways in which he’s approached crime and punishment in his own work. A leading voice in nonfiction film for the past two decades, Berlinger has made such landmark documentaries as Brother’s Keeper, the Paradise Lost Trilogy, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. BulgerCrude, and Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, among others. In addition to his feature documentary work, Berlinger has created many hours of crime-related unscripted series for television, including Gone: The Forgotten Women of OhioCold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, and Killing Richard Glossip.



    #DocsSoWhite: The Gatekeepers
    Co-presented with the Southern Documentary Fund
    Saturday, April 7 – 12:15 pm

    Moderated by Naomi Walker, Southern Documentary Fund
    Carrie Lozano, International Documentary Association
    Lauren Pabst, MacArthur Foundation
    Sam Pollard, MAYNARD
    Anu Rana, Diverse Voices in Docs, Kartemquin Films

    Full Frame’s third iteration of our discussions on the lack of diversity in the documentary filmmaking field focuses on funding and programming. How do gatekeepers influence the ways documentaries are reviewed and adjudicated? Do diverse selection committees foster enough inclusion of equally diverse content? How can we create an inclusive field when the criteria we use to judge film may be embedded in an all-white Western European model? From foundations to film schools to festivals, does the definition of what is a “good” documentary need to change?


    Framing the Conversation
    Saturday, April 7 – 3:15 pm

    Moderated by Nancy Buirski, The Rape of Recy Taylor

    Our continued series of discussions with documentary trailblazers welcomes Full Frame founder and award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski back to the moderator’s chair.  Two-time Academy Award winner, special guest, and advisory board member Barbara Kopple sits down with Buirski to speak about her immense body of work, including her most recent project, A Murder in Mansfield, the relationships she builds with her subjects, and plans for her next steps in an already illustrious career.



    2017 Speakeasy Conversations

    Watch the 2017 A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy Conversations on vimeo

    Framing the Conversation

    Friday, April 7 — 9:15 am

    Moderated by Nancy Buirski, By Sidney Lumet, The Loving Story, Full Frame Founder
    Chris Hegedus, Unlocking the Cage,The War Room
    D A Pennebaker, Don’t Look Back, Monterey Pop

    As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, Full Frame is pleased to launch “Framing the Conversation”, a new series of discussions in the A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy in which individual filmmakers reflect on their work. In this inaugural year, two of the field’s most renowned filmmakers—Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker—discuss their careers and the documentary filmmaking profession.


    Out of the Echo Chamber
    Friday, April 7 — 12:15 pm

    Moderated by Deirdre Haj, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
    Katy Chevigny, E-Team, Deadline
    Marshall Curry, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Street Fight
    Cynthia Hill, Private Violence, The Guestworker
    Farihah Zaman, Field of Vision

    Since Donald Trump’s stunning win in the 2016 presidential election, many in the documentary field are asking the same question: Are nonfiction filmmakers, and the profession in general, out of touch with a huge swath of fellow Americans, and if so, where do we go from here?


    Advanced Circuitry: 20 Years of Festivals
    Friday, April 7 — 3:15 pm

    Moderated by Julie Goldman, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Weiner
    Amir Bar-Lev, Long Strange Trip, My Kid Could Paint That
    Ryan Harrington, Discovery Communications
    Matthew Heineman, City of Ghosts, Cartel Land
    Gary Hustwit, Helvetica, Objectified

    Full Frame is one of the oldest and largest documentary-only festivals in the United States. Back when we started, there were far fewer nonfiction films and distribution streams than there are now, when there are so many of both. Using the festival as a frame, these esteemed documentary professionals look back at the business of utilizing the festival circuit to promote a film, and how it might work best in the future


    Sustainability Now
    Saturday, April 8 — 9:15 am

    Moderated by Claire Aguilar, International Documentary Association
    Justine Nagan, POV
    Gordon Quinn, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
    Michael Schoenfeld, Duke University
    Marco Williams, Two Towns of Jasper

    At their recent “Getting Real” conference, the International Documentary Association began a series of conversations on sustainability for the documentary film field. With the NEA, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS once again on the chopping block for federal funding, how do documentary filmmaking professionals respond?


    #DocsSoWhite 2.0: Representation, Agency, and Authorship in Doc Film
    Saturday, April 8 — 12:15 pm

    Moderated by S. Leo Chiang, Out Run, Mr. Cao Goes to Washington
    Patricia Benabe
    ,They Took Them Alive, The Hand That Feeds
    Whitney Dow, Two Towns of Jasper, Whiteness Project
    Yance Ford, Strong Island

    Who gets to tell whose story, and how do we diversify the world of documentary filmmaking? This panel, begun at last year’s festival, spawned several national op-eds and articles as filmmakers wrestled with the ethics of representation, as well as building support for colleagues who have less opportunity than those in the ethnic majority. Full Frame advisory board member Leo Chiang participated in last year’s discussion and moderates this year’s group, as panelists discuss an issue that is not evolving quickly.


    The In-Between
    Saturday, April 8 — 3:15 pm

    Documentary filmmaking often creates a feast-or-famine cycle for makers who continue to produce work over the course of many years. After releasing a film, there’s a period of time in which the filmmakers are on the road across the country and the world to promote their work. The next creative phase involves digging into the often-lonely and highly unglamorous development process of bringing nascent ideas to life as new, full-fledged projects. Per filmmaker request, this open space for conversation is about giving “between-projects” creative life, professional support, and focused creative feedback.


    2016 Speakeasy Conversations

    Watch the 2016 A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy Conversations on vimeo

    Beyond the Choir

    Friday, April 8 – 9:15 am

    Moderated by Molly Thompson, A&E IndieFilms
    Margaret Brown, The Great Invisible
    Maxim Pozdorovkin, Clínica de Migrantes
    Amy Ziering, The Hunting Ground

    How do docs with a message reach the unconverted? Filmmakers discuss targeting their work for audiences with a wide range of views.


    The New Theatrical
    Friday, April 8 – 12:15 pm

    Moderated by Brian Newman, Sub-Genre
    Jake Craven, Gathr Films
    Danielle McCarthy-Boles, Magnolia Pictures
    Merrill Sterritt, Cinereach

    Distributors discuss methods, both new and traditional, to build audiences for documentary films.


    The Glass Ceiling
    Friday, April 8 – 3:15 pm

    Moderated by Deirdre Haj, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
    Rachel Boynton, Our Brand Is Crisis
    Katy Chevigny, Big Mouth Productions
    Carrie Lozano, The Ballad of Fred Hersch

    Filmmakers weigh in on the challenges women face in the documentary industry, from gender bias to funding access.


    Saturday, April 9 – 9:15 am

    Moderated by Ian Robertson Kibbe, Raising Bertie
    S. Leo Chiang, Out Run
    Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes
    Sam Pollard, Two Trains Runnin’
    Roger Ross Williams, Life, Animated

    Is the documentary field more diverse than Hollywood? Directors address questions of representation and opportunity.


    Perfect and Otherwise
    Saturday, April 9 – 12:15 pm

    Moderated by AJ Schnack, Caucus
    Chris Hegedus, The War Room
    Shola Lynch, Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed
    D A Pennebaker, The War Room
    David Van Taylor, A Perfect Candidate

    In this conversation around the 2016 Thematic Program, filmmakers reflect on the inherent drama of documenting the electoral process. 


    Slippery Truths
    Saturday, April 9 – 3:15 pm

    Directors who blur the lines between art and artifice open up about their approaches and the constructions inherent in documentary work.