Interviews

In Rock Doc, A Song Is Born

 Local filmmaker Gorman Bechard.

Local filmmaker Gorman Bechard.

Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 - 

How does a song come to life on screen? In New Haven filmmaker Gorman Bechard’s latest rock documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless?, the magic lies in the editing.

Bechard’s movie follows Lydia Loveless, a 24-year-old country rocker from rural Ohio, as she and her band tour across the Midwest in 2014 and 2015.

Bechard, who has made a name for himself in recent years as a consummate chronicler of the passion, restlessness and unpredictability of those devoted to rock ‘n’ roll, finds in Loveless a case study for the expressive potential and logistical difficulties of trying to make a living as a full-time musician.

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Love Of Country Hits The Screen

April 20, 2016 - When the widow of Cuban filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea reached out to Margherita Tortora, senior lecturer in Spanish at Yale, to ask if she would consider a celebration of her late husband’s work on the 20th anniversary of his death, Tortora jumped at the opportunity. She knew that she had limited resources to put on a film festival, but that hadn’t stopped her in the past. Alea’s widow, the director and actress Mirta Ibarra, was excited. This way, both students and members of the public could benefit from a re-evaluation of the work of one of the most influential directors in Cuban history.

This Thursday through Saturday, those months of planning will come to fruition when a local series about contemporary Latin American cinema comes to a close with a five-film tribute to Alea, showcasing the Cuban director’s resonant, ambivalent patriotism. Four of his most celebrated films, as well as a documentary about the director, will play at Yale’s Luce Hall auditorium at 34 Hillhouse Avenue. All of the screenings are free and open to the public.

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From Lender’s Bagels To Hollywood

  Jay Lender (Better Served Cold Productions photo)

Jay Lender (Better Served Cold Productions photo)

March 24, 2016 - Born into a family that revolutionized American breakfast culture by popularizing the bagel, Jay Lender — whose feature film debut, They’re Watching, comes out in limited release on Friday — knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist.

The son of Murray Lender, the innovative, long-time marketing director for New Haven’s Lender’s Bagel Bakery, Jay found succor for his budding creative interests in watching one of his father’s employees illustrate the marketing campaigns that helped “bagelize America.”

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Individual Dignity, The Movie(s)

  Karyl Evans (Phil Nolt photo)

Karyl Evans (Phil Nolt photo)

February 22, 2016 - How do you stay focused when making a movie about a musical work based on a collection of poems written about the life of a World War II medic?

For local five-time Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Karyl Evans, the answer is easy: Focus on the people. Even in a multilayered work like Letter from Italy, 1944: A New American Oratorio, a film about art, war, and PTSD that Evans released in 2015.

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Color Him Obsessed

 Gorman Bechard (Thomas Breen photo)

Gorman Bechard (Thomas Breen photo)

January 22, 2016 - Just after the closing credits of Color Me Obsessed, Gorman Bechard’s 2011 documentary about the rise, fall, and lasting influence of the ‘80s punk rock band The Replacements, musicianPatrick Stickles struggled to articulate just what made their music so exceptional.

“If you’re a human being,” he said, “this is the best ... This is the most human band. Music for humans. No band has deserved that title more than the good old Replacements. Music for humans.”

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Filmmaker Puts City Changes In Focus

 Elihu Rubin (Lucy Gellman photo)

Elihu Rubin (Lucy Gellman photo)

December 21, 2015 - From Chapel West to Crown Street to the Hill to Wooster Square, New Haven’s construction boom is causing ripples in the city’s sense of place. For some, these moments of transition can be jarring; for others, they offer the perfect opportunity to reflect on the history and symbolism and social impact of New Haven’s physical landscape.

“Being able to document urban change is something that’s very interesting to me,” architectural historian and documentary filmmaker Elihu Rubin said in an interview on WNHH’s “Deep Focus” program. “How do we cope with urban change? How do we interpret it? And who are the agents of development and redevelopment? When do we feel empowered to participate in that, and when do we feel that things are just kind of happening?”

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Two Filmmakers Preserve New Haven’s Stories

 Travis Carbonella (Lucy Gellman photo)

Travis Carbonella (Lucy Gellman photo)

November 13, 2015 - You’ve seen Travis Carbonella before. Jumping on and off stage at Jose Oyola’s show at the College Street Music Hall; trailing along with the giant puppet parade in Westville; interviewing people all over downtown about their lives, their backgrounds, their passions and talents. Carbonella is a freelance videographer, and a dedicated storyteller. He’s New Haven’s Man with a Movie Camera, capturing the essence of this city one video at a time.

“I like showing the human experience, whatever that means, vulnerabilities and all,” Carbonella said during the first segment of an episode of WNHH’s “Deep Focus.” “Everybody has such amazing gifts. If I can create an opportunity for someone’s voice to be heard, especially when that voice is normally not heard, overlooked, marginalized, I think that’s the most fulfilling thing for me.”

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A Love Letter To A Dancer And Activist

November 12, 2015 - In The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen, which will be playing this Thursday night as one of the opening movies in the 2015 New Haven International Film Festival, director Jennifer Abod documents the many challenges and triumphs of a woman who continually sought to reinvent herself as she came to know and embrace each aspect of a complicated identity. Indeed, the film is a sort of love letter — a well-deserved and carefully made one —  to the New Haven dancer, feminist, civil rights activist and scholar offers a loving portrait of a life defined by difficult transitions, hard-won success and lasting personal and professional influence.

Abod, a feminist media producer who has also been Bowen’s partner for the past 35 years, called into the latest episode of WNHH radio’s “Deep Focus” to talk about the life and legacy of someone who never yielded to the persistent forces of racism, sexism, and LGBTQ discrimination.

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God Save The Screen

 Brendan Toller (Lucy Gellman photo)

Brendan Toller (Lucy Gellman photo)

November 2, 2015 - New Haven-based filmmaker Brendan Toller excels at making music documentaries that are about more than just the music. His first two feature films, I Need that Record! (2010) and Danny Says (2015), document the communities of artists, fans, record store owners, and journalists who live to discover new music and share the music they love. Without their voices, Toller’s movies contest, the story of music, and of punk rock in particular, is conspicuously incomplete.

Toller (pictured) came by WNHH’s “Deep Focus” to discuss making movies about music, the importance of preserving those spaces where we learn about new and interesting art, and the benefits and challenges of being a filmmaker in New Haven. Click on the audio player below or subscribe to the WNHH podcast on iTunes to listen to the full episode.

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Real Reels Start Rolling

 Molly Wheeler (Lucy Gellman photo)

Molly Wheeler (Lucy Gellman photo)

October 16, 2015 - Molly Wheeler first heard of Home Movie Day in 2004 while attending a conference for the Association of Moving Image Archivists. “It just cracked my mind open,” said Wheeler, reflecting on the annual celebration of amateur films and filmmakers in a recent interview on WNHH’s “Deep Focus.” “I thought it was one of the coolest events I had ever heard of.”

Watching other people’s home movies may at first glance seem like a strange candidate for the coolest way to spend an afternoon. But for Wheeler, an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library who specializes in audiovisual material, Home Movie Day represented a perfect intersection of three pursuits she cares deeply about: film preservation, social history, and community engagement.

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Treasures Unearthed

  Brian Meacham (Thomas Breen photo)

Brian Meacham (Thomas Breen photo)

September 28, 2015 - Gone are the days when every movie theater in the country was equipped to project film. With the rise of digital cinema, movies are now cheaper and easier to produce, distribute, and exhibit than ever before.

But what about those theaters that can’t afford to purchase digital projectors? What about those filmmakers who cherish the physical dimension of film and its inimitable impact on the visual quality of a movie? And what about the potential loss of the medium so central to the history of cinema: the very material on which movies were produced and projected for the first century of the form’s existence?

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6 Lesbian Films Break Ground

September 21, 2015 - Women are underrepresented in film.  No matter the success of Hunger Games or Bridesmaids or Spy or Trainwreck, women filmmakers and female stories are consistently given short shrift in an industry that is notoriously conservative, reluctant to stray too far from the formulaic, male-dominated productions that studios know will achieve a satisfactory return.

If women in general encounter a fair amount of resistance from a recalcitrant and prejudiced industry, lesbian women suffer from even greater cinematic neglect, both in front of and behind the camera. Lesbian women are doubly marginalized in the history and practice of film, often overlooked by mainstream production companies for daring to represent gender and sexual identities other than that sanctioned by prevailing social norms.

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How Margulies Mined A Hit

  Donald Margulies (Paul Bass photo)

Donald Margulies (Paul Bass photo)

September 15, 2015 - Donald Margulies knew right away that Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself , a book about five days’ worth of conversations between Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky and novelist David Foster Wallace, contained a story that he wanted to tell.

A Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Theater Studies professor with years of experience writing movie screenplays for hire, Margulies saw in this book two characters with unique voices, powerful anxieties, and a complex relationship predicated on admiration and mistrust.

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Bad Girls, Great Movies

  Yale Film Colloquium photo

Yale Film Colloquium photo

September 10, 2015 - Gene Tierney’s character in the 1945 melodrama Leave Her to Heaven is not exactly the best role model for young women. She is so jealous of her husband’s attention that she drowns her disabled brother, throws herself down the stairs when she’s pregnant, and even (spoiler alert) kills herself and frames her sister for the murder. But for Kirsty Dootson, a doctoral candidate in Film, Media and Art at Yale University, Tierney and Leave Her to Heaven represent exactly what a lot of women like to see on screen.

“We couldn’t get our heads around the fact that her behavior was so abject, but Gene Tierney was so magnetic,” Dootson said in a recent interview on WNHH radio’s “Deep Focus.” “We thought it would be fantastic to do a series of films featuring women like this.”

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Sayles Returns To A “City Of Hope” At A&I

June 12, 2015 - John Sayles, one of the forefathers of American independent cinema, made a movie about another Northeastern city in the early 1990s, a city that looked a lot like New Haven.

It still does—and he’s coming to town to watch it again along with a bunch of his other masterworks.

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