Podcast #3 – A Discussion of Les Blank

No Comments 18 April 2013

This week we dive into the work of the late Les Blank, one of the great documentarians of American culture. We’re joined by Charlotte Cook, Director of Programming for Hot Docs, for a discussion of Blank’s unique style and why her festival is honoring him this month with their Outstanding Achievement Award. After a brief word about what else Hot Docs has to offer, we turn to a conversation about our favorite Blank films. Finally, we recommend a few more contemporary documentaries that fit into the upbeat, musical spirit of his work.

Correction: when Christopher says “John Waters” when talking about ’80s teen movies he meant to say “John Hughes.”


For more on documentaries, check Christopher’s Documentary Channel Blog and follow us on Twitter at @DSWalber and @TheFilmCynic

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Intro: 00:00 – 2:04

Conversation with Charlotte Cook: 2:36 – 26:28

Our Favorite Blank Films and Weekly Doc Recommendations: 27:01 – 45:52



Les Blank retrospective at Hot Docs

Doc Criticism panel at Hot Docs, featuring Christopher

J. Hoberman’s obituary of Blank at Art Info

Daniel on Blank’s signature sense of joy at Film.com

Christopher on five wonderful films by Blank at Documentary Channel


Watch the Docs:

Buy Les Blank’s films on his website

Burden of Dreams on Hulu

Only the Young on Amazon Instant

Her Master’s Voice on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant

Tchoupitoulas on Amazon Instant


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Podcast #2 – ‘Free Angela and All Political Prisoners’ and Narrative Remakes of Documentaries

No Comments 12 April 2013

This week we review Shola Lynch‘s new film, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, and its “historical vérité” approach to biographical documentary. Then, inspired by Lynch’s own thoughts about making the story of Angela Davis into a biopic, we discuss fiction adaptations of documentaries. Do they help documentaries find an audience, or are they too often simply blander, inaccurate versions of the original? Finally, we take a moment to remember Roger Ebert’s championing of documentary film over the years, and recommend some of his favorites and ours.

For more on documentaries, check Chris’s Documentary Channel Blog and follow us on Twitter at @DSWalber and @TheFilmCynic

To download the podcast, right click here and choose “Save Link As…

Download MP3 File

Subscribe on iTunes!

Intro: 00:00 – 1:39

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners: 1:40 – 24:03

Remaking Documentaries as Fiction Films: 24:05 – 45:43

Rogert Ebert and Weekly Doc Recommendations: 46:01 – 58:20



Follow Free Angela and All Political Prisoners on Facebook for more info about screenings

Max Roach performing Triptych with Abbey Lincoln on YouTube

Read Chris’s interview with director Shola Lynch here

Roger Ebert’s blog post on Happy People: A Year in the Taiga


Watch the Docs:

Hoop Dreams on NetflixHulu and Amazon Instant

Gates of Heaven on Hulu

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga DVD on Netflix

Where to find Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 on Netflix

Kon-Tiki on Amazon Instant Prime and Hulu

Party Monster: The Shockumentary on iTunes


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Podcast #1 – ‘Room 237’ and Humor in Documentary

No Comments 01 April 2013

In this inaugural podcast, Daniel and Christopher discuss Room 237.

Room 237 is a subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980). The film may be over 30 years old but it continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments. Together they’ll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out.

To download the podcast, right click here and choose “Save Link As…

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Documentary films recommended this week:

F For Fake – Watch on Hulu Plus or rent digitally from Amazon Instant Video

Documentarian – Watch the trailer on YouTube

Paris is Burning – Watch on Netflix Watch Instantly

The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema – Rent and download from thepervertsguide.com

Room 237 – Rent digitally from iTunes or Amazon Instant Video

Sherman’s March – Watch on Netflix Watch Instantly

War Don Don – Rent digitally from New Day Digital



What is the Funniest Documentary of All Time? (Documentary Channel)

When Is It Okay to Laugh at a Real Person? (Movies.com)

Paris Has Burned (New York Times)


“The Realness” is a weekly podcast about documentary film. Hosts Daniel Walber and Christopher Campbell discuss new and classic titles, genres, methods, ethics and other important topics regarding non-fiction cinema. Sometimes they’re joined by filmmakers and other figures from the documentary community.

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