|Independent View: Episodes|
Episode 101 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #201)
International film legend and crusader for American independent filmmaking Robert Redford is the featured interview by critic B. Ruby Rich in this premiere episode. A noted actor, director and producer, Redford has been involved in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Candidate, All the President's Men, Ordinary People, The Natural, Out of Africa, A River Runs Through It, Indecent Proposal, Quiz Show, The Horse Whisperer and The Legend of Bagger Vance. Redford is the founder and director of the Sundance Institute, which spawned the annual Sundance Film Festival and cable's Sundance Channel.
Episode 102 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #202)
America's storyteller Ken Burns -- PBS's acclaimed producer of Baseball, The Civil War, The West, Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jazz -- discusses his inspirations with Michael Fox. Later in the program, Marc Singer, who burst onto the scene at the Sundance Film Festival with his documentary Dark Days, talks about living among homeless people for two years in the underground tunnels of Manhattan, and making a film that changed lives.
Episode 103 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #203)
Director, producer and screenwriter Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Wayne's World) is featured; she moves between small features and documentaries, and Hollywood projects. She talks with Rubén Martinez about her recent documentary on Ozzy Osbourne's Ozfest called We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n Roll. Afterwards, filmmaker Jem Cohen discusses his music-themed documentaries Benjamin Smoke, about a southern, gay, HIV-positive, drug-addicted drag queen who led a blues-punk band, and Instrument, chronicling 10 years in the life of Fugazi, a punk band that is outspoken against racism, sexism and homophobia.
Episode 104 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #204)
Two influential African-American artists stop by for this installment. No other African-American filmmaker has had the cultural and artistic impact of Spike Lee. His filmography includes She's Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, Clockers, Girl 6, Get on the Bus, Summer of Sam and Bamboozled. A frequent actor in Spike Lee's films, Roger Guenveur Smith has appeared in film and on stage, with film roles in Get on the Bus and Do the Right Thing, as well as a solo performance and multiple awards for A Huey P. Newton Story. Independent View finds Smith and Lee on the set of the film version of A Huey P. Newton Story, written by Roger Guenveur Smith and directed by Spike Lee, which will be premiere on public television in 2002.
Episode 105 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #205)
Born in England and raised in Kenya, Mike Figgis began studying music and then moved onward to film. With film credits including Leaving Las Vegas, Internal Affairs, One Night Stand, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, Time Code and Miss Julie, the accomplished director, writer and composer earned Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director Oscar nominations for Leaving Las Vegas. Figgis speaks with Michael Fox about his passionate convictions regarding the art of filmmaking, including the primary importance of character over craft. In part two, B. Ruby Rich sits down with Darren Aronofsky, who has earned a reputation in indie film circles as a brash and brilliant filmmaker. His critically acclaimed Pi was followed by Requiem for a Dream, which garnered Ellen Burstyn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, and was given an NC-17 rating that required police presence at some early screenings.
Episode 106 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #206)
Two Chinese-American artists are spotlighted in this week's Independent View. Joan Chen has been one of a very small handful of actors to attain a viable career in both Hollywood and Hong Kong. She has appeared in such notable fare as The Last Emperor, The Blood of Heroes, Temptation of a Monk, Oliver Stone's Heaven and Earth, and most recently What's Cooking? She has also directed Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and Autumn in New York, starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Next, Independent View features Chen-collaborator Ruby Yang. In addition to editing Chen's Autumn in New York and Xiu Xiu, Yang directed Citizen Hong Kong, a documentary about five young Hong Kong residents and their views on Hong Kong's transition from British to Chinese rule.
Episode 107 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #207)
Two leading ladies of independent filmmaking talk shop with B. Ruby Rich for this episode. Tilda Swinton is known for her idiosyncratic performances, including such notable indie fare as Edward II, Orlando, Conceiving Ada, Love Is the Devil and The War Zone. In a stark contrast to Swinton, fellow British actress Brenda Blethyn, nominated twice for an Academy Award, has won international acclaim for her roles, most notably in Secrets & Lies, Little Voice and Saving Grace.
Episode 108 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #208)
First up, Erika Muhammad speaks with director/cinematographer Albert Maysles about his brother's and his own roles in the development of cinema verité documentary-making, including their well-known films Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. Next, Lisanne Skyler talks about her most recent feature film Getting to Know You based on a collection of Joyce Carol Oates stories and starring Bebe Neuwirth and Heather Matarazzo. She talks about the preparation for feature-filmmaking her documentaries afforded her, such as No Loans Today and Dreamland, which appeared on P.O.V. Her next project will team her up with director Mike Figgis serving as producer on Rules of the Wild, to be shot on location in Kenya and Italy.
Episode 109 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #209)
B. Ruby Rich catches up with Danny Glover. He is popularly recognized for his starring role in the Lethal Weapon series, but has acted in over 50 films, including independent work such as A Rage in Harlem and Bopha!, co-starring Angela Bassett, as well as Places in the Heart, Boesman and Lena, The Color Purple and Beloved. Glover discusses his choice of roles throughout his long career, including his collaboration with our next guest. Charles Burnett's 30-year directing career includes 1990's To Sleep With Anger, starring Danny Glover and most recently, The Annihilation of Fish, which stars Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones and Margot Kidder. Rubén Martinez speaks with Burnett, one of the most esteemed African-American voices in cinema, about the persistence of vision in his directing.
Episode 110 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #210)
Erika Muhammad asks director Barbara Kopple about the motivations behind many of the award-winning films of her career, which include the Academy Awardówinning documentaries Harlan County, USA and American Dream, as well as two surprisingly sympathetic celebrity portraits of Woody Allen and Mike Tyson. Kopple also talks about her latest project -- a study of the Woodstock festivals called My Generation. Next up is director and producer Susan Seidelman, one of the first filmmakers to be lauded by Hollywood as a "bankable" female director after making Desperately Seeking Susan. Her subsequently critically panned films, Cookie, She-Devil and Making Mr. Right were hard to recover from, until she moved on to television's Sex and the City on HBO and to her newest film, Gaudi Afternoon, with Judy Davis and Lili Taylor.
Episode 111 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #211)
Director Ang Lee talks with B. Ruby Rich about the making of his recent critical success, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, winner of a number of Oscars in 2001. Lee's career is studiously diverse, with a filmography that includes The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm and Ride With the Devil. Lee shares an inspired sense of aesthetics with our next guest, acclaimed Hungarian cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs. Kovacs discusses his legendary career and some of his trade secrets with interviewer Michael Fox. A short list of films on which Laszlo Kovacs served as director of photography includes Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Paper Moon, Shampoo and the huge box office hits, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Ghostbusters.
Episode 112 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #212)
This episode features painter/sculptor-turned-director/screenwriter Julian Schnabel, who brought art houses Basquiat in 1996. It tells the true story of African-American street artist-turned-art superstar Basquiat, who gained fame after being brought into Andy Warhol's "scene," then after penthouses, romances and drug use, died at age 27. His most recent film, Before Night Falls, tells the story of Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas, who initially joined the ranks of Fidel Castro's revolutionaries and later was persecuted for his homosexuality and anti-conformist writings. The film garnered an Oscar nomination for Spanish actor Javier Bardem in the film's lead role. Then, Cauleen Smith is in the director's seat as she discusses her emerging career and Drylongso, a film set in Oakland about a young African-American woman who takes on a photography project to explore the rash of death among young black men. Smith also discusses her experience going through the Sundance Writer's Lab with her work in progress, I Am Furious Black.
Episode 113 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #213)
"The Sultan of Sleaze," "The Baron of Bad Taste" and "The Pope of Trash" -- John Waters -- is interviewed by B. Ruby Rich as the pair both get manicures. Waters explains why he couldn't go to Hollywood for funding for his latest film, Cecil B. Demented, an anti-Hollywood comedy starring Melanie Griffith, and discusses how much he loves movie stars. His cult following of fans has expanded through a career that spawned such instant classics as Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray, CryBaby, and Serial Mom. Puerto Rican writer and director Miguel Arteta helmed the indie hit Star Maps, about a Mexican-American street hustler and would-be actor. His most recent digital video release, Chuck and Buck, is a dark comedy about two distanced childhood friends, one of whom obsessively and romantically stalks the other until they are forced to confront their past.
Episode 114 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #214)
This episode begins with a conversation with Mexican-American filmmaker Gregory Nava, who has made a critical impression moving between the indie world and Hollywood with such films as Confessions of Amans, El Norte, My Family/Mi Familia, Selena, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? and The American Tapestry. Much of Nava's work focuses on cross-cultural issues and themes of struggles within immigrant life in the United States. He has an upcoming new serial drama on PBS this fall. Next, director and screenwriter Allison Anders chats about her commitment to telling women's stories in Gas Food Lodging, Border Radio, Mi Vida Loca/My Crazy Life, Four Rooms, and Sugar Town. Up next for her is Things Behind the Sun starring Rosanna Arquette and Eric Stolz.
Episode 115 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #215)
Two thumbs up! Independent View chats with Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, who is best known for his long-term partnership with the late Gene Siskel on the long-running television series At the Movies. He also penned the notorious Russ Meyer cult favorite, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Then, director and screenwriter Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) shares her different experiences with independent and studio filmmaking. Her much-publicized casting and ratings difficulties with releasing American Psycho, as she explains to B. Ruby Rich, is where she earned her reputation as "the director who refused to cast Leonardo DiCaprio."
Episode 116 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #216)
Independent View converses with the producer of many of the groundbreaking indie films of the 1990s, Christine Vachon. With producing credits that include Poison, Swoon, Go Fish, Safe, Kids, I Shot Andy Warhol, Happiness, Velvet Goldmine and Boys Don't Cry, Vachon has built a reputation of launching the careers of directors who push the envelope of filmmaking and socially acceptable norms. One of these first-time directors is Daniel Minahan, who co-wrote I Shot Andy Warhol with Mary Harron and whose film Series 7 is a satire of reality television programs. B. Ruby Rich interviews both Dan Minahan and Christine Vachon for this episode.
Episode 117 (KQED/San Francisco Episode #217)
B. Ruby Rich sits down with actor, director, producer and screenwriter Tim Robbins, who ranks as one of contemporary cinema's most acclaimed and provocative voices. His film roles -- as actor, director, producer and/or screenwriter -- have included Bull Durham, Short Cuts, The Player, The Shawshank Redemption, The Cradle Will Rock, Bob Roberts and The Hudsucker Proxy. But his most acclaimed directing project-to-date was 1995's Dead Man Walking, a gut-wrenching examination of the death penalty, redemption, forgiveness and spirituality, starring Sean Penn and Robbins' long-time partner Susan Sarandon. In the second part of the episode, Michael Fox visits with screenwriter and author, Barry Gifford, who talks about collaborating with David Lynch on Lost Highway and Wild at Heart, as well as his screenplay for the film Perdita Durango (Dance with the Devil), which stars Rosie Perez.