Documentary filmmaker Robert Drew has revolutionized the genre by dispensing with narrators and adopting a more dramatic, theatrical approach. His best known movie, Primary, follows the presidential run of John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
George T. Nierenberg made the documentary No Maps on My Taps, which captures the history of jazz and tap dancing. One of Nierenberg's subjects, Sandman Sims, tells Terry Gross about his career as a dancer.
As a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lyon documented many of the violent clashes between polices and protestors during the civil rights era. He continues to produce politically-charged photos and movies today.
Documentarian Bob Mugge's new film "Black Wax" is a performance documentary with poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron. The film documents performances by Scott-Heron, including some with wax figures. Mugge's previous film "Amateur Night at City Hall," was a documentary about Frank Rizzo. The film includes Scott-Heron performing a portion of his poem/song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
Les Blank is one of the filmmakers who directed the documentary "Burden of Dreams," which will be playing at the International House in Philadelphia. The documentary is about the making of Werner Herzog's fictional film "Fitzcarraldo," which chronicles an Irishman trying to build an opera house in the Amazonian jungle. This interview originally aired on Michael Goodwin's radio program about film on Pacifica Radio Station KPFA in Berkeley. (INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL GOODWIN)
Godfrey Reggio is an experimental filmmaker whose work makes uses of montage and sound. His first film, a documentary, "Koyaanisqatsi," derives its title from the Hopi word meaning "unbalanced life." The film manipulates images of cityscapes, and Reggio describes it as showing "the beauty of the beast." The film's music is composed by Philip Glass. Reggio intends the documentary to produce a mind-opening experience for the viewer through the fusion of music and image--to be inspiration, not entertainment.
Terry Zwigoff is the director and producer of the documentary "Louie Bluie," about jazz violinist and mandolinist Howard Armstrong. Armstrong continues the tradition of black string bands in the nineteen-teens and the nineteen-twenties. Armstrong's career was revived in the nineteen-seventies on the college circuit. Zwigoff plays the cello and mandolin himself, including in cartoonist R. Crumb's band, and collects jazz records.
Critic Ken Tucker believes the new film, now on home video, highlights the importance of an often overlooked medium. His only quibble is with sci-fi author Harlan Ellison's narration, which Tucker says is unnecessary.
Filmmaker Albert Maysles. He was a pioneer of the cinema verité style, where the camera acts as an eye and the film proceeds without narration or script. With his late brother David, Albert Maysles made the films "Gimme Shelter," and the recent "Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic," which won two Emmys.
Photographer Bruce Weber, who does the fashion ads for Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. He recently finished a documentary movie about young boxers. It's titled "Broken Noses" and opens at the upcoming New York Film Forum.
Cinematographer Nestor Almendros. The films he has photographed include "Sophie's Choice," "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Days of Heaven," for which he won the Academy Award. He has directed the photography for films by Eric Rohmer and Francois Truffaut. Almendros worked in Havana in the early years of the Castro regime before he had a falling out with the authorities.
Robert Mugge makes documentary films about unique and vital American music. His subjects include Al Green, Sonny Rollins, and native Hawaiian musicians. PBS will broadcast six of his movies this summer.
Film critic Stephen Schiff reviews the new documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: the Metal Years. He says the compelling movie is a revealing look at how fans and musicians participate in the decadent culture of heavy metal music.
Part I of Terry Gross's interview with filmmaker Penelope Spheeris. Spheeris talks about her new movie, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: the Metal Years, a documentary about the heavy metal scene. She thinks stereotypes of the inarticulate and unskilled metal musicians are unfair -- though it's often true that they embrace a drug-fueled, self-destructive lifestyle.
Errol Morris thinks of himself as much a detective as a documentary filmmaker. Known for his off-beat subjects, he's adopted a more serious tone with his new movie, The Thin Blue Line, about a murder investigation in Dallas. Errol believes the man sentenced to death for the crime, Randall Dale Adams, is innocent.
PBS will soon air the documentary Missile, about the fourteen-week training program for launch operators. TV critic David Bianculli says it gives real life context to the hit film Wargames. Director Frederick Wiseman's signature eschewing of interviews sometimes detracts from the narrative, but the movie is overall worth watching.