"Collaboration is a trust in the other person."

- Massimo Vignelli

To be released on 10/11/13 at the IFC Center in NYC, Design is One is a documentary about influential design spouses Leila & Massimo Vignelli. 

H/T Laughing Squid


San Francisco, from Thierry Cohen’s “Darkened Cities” series.

Can you imagine a city night without the light? Watch THE CITY DARK, filmmaker Ian Cheney’s exploration of what we lose in a city’s ever-brightened night sky. Now streaming on POV ‘til Jan. 12.

Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable musical orchestra in Paraguay, where young musicians play instruments made from trash.

The Social Cure: A revelatory examination of the future of HIV/AIDS and how current networking technology empowers us to affect change.


Today, Alison Klayman’s Kickstarter-funded documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is opening in theaters across the country. 

For more, a PopTech Interview: Alison Klayman on getting to know Ai Weiwei.

Lemonade: Detroit" is a 17-minute short by Erik Proulx that weaves an inspiring story of resilience in Detroit, Michigan.

“Lemonade: Detroit” is about the disarming resilience of a city that is searching for an identity beyond a single industry, as told through the intensely personal stories of people who are actively reinventing the Motor City.

There have been far too many films about what’s wrong in Detroit. Far too many journalistic opinions claiming to offer hope that in reality glorify ruin. “Lemonade: Detroit” will make hope, optimism, and positivity as intriguing to watch as a train wreck.

Every character in “Lemonade: Detroit” is beating heavy odds placed on them by a world that expects failure. Documenting the struggle isn’t the point. Overcoming it is. These are the stories that must be told.

Bring it to the Table: A project that brings citizens together around issues that normally tear us apart.

U.S. filmmaker Laura Poitras repeatedly detained at border

One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.

In an age of international travel — where large numbers of citizens, especially those involved in sensitive journalism and activism, frequently travel outside the country — this power renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment entirely illusory. By virtue of that amendment, if the government wants to search and seize the papers and effects of someone on U.S. soil, it must (with some exceptions) first convince a court that there is probable cause to believe that the objects to be searched relate to criminal activity and a search warrant must be obtained. But now, none of those obstacles — ones at the very heart of the design of the Constitution — hinders the U.S. government: now, they can just wait until you leave the country, and then, at will, search, seize and copy all of your electronic files on your return. That includes your emails, the websites you’ve visited, the online conversations you’ve had, the identities of those with whom you’ve communicated, your cell phone contacts, your credit card receipts, film you’ve taken, drafts of documents you’re writing, and anything else that you store electronically: which, these days, when it comes to privacy, means basically everything of worth.

The acclaimed director shared stories with the 2010 PopTech conference crowd about the making, and consequences, of her most recent films – My Country, My Country and The Oath, which form part of a trilogy she’s making about life after 9/11. 

Poitras’ intent all along with these two documentaries was to produce a trilogy of War on Terror films, and she is currently at work on the third installment. As Poitras described it to me, this next film will examine the way in which The War on Terror has been imported onto U.S. soil, with a focus on the U.S. Government’s increasing powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities (including construction of a massive new NSA facilityin Bluffdale, Utah), its attacks on whistleblowers, and the movement to foster government transparency and to safeguard Internet anonymity. In sum, Poitras produces some of the best, bravest and most important filmmaking and journalism of the past decade, often exposing truths that are adverse to U.S. government policy, concerning the most sensitive and consequential matters (a 2004 film she produced for PBS on gentrification of an Ohio town won the Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy).

But Poitras’ work has been hampered, and continues to be hampered, by the constant harassment, invasive searches, and intimidation tactics to which she is routinely subjected whenever she re-enters her own country. Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every time during that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration). Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length about where she went and with whom she met or spoke. They have exhibited a particular interest in finding out for whom she works.

Read more…

Ai Weiwei told me recently that he thinks the government’s decision to detain him for 81 days last year and keep him under strict bail conditions ever since is completely related to his effective use of the Internet to communicate his views and exchange ideas with others.

He told me: “If not for my use of the Internet, I would just be an artist trying to put up a canvas in a gallery or a museum, which has almost no influence for the majority of society. It’s only because I acted on the Internet that the pressure comes. It made a lot of people feel scared, because they can never really stop my influence on the netizens.”

That’s why I made my first feature documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” — to record what happens when someone makes the choice to speak openly and provocatively and face down the consequences, as Ai Weiwei and so many other human rights lawyers, writers, activists and young netizens do every day in China. I hope to inspire new discussions about the role of art, social media, underground documentary and creative forms of resistance in our interconnected world.

Alison Klayman directed and produced the feature documentary, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” which premieres at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Back in October we had a chance to interview Klayman during PopTech 2011:

His ability to communicate does transcend. That’s also a part of going to the social media sphere. It’s recognizing the limitations of the art world. He wants to be recognized in good museums, and to have his art be valued too. But he recognizes that the art world can be a rarefied environment, or something that’s more for an international audience more than for mainland Chinese.