Factual America

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 Factual America caught up with director and producer Adithya Sambamurthy, who is heading to the US to cover the 2020 American election for The Guardian newspaper. We discuss the upcoming elections and take a look back at President Donald Trump’s rise to power.  In 2016 and 2018 Adi spent weeks on the campaign trail filming and producing Anywhere but Washington. He shares his experiences criss-crossing America, where he was able to meet with Trump supporters and observe first hand the changing American political landscape. We also look at how Trump has been so successful in certain areas that should be considered Democrat territory. Why do these communities reject Democrats and feel more hopeful and optimistic under Trump? While there is a long way to go until the election in November, Trump has emerged from impeachment looking stronger. His campaign team and strategy have improved immensely since 2016. Conversely, he remains a highly polarizing figure despite his popularity in many parts of America. Which Democrat will emerge from Super Tuesday the front runner? Do they even stand a chance against President Trump? We also look at similarities and differences between the US and UK on the political front, in light of Brexit and the rise of Boris Johnson as prime minister.    “A lot of what we’ve seen has been Donald Trump’s attempts to run against Washington; he gets to claim outsider status even as he becomes the establishment.” – Adithya Sambamurthi Time stamps: 01:24 – Today’s topic and who our guest is. 02:38 – The film we are looking at today and what it’s about. 06:10 – Watching the first clip – West Virginia in 2016. 10:05 – Why some areas have shifted away from the Democratic Party. 13:28 – Watching the second clip – West Virginia in 2018. 16:15 – Revisiting subjects and seeing how Trump’s presidency has changed their lives. 18:52 – What struck Adi the most during his two stints on the campaign trail. 20:28 – The reception for foreign journalists in America. 24:00 – Analyzing the 2020 American election and comparing it with the 2016 election. 26:34 – Taking a look at the different candidates in the Democratic Party. 30:16 – A clip looking at Trump’s inauguration. 33:10 – How Trump remains a change candidate even when he is already a part of Washington. 34:07 – Expectations going in as Adi heads to the US. 36:33 – Would the American public ever elect a socialist like Bernie Sanders? 38:08 – Other projects Adi has been working on. 41:18 – Adi’s impressions of the UK. 42:52 – Similarities between what is happening in America and the UK. 44:44 – The need for change that people are expressing across the globe. 45:42 – The surprising amount of people that watched the Anywhere but Washington series. Resources: Anywhere but WashingtonAlamo Pictures Connect with Adithya Sambamurthy: Twitter Website Connect with Factual America: Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Twitter
 Soyalism (2018) explores how factory farming has become a giant global business concentrated in the hands of a few Western and Chinese companies. Across the globe, people are eating more and more meat. Demand has increased sevenfold since 1960 with 70 billion animals currently being killed per year. That number is set to reach 120 billion by 2050. To meet this demand, corporate giants have taken over farming, creating massive ‘factories’ for the housing and feeding of livestock and waste disposal. Using buzz words like ‘vertical integraton’, Western and Chinese corporations now dominate supply chains and wield great power. At the same time, more and more land is being dedicated to growing the grains and soya needed to support the world’s burgeoning demand for meat. In the process, factory farming has put thousands of small producers out of business and permanently transformed entire landscapes. Factual America caught up with Soyalism’s director Enrico Parenti and producer Susana Trojano at the Global Health Film Festival. Their journey started with a question about how to feed the world’s fast-expanding population. They soon uncovered a tale that starts in America, winds through Brazil and China and finally takes them all the way to Mozambique. We also talk about what it’s like being a European filmmaker working in the United States, and some of the difficulties Enrico and Susana encountered there.  “It’s even hard to find where the investors inside a company come from.” – Enrico Parenti Time Stamps: 01:38 – The guests and the topic of today’s interview.04:02 – A clip from the film ‘Soyalism’.05:25 – Introducing our guests…06:06 – What the film is about.07:32 – How the film affected Matthew in a personal way, as an American who’s experienced factory farming.08:52 – How the overconsumption of meat is unsustainable.10:48 – How different countries are increasing their meat production and consumption.12:13 – How Susanna got involved with the documentary and what filming it was like.14:32 – How the idea for the documentary came about, and how farming is becoming commercialised.18:26 – Food sovereignty and secrecy in companies.20:25 – The most challenging part about being a European making documentaries in the US.23:19 – How the team gained access to US.24:54 – The different difficulties involved with getting filmmaking grants in the US.26:37 – The amount of European interest they gained from local people that wanted to share on this topic. Resources: Global Health Film FestivalElliot Films Elliot Films on FacebookSoyalismSoyalism on FacebookTexas Real FoodAlamo Pictures Connect with Enrico Parenti: LinkedIn Connect with Susanna Trojano: LinkedIn Connect with Factual America: Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Twitter
 America’s love affair with guns is one of its defining attributes, and the number of mass shootings hit an all-time high in 2019. While politicians vow to tackle the problem, a powerful gun lobby stands in the way. To help us understand why the US struggles with gun violence on such a massive scale, Dr Peter Squires, an expert on the subject, joins the show. He is a sociologist and professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton, who has worked with many different police forces, and is respected globally for his research into firearms and crime. Peter screens British director Marc Silver’s acclaimed 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (2015) in his classes. This film focuses on the 2012 shooting of Jordan Russell Davis and the trial, media coverage and public reaction following the event. This particular shooting raised a lot of questions about gun legislation in America, particularly the ‘stand your ground’ law in Florida, while Marc Silver’s observational documentary lets the audience draw its own conclusions. With Peter’s in-depth knowledge of gun crime, we examine the case and talk about why gun violence is so much more prevalent in America compared with other countries, even those with high rates of gun ownership. We also investigate why America got into this situation and more importantly what steps can be taken to minimize gun violence in the future. Like Peter’s students, we too can watch Marc Silver’s film and make up our own mind about what is really behind the culture of fear afflicting so many Americans. “People can become a dark celebrity very quickly by a horrific act against society.” – Peter Squires Time Stamps: 01:10 – The topic we are looking at today and introducing the guest. 02:58 – About the film 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets. 03:44 – Why Peter chose this particular film. 05:17 – A brief synopsis. 06:39 – Why the shooting happened and Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law. 08:37 – The different issues this documentary deals with. 10:16 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. 11:02 – Peter’s impressions of America as a child. 12:21 – Playing a clip from the film. 15:38 – Why gun violence is much more prevalent in America compared to European countries.18:42 – Assault rifles and their use in mass shootings. 19:43 – Having a homogenous society and the ‘copycat’ phenomenon. 21:56 – The importance of mental health support. 25:18 – The reasons why gun possession is so high in America. 28:50 – The marketing of the gun industry. 30:30 – What stopped school shootings in England. 33:33 – What the solutions to this problem in America are. 38:38 – The ‘Why did you keep shooting’ clip from the film. 41:54 – If Peter lived in America, would he own a gun?  Resources: 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets The Gun Violence Archive Gun crime in global contexts Marc Silver’s Website Connect with Peter Squires: Website Connect with Factual America: Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Twitter
 America is famous for its sports franchises and rabid fans. However, there is one group of Americans for whom sports raise painful memories. These are the Native Americans. At least some people are trying to put an end to racial stereotyping in US sports. And they have already succeeded in changing the name of the Washington Football Team. Aviva Kempner is the award-winning director of successful docs like “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”. Kevin Blackistone is an award-winning national sports columnist. Together they are working on bringing Imagining the Indian to the screen. We caught up recently with Aviva and Kevin at their homes in Washington DC. “I’ve come to be opposed to all these names. The Not Your Mascot slogan is so true. People are not property of others, certainly when it is a culture that is being appropriated. We’re supposed to be past that.” – Kevin Blackistone Time Stamps: 0:19 – Imagining the Indian trailer. 4:39 – Introducing our guests and today’s topic. 8:40 – When and how Kevin Blackistone got the idea for this project. 11:09 – How Aviva Kempner got involved in the film. 15:15 – The events related to changing the names of sports teams since 2014. 19:58 – Why it has taken so long to take action against Native American mascoting. 25:21 – The role of Hollywood in sustaining stereotypes about Native Americans. 28:44 – The next step for this project after the name change to Washington Football Team. 32:23 – Why Kevin is opposed to all sports names containing Native American imagery. 38:41 – How sports mascoting affects Native Americans. 43:00 – How the Black Lives Matter movement is influencing the Not Your Mascot movement. 48:49 – How the pandemic has affected the filming. 51:14 – Whether there are any teams in the UK and elsewhere named after Native Americans. 1:01:29 – How the audience can connect with the filmmakers and the project. 1:04:58 – Why we are in the Golden Age of documentary film. Resources: Imagining the Indian Website Follow the project on Twitter and Facebook The Ciesla Foundation Kevin Blackistone’s sports commentary in The Washington Post Alamo Pictures Connect with Aviva Kempner: Website LinkedIn Connect with Kevin Blackistone: Twitter Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. He may also be America’s first black cultural icon, blazing a trail for other African American athletes like LeBron James. Besides his performance on the court, Jordan rocketed to fame on the back of a clever and innovative marketing campaign to sell sneakers, and a shrewd business model that made him a billionaire. However, has success come with a price? Well, Nike and Jordan have made billions of dollars. They have also created a shoe culture that see some misguided youth literally killing each other to get their hands on the latest pair of Air Jordans. Yemi Bamiro and Will Thorne capture all of this in their recently released documentary One Man and His Shoes. We recently caught up with Yemi and Will from their homes in London and Berlin. Time Stamps: 3:13 – The film we are talking about today – One Man And His Shoes. 6:10 – The film’s release. 7:50 – The synopsis of the film. 10:00 – What things were like at Nike before Michael Jordan’s sneaker deals. 13:07 – First clip: the state of the market before the Jordan phenomenon. 15:04 – The role of Sonny Vaccaro in creating Air Jordan. 19:10 – The people who are featured in the film. 21:16 – Second clip: the roots of making Michael Jordan a cultural icon. 24:11 – The role of Spike Lee in the Jordan phenomenon. 29:50 – How archive videos, graphics and animation are used in the film. 33:00 – The dark side of Air Jordan and an unfortunate legacy of the sneakers. 38:15 – How Air Jordan became the Ferrari of sneakers and a cultural currency. 44:35 – What attitude the filmmakers have towards all sides of the Air Jordan brand story. 50:58 – How long it took from the original idea to the complete documentary. 56:00 – Where the film is being distributed and shown. 1:00:01 – The perspective of Yemi and Will as UK filmmakers on a quintessential American story. 1:06:35 – Whether there were any reactions from Nike and Michael Jordan on the film. 1:09:28 – What is next for Yemi and Will as first-time filmmakers. 1:16:44 – How to get in touch with Yemi and Will. Resources: One Man And His Shoes (2020) Break Em Films Sole Man (2015) Your Sneakers or Your Life by Rick Telander This Is Distorted Alamo Pictures Connect with Yemi Bamiro: Website Instagram Connect with Will Thorne: Instagram Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In our final episode of Season One, we’re joined by John Lewis, aka Badass Vegan. John’s upcoming documentary, They’re Trying to Kill Us, touches on so many of the issues that we’ve looked at this year on the podcast – factory farming, race and Big Pharma, just to name a few – but this time through the unique lens of hip hop. They’re Trying to Kill Us explores the connections between diet, poverty and systemic racism. As well as looking at veganism, we discuss Big Pharma and the link between mind and body.  John’s life is literally the material for a great movie, as we found out recently when we joined John from his home in Wilmington, North Carolina. “I don’t think we can wait for the governments and the rich to make a change. We have to make the change ourselves.” – John Lewis Time Stamps: 03:25 – Who John is and the importance of his name. 05:40 – The issues we’re going to talk about today. 07:29 – How much of the project is left to film. 10:02 – How Keegan and John started working together. 12:05 – A brief synopsis of the film. 15:54 – Why John went vegan. 18:05 – The importance of not getting too stressed. 19:13 – John’s holistic approach towards health. 23:07 – Who John thinks should become vegan. 24:45 – The benefits of going vegan. 27:03 – The amount of land that is cleared to grow soybeans for animals. 29:03 – What John hopes to achieve with this documentary. 34:27 – How John got so many big names involved in the film. 39:45 – The way food cultures have been shaped by the rich. 44:44 – How people can help resolve some of these issues. 49:10 – What keeps John driven and motivated. 52:45 – The importance of self-love. 54:41 – How to connect with John online.  Resources: They’re Trying to Kill Us Globalisation of Factory Farming Eating Animals, Factory Farming and the Pandemic Alamo Pictures This Is Distorted Connect with John Lewis: Website Instagram Twitter Facebook Connect with Keegan Kuhn: First Spark Media Facebook Instagram Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 The history of jazz dance is the history of America. That history is not well documented, however, especially when it comes to the leading role played by African Americans. In Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, filmmakers Khadifa Wong and Zak Nemorin trace jazz dance back to its roots in Africa, and follow its evolution up to the present. Along the way Khadifa and Zack address difficult subjects such as appropriation, racism and sexism within this quintessential American art form, and in the process shine a light on this chapter in America’s history. But in the end, their film is a celebration of this most human of art forms, where as they say, “what all people have in common is rhythm and a basic human need to get down”. “ Whether it was jazz, whether it’s hip hop, there are cultures that step out of oppression, and out of wanting to speak out, and jazz dance was just an iteration of that.” – Khadifa Wong Time Stamps: 1:55 – The film we are talking about today. 3:15 – When and where the film premiered. 4:27 – How Khadifa and Zack are spending their time in London. 6:00 – What is jazz dance? 8:35 – What is social dance? 13:28 – The roots of jazz dance. 15:20 – How this art form got appropriated by Hollywood. 17:29 – The question of ownership of jazz dance and its branches. 23:08 – “Uprooted” as an artistic exploration of American history. 25:24 – How Zack got started with the idea for this project. 31:32 – Tension between schools of dance; the connection between dance and protest. 33:40 – Watching the alternative trailer for the film. 36:24 – Where the future of jazz dance is going. 39:40 – The timeliness of the film in the context of the BLM movement. 44:13 – How Khadifa and Zack got into jazz dance. 50:30 – The perspective that Zack and Khadifa gave to the film as British filmmakers. 53:00 – Famous artists that are featured in the film. 55:20 – Who the director of photography is. 58:50 – The next projects Zack and Khadifa are working on. Resources: Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance (2020) Follow the film on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram I Am Not Your Negro: Racism In The US Alamo Pictures This Is Distorted Connect With Khadifa Wong: Website Instagram Facebook Connect with Zak Nemorin: Facebook Twitter Instagram Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 For those of us who grew up in the 1980s and 90s, the arcade was a home away from home. And most likely we were playing a video game that was the creative genius of a scrappy group of renegade designers in Chicago. In his film Insert Coin (2020), director Josh Tsui captures what it was like for the fellows at Midway Games to revolutionize the video game industry. And along the way, Josh perfectly captures 1990s pop culture. Insert Coin is an interesting take on the arcade gaming world, showing us its business side and how games were designed to be addictive and suck in quarters.  “Once you make a game you can’t get that out of your system. It’s one of the most fulfilling and frustrating creative mediums out there and it’s intoxicating. ” – Josh Tsui Time Stamps: 03:39 – How things are going for Josh in Chicago. 04:49 – Where you can see the film right now. 06:40 – A brief synopsis of Insert Coin. 07:56 – What arcade games were like when they first came out and how they evolved. 09:21 – Eugene Jarvis’s influence on the gaming industry. 10:20 – The creation of ‘Narc’. 12:14 – Our first clip showing how Narc revolutionised the gaming industry. 14:35 – How Narc was the kickstarter to live-action animation gaming. 16:47 – The creation of Mortal Kombat. 19:23 – How Josh made contact with so many of the game developers. 20:16 – A clip from the film showing what Mortal Kombat was all about. 24:16 – A clip showing the success of the game NBA Jam. 26:17 – What made the arcade industry obsolete. 28:16 – Our last clip from the show showing the economics of arcade games. 29:24 – How the business model for arcades worked. 32:30 – What the film is really about. 35:41 – How management of gaming companies has changed over years. 37:49 – How Josh got started making video games. 40:31 – What drove him to make this film.  44:55 – What it’s like working in the gaming industry. 46:29 – Why they couldn’t interview Ed Boon. 47:50 – How they’ve had to adapt the film’s release because of the virus. 52:23 – The projects Josh is working on next.   Resources: Midway Games Insert Coin Website Follow Insert Coin on Twitter and Facebook Eugene Jarvis Narc Mortal Kombat NBA Jam Alamo Pictures Connect with Josh Tsui: Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 What is it about old abandoned buildings that can be so compelling and alluring? We find out today as we welcome filmmakers Jake Williams and John Shaw to the podcast. Their film Closed For Storm is about a theme park left for ruin in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago. Closed For Storm shows Six Flags New Orleans in its glory days and current state of abject dereliction. Along the way, the film also captures the broken dreams and fleeting aspirations of a community still looking for hope. We find Jake and John in the eye of a different kind of storm in the summer of 2020, as they join us from their homes in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They tell us how they got legal access to the property, and why so many of us share a fascination with abandoned buildings. We also talk about how the virus has affected the film industry and what the release of the documentary will look like as film festivals shut down worldwide… “When Katrina was happening nobody’s minds were on how the theme park was doing. But once the helicopter images came out of the park underwater, it was staggering. They took whatever was valuable, left and abandoned the property.” – Jake Williams Time Stamps: 04:17 – Introducing the filmmakers and how things are for both of them at the moment. 06:06 – When and how the film will be released during the pandemic. 08:05 – What the film is about. 10:03 – John’s connection with the area Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans was in. 13:30 – Where the idea came from to build the park. 14:05 – Our first clip showing the origins of Jazzland/Six Flags. 16:22 – The independent nature of Jazzland and their fight with Six Flags. 19:02 – What it was like living through hurricane Katrina. 21:55 – What happened to the park after Katrina. 23:46 – Our second clip showing what the park is like today. 26:36 – How they gained access to the park. 29:30 – Our third clip showing the East of New Orleans and how the park affected that area.34:10 – What the underlying message of the film is. 37:20 – What makes abandoned buildings so interesting and how Jake got involved with the ‘abandoned scene’. 42:53 – Where Jake sees his future heading. 44:27 – How John got involved with Closed For Storm. 46:37 – The biggest challenges involved with making the film. 48:26 – How they set up their sound team for the film. 50:05 – What Jake and John are both looking at doing after this. 53:20 – What the future of film festivals looks like. 55:26 – The future of online streaming services. 1:04:21 – The ways disinformation is so easily spread these days. 1:07:05 – What the situation is like in the U.K. 1:11:36 – What it’s like living in America during the pandemic.  Resources:  Bright Sun Films Follow Bright Sun Films on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube Closed For Storm Alamo Pictures Connect with John Shaw: Email Connect with Jake Williams: YouTube Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 The US is a nation of immigrants. And there’s no better example of this than Hamtramck, Michigan, America’s first Muslim-majority city. No bigger than two square miles, Hamtramck is home to a myriad of nationalities and ethnic groups. Over 30 different languages can be heard on its streets. Using a city government election as a backdrop, producers and directors Justin Feltman and Razi Jafri eloquently capture the dynamism stemming from successive waves of immigration. Is America a melting pot or a mosaic? Or does it matter what we call it? We find out as we catch up with Justin and Razi from their homes in Washington, DC, and Hamtramck, Michigan. They tell us how they managed to gain such unprecedented access, and formed such close relationships with their subjects. Hamtramck, USA is a deep dive into multiculturalism and what the future landscape of America could look like. “Our nation is changing. Our demographics are changing very quickly and there’s a lot to be learnt from places like Hamtramck” – Razi Jafri Time Stamps: 02:56 – The multicultural nature of America. 03:41 – Meeting our guests. 05:26 – Hamtramck USA and where it’s being released. 08:35 – The issues with Hamtramck being a Muslim-majority city. 09:45 – What the film is about. 11:50 – The inspiration behind the film was. 13:24 – The shifting demographics of the city and how these affected the election. 18:20 – How Razi and Justin gained access and built such good relationships with the locals.21:02 – The underlying lessons the documentary examines. 24:02 – Our first clip on the last in a hundred year line of polish mayors. 28:12 – What Justin expected to see when he first went to Hamtramck. 30:36 – The lessons Razi wants viewers to take away from the film. 33:46 – The strong role of religion in Hamtramck and how that affects the urban soundscape.37:29 – How having mixed religions in a community still gives residents a shared commonality.39:19 – Whether America is a melting pot or a mosaic, and which should we strive for. 44:01 – Opportunities for documentaries as educational tools. 45:40 – The uncertainty there is with reopening film festivals. 47:06 – The films the two of them are now working on. 50:02 – Who Justin’s and Razi’s main influences are.  Resources:  Hamtramck, USA Hamtramck Documentary on Twitter and Facebook Alamo Pictures Connect with Justin Feltman: LinkedIn Instagram Twitter Connect with Razi Jafri: LinkedIn Facebook Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In 1976, Sylvester Stallone was a struggling actor with a big dream and the courage of his convictions. That dream became Rocky, one of the most iconic films of all time. Using home movies shot mostly by the director John Avildsen, director and producer Derek Wayne Johnson perfectly captures the moment when Sylvester Stallone became a superstar. 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known in the USA and Canada, or Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known everywhere else, reminds us that while Sylvester Stallone is known for a lot of things, consummate filmmaker should be first among them. We caught up recently with Derek from East Texas. Not only does he give us insights on what it is like to work closely with Sylvester Stallone, but we learn how he too has chased his own dreams to success in Hollywood. “I think he’s a genius and I stand by that. Because this is a guy who is not only a wonderful actor, but also wonderful writer who writes from the heart, which is very rare.” – Derek Wayne Johnson Time Stamps: 2:02 – Introducing our guest and what we are talking about today. 4:15 – Where people can watch 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic. 5:50 – What it is like working with Sylvester Stallone. 7:20 – What the film is about, which footage was used, and who was involved in the production. 9:20 – How the idea came for making the film came about. 14:30 – Why we have a wrong impression of Sylvester Stallone based on his most famous roles. 18:51 – How Sylvester Stallone did the narrated commentary in one take. 21:01 – The story of how the ice rink scene in Rocky was shot. 26:05 – How Derek became the documentarian for Sly Stallone and his family. 28:05 – What inspired Derek to become a filmmaker. 31:05 – The family storytelling tradition that still exists in Texas. 33:00 – The story of how Derek got into documentaries. 38:00 – What Derek’s other film, Stallone: Frank, That Is, is about. 41:00 – How the Coronavirus pushed back the release of Stallone: Frank, That Is. 43:31 – What is so special about the musicians of Frank Stallone’s and the doo-wop generation.47:00 – How the film industry is changing in the COVID-19 environment. 49:00 – What Derek’s next documentary is about. Resources: 40 Years Of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020) Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020) Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Rocky Movies (IMDb) Cinema 83 Entertainment John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2017) Alamo Pictures Connect with Derek Wayne Johnson: Facebook Twitter Instagram Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In the late 1950s, doo-wop music took America by storm. And its legacy lasts to this day in the music of such recording artists as Bruno Mars and Meghan Trainor.  Award-winning director and producer Brent Wilson is shining a light on this genre of pop music. Using original interviews with doo-wop recording artists, and those they influenced, Brent’s documentary Streetlight Harmonies perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the 50s and early 60s.  Doo-wop originated with African-American teenagers on the street corners of urban America – places like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit. With the rise of vocal harmony singing, teenagers started recording music for themselves for the first time in history.  However, these teenagers had to face up to racism, predatory producers and the pressures of being in the spotlight. Looking back on their lives, they reveal a love and passion for their music that inspires us to this day. “I wanted it to feel fresh, I wanted it to feel present. My goal was it would be seen by people who don’t like doo-wop music.”  – Brent Wilson Time Stamps: 02:29 – The emergence of doo-wop and Brent’s aim of making doo-wop well-known again. 03:23 – Where Brent has been during the lockdown and what it’s been like for him. 04:22 – Where you can watch the documentary. 05:01 – What the film is about. 06:12 – Where the term ‘doo-wop’ came from. 07:21 – First clip showing the beginnings of doo-wop. 09:53 – The idea of singing on the street corner. 10:55 – The different places people used to sing. 11:59 – The origins of doo-wop. 13:31 – Second clip showing why people used to sing on the streets. 16:04 – What the motivation was for women singers. 18:07 – Other issues the film brings up, and how lots of children were duped. 22:22 – The issues of racism that many of these young artists had to face. 23:35 – Third clip showing the racism the performers encountered in the South. 26:53 – How some incredible songs were covered by whites, and butchered in the process. 28:53 – What the legacy of vocal harmony music is today. 31:05 – How Brent got involved with the film. 32:50 – The respect that doo-wop deserves. 37:36 – The difficulties involved with the production and release of the film. 42:25 – Brent’s documentary about Brian Wilson, and the Beach Boys. 48:36 – What makes doo-wop artists different to other modern artists.  Resources: Streetlight Harmonies (2020) Pre-order Streetlight Harmonies Original Soundtrack ‘Classic Black Vinyl’ Streetlight Harmonies on Facebook Streetlight Harmonies on Instagram Alamo Pictures Connect with Brent Wilson: LinkedIn Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In the 1970s Camp Jened was not just any old summer camp in the Catskills. Hippy values, the Grateful Dead and pot smoking shaped this utopia for teens with disabilities.   Before long, a generation of summer campers with disabilities became a social movement that soon changed the world. We welcome Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, co-directors of the Netflix documentary Crip Camp, to the podcast. Jim and Nicole share their experiences making a documentary about one of the most compelling, previously untold stories of our time. In the process, we find out what it is like to work with executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama. Jim and Nicole also discuss the next items on the agenda for disability rights. “I had no mental model for imagining disability communities, and I didn’t have any mental model for thinking about wild, horny teenagers listening to Bob Dylan at a summer camp. It was just joyous.” – Nicole Newnham Time Stamps: 03:26 – What Camp Jened was, and the impact it had on the world.   06:25 – What the film Crip Camp is really about. 08:30 – Jim talks about what it is like seeing your life on screen. 11:15 – Jim relays his experiences as a disabled child and teen in the 1960s and 70s. 13:08 – Why a lot of people don’t know about the disability rights movement and Camp Jened.17:05 – First clip: footage from Camp Jened. 19:42 – How Nicole managed to get the footage from the camp. 23:48 – Where the name ‘Crip Camp’ came from. 27:51 – Judy Heumann, the disability rights movement and why her story remained untold. 31:26 – Second clip: Judy shuts down Madison Avenue. 34:26 – How Nicole got involved with the making of the film. 37:53 – How Jim and Nicole shaped the story to focus on the disability rights movement. 38:28 – How Higher Ground got involved, and what it was like working with the Obamas. 41:57 – How COVID-19 has affected the release of the film. 43:45 – Current issues facing the disability community. 45:35 – The impact Nicole hopes the film will have. 46:55 – Advice to parents with children who have disabilities. 47:50 – Future projects Jim is working on. 48:24 – What Nicole’s future looks like.  Resources: Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution Higher Ground Productions Alamo Pictures This Is Distorted  Connect with Jim LeBrecht: TwitterFacebook Connect with Nicole Newnham: Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 Stewart Brand has been at the forefront of multiple societal trends since the 1960s, and now he’s trying to bring back the woolly mammoth and other species from extinction.  Is this folly or is he once again ahead of the curve?  Stewart might just be one of the most influential people that none of us have heard of.  He travelled around with the novelist Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. Afterwards, he kick-started the modern environmental movement, by pressuring NASA to release a satellite image of the earth.  Stewart’s Whole Earth Catalog inspired a whole generation, including Steve Jobs. As if that was not enough, Stewart went on to mentor the early pioneers of Silicon Valley. We talk to the directors of We Are As Gods, David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, about Stewart’s life and the different inspirational movements he has been involved with.  Since the coronavirus has delayed the releasing of the documentary, we also discuss how the pandemic has affected the film industry as a whole. And we learn what it is like to have your premier at SXSW cancelled at the last minute.  “We are as gods and we might as well get good at it.” – Stewart Brand Time Stamps: 03:06 – A short background of Stewart Brand. 04:04 – Where David and Jason are based. 04:42 – How the riots have been affecting them. 06:42 – Who Stewart Brand is. 08:26 – Stewart’s involvement with Ken Kesey and the 1960s counterculture movement. 11:40 – The first satellite picture of the earth and Stewart’s role in the environmental movement. 15:26 – The Whole Earth Catalogue and how to rebuild society. 18:30 – What Stewart meant by saying ‘We are as gods’. 21:45 – How Stewart changed his message as the production of the film progressed. 23:02 – The first clip and the history of the hackers conference. 26:00 – The De-extinction Movement. 29:28 – What the film is really about. 32:14 – Whether Stewart is happy and his experiences with depression. 36:11 – How David and Jason got involved with the project. 39:26 – Interviewing Brian Eno and using his music on the documentary. 43:10 – The 10,000-year clock. 45:00 – How David and Jason collaborated with their post-production team. 47:26 – How the coronavirus has disrupted the release of the film. 50:17 – The endless difficulties involved with marketing a film without film festivals. 53:15 – Different people’s reactions to the film’s delayed release.  Resources: We Are As Gods The Merry Pranksters The Whole Earth Catalogue Alamo Pictures Connect with David Alvarado: Website Twitter Connect with Jason Sussberg: Website Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
   Baywatch was a 1990s phenomenon well ahead of its time, going ‘viral’ long before there was something called social media.  Director and producer Matt Felker is an acclaimed observer of pop culture and social media trends. As a result, Matt is making a documentary that takes a serious look at Baywatch – a show that still resonates with a global audience 20 years later.  Recently, Factual America caught up with Matt, producer Nicole Eggert, who played Summer Quinn on the show, and Jeremy Jackson, who played Hobie Buchannon. Besides sharing their experiences and memories of Baywatch, they explain how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting their day-to-day lives and their ability to complete production on the documentary.  Moreover, all three examine why Baywatch became the most watched TV show in the world. In addition, Nicole and Jeremy share with complete candour what it was like being child actors and the ‘family’ they have built around Baywatch. “I’ve been in the trailer when packages of cocaine and alcohol arrived. I’ve seen the predators around the kids. Baywatch wasn’t like that, it was very different to a lot of sets I’ve been on in my life.” – Nicole Eggert Time Stamps: 03:17 – The history of Baywatch meeting our guests. 04:50 – How the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting Matt and production. 07:01 – Jeremy’s experience of the lockdown. 09:08 – Nicole’s experience with having kids at home during the lockdown.  12:08 – Why Matt decided to make a Baywatch documentary. 16:24 – Why Nicole was so keen to get involved. 17:54 – How Jeremy got contacted for the documentary. 21:42 – The layers behind the movie, and people’s careers after being on the show. 27:56 – Our first clip, showing the lives of Nicole and Jeremy. 29:47 – The intellectual side of Baywatch. 32:50 – A funny story from the filming of the documentary. 42:41 – Baywatch’s brand and how it influenced 1990s culture. 45:15 – How modern day culture references back to the 90s. 46:28 – Could Baywatch be made today? 47:59 – How they’re going to finish the documentary in light of social distancing measures. 54:19 – How fanatical Baywatch’s European fans were. 58:14 – Why this show was much more successful in Europe than it was in America. 59:50 – The hardships with being a child actor. 1:03:15 – The risks involved on most film sets, and how Baywatch was different. 1:05:04 – How much of a role David Hasselhoff played in creating the show.  Resources: Baywatch the Documentary (IMDB) This Is Distorted Alamo Pictures  Connect with Matt Felker: Twitter Connect with Jeremy Jackson: Instagram Connect with Nicole Eggert: Instagram Facebook  
 Natalie Wood was an iconic American actress, featuring in many influential Hollywood movies in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Her life was tragically cut short when she drowned at the age of 43.  Today we talk with Laurent Bouzereau, the director and producer of the recently released HBO documentary Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020). The film explores Natalie’s life and career through the unique perspective of her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and others who knew her best. Had she lived, Natalie Wood would have undoubtedly become one of the most influential Hollywood figures of our time.  The impact she left on the industry she loved so much is nothing short of remarkable. She was an incredible woman, glamorous and relatable, who was ahead of her time, and tragically died far too young.  “If you don’t like Natalie Wood, you don’t like cinema. If you don’t know Natalie Wood, you don’t know cinema.” – Laurent Bouzereau Time Stamps: 02:48 – Introduction to the film ‘Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind’. 03:20 – Meeting our guest, the director Laurent Bouzereau. 04:44 – Who Natalie Wood was, and the autobiographical nature of her films. 09:55 – How well her films have aged. 11:46 – How Natalie still influences people today. 14:04 – How she helped Robert Redford’s career take off. 17:43 – Why it doesn’t matter that Natalie never won an Oscar. 19:57 – Our first clip from the film, showing how Natalie got to choose some of her roles. 21:31 – Reflecting on how relatable and ‘normal’ Natalie’s personal life was. 27:50 – The love Natalie had for her work. 33:26 – Our second clip of the film, showing how normal Natalie’s home life was. 34:47 – Why this movie matters today. 39:23 – How Laurent got involved with the project and the hardships he encountered. 47:55 – The controversies that surrounded Natalie’s death. 49:41 – The theme  of ‘triumph over loss’ in the film. 51:59 – The reason why Laurent was never seen as an outsider in the US. 55:46 – The new projects Laurent is now focusing on.  Resources: Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind Brainstorm Actor Robert Redford Alamo Pictures Connect with Laurent Bouzereau: Instagram Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 The Hart Family had the perfect American life. At least, that is what their social media accounts showed the world. But the reality was very different.  A Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy documents a family’s spiral into abuse and despair. Ultimately, Jennifer and Sarah Hart decided to drive their family SUV off a cliff, killing them and their six adopted children.  How could this happen? The Harts’ social media accounts were full of beautiful images – playing in the garden with the kids, trips out on a frozen lake or cozy nights by the fire. And everyone thought they were living the perfect American life.  As the film reveals, however, Jen and Sarah Hart carefully curated their family’s online personas. As a result, they were able to hide a life of mental illness and abuse. That life eventually led to the tragic loss of their six innocent children.  We caught up recently with the filmmakers, producer Rachel Morgan and executive producer Chuck Lewis. As they point out, A Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy provides us with valuable lessons about social media, our society and the American adoption system. Rachel and Chuck note that our society’s addiction to social media is damaging our mental health. “This story needed to be told. There were a lot of people speculating, a lot of very strong feelings.” – Chuck Lewis Time Stamps: 02:19 – What ‘A Tread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy’ is about and what it teaches us. 02:52 – How our guests are handling the lockdown conditions. 04:21 – The tragic story behind the film. 05:59 – What caused this tragedy to happen. 08:32 – The first clip: The Hart children. 12:59 – Who are the interviewees and what are their connections to the story. 14:07 – What the documentary really is about: social media addiction. 17:32 – The second clip: the psychological effects of social media on the family. 21:39 – How the filmmakers managed to get access to family footage. 23:34 – How Rachel got involved with the production of the film. 26:33 – How Chuck got involved with the project. 28:46 – The backlash to the film and its effects on Rachel and the filmmakers. 32:00 – The timeline for producing the film. 32:43 – Why people choose to ‘troll’ these types of films. 36:00 – Some of the problems with the adoption system in America. 39:10 – The different lessons that the film provides. 41:43 – The final clip: the pitfalls of social media. 43:51 – Who Christopher Worth is, and how he brings people together. 46:20 – How the release of the film went. 47:16 – Where the film can be streamed. 48:22 – What Chuck’s goal is looking into the future.  Resources: A Thread Of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy Worth Music Alamo Pictures  Connect with Rachel Morgan: Website Connect with Chuck Lewis: LinkedIn Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 Cowboys are as American as hot dogs and apple pie. But what is life like for the modern-day American cowboy? Filmed on eight of the nation’s largest cattle ranches across ten states in the American West, Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait (2019) provides an intimate look at life in the modern world for this most American of icons.  A cowboy’s life has always been one of solitude and hard work. This is still the case.  Even as they adapt to modernity, the modern-day cowpoke provides us with lessons in how to cope with isolation. But with cell phones and the internet becoming commonplace on the range, some long for the “good old days”. The filmmakers behind this ode to the modern-day cowboy join Factual America to tell their compelling story. How did the filmmakers create such an intimate portrait? How did they gain ranchers’ trust while capturing the magnificence of the American West? Director Bud Force is a former rodeo cowboy. His co-director, John Langmore, is a former working cowboy who spent five years photographing life on “big outfit” ranches. Bud and John are joined on the podcast by Feli Funke, creative producer and author of Gathering Remnants – a Tribute to The Working Cowboy (2020), Emmy award-winning editor Lucas J. Harger and Ian McLeod of Cleod9 Music. So join us, as we enter into the life of the modern cowboy… “We’ve created this career out of trying to create cinematic footage in difficult conditions in the field. Whether it’s cowboying, ice climbing, or shooting scuba diving, you have to operate light and fast.” – Bud Force Time Stamps: 02:56 – Today’s subject. 03:36 – Introducing the guests. 05:24 – Film festivals and awards. 06:31 – What the film is really about. 09:14 – The first clip: A truck driver and the harsh realities of cowboying. 14:03 – What life is like for American cowboys today. 17:06 – Second clip: How cowboying has changed in modern America. 19:35 – How ‘the cowboy’ is still a necessary role for raising cattle.  24:40 – The lessons to be learned from cowboy culture. 27:28 – Third clip, and it’s testimony to the importance of trust and teamwork. 31:21 – The story behind the making of the film. 34:58 – Making the book ‘Open Range…’, and spending time on ranches. 36:29 – The different types of cowboys, and the difficulty of gaining access to authentic ranches. 38:44 – The risks involved with filming on one of America’s largest cattle ranches. 41:26 – Bud’s production company, and how they deal with difficult shooting conditions. 43:50 – The challenges involved with keeping the authenticity of the film when editing footage. 45:59 – The way the film is structured and why this format was followed. 47:34 – When Ian got involved with making the soundtrack for the film. 49:40 – The importance of having an outsider’s perspective when working with footage. 52:14 – What the response from ranchers has been. 55:34 – The changes to production because of Covid-19 and the lockdown. 58:16 – Faced with these challenges, what would a cowboy do? 1:00:19 – How to watch the film and contact the team.  Resources: Cowboys: A Documentary Portrait Follow the film on Facebook Follow the film on Instagram Ultralite Films Cleod9 Music How to Draw out Authenticity in a Documentary Edit Alamo Pictures  Connect with Bud Force: Website Connect with John Langmore: Website Connect with Felicitas Funke: Website Connect with Lucas J. Harger: Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 Narrated by Samuel L Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro (2016) uses James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript to tell the horrific history of racism in America. Following the lives of three slain civil rights leaders, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr, Baldwin’s words still resonate today.  Since the beginning, race has defined America and racism permeates its politics to this day. To discuss the issue, Dr Richard Johnson, lecturer in US politics and international relations at Lancaster University, joins the podcast. Richard’s work examines the US’s increasingly racially polarised politics. He draws parallels between contemporary America and the end of the post-Civil War Reconstruction. Richard believes we are living in the twilight of the ‘second reconstruction’ – an era that began with the civil rights movement. Are there signs that a ‘third reconstruction’ is dawning? Despite the election of Barack Obama in 2008 – the US’s first black president – the 2010s were a decade of increasing racial polarisation. But with white, working class voters searching for an anti-establishment voice, could there be a glimmer of hope? “There are racial dimensions to all issues.” – Dr. Richard Johnson Time Stamps:00:54 – Today’s topic: racism in the US. 01:21 – Introducing our guest Dr. Richard Johnson. 03:17 – Today’s film: I Am Not Your Negro (2016). 03:55 – Why Richard chose this film. 05:43 – A brief synopsis of the film. 09:55 – The context and history of American racism. 15:15 – The Reconstruction and democracy in the South post-Civil War. 19:16 – Our first clip: Dick Cavett’s interview with James Baldwin. 21:36 – The ‘second reconstruction’ and the civil rights movement. 26:12 – The racial polarisation of political debates and policy decisions. 28:02 – Our second clip: James Baldwin looking at the real problem of racism in America. 31:40 – The future of race in American politics. 37:22 – Working class alienation and the potential for de-racialisation. 40:16 – Our last clip: James Baldwin’s advice that we need passion not numbers.  Resources:   I Am Not Your Negro (2016) The End of the Second Reconstruction: Obama, Trump and the Crisis of Civil Rights Alamo Pictures  Connect with Dr. Richard Johnson: Website Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 Warning: This Drug May Kill You (2017) by broadcast journalist Perri Peltz is a heart-wrenching account of opioid addiction in the US. Before the coronavirus, a different epidemic plagued America. Medical researchers will hopefully develop a vaccine for Covid-19 in the near future. But more than 2 million Americans remain addicted to opioids. Is there any hope in sight?  Norman Stone, award-winning director, producer and screenwriter, joins Factual America to discuss Peltz’s film. Norman has researched the opioid epidemic in America. Norman’s latest film, The Final Fix (2020), offers a glimmer of hope to the addicted. Warning: This Drug May Kill You shows how opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life. Americans who would never seek illicit drugs find themselves hooked on prescription painkillers. Many move on to heroin. The opioid epidemic costs the US economy many billions of dollars annually and destroys many lives. However, Norman says the problem is big pharma, which doles out trillions of dollars to the US medical establishment.  Inspired by Peltz’s film, Norman’s The Final Fix shows that there might be a relatively simple cure to opioid addiction – Neuroelectric Therapy (NET). But the authorities refuse to give NET a clinical trial.  “While they made billions upon billions of dollars out of this, they killed hundreds of  thousands, with cold calculated precision.” – Norman Stone Time Stamps: 01:28 – Saying “hello” to our guest Norman. 02:18 – Who Norman Stone is and his career as a filmmaker. 04:56 – The topic of today’s podcast: opioid addiction. 06:25 – The economic cost of the opioid epidemic in the US. 08:50 – The film we are discussing today and why Norman chose it. 11:46 – The importance of focusing on the truth. 14:00 – What opioids are, and why they were so readily prescribed. 18:15 – First clip: the main protagonist and how she ended up on the road of addiction. 23:00 – The deliberate way that people have been coerced into addiction. 24:52 – Second clip: how addiction can hit anyone, even those living the ‘American Dream’. 31:34 – Discussing the clip, and how it discreetly shames doctors. 33:13 – The ways doctors are manipulated by big pharma to sell opioids. 35:04 – What’s being done to address the opioid epidemic. 36:14 – Norman’s previous films on drug addiction and treatment. 37:30 – Neuroelectric Therapy (NET), and the documentary Norman made about it. 39:39 – The different ways there are to stop addiction. 41:24 – Scotland’s drug and alcohol problems, and the amazing success of NET. 45:42 – The trials in America, and their unbelievable success.  Resources: Warning: This Drug May Kill You The Final Fix Alamo Pictures  Connect with Norman Stone: Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In America religion and politics are inextricably linked, despite what the US Constitution might say. Using The Most Hated Family in America (2007) by Louis Theroux and its sequel, America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis (2011), Factual America explores the history of religion in US politics. Not only does religion polarise American society, but it also played a big role in determining the winner of the 2016 US presidential election. Will the same be true in 2020? Emma Long, Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia, joins the podcast to discuss the ways religion looms large in US politics. To help illustrate her points, Emma utilises Theroux’s films, which focus on the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. While nothing short of shocking, Theroux’s documentaries shine a bright light on belief in America and quintessentially American views of free speech. The films show firsthand Westboro’s protests at the funerals of American military service personnel. Are there limits to what can be considered offensive? Or is anything fair game when it comes to free speech and 1st Amendment rights? Explaining how religion continues to affect American politics to this day, Emma enlightens us with her research and expertise… “The US apparently has a separation of church and state, and yet every time you look at American politics religion is there.” – Emma Long Time Stamps: 00:59 – The topic we will be talking about today. 01:14 – Our guest Emma Long and the focus of her research. 02:04 – The role of religion in American politics. 02:52 – Today’s documentary: Louis Theroux’s films about Westboro Baptist Church. 03:27 – Why Emma chose this film. 05:30 – What The Most Hated Family In America is really about. 07:10 – Our first clip from the film: the Phelps family. 10:17 – The lack of unbiased documentaries that focus on mainstream religion. 12:58 – The debate over what the founding fathers wrote, and how it relates to religion. 16:40 – The links between conservative religious groups and the Republican Party. 19:26 – Why the Democrats are seen as a secular party. 21:33 – The need to be open about religion if you want to win in US politics. 23:45 – Westboro Baptist Church’s protests carried out at funerals of military personnel. 25:41 – A clip from the second film in the series: Westboro goes to the Supreme Court. 28:27 – The large number of Westboro members who are lawyers. 29:56 – The agreement of the Supreme Court that the protests were indeed legal. 31:00 – What role religion played in the 2016 election race. 33:03 – Why Trump was so successful with white Evangelicals. 34:56 – The separation of church and state, and its effects on elections. 37:05 – The polarisation of liberal and conservative politics. 39:32 – How religion is playing a role in the 2020 elections. 44:51 – How Americans’ relationship with religion is shifting. 48:24 – Emma’s time in Wisconsin and her impressions of religion in American.  Resources:  The Most Hated Family In America America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis Hail Satan? Alamo Pictures Connect with Emma Long: Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
   How many of us think about where the meat on our tables comes from? Well, we all should! That’s the message of Eating Animals (2017), produced and narrated by Natalie Portman and based on the best-selling book on factory farming by Jonathan Safran Froer. The film shines a light on corporate farming. Besides being inherently cruel to animals, it has destroyed entire ways of life and is devastating our environment. Now factory farming is threatening to kill us all by fostering a pandemic. However, those who blow the whistle face the wrath of this trillion-dollar industry.  In this episode we are joined by Phil Brooke, Research and Education Manager at Compassion in World Farming, who discusses how his organisation is fighting to change the way we think about raising livestock. Along the way, Phil and host Matthew Sherwood talk about what is being done to stop factory farming. And as the current pandemic shows us, at the very least we need to change the way we view our food and how we source it. “The more animals we keep, the worse we keep them, the more at risk we are of more of these diseases.” – Phil Brooke Time Stamps: 00:59 – Introducing today’s topic – factory farming. 01:18 – Introducing our guest, Phil Brooke. 01:34 – Who Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) are. 02:13 – What The Global Health Film Festival is about. 03:54 – What Eating Animals is about. 05:12 – What factory farming is. 06:29 – Introducing the first clip from the film. 09:08 – The global reach of factory farming. 10:38 – Why factory farming is uniquely inhumane. 11:43 – The steps that are being taken to stop it. 17:28 – Our second clip – whistleblowers and their impact. 23:33 – The role that CIWF played in raising the alarm about poultry farming. 33:01 – The USDA, inhumane testing and the immorality behind it. 35:30 – The third clip – a global pandemic. 41:56 – The massive levels of antibiotics needed to make factory farming viable. 47:38 – What are the solutions to feeding a growing population in a humane way. 50:14 – How to change people’s perspective on what they should eat. 54:10 – The importance of your daily eating habits.  Resources: Compassion in World Farming Eating Animals Official WebsiteEating Animals on Facebook, Twitter and InstagramThe Global Health Film Festival Dartmouth FilmsDartmouth Films on Facebook, Twitter and InstagramAlamo Pictures Connect with Phil Brooke: LinkedIn Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
   Is it ever right to kill someone? Are lethal injections really humane? Is capital punishment going to be around forever? In some parts of the world the US is infamous for its continued use of the death penalty. Using the BBC’s Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution as a backdrop, Dr Vivien Miller discusses the history of capital punishment in America. In doing so, she reveals how the death penalty divides the US along several different fault lines: race, gender, religion and region. The first episode in a four-part series, Life and Death Row – The Mass Execution is a riveting and heartbreaking account of recent events that unfolded in Arkansas as drugs used in legal injections were soon to become unavailable.  The state planned to execute eight men in ten days, leading to a heated debate about the complicated legal, moral, and social factors that are involved in these kinds of decisions. With lives on the line, and issues of racism arising, this is what some would call a ‘21st-century injustice’… “It’s much more likely that a black defendant with a white victim will end up with an execution.” – Dr Vivien Miller Time Stamps: 00:54 – The topic we are looking at today: capital punishment. 01:25 – Meeting our guest Dr Vivien Miller.03:21 – The documentary that we are looking at today. 04:08 – Why Vivien chose this film. 05:08 – What the film is about. 07:22 – Our first clip, featuring Jeff Rosenzweig, the lawyer for three of the convicted inmates 10:40 – Why the death penalty is still prevalent in the US. 13:40 – Our second clip, where different people say why they support death penalty 15:58 – The reason some people stay on death row for such a long period of time. 18:37 – The issues with some of the inmates’ original trials. 20:55 – The racial discrimination that’s prevalent in death penalty sentencing. 22:22 – Why the death penalty is so prevalent in the South. 26:52 – The supply problems with some of the lethal injection drugs over the last 10 years. 29:53 – When lethal injections don’t work. 30:45 – The argument that lethal injections are a cruel and unusual punishment. 31:27 – Our final clip, showing the advocacy group for abolition of capital punishment. 35:02 – What the future of capital punishment will look like in the US. 37:55 – Why capital punishment increased so much at the beginning of the 20th century. 40:25 – Why the use of the death penalty decreased after 1940.  Resources: Life and Death Row, The Mass Execution SoHo Radio Alamo Pictures Connect with Dr Vivien Miller: Website Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 An Inconvenient Truth (2006) won two Academy Awards, and turned former Vice President of the United States Al Gore into an international celebrity. More importantly, it brought climate change and global warming to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Drawing on his own research, our guest Dr James Lyons shows how director Davis Guggenheim uses performance to dramatically animate risk in the film. In doing so, does he change the focus, away from climate change? Do the camera lights instead shine more brightly on the former senator from Tennessee, rather than the existential threat facing our planet?  Time Stamps: 00:58 – Introducing the guest and our topic: the animation of risk in modern documentary film 01:45 – Dr James Lyons’ background and work 04:40 – What documentary performance and risk research is about 06:04 – Two documentary films we will be looking at today and why James chose them 08:37 – Synopses of Inconvenient Truth and an Inconvenient Sequel 10:45 – Commentary on Al Gore and his performance as a presidential candidate in 2000 11:50 – Watching the first clip from Inconvenient Truth on climate change 13:10 – Why James chose this clip 15:40 – How the trailers for both films present the risk of climate change 18:40 – Watching the clip from Inconvenient Sequel on the terrorist attack in Paris in 2015 22:00 – James’ commentary on the clip and why he chose it 25:50 – How Inconvenient Truth is actually about Al Gore and not climate change 27:50 – Trying to keep a documentary on topic, and the influence of performance and risk 30:00 – The beginning of a successful wave of independent documentary filmmaking in America 36:45 – Commentary on James Lyons’ interactive documentary Risk Taker’s Guide 39:20 – Commentary on James’ book and different categories of risk Resources: An Inconvenient Truth (2006) An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (2017) The Risk Takers Survival Guide Documentary, Performance and Risk, a book by James Lyons Free Solo (2018) Roger And Me (1989) Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) Factual America Ep #03: Alex Gibney’s Theranos Scandal Documentary Connect with Factual America:FacebookInstagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood:FacebookLinkedInTwitter
   As a tribute to documentary film pioneer DA Pennebaker, who passed away in August 2019, Factual America explores his groundbreaking Dont Look Back (1967), considered one of the best documentary films of all time. Dr Stella Bruzzi, author of the acclaimed New Documentary, demonstrates how the film about Bob Dylan is a shining example of the direct cinema style pioneered by Pennebaker and in the process shows us why people like Michael Moore have called him the “grandfather of modern American documentary filmmaking.” “It’s a scientific truism, that the minute you look at something or intervene you change it, and it doesn’t mean to say it’s untruthful…it’s just a different truth.” – Stella Bruzzi Time Stamps: 01:14 – Who Professor Bruzzi is and what she’s done.02:09 – DA Pennebaker, and some examples of the films he’s worked on.03:28 – Why Dr Bruzzi decided to focus on the film ‘Dont Look Back’.05:17 – A brief synopsis of the film.07:23 – What ‘Dont Look Back’ is really about.08:52 – Analysing the ‘lightbulb’ clip.15:25 – The dismissal of Joan Baez, and Pennebaker’s clever take on this.19:46 – The ‘Joan Baez singing’ clip.21:37 – How Dylan and Baez both appear in this scene.23:36 – The beginnings of observational documentaries, and their limitations.27:17 – Pennebaker’s awareness of Dylan’s performance.29:08 – The ‘Donovan’s song and Dylan’s reply’ clip.31:45 – Our interpretations of the clip.36:12 – The cult of personality surrounding Bob Dylan.38:10 – The legacy of the film and of Pennebaker.42:25 – The uniquely American aspects of the film.44:50 – The legacy of direct cinema. Resources: Dont Look Back New Documentary: A Critical Introduction Alamo Pictures  Connect with Factual America: Instagram Twitter Connect with Dr Stella Bruzzi: Website Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Twitter 
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Podcast Details

Created by
Factual America Podcast
Podcast Status
Jan 10th, 2020
Latest Episode
Sep 15th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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