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Cesar Chavez Film Premiers at Newseum

MSNBC’s Alex Wagner and Voto Latino’s Maria Theresa Kumar will be on hand at the Newseum next Tuesday for the DC premier of the film Cesar Chavez, about the labor leader and civil rights activist. Along with cast members America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson, and Director Diego Luna, they will have a discussion after the film about Chavez’ legacy.

CNN Picks Up Jose Antonio Vargas Doc

As part of its CNN Films initiative, which brought Blackfish and The Assassination of President Kennedy to the airwaves, CNN will broadcast DOCUMENTED, a feature film detailing the life of former WaPo reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas was part of the Pulitzer Prize winning team of reporters who covered the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech and he famously outed himself as an illegal immigrant in 2011 in a New York Times Magazine essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.”

“Immigration, to me, is not a political issue, it’s not a Latino or Asian issue – it’s an American story,” said Vargas, who wrote and directed the doc, in a press release.  

Vargas was sent to the United States from the Philippines by his mother at age 12 to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, Calif.  After attending San Francisco State University, he worked at newspapers in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, and at the Post -all while keeping his true citizenship status a secret.

CNN will air the documentary in mid 2014, but according to Vargas’ Twitter page, it will be in theaters before then.

Washington Monthly’s Charlie Peters: This is Your Life

photo-29Washington Monthly‘s founding editor, Charlie Peters, short and slightly hunched over with a shock of white, silken Washington hair, was a man of few words Thursday afternoon at the New America Foundation as he watched a documentary about his own life.

A little like showing up for your own funeral. But his reaction didn’t require words, really. It was all in his shoulders.

Sitting in the front row of a small packed room with a screen, his shoulders shook up and down in dramatic spasms as he laughed and laughed while reporters recalled what it was like to have him as their editor.

And it wasn’t always pretty. Read more

Doc Explains ‘How Washington Really Works’

charlieproject_wallA debut screening of the new documentary film, “How Washington Really Works: Charlie Peters and the Washington Monthly” is set for next week at the New America Foundation. A reception and conversation on the role of the Washington Monthly and media in politics will follow.

Filmmaker Norman Kelley, who will be on hand at the event, explores the life and career of Peters and his influence on the journalism industry. Peters’ career began in 1969 after he left the Peace Corps.

The film highlights how Peters ran the Washington Monthly on a “shoe-string budget.” According to a release, it features candid memories by some of today’s leading journalists of their own experiences under Peters “tough love” approach to editing,  and humorous demonstrations of his legendary editing technique called “rain dancing.” The doc also examines the culture and dysfunction of Washington, D.C. and the media.

Washington’s media dysfunctional? Who thinks that?

See which D.C. journos have cameos… Read more

Virgin’s Branson to Address War on Drugs


Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, the English business magnate and founder of Virgin Group, will visit Washington Wednesday to discuss the global war on drugs. He’ll talk about the current state of affairs left behind by what he says is the failed war on drugs. Subtopics will include the negative impacts of the costly war, and the setbacks on the fight against drug addiction and substance abuse.

There will be a special screening of the groundbreaking documentary, “Breaking the Taboo,” narrated by Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman. The film calls for an honest and open debate about drug laws, encouraging viewers to break the taboo on a subject that has been ignored for too long.

For more on the panel and “Breaking the Taboo,” follow the jump.

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A Journo Interviews Weiner’s Ex-Phone Sex Girlfriend: What Was it Like?

Heading to Vegas to hunt down former Rep. Anthony Weiner‘s (D-N.Y.) ex-phone sex girlfriend isn’t the worst gig in the world. Her name: Lisa Weiss. She’s a blackjack dealer who works at a major casino on the strip. The casino has threatened her with termination if she does additional media interviews. But what the hell? Throw caution to the wind. This was a documentary film, and The Hill‘s political reporter Alex Bolton was up for the task. His employer allowed him to take a break from his congressional duties to freelance for Stateless Media, a new Washington, D.C.-based film company that produces short films on political and international matters.

Many of the questions he asked were concocted before he flew out there. For the shoot, they had to line up a cameraman and a sound guy, and Weiss insisted on Stateless Media getting someone to do her makeup. Her nocturnal schedule allowed for a late-night interview that stretched out for nearly three hours, lasting until 1 a.m. Naturally they smoked cigs and drank wine throughout.

“Hey, it was Thursday night in Vegas — the city is one big party and what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas,” Bolton told FishbowlDC.

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‘Chutzpah!’ A New Film on Anthony Weiner

Just when you thought all the mindblowing clips on New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner were caput, we have “Chutzpah!” a new documentary film by Stateless Media.

The film was produced by Peter Savodnik and reported by The Hill‘s Alex Bolton.

“HEY TELL WEINER HE’S A REAL DICK!” a man in a blue tank top and a beach hat shouts into the camera. Read more

Anthony Weiner Goes To Hollywood

The longer Anthony Weiner‘s New York City mayoral run festers, the more it seems to resemble a movie. The crazy twists and turns seem fit for Hollywood gold, and it’s bound to hit theaters at some point. So we’re helping Hollywood out and running through our top three ideal movies, including the titles, casts and movie posters.

Anthony Weiner: Himself

Huma Abedin: Herself

Sydney Elaine Leathers: Herself

Cameo: Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

Reporters: Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver

Paparazzi: Bill Murray

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

After his political career fizzles out, Weiner will need something to keep him occupied, and who can play Weiner better than Weiner? M. Night Shyamalan brings the story to life again, but is the story what you think it is? Look out for an insane twist ending. Bill Murray will also be in it, and that alone is enough to make a great movie.


Anthony Weiner: Sean Penn

Huma Abedin: Penelope Cruz

Sydney Elaine Leathers: Christina Ricci

Cameo: Dana Bash

Reporters: Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Garner

Paparazzi: Alec Baldwin

Directed by: James Cameron

In this dramatic retelling of the heartbreaking story, Cameron brings to life the struggles of Weiner to keep his reputation and poll numbers up, which are both falling quickly. On top of his political career, he has a marriage to take care of, but all is jeopardized by a hard-fought sexting habit that he can’t escape. Plus he loves shower scenes, so we gave him a bubble bath.


Anthony Weiner: Pauly Shore

Huma Abedin: Freida Pinto

Sydney Elaine Leathers: Snooki

Cameo: Bob Scheiffer

Reporters: Sarah Silverman, Jennifer Lawrence

Paparazzi: Quentin Tarantino

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

A dark and comical tale of the life of a former congressman running for mayor, his online mistresses, his seemingly-loyal wife and the media following them. This will make you laugh one minute and leave you wondering what type of human-being Tarantino is the next.


Peter Ogburn and Betsy Rothstein contributed to this report.

Sri Lanka Indicts Eight Suspects Following Release of ‘Brothers Shaikh’ Film

On Monday we brought you the news that Stateless Media, a new film company based in Washington, had created a film about a man murdered in a Sri Lankan coastal town in 2011. Amid the crime, the man’s girlfriend was raped. At the time, the government imprisoned eight suspects, including a Sri Lankan politician, for 11 months and then released them. For a year and a half, the story stilled.

The murdered man, Khuram Shaikh, was from Manchester, England. His family still lives there. To many Brits, it’s outrageous that Britain is sending its prime minister, David Cameron, and Prince Charles to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this year in light of the fact that Sri Lanka is hosting it.

The film was released last week and posted on The New Yorker website. Since then, there has been an apology from Sri Lankan senior officials as well as an indictment of all eight suspects. (Yeah, the Sri Lankan court system is nothing like what exists here so don’t even try to equate it.) What’s important — we guess — is that the suspects are once again being asked to pay for their crimes.

“‘The Brothers Shaikh’ has been getting lots of clicks in Britain, and my suspicion is the British High Commission, in Colombo, told the Sri Lankans it was getting hard to justify sending Cameron and Prince Charles to this big meeting that the Sri Lankans will be hosting,” explained Stateless Media founder Peter Savodnik. “That probably scared the Sri Lankans. Hosting the Brits means a lot to them. It’s like a debutante ball. It means: We’re modern and democratic, and we don’t kill Tamils or Muslims; we’re not Buddhist zealots or fascists, which is what they are becoming, slowly. Still, there are two things to remember: First, the government has only said that it will indict the Tangalle Eight; it hasn’t done that yet. And second, we only made a movie about one man, Khuram Shaikh; there are thousands of Sri Lankans whom we will never make any movies about.”

Stateless Media is now producing films – they call them shortreals – in New York and Berlin. They have shortreals under development in Burma, Cairo and Los Angeles.


New Film Spurs Sri Lankan Government Apology?

Washington freelance journalist Peter Savodnik has released a new film that was posted on The New Yorker website last week. The effort comes from his new film-production company, Stateless Media along with Ed Perkins and Kannan Arunasalam. The 14-minute 32-second film full of mysterious twists and turns is called “The Brothers Shaikh.”

The short movie appears to have accomplished some good. For a year-and-a-half, the British government has been lobbying the Sri Lankans to do something about the murder of Khuram Shaikh and the rape of his Russian girlfriend. Shaikh had been working for the Red Cross in Gaza fitting prosthetic limbs. He and his girlfriend were attacked on the coast in Tangalle on Christmas Day, 2011. But so far, nothing had happened. Then, this movie comes out, in which they extensively interview Shaikh’s brother, Nasser, and three days later several government officials issue an apology. “That’s not the same thing as justice, but it’s noteworthy,” Savodnik told FishbowlDC.

See a BBC story published over the weekend on the matter here.

Savodnik’s company can be found @StatelessMedia on Twitter.