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Documentary

Ray Bradbury Documentary to Premiere in Ventura

Seven years ago, Ventura artist and filmmaker Michael O’Kelly met the late Ray Bradbury at the author’s Los Angeles home. The two became fast friends and worked together to coordinate book signings, theater events and film festival appearances.

Later this fall, O’Kelly will unveil a feature length documentary titled Live Forever – The Ray Bradbury Odyssey. He plans to also submit the movie to film festivals and have a qualifying run for Best Documentary Feature Oscar consideration. But first, there will be a November 11 screening in Ventura to benefit the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library and Ventura Film Society. From this weekend’s report in the Ventura Star:

”It’s Michael’s first film and we’re supporting him in that,” said Lorenzo DeStefano, director of the Ventura Film Society. “I saw a play that he did called Live Forever, and this has evolved from that. He’s been working on this for some time. It’s very personal too. He’s got some great actors and fans. Ray was one of the century’s most amazing guys.”

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Peter Arnett Talks About His Chinese Journalism Students

When he’s not residing in LA, Pulitzer Prizer winner, Osama bin Laden interviewer and one-time CNN war correspondent Peter Arnett is teaching journalism students at Shantou University in southern China. He tells Fairfax NZ News reporter Alex Fensom that his charges are exceedingly industrious:

“I’ve got 60 to 80 students each semester … They are better educated than I ever was. There’s no smoking, no drinking, no fighting.”

Intriguingly, Arnett says he senses that the Chinese government realizes its days of being able to control the flow of inbound and outbound news information are gradually coming to an end. Which would leave the country’s unlikeliest ally North Korea as a Asia’s only remaining hidebound nation.

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The Invisible War Blows Away the LAFF

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering‘s brilliant documentary on the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military The Invisible War had a free screening this weekend at the LA Film Festival–and blew the room away. This Fishie attended no less than seven films over the last four days of the festival and The Invisible War was unquestionably the strongest. From what we’ve seen, the film is easily the front runner for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars. But more importantly, without even being released yet, the film is having a real world impact. Producer Amy Ziering was in attendance for Saturday’s LAFF audience Q&A (the most and perhaps only intelligent audience Q&A we have ever attended by the way) and informed the crowd that the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Mary Kay Hertog–among the more incompetent military officials interviewed in the film–had been forced to resign. This came on the heels of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta screening the film and immediately authorizing major changes to the way military rape allegations are handled.

Truly a wonderful piece of journalism.

The film opens in theaters nationwide this Friday.

LA Film Festival Announces 2012 Jurors

With the 2102 LA Film Festival gearing up to start next week, Film Independent announced the jurors in its narrative, documentary and shorts competitions. Actress Rachael Harris, actor, writer, producer and director Robert Townsend and film critic Sheri Linden will be in charge of the narrative films. Frozen River producer Heather Rae, Karin Chien and 2010 LA Film Fest Audience Award-winning director Mark Landsman will handle the documentaries. Art and film critic Ernest Hardy, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber and 2010 Sundance Audience Award winner Javier Fuentes León have the shorts covered.

FishbowlLA will be at LAFF for the second year in a row and we’re pretty excited about it. Keep an eye out for our event coverage starting exactly one week from today.

Journalists Making a Film About Journalism

The trailer above is from a rough cut of the film Fit to Print–produced by a team of journalists that includes former New York Times staffer Adam Chadwick, former Baltimore Sun reporter Al Foreman, former Detroit Free-Press photo journalist Daymon Hartley and Murray Waas of Reuters.

“We’re hoping to give voice to the thousands of newsroom employees laid-off over the past several years,” Chadwick tells us, “while also examining the light at the end of the tunnel for the industry.”

Chadwick says he’s got plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of the LA Times. His team is currently searching for completion funds to finish the film.

LA Journos Defend Latest Roman Polanski Doc

Should a documentary conversation between filmmaker Roman Polanski and one of his closest friends and associates have essentially skirted the topic of the 1977 sexual assault above Mulholland Drive? That’s one of the first questions being addressed by local reporters covering this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

At Hollywood Elsewhere, Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir reviewer Jeffrey Wells suggests that “Polanski pitch-forkers will dismiss” the movie. He and colleague Sasha Stone are themselves quick to dismiss in the comments user Abbey_Normal, who innocently asks and then follows up about the topic of whether or not the episode is covered:

Dude, I’m not a pitch-forker, I’m just curious how they addressed it. Did they not even mention it? Wouldn’t most people watching a documentary on Polanski expect them to say SOMETHING about an incident that has haunted him for decades, effectively exiled him from a number of countries, and left him reviled, fairly or not, by massive swaths of people?

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Filmmaker Talks About Going CarLess in LA

In the mid-2000s, Alabama single mom Katie Rogers was living in Mar Vista and commuting to a job at the Coldwater Canyon offices of TreePeople. Despite the challenges of making this 30-mile round trip without a car, that’s just what she did for about three months, with a cameraman in tow.

She wound up with 80 hours of raw footage and is now editing it down into the feature documentary CarLess in LA. At the time, she used the $2500 earned from the sale of a Toyota minivan to purchase a Sony HD camera.

“There are no buses that go over Coldwater Canyon, so I either had to hike or “mountain bike” ride on the last leg of the daily journey to get to work,” Rogers tells FishbowlLA. “It was truly “trekking” LA! I would ride my bike home though because it was mostly downhill and actually a nice ride. But not on Coldwater itself, that would have been too dangerous. I found other routes.”

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Twelve Photojournalists, One Documentary

Shot over the span of several years, San Francisco State University professor Ken Kobré’s latest documentary Deadline Every Second provides a vivid look at what goes into Associated Press photos of national and international hot spots. Among the AP photographers profiled is SoCal staffer Chris Carlson, who confesses at the beginning of his segment about covering California wildfires that he now makes sure to closes the windows of his car, even when parked far from the flames. That’s because he once came back to his vehicle to find his floor mats burning.

“I think most people take these photographs for granted and don’t realize what goes into making them,” Kobré (pictured) tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “The other issue is how involved these photographers become in the story, and how they must work to stay neutral.”

Following recent east coast showings at D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery and Columbia University journalism school, Kobré’s one-hour film is scheduled to be shown next on May 8 at UCLA, with a Q&A panel featuring Carlson. Then it’s back to San Francisco for a hometown screening May 17.

Kobré says that through an international agent, he has just made his first foreign sale for Deadline Every Second in Turkey. Domestically, he is repping the film himself. The documentary has aired on Long Island PBS affiliate WLIW and may soon possibly hit the airwaves of WNET in New York.

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Citizen Journalist Inspired by Breitbart Readies Summer Documentary

It has always struck FishbowlLA that a more productive reaction to Michael Moore from those sitting at the opposite end of the political spectrum would be to adopt some of his clever, humorous filmmaking tactics. Someone who seems to have realized the value of this approach is Ellen Hubbard.

Per an interview on bighollywood.com, Hubbard enlisted Kansas City KCMO AM morning radio host Greg Knapp as her Moore stand-in. His mission: to solicit federal funding for the titutlar Museum of Government Waste.

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‘Kony 2012′ Filmmaker In for Extended Hospitalization

Jason Russell, the man behind the “Kony 2012″ phenomenon, will remained hospitalized for a prolonged period in the wake of his nude rampage through the streets of San Diego. Today, Russell’s wife Danica released a statement that said her husband was suffering from “reactive psychosis,” and will require treatment for what could be “months.”

We would, again, like to make it clear that Jason’s incident was in no way the result of drugs or alcohol. The preliminary diagnosis he received is called brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by the extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration. Though new to us, the doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks. Even for us, it’s hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention -both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days.

Jason will get better. He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery.

Anyone who saw the video of Russell’s rampage knew there had to be something serious going on there.

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