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Pushing the Boundaries: Telling Stories That Defy Categorization

We are in a renaissance of documentary filmmaking: filmmakers are taking artistic risks, experimenting with form and creating incredible work. Sarah Polley'sStories We Tell and Joshua Oppenheimer's Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing are just two examples of critically acclaimed documentaries that have blurred the line between documentary and fiction in recent years, pushing viewers to reexamine how they define documentary.

Meanwhile, services like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and Snag Films are making a wider range of documentary film available to the public than ever before. Has this increased accessibility contributed to a shift in perception of what a documentary can be? Are filmmakers and viewers alike adopting a more flexible definition of the form, where films do not have to follow certain rules? Can documentaries defy categorization and ultimately become another way to tell a good story?

Pushing the Boundaries will showcase three films that challenge the traditional documentary form by employing narrative or experimental techniques. These filmmakers are working outside of conventional documentary labels; the focus shifts from the label to the story. We will discuss the definition of documentary, hybrid, narrative and experimental film, the line between documentary and fiction, and the history of experimental and narrative techniques in documentary filmmaking. 

Panelists:

Iva Radivojevic is a director, producer and editor who creates work that explores the theme of identity, migration and immigrants. Radivojevic's films have been screened on PBS, the Documentary Channel, New York Times Op-Docs and Toronto's HotDocs Film Festival. Her collaborative film Matthew 24:14 won the 2011 International Documentary Challenge competition for Best Director, Best Film and Best Use of Genre. Filmmaker Magazine named her one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2013. Radivojevic will be representing her first feature length documentary Evaporating Borders, which was a featured selection at this year's Rotterdam Film Festival and will have its U.S. premiere at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival. 

Lynne Sachs
makes films, videos, installations and web projects that explore the relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. Since 1994, her five essay films have taken her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel and Germany - sites affected by international war - where she tries to work in the space between a community's collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. Since 2006, she has collaborated with her partner Mark Street in a series of playful, mixed-media performance collaborations called the XY Chromosome Project. Sachs' films have been screened at the MoMA, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Buenos Aires Film Festival. Sachs will be representing her film Your Day is My Night, a verité hybrid documentary about a household of immigrants living together in a shift-bed apartment in New York City's Chinatown.

Leslie Tai
 is a second generation Chinese American filmmaker hailing from San Francisco, California. She earned her filmmaking chops in the underground Chinese documentary world as a student of Wu Wenguang, a founding figure of the New Chinese Documentary Movement. Tai received a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship to make her first feature-length documentary in China. She will be representing The Private Life of Fenfen, which follows a Chinese woman born in a small rural village who keeps a video diary for three years.  The film is part of this year's Documentary Fortnight and will be screening at the Museum of Modern Art at 8pm on both Monday, February 24th and Thursday, February 27th. 

Marian Masone, Moderator, is Associate Director of Programming for the Film Society of Lincoln Center. She is a member of the Selection Committee for the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films. She also organizes new and retrospective series as well as ongoing programs at the Film Society's Walter Reade Theater and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.                                           


Produced by Veena Rao & Cheree Dillon


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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events
are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York
State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and
the New York State Legislature.