Top 10 takeaways from Variety’s Virtual Truth Seekers Summit

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From RZA to Jon Favreau, artists, filmmakers, journalists and activists gathered on August 26 to Varietyinaugural summit of truth seekers, in partnership with Rolling stone and presented by Showtime Documentary Films.

The summit explored the art of documentary and investigative storytelling. Here are 10 takeaways from the two-day event.

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RZA was inspired by Robert De Niro to make his series “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”

Speaking of the difficulties of writing about his own life and career in the form of a TV series, RZA said Robert De Niro helped him figure out how to separate himself from art.

“When I saw ‘Cape Fear’ my brain clicked, because I’m such a fan of it,” RZA said. “I had known him from ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Goodfellas’, and then here he was playing this psychopath. And he played it so brilliantly. It’s actually an artistic thing to separate from art. I met Mr. DeNiro, and he is not [Max] Cady.

Conspiracy theories have infiltrated mainstream social media

In the “Weapons of mass disinformation” panel, Writers, filmmakers and journalists have come together virtually to discuss how social media has amplified and accelerated the age of disinformation.

Cullen Hoback, producer, writer and director of “Q: Into the Storm” on HBOS, said that while dangerous ideologies remain on the fringes of the Internet, conspiracy theories are now festering in mainstream social media, like Facebook. and Twitter.

“If you look at the 2000s versus after 2010, you had a lot of these lo-fi forums like 8chan or 4chan, but the conspiracy theories and ideas that existed on those platforms have remained marginal,” Hoback said. “In the last four to five years, what we’ve seen is that they were slipping away from chan. They found their way on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and algorithms were like gasoline on top of those. “

The Velvet Underground was not always considered very influential

In his documentary “The Velvet Underground”, which traces the legacy of Lou Reed’s band, Todd Haynes claims The Velvet Underground was one of the most influential bands of their time, inspiring genres and generations to come. But the group has seen very little success or impact during their career.

“[The Velet Underground] had no real business impact at the time, ”said Haynes. “It took decades for this band to earn their rightful place as a forerunner of punk rock and new wave music, indie rock and glam rock.

Zackary Drucker thinks trans identity is often linked to crime

When you talk to Variety Zackary Drucker, Senior Craftsman Editor Jazz Tangcay, spoke about “The Lady and the Vale” and how Liz Carmichael’s transition linked her to crime, as well as the stereotypes that exist today. in the society.

“She was a transgender woman who was also a runaway FBI criminal and made the transition as she escaped law enforcement. When she was discovered, her gender identity was mistaken for her criminal identity, which is totally a textbook. Trans identity has always been linked to crime – the perception that a man could impersonate a woman to commit a crime.

Delores Huerta said people cannot wait for others to protect them during the pandemic

While spreading the word about vaccinations and social distancing through “Democracy 101,” Foundation President and Founder Dolores Huerta, Dolores Huerta told Clayton Davis: Varieties Director of the Film Awards that it is remarkable to see individuals realizing that their voice alone creates change.

“It’s a little miraculous that once people find out they can influence, get people elected, remove them if they don’t do their job and get the improvements they need in their communities, that they have that power, and we have a lot of the leadership development that comes with that that can spread and spread and spread.

Errol Morris became a private investigator after making two acclaimed films

After creating two acclaimed films, “Gates of Heaven” and “Vernon, Florida,” Errol Morris told Janelle Riley, Varieties Associate Editor of Awards and Feature Films, that in those days blockbuster films weren’t enough to achieve high status in the documentary filmmaking industry – because funding and distribution were still needed . So he took a break to work in a private investigation.

“Deep down, I’m an investigator. I was an unemployed filmmaker after my second film, and needed to make a living, and got the opportunity to work for a private investigator – actually one of America’s best private investigators, and I did it for three years. It really saved my life because it gave me an income and a job when there was really no work available for me in the movie business. “

Jon Favreau thinks traditional progressive news doesn’t give listeners action

Crooked Media co-founders and “Pod Save America” ​​hosts Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor spoke with Varieties editor-in-chief Kate Aurthur, explaining why they created progressive media – Favreau saying this is in part due to the lack of activism in mainstream media.

“A lot of news, and even some progressive news, can leave you a little helpless because it doesn’t give you the tools and information to solve the problems we see on the evening news every day. We wanted to merge progressive news and journalism with activism so that we can actually give people the tools and information to change the world around them.

Stanley Nelson wants us to remember the number of people jailed every day

Stanley Nelson, director of “Attica”, hopes his documentary will remind viewers that people in prison are also human. The documentary focuses on the 1971 prison rebellion, which remains the deadliest in American history.

“As we speak, there are 2 million people in prison in the United States. They’re going to sleep in jail tonight. They’re gonna wake up in jail tomorrow morning, you know? [I want viewers to] think of these people. What prisons are supposed to do in many ways, in the United States and around the world, they are doing. They want to lock people up and make us forget them. And we do to a large extent. So I hope that at least [the film] makes people think about the fact that people are in jail right now.

To diversify the film industry, we must give a boost to marginalized communities

Nelson also spoke about the importance of mentoring, especially when it comes to portraying “the truth” on screen through documentary filmmaking. 12 years ago, he started a documentary lab for emerging color documentaries attached to his production company Firelight Films.

“We wanted to think about how to give people a boost? How do you give people a start? Not only me, but so many filmmakers served as mentors – informal mentors for other filmmakers and especially filmmakers of color. People would call me, literally out of the blue, just saying, “I saw a movie you made and uh you know you’re a black filmmaker I’m a black could you be my mentor ? ‘And it wasn’t just me, it was other filmmakers as well. And so we wanted to try to think about institutionalizing that and making it something that’s more of a program instead of just being ad-hoc or caught as a trap. And it became the idea of ​​the laboratory.

Sam Pollard said it’s impossible not to have personal feelings involved in the documentaries

Speaking with Clayton Davis, Varieties film awards editor, documentary filmmakers RJ Cutler of “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry”, Sacha Jenkins of “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men”, Sam Pollard of “MLK / FBI”, Liz Garbus of “I ‘ll Be Gone In The Dark “and Dawn Porter from” Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer “discussed the emotional truths behind documentary filmmaking.

Pollard said that when making such documentaries it is impossible not to get emotionally invested.

“You can’t help but bring your own personal feelings to the making of a movie. You have to bring your personal feelings – that’s what makes these movies different and unique. If you don’t bring your personal perspective to the material, then you’re just a fellow filmmaker doing as you’re told.

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