WXXI AM News

film

Two surprise hits at the box office this summer are documentaries, and the stars behind them are being lauded for their quiet voices and powerful messages. Screenings of “RBG,” a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” a film about children’s television icon Fred Rogers, have been selling out around the country.  Theater owners and critics say Ginsburg and Rogers’ voices appeal to people across the political spectrum and have the power to heal divides in a polarized country.

We discuss the impact Ginsberg and Rogers have had on generations of people. In studio:

  • Elissa Orlando, senior vice president of television and news for WXXI
  • Paula Larew Wooters, teacher in the Rochester City School District’s Universal Pre-K program at Asbury Day Care Center
  • Beth Cordello, chair of the employment law practice at Pullano & Farrow

The top grossing films over the last 10 years have had a total of 1,114 directors. 45 were women. Why aren’t there more female directors in Hollywood? The question is the subject of a new film called “Half the Picture.” The film – part of the One Take Documentary Series – celebrates the groundbreaking work or women in film, and explores the systemic discrimination in the industry.

We’re joined by local female filmmakers who discuss the film, their work, and the challenges they’ve faced (and overcome). In studio:

If you’ve seen the film “Animal House,” you probably remember a few iconic scenes: the toga party, the parade, and basically anything featuring John Belushi. The film is turning 40, and director John Landis is in Rochester for a special anniversary screening at the Dryden Theatre.

Landis has been touring the country celebrating the film, and he makes a stop on Connections to discuss the impact it has had and his legendary career in film. In studio:

The Rochester Jewish Film Festival kicks off next week, and one film tells the story of a local Holocaust survivor. Jack Feldman grew up in Poland and was sent to Auschwitz during the war. In the camp, he was known only by his number, A17606. 

The tattoo on his arm caught the attention of his great-grandson, Elliott Saiontz. Saiontz interviews Feldman in the film, “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm.”

We get a preview of the film this hour from Feldman, Saiontz, and Feldman’s granddaughter, Stacey Saiontz. We also hear what else is in the lineup for this year’s festival. In studio:

  • Jack Feldman
  • Stacey Saiontz
  • Elliott Saiontz
  • Bonnie Abrams, director of the Center for Holocaust Awareness and Information at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
  • Andrea Miller, director of the Rochester Jewish Film Festival

What should we do when artists misbehave? In other words, when an author, actor, director, or artist does something offensive, acts inappropriately, or steps over the line in some way, should we stop consuming their art? When do we give them a pass?

The founder of Writers & Books, Joe Flaherty, dealt with this question when he was arranging for Philip Roth to visit Rochester. The late writer was considered a misogynist by many readers. But, as Flaherty wrote in an essay on the incident, “you have to separate the writer from his characters.”

What do you think? Should we consume and share the work of Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Harvey Weinstein, Philip Roth, and others? Should the work of artists in question stand on its own? Where do we draw the line? Our panel discusses those questions. Our guests:

  • Joe Flaherty, founder of Writers & Books
  • Patti Lewis, local actor, director, and teaching artist
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, senior assistant director of student success and outreach in the Multicultural Center for Academic Success at RIT
  • Bob Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University

The Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series is underway. It features films and performances that address the stigma attached to mental illness and behavior disorders, while providing messages of hope.

One of the films in this year's lineup is the documentary, Deej; it tells the story of David James Savarese, a non-speaking young man with autism. Savarese joins us in studio to share his remarkable journey and the challenges he has overcome. Plus, we get a look at what's next in the series. Our guests: 

  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film series
  • David James Savarese, poet, co-producer of Deej, and advocate for people with autism 
  • Dr. Lori Jeanne Peloquin, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lynne Fisher, education program administrator for NAMI-Rochester

A documentary called Lake of Betrayal tells the story of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, and how its construction forced the Seneca Indian people from their ancestral land. It’s a story of politics, commercialization, broken treaties, and the Seneca Nation’s fight to protect its sovereignty and culture.

The film will be shown at Ganondagan this weekend, and we’ll get a preview with the filmmaker. Our guests:

  • Scott Sackett, writer and producer of Lake of Betrayal
  • Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan
  • Michael Leroy Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, and author of Native America: A History

A new documentary called Photo City tells the story of Rochester’s past, present, and future as a hub for photography. It will be screened as part of the One Take Film Fest at The Little Theatre.

The filmmakers are from Ireland, and we talk to one of them about why his team chose Rochester as the subject of the film. We also hear from local photographers and filmmakers who will share their take on Rochester as a photo city. Our guests:

  • John Murphy, co-director, co-writer, and editor of Photo City
  • Arleen Thaler, socially-engaged photojournalist
  • Jack Garner, retired national film critic for Gannett Newspapers
  • Linda Moroney, filmmaker, and director and programmer for the One Take Film Festival

A new film explores the murky truth behind what really happened at Chappaquiddick. Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy crashed his car off a bridge, killing Mary Jo Kopechne, Chappaquiddick brings a riveting story to the screen -- and it's a story that still resonates, with themes of privilege, abuse of power, political ambition, and more.

The director, John Curran, is a Pittsford native, and he's our guest in studio.

Should we fear death? That question is at the heart of a new documentary about death from accomplished filmmaker Helen Whitney. It's called Into the Night, and it's coming to PBS and WXXI TV on Monday, March 26. 

Whitney chose to focus on nine individuals from very different backgrounds, trying to understand various perspectives on how we approach the end of our lives. One of those individuals is University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank, who describes himself as an "atheist plus.” 

We hear from him this hour, as well as Helen Whitney.

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