By MCN Editor


“Crossing the Line? A conversation on ethics and documentary film”

March 9, 2011 (New York, NY) –  The New York Film/Video Council (NYFVC) the city’s oldest non-profit organization supporting the film, video and electronic arts community, presents a powerful evening of discussion and debate on the ethics of documentary film production.

Since its inception, documentary filmmaking has always faced the challenge of bearing the label of ‘exploitative’ but what does that mean exactly?  Why is it easier to expect more from a genre that attempts to tell the truth, and how does this effect the filmmakers involved as they strive to get as close to the truth as they can?

On Wednesday, March 23 at 7pm, the NYFVC hosts a night of discussion and challenge. CROSSING THE LINE? A conversation on ethics and documentary film brings together legendary director Albert Maysles (“Grey Gardens”), Academy Award nominated Tia Lessin (“Trouble the Water”), Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (“Catfish”), and Stephanie Wang-Breal (“I Love You Mommy”) to discuss and debate the ethics involved in documentary production. Filmmakers will show clips from their work, discuss the lines they draw or cross, and engage the audience in a spirited conversation. Moderated by Yance Ford of POV.

“There is such a great need for knowledge of the real world and no need to make it exploitative.” –Albert Maysles

The event will take place in the historic theater of the Brooklyn Music School (around the corner from BAM Cinemas in Fort Greene) at 126 St. Felix Street, Brooklyn (between Hanson & Lafayette) at 7pm on Wednesday, March 23, 2011.


The New York Film/Video Council (NYFVC) is New York’s oldest continuously operating non-profit serving the independent film, video and electronic arts community. For over 70 years, we’ve been a haven for lively discussions, panels and screenings. Founded in the 1940s, the Council was one of the only film organizations operating in New York.  Now, in a rich sea of film and media organizations, the Council is unique in drawing together members for conversation across the breadth of our community.

Our roster of members includes important narrative, avant-garde and documentary filmmakers, programmers, archivists, scriptwriters, critics, professors, animators and others with a passion for film.  NYFVC members are affiliated with such organizations as The Museum of Modern Art, Filmakers Library, The New York Public Library, the IFP, Maysles Films, SVA, EAI, Columbia, and BAM.

Over the years, NYFVC programs have addressed technological innovation, independent production, finance, production, distribution and exhibition, international production, fair use, restoration, non-theatrical media for social change among other urgent topics. The evolution of the NYFVC has always mirrored the evolution of the field.

In 2011, the Council fulfills our mission by generating programs that bring members into conversation with some of the most dynamic and diverse film and media people and happenings in New York.

Dedicated to service, the NYFVC is run by an entirely volunteer board and spends every penny of dues on programming and events, which we are largely FREE for members and open at low cost to the public.

Event specifics:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 7pm

Brooklyn Music School (around the corner from BAM in Fort Greene)

126 St. Felix Street, Brooklyn, NY

Free to NYFVC members,  $10 non-members

More information at

Bios for Participants:

Yance Ford works closely with POV’s executive director and programming director to evaluate films submitted to POV She is instrumental in curating the series, a showcase of acclaimed documentary film on PBS. Yance frequently represents POV | American Documentary at conferences, festivals and markets, procuring work from filmmakers both nationally and internationally. Yance also oversees POV’s annual call for entries, which yields upwards of one thousand entries, and coordinates POV’s annual programming advisory board. Yance is a Programming Consultant and Pre- Screener for film festivals around the country, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, Latino Public Broadcasting, Creative Capital and the Sundance Film Festival. She has served on festival juries at Full Frame and Silverdocs, appeared on panels at Sunny Side of the Doc and DocuClub and served on the IFP Advisory Committee. A graduate of Hamilton College and the production workshop at Third World Newsreel, Yance is a former Production Stage Manager for the Girls Choir of Harlem and has worked as a Production Manager on numerous independent productions for the Discovery Health and History channels. Ford has also worked in various capacities on the documentaries The Favorite Poem Project, Juanita Anderson, Executive Producer, Brian Lanker’s They Drew Fire (PBS), and Barry Levinson’s Yesterday’s Tomorrows (Showtime).

Albert Maysles is a pioneer of Direct Cinema who, with his brother David Maysles, was one of the very first to make nonfiction feature films, (GIMME SHELTER, SALESMAN, GREY GARDENS) where the drama of life unfolds as it is, without scripts, sets, interviews or narration. His 36 films include WHAT”S HAPPENING? THE BEATLES IN THE USA (1964), five films of the projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (1972 to 1995), and a sixth, THE GATES (2007), MEET MARLON BRANDO (1965) and three documentaries for HBO. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1965), a Peabody, an Emmy, five Lifetime Achievement Awards, the award for best cinematography at Sundance (2002) for LALEE’S KIN, which was also nominated in 2001 for an Academy Award and most recently, the Columbia Dupont Award (2004). In 1999, Eastman Kodak saluted him as one of the 100 world’s finest cinematographers. Last year, the MoMA held a Maysles Films retrospective.  Albert’s is currently in production on a personal autobiography, HANDHELD, along with IN TRANSIT, a project that will document stories and encounter as they take place on and off the train, worldwide.

Henry Joost and Ariel Shulman met in high school. They have been filmmaking partners since 2006 and together founded the New York City production company Supermarché. They have made award-wining commercials and documentaries for some of the world’s most influential companies and institutions. Their clients are as varied as Nike, American Express, Harvard Business School and The National Scrabble Association. Their web short What’s the big idea? starring Danny De Vito, was nominated for a Webby in 2008. Henry was born in Frankfurt, Germany and spent his childhood travelling the world with his mother, a photographer, and his father, an international banker. He briefly attended Columbia University. He is still an avid traveller and owns many beautiful cameras-film and still. He loves shooting portraits of his friends and is really good about emailing them back to you. Ariel is as New York as a bagel. He graduated from NYU’s Tisch Film program in 2004 and has worked on over 200 films since. They have taken him from France to Italy to India to Japan and back. He has amassed an impressive collection of passport stamps, and vernacular objects of strange beauty from all over the world.In March, 2010, NY Export: Opus Jazz, a 35mm film adaptation of a 1958 Jerome Robbins ballet, directed by Henry Joost and production designed by Ariel Schulman, premiered on PBS. Catfish is their first feature film.

Tia Lessin and her partner Carl Deal are producers and directors of Trouble the Water. Lessin also directed and produced Behind the Labels in partnership with Peter Gabriel’s human rights group Witness. She was awarded the Sidney Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism for the documentary short about labor trafficking of Chinese and Filipina garment workers. Lessin was the supervising producer of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, winner of the Palme d’Or, Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine, and The Big One. She also was line producer of Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. In television, Lessin’s work as producer of the series The Awful Truth, which the Los Angeles Times called “the smartest and funniest show on television,” earned her two Emmy nominations and one arrest.

Stephanie Wang-Breal has been producing stories for television since 1999. She has worked with various media outlets, including CNN, MTV, the Biography Channel and UNICEF. In 2006, Wang-Breal produced and directed her first short independent film, From Infirmity to Firmness, about the beneficial aspects of yoga for individuals living with HIV. The film screened at the San Francisco Short Film Festival in 2007 and helped the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York receive a grant from the Walt Disney Foundation for its free HIV-positive yoga classes. Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy marks Stephanie’s debut as a feature documentary filmmaker.

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  1. Sheldon Hirshon says:

    hi there, hers a heads up that your site is not working smoothly….I’ve just purchased 2 tickets for ALBERT MAYSLES, TIA LESSIN & THE FILMMAKERS OF CATFISH TO DEBATE DOCUMENTARY ETHICS panel. i was unable to purchase 2 tickets simultaneously on the site. some kind of glitch. i had to go through the purchasing process twice buying one ticket at a time.
    hopefully my sales went through and i’ll get my tickets in the mail or at will call. thanks, Claudia and Shelly Hirshon

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