By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

Cinema Eye Protests Department of Homeland Security’s Ongoing Harassment of Award-Winning Filmmaker Laura Poitras

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 9, 2012 – New York, New York – Cinema Eye, the film organization that hosts the Cinema Eye Honors and advocates for artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking, is releasing a statement today to vigorously protest the Department of Homeland Security’s treatment of our valued colleague, Laura Poitras.

The letter is signed by the full Cinema Eye Executive Board as well as our Filmmaker Advisory Board, of which Poitras serves as Chair.  The letter is also signed by 25 Cinema Eye nominated filmmakers, including five Academy Award winners.

Statement from Cinema Eye on Laura Poitras:

As members of the nonfiction filmmaking community, we want to express our outrage over the ongoing harassment of our colleague Laura Poitras by the US government and the Department of Homeland Security.  We call on the Obama administration to investigate this abuse of power and to bring an end to this persistent violation of America’s bedrock principle of a free press.

Laura Poitras is one of America’s most important nonfiction filmmakers, the recipient of the 2011 Cinema Eye Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Direction for her landmark film, The Oath, and the chair of our Filmmaker Advisory Board.  She was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar and twice has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her work.  Her long list of credits, awards and impeccable credentials would be easy for anyone to verify.

Over the course of the last several years, as Laura has been working to chronicle the post-9/11 world and the effect of American policies here and abroad, she has been repeatedly harassed, detained, interrogated and has had her cameras and computers seized by Homeland Security officials as she attempts to re-enter her home country.

Not once in more than a dozen detentions and interrogations has Homeland Security found anything to justify this chronic abuse of power.

Within the last week, as Laura was returning from a recent trip abroad, she was once again detained.  This time, however, she was also threatened with being handcuffed for attempting to take notes during her interrogation.

Nonfiction filmmakers perform a vital role in a democratic society, serving as observers and investigators of the world around us.  It is unacceptable for any American nonfiction filmmaker or journalist to be treated in this manner.  They must be able to return to their own country without fear of arrest or fear that their work product will be seized, solely because they are investigating or chronicling subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial.

We ask other members of the nonfiction film and journalism communities to protest this affront to a free press and we reiterate our call on the Obama administration to end these draconian and un-American policies once and for all.

Sincerely,

Sean Farnel, Andrea Meditch, Esther Robinson, AJ Schnack and Nathan Truesdell

Cinema Eye Honors Executive Board

Mila Aung-Thwin, R.J. Cutler, Sam Green, Steve James, Ellen Kuras, Audrey Marrs, James Marsh, Morgan Spurlock, Jennifer Venditti

Cinema Eye Honors Filmmaker Advisory Board

Clio Barnard

Joe Berlinger

Michael Collins

Alex Gibney

Davis Guggenheim

Lixin Fan

Alma Har’el

Asif Kapadia

Lise Lense-Møller

Tia Lessin

Kim Longinotto

Jeff Malmberg

Darius Marder

Albert Maysles

Donal Mosher

Michael Palmieri

Louie Psihoyos

Bill Ross

Turner Ross

Chris Shellen

Bruce Sinofsky

Geoffrey Smith

Ricki Stern

Paul Taylor

Marina Zenovich

Online statement:

http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-statement-on-laura-poitra

For more information on Laura Poitras:

http://www.praxisfilms.org/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/movies/09oath.html?_r=2

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/08/u_s_filmmaker_repeatedly_detained_at_border/singleton/

About Cinema Eye:

Cinema Eye was founded in 2007 to recognize excellence in artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking.  The Cinema Eye Honors are the only international nonfiction award to recognize the whole creative team, presenting annual craft awards in directing, producing, cinematography, editing, composing and graphic design/animation.  The 5th edition of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking was held January 11, 2012 at New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.  More information can be found at www.cinemaeyehonors.com.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook