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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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“Chad Harbach spent ten years writing his novel. It was his avocation, for which he was paid nothing, with no guarantee he’d ever be paid anything, while he supported himself doing freelance work, for which I don’t think he ever made $30,000 a year. I sold his book for an advance that equated to $65,000 a year—before taxes and commission—for each of the years of work he’d put in. The law schools in this country churn out first-year associates at white-shoe firms that pay them $250,000 a year, when they’re twenty-five years of age, to sit at a desk doing meaningless bullshit to grease the wheels of the corporatocracy, and people get upset about an excellent author getting $65,000 a year? Give me a fucking break.”
~ Book Agent Chris Parris-Lamb On The State Of The Publishing Industry

INTERVIEWER
Do you think this anxiety of yours has something to do with being a woman? Do you have to work harder than a male writer, just to create work that isn’t dismissed as being “for women”? Is there a difference between male and female writing?

FERRANTE
I’ll answer with my own story. As a girl—twelve, thirteen years old—I was absolutely certain that a good book had to have a man as its hero, and that depressed me. That phase ended after a couple of years. At fifteen I began to write stories about brave girls who were in serious trouble. But the idea remained—indeed, it grew stronger—that the greatest narrators were men and that one had to learn to narrate like them. I devoured books at that age, and there’s no getting around it, my models were masculine. So even when I wrote stories about girls, I wanted to give the heroine a wealth of experiences, a freedom, a determination that I tried to imitate from the great novels written by men. I didn’t want to write like Madame de La Fayette or Jane Austen or the Brontës—at the time I knew very little about contemporary literature—but like Defoe or Fielding or Flaubert or Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky or even Hugo. While the models offered by women novelists were few and seemed to me for the most part thin, those of male novelists were numerous and almost always dazzling. That phase lasted a long time, until I was in my early twenties, and it left profound effects.
~ Elena Ferrante, Paris Review Art Of Fiction No. 228

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