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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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MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

INTERVIEWER
Do you outline plays before you start to write them?

PINTER
Not at all. I don’t know what kind of characters my plays will have until they…well, until they are. Until they indicate to me what they are. I don’t conceptualize in any way. Once I’ve got the clues I follow them—that’s my job, really, to follow the clues.

INTERVIEWER
What do you mean by clues? Can you remember how one of your plays developed in your mind—or was it a line-by-line progression?

PINTER
Of course I can’t remember exactly how a given play developed in my mind. I think what happens is that I write in a very high state of excitement and frustration. I follow what I see on the paper in front of me—one sentence after another. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a dim, possible overall idea—the image that starts off doesn’t just engender what happens immediately, it engenders the possibility of an overall happening, which carries me through. I’ve got an idea of what might happen—sometimes I’m absolutely right, but on many occasions I’ve been proved wrong by what does actually happen. Sometimes I’m going along and I find myself writing “C. comes in” when I didn’t know that he was going to come in; he had to come in at that point, that’s all.
~ Harold Pinter

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