Individuals who stand up to the forces of powerful institutions. This thematic focus unites much of the work of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
oathfrom 2010, revolved around two men – one Yemeni and one Saudi – caught up in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism.The 2015 Oscar-winning documentary citizen four It centered around cyber intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed top-secret details of the NSA’s global surveillance program.Poitras will return to the Oscar race this year all beauty and bloodher film about artist Nan Goldin, who stood up to the powerful Sackler family, the billionaire owner of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.
Goldin became addicted to Purdue’s silver bullet and later founded the organization PAIN to shame the museum and cut ties with the Sackler family.
Deadline: When did you first hear about Nan Goldin and how did this documentary come about?
Laura Poitras: I first encountered Minami-san’s work when I was in film school.encountered ballad of sexual addictionfirst as a book, then seen projected [as a slideshow]I was really impressed that she did something really groundbreaking in terms of film language and framing, misan scenes, and the use of slideshows as narrative devices. I knew her work in that sense, but I didn’t know her personally.
I met you for the first time at the time of release citizen four — I was traveling with it, and we happened to be at the same festival. She told me she was documenting the activities of her PAIN, her organization that confronts the Sacklers. She said, “If there’s anything I can do to help…” she said, “I’m looking for a producer.” And finally I volunteered for the project. So this was a movie very much initiated by Nan and her organization.
Deadline: Goldin is one of the producers on this film. It’s a little unusual that the subject of a movie is also the producer.
Poitras: it’s not That Unusual. I think it’s case by case. for example, citizen fourEd [Snowden] I couldn’t be a producer. We were dealing with the NSA, and he was very source.But movies like this that Nunn started are built around her artwork, so it was actually important and essential for her to be a part of the film. In it, he talks about how he works with the people he shoots [permitting them to tear up photos if they want to]There’s this kind of collaboration in the way she works, and I think she tried to incorporate that into the way she made the film.
Deadline: This film creates portraits of artists and humans. Still, this campaign of PAIN to expose and hold the Sackler family to account is essential. They are two very related, but in some ways separate. How did you strike a balance in your storytelling?
Poitras: This film has a great editing team, Joe Bini — who has edited many of Werner Herzog’s films — has these ideas about dramaturgy and makes the themes clear in this chapter structure. I created a document that expressed … The first chapter is called “The Logic We Learn” is quoted by Nan’s sister from Joseph Conrad. Social themes, rebels and outsiders It’s a cruel society that crushes those who are human and who stand up to power. And it rewards people like Sackler who mercilessly profit from people’s suffering and death.
I love movies with multiple story threads where they’re all in one and you fall down the rabbit hole and you’re somewhere else and back again. I love what it does as a viewer experience. And I think we were able to do a little bit of that with this movie. There are trapdoors we go down to meet people – Tin Pan Alley and Maggie Smith at Times Square bars, for example.this movie gave us [do that] Nan’s life is so wonderful that you can refer to and go to different places like P-Town. [Provincetown, Massachusetts], a great queer community. There was a possibility because of Nan’s material from her life and her personal archives.
how did you put it together? Trust me, it didn’t work right away. On paper it worked, but on the timeline it was a disaster. It doesn’t just happen. This kind of iteration, iteration, iteration, [process]for example, what information do you need here to move to the next location? And it’s just time, time, time.
Deadline: One main connection thread between all beauty and blood Your early films are about people standing up to powerful forces.
Poitras: I think it’s a continuum. Before making documentaries, I broke out of the tradition of more experimental avant-garde cinema. I have worked with different types of forms. I am drawn to observation…where there is drama.
This one had it. This small group took on the Sacklers. they are having a meeting. It had a lot of elements to it and the kind of drama that I have in my other movies.
But Nan’s candor and her willingness to talk raw and honest about her life are two very different things. That is the collaboration with Nan. What makes this movie different? It’s naan. What she brings to this film is different from my past films.
Deadline: Did you identify with Nunn and others in the film? Did PAIN’s Megan Kupler and New Yorker writer Patrick Rudden Keefe believe they were being watched? Nature of work Above, I’ve experienced it in some way.
Poitras: I definitely identified with it. They were pretty freaked out when I was working on the project. Those who saw them chasing them weren’t hiding it. And actually did a lot more research on it. We actually identified him and met him. I tried to run him over. I wanted him to take notes, talk about who hired him, and share all the surveillance footage.
I had this fantasy that I could flip him over.We met him, I couldn’t tip him off and we didn’t include it [in the film]Also, in the end I really liked him because he felt like this working class guy trying to survive. And he also blamed Big Pharma. He was very much in sync with Nan.What is this [Harvey] Weinstein did so to intimidate his victims.
Deadline: Your film won the Golden Lion in Venice. It is his second documentary that has achieved that. How surprised were you when you received the award?
Poitras: It was surreal, I mean really surreal. “Oh my god, that couldn’t have happened,” and keep hoping to wake up. I knew I was invited to Venice, but for a while I didn’t know I was competing. That’s important to me — I think non-fiction is cinema. But when I got word that we had entered the competition, it was a victory for me to say, “OK, great.” That’s why I was so excited to be invited to the competition and to be able to do a show on that platform.didn’t expect anything [of winning]It never even occurred to me. So it was amazing. It was really unusual.
Deadline: You were recently named a Guest of Honor at the IDFA in Amsterdam. There, I did his Q&A with the festival’s artistic director, Orwa Nyrabia. I spoke with him afterwards and he was happy to accuse you of teasingly secretly loving the United States, even though much of your work is being pushed forward. There was
Poitras: It was very interesting. I’m like, “Hope and love? What are you listening to?” “Love” is not the word I use to describe that relationship.
Deadline: Do you consider yourself a dissident? It’s not a word used in the American context, but I wondered if you identify yourself as such.
Poitras: I certainly think I’m with those who accept the term. . And I don’t think it’s necessarily an anti-establishment position. It’s rather, “Let’s stop pretending we’re not part of a global empire. Let’s stop pretending there’s no proxy war to drop drone attacks or assassinate people in other countries.” Look at things with truth and be hostile to it, but leave that to others.