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The Paley Center for Media Announces Line-Up for PaleyDocFest October 16 to 27, 2008, in New York

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Premieres and Previews
•    New York Premieres of Johnny Cash’s America, Running the Sahara, and American Masters: Jerome Robbins - Something to Dance About
•    Special Preview of Sweet Dreams

Celebrating Creativity, Excellence, and the History of the Doc
•    Art of the Documentary Pitch Workshop & screening of Whatever it Takes, winner of the 2006 Workshop
•    Opening Night: Toots, a tribute to NY restaurateur Toots Shor
•    Youth Documentary Showcase
•    Closing Night: “A Look at Liv, Then and Now” with the iconic actress and documentarian Richard Kaplan, director of A Look at Liv: Norway’s Liv Ullmann; Liv Ullmann’s Norway 

New York, NY—The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) today announced a diverse lineup of documentaries to be screened at its ninth annual documentary festival, PaleyDocFest, in New York from October 16 to 27, 2008. With a slate of new and noteworthy works of nonfiction, PaleyDocFest will explore subjects from Johnny Cash to Jerome Robbins; from Providence “wiseguys” to three men who decide to run all 4300 miles of the Sahara Desert. Following each screening, the filmmakers and special guests will take part in the lively Q&A discussions that have become a hallmark of the Festival.

“The Paley Center for Media has a deep commitment to documentaries. We believe in the power of this art form to inspire and to tell stories in a way that captures the imagination and expands our horizons,” said Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media. “In our vast collection of documentaries, we offer some of the most well-known and celebrated documentaries on subjects as wide-ranging as the greatest rock bands to politics and global poverty. This year’s PaleyDocFest will once again offer an opportunity to see new documentaries, with a selection of innovative, important films, some of which will have their NY premiere in our theaters.”

PaleyDocFest takes on a decidedly New York flavor this year opening with Toots, Kristi Jacobson's captivating and masterful tribute not just to her grandfather, legendary restaurateur Toots Shor,  and his eponymous saloon, but to a New York that no longer exists. In post-prohibition Manhattan, Toots Shor's Restaurant was a playground for the city's A-list, a joint where actors, singers, athletes, and the men who wrote about them came together to kick back and guzzle a tumbler (or three) of whiskey. The Paley Center now stands precisely where Toots Shor’s did almost fifty years ago, so there could be no better location for a screening of the film followed by a discussion with Jacobson and Gay Talese, author; Periane Conerly, wife of New York Giants’ Quarterback Charlie Conerly, and LeRoy Neiman, artist. Thursday, October 16; 6:30pm

PaleyDocFest continues over seven days, Thursday through Saturday, for two weekends and will close on Monday, October 27 with “A Look at Liv Ullmann, Then and Now,” featuring an in-person appearance by Liv Ullmann in celebration of Richard Kaplan’s 1979 documentary A Look at Liv: Norway’s Liv Ullmann; Liv Ullmann’s Norway. A revealing documentary of this extraordinary actress, A Look at Liv  charts Ullmann’s complicated relationship with Ingmar Bergman, details her acting methods, and reviews the public’s perception of her as a feminist icon. The Paley Center is honored to reunite filmmaker and subject for this screening, followed by a conversation of Ullmann’s life since then, including her second career as a director.  Monday, October 27; 6:30pm

Acclaimed filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon return to the Festival for the New York premiere of their latest documentary, Johnny Cash’s America, a journey through the life of the iconic “Man in Black.”  Neville and Gordon explore Cash’s many identities as a rebel, a patriot, a drug addict, a devout Christian and of course, as “both the cowboy and the Indian.” Rarely seen gems like clips of the never-broadcast Johnny Cash Show pilot and rehearsal footage from Cash’s time with the Highwaymen are featured, as well as fascinating interviews with those who loved and were inspired by Cash, including his manager, producers and long-time band members, and famous friends like Al Gore, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan. Friday, October 17; 6:30pm

PaleyDocFest is also proud to premiere a new documentary on another quintessential New Yorker, Jerome Robbins. As a director/choreographer, Robbins transformed dance on Broadway (West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof) and in the concert hall (The New York City Ballet). American Masters: Jerome Robbins – Something to Dance About is a compelling two-hour documentary by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Judy Kinberg and written by best-selling Robbins biographer Amanda Vaill. It examines Robbins’s unparalleled artistry and ruthless perfectionism, as well as the controversies that plagued his life. Never-before-seen rehearsal footage and interviews with many of his colleagues, both from ballet and Broadway, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, Jacques D'Amboise, and Chita Rivera are also featured. AMERICAN MASTERS is produced for PBS by Thirteen/WNET New York. Thursday, October 23; 6:30 pm

Directed by James Moll, executive produced by Matt Damon, and making its New York premiere, Running the Sahara is the true story of three men who embark on a mind-boggling pursuit: running across all 4,300 miles of the Sahara Desert. They average fifty miles per day for nearly four months without a single day off, facing down dehydration, dust storms, and blisters the size of baseballs. The journey takes a physical and emotional toll on the team and although the oppressive conditions inspire moments of doubt, each man remains determined to make it to the end on foot. Runner Ray Zahab will join the director after the screening to discuss his astonishing film and field questions about the transformative experience. Winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival. Friday, October 24; 6:30pm

Eric Scott Latek's nonfiction piece, Sweet Dreams, is a visually and aurally stunning look at what it means to be a man in Federal Hill, the "wiseguy belt" of Providence, R.I. Shot over three years, this vérité epic—part Rocky, part Mean Streets—follows a boxer and a bookie, both Italian-American, as their lives gradually intersect. Gary "Tiger" Baletto is a rising champ seemingly destined for a title bout, but when a friend is killed in the ring, he begins to question his dedication to the sport. Derek, on the other hand, is something of a lost soul, a wannabe mobster barely out of his teens whose notions of masculinity and ambition are conditioned by his environment—and wholly at odds with his actual persona. Full Frame's Nancy Buirski will conduct the post-screening Q&A with Director Latek, recently named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker magazine. Saturday, October 25; 5:00 pm

Youth Documentary Showcase & 2008 Art of the Documentary Pitch Workshop
Two special PaleyDocFest events which have become mainstays of the Festival are also included this year. The Youth Documentary Showcase will celebrate outstanding works produced by young documentary video and filmmakers nationwide. Presented in collaboration with Downtown Community Television New York, the focus of this year’s Youth Documentary Showcase will be on elections, voting, and other political issues. An informal Q&A will take place after the screening. Saturday, October 18; 4:00 pm

One of the most significant screenings taking place during PaleyDocFest will be the presentation of 2006 Pitch Workshop winner Chris Wong’s Whatever It Takes, a dramatic and inspirational educational portrait and emotional journey through the first year of a South Bronx high school. Principal Edward Tom envisions the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics as a safe haven where children can focus on rigorous and meaningful education. With uncommon access to its subjects, the film engrossingly creates the world of 107 ninth-grade students born into hardship, but rising to achievement. Saturday, October 18; 2:00 pm

The Art of the Documentary Pitch, which is sponsored by The Documentary Channel and awards the winner a $5,000 grant to be used toward the completion of the film, is scheduled for October 25 at 2:00 pm. One of the signature events of the PaleyDocFest, and certainly one of the most popular, this workshop/competition has served as springboard for numerous films that have gone on to secure distribution or long successful runs on the festival circuit. Five emerging documentarians (two directing credits or less) are preselected to make public pitches to a panel of respected producers, who will critique the filmmakers’ presentation and concepts, while discussing the process of developing a documentary. After all the pitches have been heard, the panel will choose a winner, based on persuasiveness, originality, and viability. Confirmed judges for the 2008 Art of the Documentary Pitch are Diana Holtzberg, Acquisitions/Project Development Director USA Films Transit International; Lauren Lazin, Filmmaker and Executive Producer, MTV Networks; Cynthia Lopez, VP American Documentary P.O.V; Tom Neff, CEO/Founder, The Documentary Channel; Molly Thompson, Programming Director, A&E IndieFilms; Susan Werbe, Executive Producer, The History Channel.  Saturday, October 25; 2:00 pm

The Paley Center’s annual documentary festival was inaugurated in 2000 with the mission of bringing exemplary documentaries and works of nonfiction to the public.  Previous festivals have introduced audiences to such acclaimed films as Ken Burns’s The War, Born Into Brothels, Street Fight, Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story, and Lalee’s Kin. Last year, Darfur Now and Chicago 10 premiered at DocFest. Over the years, the festival has hosted screenings and dialogues with such participants as Jon Alpert, Peter Arnett, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Glenn Close, Robert Drew, Eve Ensler, Liz Garbus, Mikhail Gorbachev, Taylor Hackford, Eugene Jarecki, Sebastian Junger, Susan Lacy, Annie Leibovitz, Jerome Liebling, Nathanial Kahn, Rory Kennedy, Al Maysles, Michael Moore, Jehame Noujaim, Sam Pollard, Gordon Parks, Alexandra Pelosi, DA Pennebaker, Alvin Perlmutter, Sam Phillips, Alan and Susan Raymond, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Weide, and Gideon Yago.  Now in its ninth year, the annual PaleyDocFest is the centerpiece of the Paley Center’s ongoing commitment to the documentary form.

A complete schedule for PaleyDocFest is attached. All events are sold separately: $20, $15 for Paley Center Members. Ticket prices include admission to The Paley Center for Media and attendance at the question and answer panel discussion related to the events. Tickets for The Art of the Documentary Pitch Workshop are $15, $10 for Paley Center Members. Youth Documentary Showcase is included with general admission to the Paley Center for Media. For additional information and tickets, please visit: 

Support for this Festival has been generously provided by The Hearst Corporation, A&E IndieFilms, The Documentary Channel, Thirteen/WNET, Film Comment, and International Documentary Association. This program is supported, in part, but public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society. The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.  For more information, please visit


Schedule of Events
Opening Night—
Thursday, October 16; 6:30pm
Q&A: Gay Talese, Periane Conerly, LeRoy Neiman and filmmaker Kristi Jacobson

New York Premiere
Friday, October 17; 6:30pm
Q&A: Filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon

WHATEVER IT TAKES  (winner of the 2006 PaleyDocFest’s  Art of the Pitch Workshop)
Saturday, October 18; 2:00 -4:00 pm
Q&A: Filmmaker Chris Wong; Principal Edward Tom and Assistant Principal Madeline Rios, Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics

Saturday, October 18; 4:00 -6:00 pm
Q&A with young documentary video and filmmakers

New York Premiere
Thursday, October 23; 6:30 pm
Q&A: Filmmaker Judy Kinberg; Writer Amanda Vaill, and American Masters Executive Producer Susan Lacy

New York Premiere
Friday, October 24; 6:30pm
Q&A: Filmmaker James Moll; Ray Zahab, Film Subject

Sponsored by The Documentary Channel
Saturday, October 25; 2:00 – 4:00 pm
A workshop/competition in which five emerging documentary filmmakers pitch their ideas to a panel of distinguished producers.  The winner will receive a $5000 grant. Panelists include Diana Holtzberg, Films Transit International; Lauren Lazin, MTV Networks; Cynthia Lopez, P.O.V; Tom Neff, The Documentary Channel; Molly Thompson, A&E IndieFilms; Susan Werbe, The History Channel. 

Special Preview
Saturday, October 25; 5:00 pm
Q&A: Filmmaker Eric Scott Latek; Full Frame Founder & Independent Producer Nancy Buirski; Gary “Tiger” Balletto

Closing Night—“A Look at Liv Ullmann, Then and Now”
A Look at Liv: Norway’s Liv Ullmann; Liv Ullmann’s Norway
Monday, October 27; 6:30pm
Q&A: Filmmaker Richard Kaplan and Liv Ullmann

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