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The Paley Center for Media Announces Lineup for PaleyDocFest09

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New York, NY-The Paley Center for Media today announced a diverse lineup of documentaries to be screened at its tenth annual documentary festival, PaleyDocFest09, in New York throughout the month of October. With a slate of new and noteworthy works of nonfiction focusing on this year's theme of the intersection of politics and culture, PaleyDocFest will explore subjects from artist/activist Joan Baez to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof; from the symbolism of the Berlin Wall to outcast teenagers in Tehran. Following each screening, the filmmakers, subjects of the presenting films, and special guests will take part in the lively Q&A discussions are a hallmark of the Festival. New this year will be a complimentary wine reception presented by Cycles Gladiator wines before each screening.

"With our annual documentary festival, The Paley Center for Media continues its deep commitment to this important and influential filmmaking. Following last year's historic presidential election where media played an ever-increasing role, the Festival will explore that now-amplified interconnection between politics and culture that can change society," said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of The Paley Center for Media. "Through the documentaries in the Festival, one will experience the power of this art form to inspire to tell a story in a way that captures our imagination and expands our horizons. These will be added to numerous groundbreaking documentaries already in our vast collection, which cover subjects as wide-ranging as profiles of artists to global issues that affect all of us."

PaleyDocFest starts on October 8 with The Way We Get By, which explores how different generations of war veterans come to terms with what one's service to country means. The Festival then continues with the world premiere of the American Masters Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound on October 9; Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall on October 20;The Glass House, which is about empowering abused young women in Tehran on October 21; a screening of Reporter, which profiles Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on October 22; ESPN's 30 for 30: The Rise and Fall of Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder on October 23; RiP: A Remix Manifesto on October 26 takes a look at redefining originality in the digital age; and on October 29 the Festival will the close with Poliwood, the award-winning director Barry Levinson's look at the intersection of Hollywood and politics.

Two special PaleyDocFest events which have become mainstays of the Festival are also included this year - The Art of the Documentary Pitch workshop and DocuJam on Saturday, October 17.

The Art of the Documentary Pitch, which is sponsored by SnagFilms and awards the winner a $5,000 grant to be used toward the completion of the film, is scheduled for October 17 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 a 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 pre-selected to make public pitches to a panel of respected producers and film executives, 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 panelists for the 2009 Art of the Documentary Pitch are Rick Allen, chief executive officer, SnagFilms; Diana Holtzberg, vice president - USA Operations Acquisitions, Project Development, Sales, Films Transit International; Molly Thompson, vice president, A&E IndieFilms; Chris Waite, director of programming and production, P.O.V.

Later in the afternoon of October 17 at 4:00pm, DocuJam will celebrate outstanding works produced by young documentary video and filmmakers nationwide, presented in collaboration with Downtown Community Television New York. An informal Q&A will take place after the screening.

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. Over the years, the festival has hosted screenings and dialogues with such participants as Jon Alpert, Peter Arnett, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Glenn Close, Roger Daltrey, Robert Drew, Jacques D'Amboise, 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, Liv Ullman, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Weide, and Gideon Yago.  Now in its tenth year, the annual PaleyDocFest is the centerpiece of the Paley Center's ongoing commitment to the documentary form.

A complete schedule for PaleyDocFest09 is attached. All events are sold separately: $20, $15 for Paley Center Members. Ticket prices include admission to The Paley Center for Media, wine receptions, 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. DocuJam 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 and HBO, with additional support from Thirteen/WNET. Thanks to SnagFilms, the Paley Center’s official documentary online distribution collaborator. This program is supported, in part, by 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. The Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.  For more information, please visit

THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA: PaleyDocFest09 Schedule of Events  ­[View online]
*please note that events/participants are subject to change

The Way We Get By
Thursday, October 8 at 6:30pm
In association with P.O.V.

2009 Special Jury Award, South by Southwest Festival
2009 Audience Award Winner, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

This award-winning film profiles three senior citizens/veterans who find new meaning in their lives by greeting returning troops while intimately conveying what service to country means in these treacherous times. Q&A: Aron Gaudet, filmmaker; Bill Knight, WWII veteran; Jerry Mundy, former Marine; and Gita Pullapilly, filmmaker.

World Premiere
Friday, October 9 at 6:30pm

This first comprehensive documentary to chronicle the private and public life of artist/activist Joan Baez provides unprecedented access to the singer. Bob Dylan, David Crosby, and Reverend Jessie Jackson also share about Baez's remarkable life. Q&A: Anthony DeCurtis, author and contributing editor, Rolling Stone; Susan Lacy, executive producer, American Masters; and Mary Wardon, filmmaker.

Sponsored by SnagFilms
Saturday, October 17 at 2:00 - 4:00pm

A workshop/competition in which five pre-selected emerging documentary filmmakers pitch their ideas to a panel of distinguished documentary executives and producers. 

Saturday, October 17 at 4:00 - 6:00pm

Outstanding documentaries produced by youth nationwide.

Tuesday, October 20 at 6:30pm
In association with History and ZDF Enterprises

For twenty-eight years the Berlin Wall was the concrete symbol of the ideology behind the Cold War. This German/American documentary reveals the gripping history of the Wall from both sides, complete with intriguing computer graphics to explain how it was built, guarded, and why it should never be forgotten.  Q&A: Oliver Halmburger, filmmaker. Additional panelists to be announced.

The Glass House
Wednesday, October 21 at 6:30pm
In association with the Sundance Channel

Filmmakers Hamid Rahmanian and Melissa Hibbard follow the stories of four young women in Tehran who were abused physically and psychologically but who found empowerment-education, counseling, and work placement-- at the Omid E. Mehr Center, where the dark side of the old society is confronted and overcome. Q&A: Melissa Hibbard, filmmaker; Marjaneh Halati, Founder, Omid e Mehr Foundation; and Hamid Rahmanian, filmmaker.

New York Premiere
ESPN'S 30 for 30: The Rise and Fall of Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder
Thursday, October 22 at 6:30pm

In the early eighties Jimmy "the Greek" became a folk hero on the popular NFL Today. With Runyonesque humor and a flair for predictions, Jimmy brought sports gambling to the spotlight of network television. Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Fritz Mitchell, who began his career at NFL Today, unravels the complications of Jimmy, from his early childhood tragedy to the racial remark that got him removed from his show. Q&A: Fritz Mitchell, filmmaker. Additional panelists to be announced.

Friday, October 23 at 6:30pm
In association with HBO Documentary Films

Director Eric Daniel Metzgar profiles the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as he travels to Congo to turn a spotlight on one of the world's darkest conflicts. In this challenging and haunting documentary Metzgar also considers how news is made in the Internet age and how the world and how the world's conscience can be mobilized. Q &A: Mikaela Beardsley, producer; Nicholas Kristof, columnist, The New York Times; and Eric Daniel Metzgar, filmmaker.

Monday, October 26 at 6:30pm

Admission to this event is FREE, thanks to the generosity of The Documentary Channel

Activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor engagingly explores the meaning of copyright in the digital age where the wall between producers and users has been irrevocably torn down. His documentary follows several key individuals seeking to redefine originality in the future, including mash-up artist Girl Talk; Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig; BoingBoing creator Cory Doctorow; and Brazil's Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil. RiP is also a participatory media experiment where Gaylor shares his raw footage for anyone to remix. Q&A: Brett Gaylor, filmmaker. Additional panelists to be announced.

Thursday, October 29 at 6:30pm
In association with Showtime and the Creative Coalition

The Academy Award-winning director of The Natural, Rain Man, and Wag the Dog uses his film insider status to probe the mysteries of the intersection of Hollywood and politics. Barry Levinson journeyed to the 2008 Democratic and Republican conventions to understand what role celebrities have in the actual political process. Among the entertainment figures he interviews are Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Ellen Burstyn, and the late Ron Silver. Q&A: Barry Levinson, Director. Additional panelists to be announced.

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