Twenty-eight years ago today, artist Bill Watterson’s only syndicated comic strip hit newspapers for the first time, introducing readers to a rowdy six-year old named Calvin, and his often hungry and always kindhearted companion, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. The strip quickly grew to become arguably the most popular comic of its era – but after ten years in print, the reclusive Watterson retired his pens and brushes, and retreated from the public eye. Now, almost thirty years later, adoring fans carry a nostalgic torch for the quiet subversion, unbridled joy, and beautifully rendered drawings of Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.
“Dear Mr. Watterson” is a new documentary film by director Joel Allen Schroeder that explores the enduring influence Calvin and Hobbes had on a generation of fans and artists. The movie is now out in select theaters and available on demand.
When Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death for raping and killing a nine year-old girl, the audience in Baltimore County’s circuit court in Maryland broke out into wild applause. It was July of 1984, and at 22 years old, the former Marine was the most notorious man in Maryland. His crimes were so brutal, that even inmates threatened to kill him; one bashed him on the back of the head with a sock full of batteries.
After serving nine years behind bars--two on death row--Bloodsworth became the first person in America to be exonerated by DNA evidence and released from prison. He is now director of advocacy for “Witness to Innocence”, which is attempting to convince the 32 remaining states where the death penalty remains legal, to repeal it.
Werner Herzog is one of the leading figures of world cinema. In addition to making more than 60 films, he’s produced more than 20 operas, published books and screenplays and articles, acted in films and produced art installations.
His films are known for their unnerving originality and difficult locations. He’s shot films deep in the jungles of Thailand and Brazil, through bone chilling temperatures in Antarctica, and under strained conditions from political coups to maneuvering in a cave of prehistoric art with only hand-held cameras and minimal crew.
His latest work is extreme in a different way… a startling public service announcement about the dangers of texting while driving. Herzog joined us from the studios at Dartmouth College, where he’ll be in residence this weekend.
Banish the bridge game, and shove off the shuffleboard… competitive table tennis for seniors is the subject of the new film “Ping Pong”, which airs tonight on PBS’s POV series.
The film shows the arch rivalries and individual motivations of the traditional sports drama, ramped up by the presence of cancer, dementia, and the physical deterioration at the end of life. The film’s producer is Anson Hartford, and he joins us to talk about it.
Before moving to New Hampshire, Merhawi Wells-Bogue earned his living on the streets of the Ethiopian city of Mekelle. Years later, while studying journalism at UNH, he went back and spoke with other street kids, often hearing stories of neglect and abuse. He’s since graduated, and was awarded a grant from UNH to do research on similarly neglected children. He also launched LIFT Street Kids, an organization designed to help children living on the streets of Mekelle. He is raising money for a documentary film using the crowd-funding site Crowdwise. Merhawi was with us to talk about the many children either orphaned or abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the dusty streets of Mekelle.
PBS is hosting an encore broadcast of the documentary The City Dark. The film, part of the POV series, will be airing on August 12. Last year we spoke with director IanCheney about light pollution and the development of the film. Here is our conversation with him after the debut of the documentary last summer.
In Santa Clarita, a town in southern California, there’s not much to do. The documentary feature Only the Youngfocuses on several teens who live there and follows them as they navigate growing up amongst the foreclosed homes and drained swimming pools that form the landscape of their youth. Only the Youngpremieres tonight as part of PBS’s POV series. Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims produced and directed the film, and Elizabeth Mims joined us from KUT in Austin. Also with us was Kevin Conway, one of the subjects of the film.
Brianna Hammon was in the second grade when she was first restrained and secluded, strapped into a bolted down chair, in a segregated classroom for physically disabled students. Now in her late twenties, Brianna told her story with the help of a speech-generating device at the 2012 TASH Summit in Long Beach, California – one of five testimonies that were recorded for the new film “Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories”. The film’s director is Dan Habib - former photo editor for the Concord Monitor, now filmmaker-in-residence at the institute on disability at the University of New Hampshire.
If there was ever a man who knew how to fail fabulously, it was writer, journalist, and editor George Plimpton. Ten years after his death, and sixty since he helped launch esteemed literary magazine The Paris Review, Plimpton is probably best known for his amateur antics among pro athletes – taking hits from light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore, playing quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and taking the mound at Yankee Stadium. His accounts of these stories, now acknowledged as the beginning of participatory journalism, effectively transformed Plimpton one of the greatest everyman writers in modern memory.
For the new documentary Plimpton!, directors Tom Bean and Luke Polling combed through countless hours of footage to create a film posthumously narrated by its own subject. Already out in select cities, Plimpton! opens Friday, June 21st at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Lance Rice is a brewery historian, who for forty years has been becoming an expert on all things beerish. He plans to write a book about North American breweries and their history, based partially on the trip he hopes to take with his nephew, Aaron. The kicker in all this is that Lance has autism.
We dug up this interview from 2008 with Jason Crigler, the composer of the musical score forMake Sure it’s Me.
In August of 2004, Jason Crigler, a highly-regarded guitarist, suffered a brain hemorrhage during a gig in New York City. His pregnant wife rushed him to the hospital and got the bad news: doctors told Jason’s family that he might not live through the night, and if he did, little of the Jason they knew would be left.
Last year we interviewed Pamela Yates about her documentary Granito: How to Nail A Dictator which details the indictment of General Efrain Rios Montt, believed to be responsible for the murder of 200,000 mostly indigenous Mayan Ixil people during the Guatemalan genocide.
Just about everybody who’s ever shopped at the grocery store has instinctively checked produce for bruising or blemishes, or put aside a can of soup because the can was dented… but there are many people willing to eat for free what paying customers will not – even if they have to dig through a dumpster to find it. New Hampshire native Alex Mallis is head of Analect Films – and the director of the short documentary Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest. The film follows a diverse group of so-called ‘dumpster-divers’ on their late night journey to a New York City Trader Joes. You can catch Spoils this Saturday at 11 am at the Colonial Theater as part of the Monadnock Film Festival - and Alex joins us to explain the philosophy and logistics behind reclaiming discarded food from the dumpster.
Central Park was New York City’s place of refuge and openness until April 19, 1989 when a woman was brutally assaulted and left for dead. Author Sarah Burns turned her research about the event into a documentary film detailing the racially charged convictions of five black and Latino youth. They were exonerated over a decade later when another man confessed to committing the crime.
Two weeks ago marked the second anniversary of the nuclear disaster and subsequent evacuation of Fukushima, Japan defying the government-mandated evacuation orders and living by himself inside “The Zone” is 53 year-old Naoto Matsumara, a fifth generation rice farmer who returned to Fukushima not long after the disaster first unfolded. Vice Japan’s Ivan Kovac is director and editor of “Alone in the Zone”, a documentary that follows Naoto on his mission to care for the pets and livestock abandoned after the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown.