Barbara Kopple

Barbara Kopple

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Sundance London A.C.O.D

Barbara Kopple and David Cassidy - 2013 Sundance London Film And Music Festival- 'A.C.O.D' at the O2 Arena - London, United Kingdom - Friday 26th April 2013

Barbara Kopple
Barbara Kopple
Barbara Kopple
Barbara Kopple

Mariel Hemingway Curse Explored in Running From Crazy at Sundance


Mariel Hemingway Ernest Hemingway Barbara Kopple Oprah Winfrey

The Sundance Film Festival has become a hub for some of the world's best documentaries to be showcased. Mariel Hemingway, the grand-daughter of the iconic American writer Ernest Hemingway. Her family's history has been carved by depression and ill mental health. Running From Crazy explores that part of her family's history, and had its premier at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Ernest Hemingway killed himself two weeks before Mariel was born, one of her sisters died of an overdose in 1998 and her other sister has been in and out of institutions for a decade. Mariel herself has battled with depression but now, speaking to the Globe and Mail, she says she's through it. "Some people are like, 'Wow, [Running From Crazy is] a heavy title.' Well, I don't see it as a heavy title. I'm like, 'Dude, thank God.' Crazy's gone. . There's fun in my life and I'm joyful. But there was a time when I really was not. . But I truly am no longer depressed. It's gone. I can honestly say that it's been years. I laugh at myself now, which is fun." 

With Academy Award winner Barabara Kopple directing and Oprah Winfrey as executive producer it's got some heavy-weight backing behind it. Working with Mariel was a dream for Kopple. "What Mariel has, I mean, she's the dream of a documentarian," she said, "because you sit at the table with her and talk to her, and everything comes out, because she has a higher purpose for it. She really wants to shed light on suicide and mental illness."

The New York premiere of Higher Gorund - Arrivals

Barbara Kopple Monday 15th August 2011 The New York premiere of Higher Gorund - Arrivals New York City, USA

Barbara Kopple

Shut Up & Sing Review


Good
A documentarian is frequently at the mercy of his or her subject. A project may seem exciting stuff, only to reveal itself a yawn upon further investigation. Luckily, for filmmakers Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, the opposite is true here. Lucky for the audience, too.

At the height of their success, as the cameras were rolling on a documentary about their current world tour, and George W. Bush was laying out plans to invade Iraq, the Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience that she was ashamed to be from the same state as her president. It was a statement warmly greeted by the British crowd to which it was made, but one which triggered a career-debilitating controversy back in America (particularly amongst their red-state fan base). This controversy, the band's and its handlers' attempts to control it, and ultimately their acceptance of it, becomes the narrative focus of Kopple and Peck's Shut Up & Sing, which greatly benefits from the drama. Kopple and Peck allow Maines and her girls to turn what might have been a fluff piece on the Dixie Chicks' moving from triumph to triumph into an intriguing study of what happens when a person puts their foot in their mouth and receives a national boot in the bum for doing so.

Continue reading: Shut Up & Sing Review

Harlan County, U.S.A. Review


Extraordinary
Winner of the 1976 Best Feature Documentary Oscar and an inductee into the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, Barbara Kopple's extraordinary Harlan County, U.S.A. is more than a moving and purposeful documentary: it's an example of what film can be, or maybe what it might have been. The film recounts first-hand a classic American labor dispute: in 1973 the miners at the rural Kentucky Eastover Mining Company voted to join the United Mine Workers, and Duke Power, Eastover's North Carolina-based parent corporation, refused the standard union agreement the UMW put forth. What followed was a 13-month strike involving 180 Kentucky families. Kopple and her crew relocated to Harlan County for the duration of the strike, giving her an ideal vantage point: Her insider status assured her remarkable access to the strikers (her crews infiltrate so far as the men's showers, for instance), even while she and her cameramen remain culturally apart. What's not reported are the strategies of the powers-that-be at Duke; like The Battle of Algiers before it, Harlan County, U.S.A. is a film that advocates a position, and that position is steadfastly pro-labor. When Duke Power sees the barbarians at its gates, it cannot but help notice that there's a film crew among them.

Should Kopple strive for impartiality in reporting on the strike? Of course not; the working conditions she chronicles in Harlan County, U.S.A. make the case for anyone not in Duke's direct employ. We see men dutifully performing their jobs under circumstances that would horrify us in Dickens, so that it takes some concentration on the viewer's part to bear in mind that this is set in America only 30 years ago. Two anecdotal arguments against the high-mindedness of Duke Power stand out: In one a miner recounts a foreman's instructions regarding a mule he's taking into the mines - if anything happens, the foreman tells him, be sure that the mule makes it to safety. In another we listen aghast as a corporate doctor discounts the connection between working in a coal mine and the development of black lung disease.

Continue reading: Harlan County, U.S.A. Review

Harlan County, U.S.A. Review


Extraordinary
Winner of the 1976 Best Feature Documentary Oscar and an inductee into the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, Barbara Kopple's extraordinary Harlan County, U.S.A. is more than a moving and purposeful documentary: it's an example of what film can be, or maybe what it might have been. The film recounts first-hand a classic American labor dispute: in 1973 the miners at the rural Kentucky Eastover Mining Company voted to join the United Mine Workers, and Duke Power, Eastover's North Carolina-based parent corporation, refused the standard union agreement the UMW put forth. What followed was a 13-month strike involving 180 Kentucky families. Kopple and her crew relocated to Harlan County for the duration of the strike, giving her an ideal vantage point: Her insider status assured her remarkable access to the strikers (her crews infiltrate so far as the men's showers, for instance), even while she and her cameramen remain culturally apart. What's not reported are the strategies of the powers-that-be at Duke; like The Battle of Algiers before it, Harlan County, U.S.A. is a film that advocates a position, and that position is steadfastly pro-labor. When Duke Power sees the barbarians at its gates, it cannot but help notice that there's a film crew among them.

Should Kopple strive for impartiality in reporting on the strike? Of course not; the working conditions she chronicles in Harlan County, U.S.A. make the case for anyone not in Duke's direct employ. We see men dutifully performing their jobs under circumstances that would horrify us in Dickens, so that it takes some concentration on the viewer's part to bear in mind that this is set in America only 30 years ago. Two anecdotal arguments against the high-mindedness of Duke Power stand out: In one a miner recounts a foreman's instructions regarding a mule he's taking into the mines - if anything happens, the foreman tells him, be sure that the mule makes it to safety. In another we listen aghast as a corporate doctor discounts the connection between working in a coal mine and the development of black lung disease.

Continue reading: Harlan County, U.S.A. Review

My Generation Review


Good
Barbara Kopple manages to damn culture and the counterculture, making enemies of the whole world, with her lambasting of the Woodstock phenomenon in My Generation. Through the music festival's three incarnations so far (1969, 1994, and 1999), the highs and lows of the events are tracked. Of course, the way Kopple shows it (and I'm with her -- I'd never go to one of these things), it's mostly lows. If she isn't showing the riots, arsons, lootings, and overdoses of the crowd, she's railing against the corporate greed underlying the festival ($135 to $150 for tickets? A $7 slushee? After Pepsi shells out $5 million for sponsorship rights?) -- all under the guise of documentarian neutrality. Kopple's opinion may shine through in color, but that doesn't make it wrong. At two hours, My Generation is way too long (do we really need that much Limp Bizkit footage?), but it's still an eye-opening look into the corporate politics of the youth culture.
Barbara Kopple

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