(upbeat rock music) – Hello and welcome to Close Up with the Hollywood Reporter Documentary. I’d like to welcome Chai
Vasarhelyi, Rashida Jones, Bing Liu, Morgan Neville, Julie Cohen, and Tim Wardle. So let’s get started. What is happening with
documentaries this year? Morgan, you had a big box office hit with Won’t You Be My Neighbor? RBG, Three Identical Strangers, Quincy has just come onto Netflix. Free Solo. Why is the audience
responding the way they are? – It’s funny, this is my 25th
year of making documentaries, and when I started making documentaries, there was nothing cool
about documentaries. (laughing)
I mean, the only reason to make them was because you loved them. And I remember five years
ago, doing this round table, and there was debate at the table of people wanting to get
rid of the word documentary because it wasn’t cool enough.
(laughing) I mean, what a different five years makes. It’s amazing to be in the moment we’re having with documentary now, and I think part of it
is we’re making films that other people aren’t making, kind of adult films that
are asking real questions, that are engaging with the real world, and it’s just scratching something that I think an audience is
dying for in this day and age. – In the case of your film about
Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers, I mean, some commentators
chalked it up to nostalgia. Do you think it was more than that? – No, I mean I, I hate nostalgia. (laughing) It’s the fast food of emotions. I mean, nostalgia
literally means going home. I mean, it’s inherently a regressive idea that doesn’t ask much from an audience, and I felt like this film was
inherently a progressive idea, not, “How do we go back?” but, “How do I get Fred Rogers into 2018?” Who’s a better advocate for
these kinds of crucial issues we have in our culture
right now about civility and neighborliness and kindness, and you know, there’s no
kindness lobby in Hollywood. Or anywhere in America these days. Fred Rogers was kind of the closest thing I could come up with, and it was just trying
to amplify that message. – I mean, you were born a couple of years before the show started. Did you grow up watching him? – I was born six months
before the show started, and I was like gen one
Mister Rogers fanatic. You know, it was before Sesame Street, and my relationship with him
predates my memory, you know, and it also probably outside
of my immediate family, was the first adult relationship
I really had with somebody. So I don’t even remember
all of those things, but in making the film it really, it took me back to revisit part of myself that I hadn’t thought about
in a really, really long time. Making the film was like
10 years’ worth of therapy rolled into one production, you know, it was very cost-efficient in that way, and I honestly had no idea
if anybody else cared. I mean, I had a number of people tell me, when I was making the film, they’re like, “Mister Rogers, really?
– Right. – “You know, good luck
with that, you know.” And it turns out a lot of people were touched in a similar way. – [Woman] Low production values, simple set, unlikely star. Yet it worked because he was saying
something really important. – Love is at the root of everything, all learning, all parenting,
all relationships. Love, or the lack of it. – I mean, I’m interested in hearing how you all settled on your subjects. I mean, Rashida, you have an
even more intimate connection to your subject ’cause the film was about your father, Quincy Jones. Growing up, did you have a feeling you were sharing him with the world, and did that play into the
decision to make this film? – Oh yeah, absolutely. Me and all of my siblings, and anybody who’s ever loved
him shares him with the world, and that’s part of loving him. The reason I wanted to make this is because he is well-documented. There’s actually really, kind
of extensive pieces on him, but he’s so accomplished that you never get to actually
spend time with him (laughing) in any of those pieces
because you have to cover the decades of success that he’s had. There is something
inherently personal about it, so who he is in his private life and who he is when he connects with people is precisely the thing that, you know, kind of incites his success. Also, hard work and talent, but it is one of the many things. – Ego is usually just an
overdressed insecurity. I think you have to dream so big that you can’t get an ego. – I mean, did he need any
encouragement to open himself and the rest of your
family up to the cameras? – He was very, very generous. Many times, we would think we
were done filming for the day, and he would be like, “Aren’t
you coming in to the hotel?” It’s like three in the
morning, four in the morning. He was very generous, and he also said, “I don’t want to see
anything until you’re done.” Which to me, I mean, the complications with knowing your subject is that they’re going to have some sort of like, micromanaging control
over the story you tell, and he did not do that at all, and that’s probably the
only reason I did it. – I’m amazed at how much
your various subjects allowed themselves to be exposed. I mean, Julie, you must’ve
had a complicated situation because your film is about a
sitting Supreme Court justice, and the justices don’t usually
allow this sort of coverage. How did you convince Ruth Ginsburg to? – Yeah, absolutely, and I can assure you that we did not have Rashida’s experience of,
when we were done filming, justice like, “Come on.
(laughing) “Come back for a little more.” I had interviewed Justice
Ginsburg in the past. My directing partner had
interviewed her as well. We approached her a long time
ago, actually in early 2015 and said, “Hey, we’ve got this great idea. “We’re going to make a
film about your life. “Like, what do you think?” And she said, “Not yet.” So we kind of went back to
her with different approaches, and basically got her to allow us to start doing interviews with other
people that weren’t her. People were sort of reporting back to her that we were taking the
whole thing seriously, that we weren’t just like, we didn’t want to just do a whole film about RBG tattoos that people have, even though that is amusing
and is part of our film, but like, that we really wanted to take a pretty deep look into her career, into some of the pretty intense sexism and discrimination she had faced and how she forged through it and how that connected
with what she’d done and kind of looking at constitutional law, another subject that people are like, “Oh yeah, it’s a theatrical
doc about constitutional law,” like you’re really going to
get butts in seats with that. (laughing) – [Woman] How did you respond? – Well, never in anger,
as my mother told me. That would’ve been self-defeating. Always as an opportunity to teach. I did see myself as kind
of a kindergarten teacher in those days because the judges didn’t think sex discrimination existed. Well, one of the things I tried
to plant in their minds was, think about how you would
like the world to be for your daughters and granddaughters. – But she actually never said yes. It was just like we were sort
of making the film, (laughs) and ultimately she started
to participate in it. At one point, several months into filming, her assistant actually
sent us a list saying like, here’s 12 things the
justice is going to be doing over the next year that she thought might make interesting
filming opportunities, so we were like, “Wow.” Even though at that point, she hadn’t even committed
to an interview, or– – Did she suggest you
follow her to the gym, or did you propose that? – (laughing) No, no. And we had that in mind
from like, very early on. We were like, oh yeah,
and like the dream is we would go in the gym
and have her working out, but like thinking, like, is
that ever going to happen? Like, no. We didn’t even approach that with her until really, really near the end, and she sort of had gotten
used to our presence, and we were like, “Do you
think we might be able “to maybe go in and see your workout?” And she just paused, as she always does, ’cause she pauses, that’s one of her signature
conversational maneuvers is a long pause, and then she just said, “Yes, I think that might be possible.” – Very good. I mean, Tim, your movie’s
about three brothers who learn that they’re
related as young men, and they had been through
a lot of media attention and kind of got burnt by it. I mean, when you showed up, did they take convincing
to sit for a film? – I got engaged, married,
and I had a child in the space of time it took us to convince them to take part in the film, so it was pretty hard going because of the trauma that
had been inflicted on them and the kind of sense
that they’d been let down by so many people in the past. – How does that process work? Here’s this British guy who
kind of shows up in New York and says, “I want to talk
about some painful things “that happened to you in the past.” – Look, I think it helped,
actually, being British, and sometimes being an
outsider can be really useful. Their interest is kind of piqued, they’re sort of kind of intrigued. But really it’s just, just
a process of earning trust. I mean, you can’t do
anything without trust, and you know, spent a lot
of time without cameras just going to meet them,
meet their families, meet their friends, explain the kind of
film we wanted to make. But I mean, to be honest,
even when we were filming, there were days when I thought,
are they going to show up? You know, and for the
master interviews, I mean, we really didn’t know if they
were going to turn up or not, so we were kind of
living on that knife edge the whole way through. – The lights were on in the house. (crickets chirping) And I reached out to knock on the door, and as I reached out to
knock on the door, it opens. (expansive string music) And here I am. His eyes are my eyes,
and my eyes are his eyes, and it’s true. – Bing, did you have
some, something similar because you have this film
that explores the lives of these young men that come from the community you came with, and they’re very exposed in the movie. How did you convince
them to take part in it? – It was like a four-year conversation. At times, I think it felt
like this meta-conversation on camera where it’s like, you know, “I just filmed you
abandoning your apartment. “How do you feel about
being in the film now? “You know, we’ve already
talked about, you know, “you seeing the film
before we release it,” and you know, they would
give their thoughts, but most of the time
they felt so included, you know, in the process that
I think they felt comfortable. And then, when we finally sat them down to show them the finished film, none of them wanted anything changed. – Sometimes I know that
I have to work with him, so I will sneak out my window, like, threw my board out
first, and just climb out. And like, at home, I got disciplined, and I wasn’t able to skate for a while. – [Bing] How did you get disciplined? – Uh. I mean, well, they call
it child abuse now, but it’s, (laughs) um. – And Chai, in your case, I assume you kind of knew the climber. Tell us about how you knew this was the right time
to do a film about him. – Jimmy, who’s my directing partner, had known Alex for 10 years, so they had been on a lot
of expeditions together and knew each other quite well. So when the idea came up,
we were talking about it, and at that point, we were just interested in a character portrait about
Alex, and brought up El Cap. I was the first person he told about this, and when I told Jimmy,
he’s like, “No way.” – Which is the mountain you’re summiting. – That he wants to free
solo El Capitan in Yosemite, which is 3,000 feet, and there’s no one, it had never even been
talked about as an idea. We thought it was too risky. We had to really sit with that debate if this was something
we were comfortable with and talk to Alex and like,
kind of spend time together, but it does always come down to trust. We had to trust Alex in
a very, very profound way that he would make the right decisions. You know, the film is very intimate. Like, Alex is a very candid
person, this is who he is. I don’t know how much he understood we were going to move in with him. You know, like, we were
living in that van. He was essentially cooking
me dinner many, many nights. (laughing) He would give me my own little bowl. Then he began to trust us, so it was this, especially with this type of
film with the risks involved, like, the trust was
profound, and you know, he never asked to see the
film, he didn’t want to, and at the very end, I was like, “You really have to see the film “before we show it to people.” And he loved the climbing, and the rest of it is very
painful for him, but that’s okay. – Our next guest is a
free soloing phenomenon. Please welcome Alex Honnold. (applauding) Here is what I don’t understand. One little mistake, one little
slip, and you fall and die. – Yeah, I mean, you seem
to understand it well. – Yeah. (laughing) – [Alex] Yeah. I feel like anybody could
conceivably die on any given day. Soloing makes it feel far more immediate and much more present. – There’s a kind of continuum
in documentary making, where on one hand, you
have Frederick Wiseman, who just records, doesn’t offer narration, any guidance to the viewer, and on the other hand,
you have Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock who are
the center of their films, and everything is funneled through them. How do each of you decide
what role you’ll play, either as a character in
the film, or as a narrator? You kind of introduce yourself
at the beginning of the film, Rashida, but then you kind of stay out of frame a lot of the time. – Yeah, that was by design. (laughs) Originally, I thought about a film about a father and daughter,
but then his life is too big, and there’s too much to cover, and I also didn’t want to
be a subject in the film, so I thought maybe the best compromise, my directing partner Al
Hicks and I decided together that to have me sort of
introduce the audience into the world so they feel like they can use me as a lens if they need to, but then to hopefully
get a little bit lost in his perspective, and you know, the largeness of his life
and his accomplishments. But I just, you know, I think
it’s a very tricky thing to do that well, to be
a subject in your film, and it’s hard to be critical on yourself. I tend to over-correct and just like, not want me on film as much as possible. – And Bing, it seemed to me
your film was something similar. We hear you often, but even in some crucial moments, it seems that you don’t want to take
center stage in the film. – Yeah, it wasn’t
intended at the beginning. Those moments where you hear
me or you feel me off-frame, or the camera sort of is the character, I mean, that happens pretty
much in every documentary. It just happened to become
useful in hindsight later when I did decide to be in the film. I think there was one moment that was a catalyst for
making that decision. It was when one of the
characters revealed to me this abuse that was
happening in a relationship, and I had to have a long sort
of conversation with myself and my team about what gives me the right to go ahead and, you know,
keep telling this story. And ultimately, I chose to go back into my own backstory to do that. – Wow, so you weren’t going
to be a character in the film as you initially conceived it, but you’re like one of
the greatest characters. – I sort of wanted to
go for this, you know, more Wiseman-esque end of the scale, where it’s like, “I want to
make this observational film. “It’s going to be just their
lives, it’s verite, you know.” And then of course, this moment happens, and it’s like, you know, like what happens in a
lot of documentaries. Something happens, and you
sort of have to, you know, reconfigure the whole story. – I thought that’s what works
really well in your film and Rashida’s film, that you sense that this isn’t an ego trip, that you don’t want to put yourself there. You’ve kind of come to
this position as, like, the last kind of option almost. You’ve organically become part of it. Sometimes you watch films, and you know, the director’s really
in there, and you know, having been through documentary edits, you could’ve cut yourself out there, but with your films, you couldn’t. You know, you were in it
the minimum you could be for them to be the great films they are. – We really struggled with
this, like, on Free Solo, where, you know, and it’s kind of the virtue
of the directing partnership, where I can kind of torture
my directing partner who’s also my husband because
he has to be in the film, but it was, we were very
reluctant to always do this, but then it became very clear
that the ethical question that’s like the existential
center of this film had to be grappled with
in the film itself, and the only way to do that was with, by revealing how we were doing this and the discussions that
were happening around this, and also just from a
storytelling point of view, like, that, you know, Alex was alone, and you need
someone to respond to him, to help an audience live with this. – Totally, and that
cameraman you have respond is just the most extraordinary. I mean, it sort of makes, I mean, that last sequence is
extraordinary anyway, but having the cameraperson
like, freaking out is like, you get that he’s like
a hardened professional, and he’s still having that reaction. – Oh no, yes, and he has that reaction because he knew the route the best. So he knows exactly where
the difficult parts are, but Jimmy never wanted
to be part of the movie, but, you know. – [Julie] You forced him. – That’s the wonderful thing about this directing
partnership, and I was like, “It’s really, really important,”
and you know how you do it, but it’s like, how to do it,
the moderation, the degree, without taking away from
your subject itself. – I think those ethical
questions are really interesting that you see at the
forefront of your film, and in Bing’s when you have
the footage, and you have like, how am I going to confront, you know, characters about things that
other people have told me, and whether I should do that. We had that to a kind of degree as well. You know, when you’re learning things about these guys in my films, their past mental health
issues, and their past, and genetic backstories that
their families have, you know. It’s like, how far should I take this? Where does my duty as a filmmaker end and my duty of care to
the contributors begin, and you know, where’s the line? It’s always shifting, you
know, it’s a judgment thing. – Yeah, I wondered that
too because, you know, I definitely struggle with that because I have my dad in the hospital. I mean, he almost died,
and Al and I talked a lot about not putting that
footage in the movie because I’m, you know,
protective ethically and also of a family member, but mainly because of the ethics of it, but there’s no story to
tell without that I felt. But I thought that a lot
about your mom, Bing, because when she says to you, “I want to do whatever I
can do to help you heal. “If it’s shooting this
movie, then so be it,” was that sort of part of your, the impetus for making the
movie was to heal yourself? Even when you didn’t think you
were going to be a subject. – Yeah I mean, I think it might’ve been in the same parallel of
trying to heal myself. It was sort of looking for
an answer to the, you know, can I escape this cycle that I just was noticing more and more going into my twenties. And so I started out by
just going around and asking people from all over the country, young skateboarders that question, and a pattern started emerging,
and I was like, “Okay. “I don’t know if I’m
going to heal from this. “I don’t know if I’m going to
get the answers I’m looking for, “but it’s helping, so I’m
going to keep going with it.” – Right. – One of the issues in making
a film about a living subject, I imagine that just becomes much trickier, although, you know, in
the case of Mister Rogers, who is no longer with us, you also have to make decisions about how much to show and what
vulnerabilities to show. – Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Mrs. Rogers, Joanne,
who is an amazing woman, when I explained to her
the film I wanted to make, I said, “I want to make
a film about his ideas, “not about his biography,” and she said, “Well that sounds like a good
thing because Fred always said “if anybody made a film out of his life, “it’d be the most boring film ever.” And I said, “Well, I don’t
necessarily agree with that.” But when she gave me her blessing, she said, “Don’t make him into a saint.” And I can’t think of anything
a filmmaker wants to hear more from the guardian. And I think part of that is to
understand that he was human, and to treat him as saintly means that you don’t
appreciate the hard work he had to do to actually do these things. With that blessing, you
know, it was this chance to really get into the human
struggle that he dealt with. Because we make films
often about other people and other stories that people don’t think they’re
about us as filmmakers, and I think this is all
pat of this discussion of kind of acknowledging
our roles as filmmakers in the tellings of these stories, and the editorial decisions that are made. And for years, when I would
make films with a subject, I would say to them, “This is going to be
like therapy for you.” Of course, each film
is therapy for us too. You know, we’re all investigating
part of our own lives in making these films, and
I think just coming to terms with that, which is
happening more and more is both honest and just, and
healing, I guess in a way. – Do you think though, Morgan, that this is kind of
an interesting paradox that I often struggle with
as a documentary maker that very few documentary
filmmakers I know would allow themselves to be the subject of someone else’s documentary.
– Yeah. – [Tim] And that we spend our entire lives trying to convince people
to be in our films. – Yeah.
– And it’s just an interesting thing that
I kind of wrestle with all the time, particularly
when I’m in production. I’m always thinking, wow,
if this was me, and someone, you know, the amount of power you have, – Sure, sure.
– as a filmmaker. In a way because my film
used the term subjects, which you guys use in the states, in the UK, we tend to more
say, kind of, contributor, but because the subjects of my film, the contributors of my film were actual subjects of
a science experiment, I started seeing the parallels
and the power imbalance between scientist and
subject in medical research and subjects in documentary. And it’s an interesting thing that you can never quite resolve, or I can never quite resolve it. It’s like, there all the
time in the back of my head. – It is. I don’t think any of us underestimates the power we have over our subjects. And so, you know, I think that’s part of us taking responsibility for that, and just being honest about that. I mean, I think ultimately
those people who trust us, and we’ve all had these years
of conversations with people and trust is coin of the
realm in documentary. They understand ideally, that
what we’re doing is for them as much as it is for us. You know, that in telling their story, and having them trust us with their story, even if it can be painful, it’s in service of a greater
healing, or a greater purpose, and I think all of us have had
that experience universally. I’m sure you had it with
the brothers, you know. And seeing what has happened with my film and many of these films
about how your subjects react to them after they come out, even if it can be painful, I think in the long run, it’s virtually always for the best. – What is the moment like
when you complete a film, and you decide to show it to your subject or your contributor? Do you do anything to prepare them, or do you sit nervously
to the side of the room? What was that like? – Well hopefully, you’ve prepared them for the years that you’ve
been filming, right? That’s what it’s about. And I feel like, in terms of your question about the ethics of it is that, Free Solo is a very
extreme example of this. People say, “What happens
if you cause them to die?” There’s no get-out-of-jail-free
card for this. Like, nonfiction is unexpected. You do not know what’s
going to happen next, but clearly, we trusted him
to make the right decisions and trusted ourselves to do a good job. But I feel like the answer lies in the treatment of the
subject matter, right? Like, if Alex died, we
would’ve had the horrible task of making a film with that fact. – Do you think there would
still have been a film? – I think you would have to
because that’s the point, is that he trusted us to make a film. Clearly, would never have done it if we thought Alex was going to die. Like, if there was a, Jimmy has 20 years of
experience in this area. This is what they do, they’re
professional climbers, but it always made me think to like, they’re trusting us that
our treatment of the subject is one of dignity or of respect, and it can really go all over
the place with documentaries. You see, like, you see different films treat their subjects differently, and it’s about, comes down to though, the opinion and the gaze of the filmmaker. – In the case of like, Quincy
Jones and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they’re public people, and
so they’re used to scrutiny, and I suppose Alex has some celebrity, but when you’re dealing with
kind of just regular folk, they’re not necessarily
sophisticated about all of this. – Well, I think my guys, they
were pretty sophisticated ’cause they’d been through that
kind of media scrum before, but I think a lot of time had passed. My experience showing them
the film, it is always, I mean, I’ve only ever made films with kind of regular people. I’ve never filmed
celebrities or famous people or anything like that. It is very nerve-wracking
showing them the film. The experience I had with the
brothers when they watched it, they both liked it. I showed them separately,
and that was lovely, but the reaction I got, they both kind of got up
and hugged me afterwards, and it wasn’t about liking the film. It was like, you did what you
said you were going to do, and I realized at that moment, and I hadn’t realized it making it, they’d been let down so many
times by so many people, that just the act of
literally following through on what I said I was going to
do was a huge moment for them, and I never expected that to be the big emotional release from them. – I think as documentary makers, we have a big advantage
over a lot of journalists and broadcast people in
particular ’cause like, we kind of keep coming back, and people like your triplets had been the victims of a lot of like, hit-and-run type journalism in the past, people wanting a really simple, really packaged little story. They come in, they, you
know, sometimes misrepresent. The good thing about, you know, we’re often following people around for months or years at a time, and they feel that you’re
trying to do something a little bit fuller,
and you’re really trying to show their truth or their
life through your eyes. Obviously, showing Ruth
Bader Ginsburg the film that we had made about her life was incredibly nerve-wracking. Her first time seeing it was at the world premiere at Sundance. (laughing) We very much did not want
to show it to her in advance ’cause we sort of didn’t want the public information apparatus of the court involved in
trying to make any changes, and actually, she never asked to see it. She just said, “Sure,
I’ll fly out to Park City “and see the film.” You know, which was great,
but set us up for like, the most nerve-wracking
97 minutes of our lives. Betsy, my directing
partner, and I were like, you know, four feet away from
her during the screening, and we’re just like, staring
at her through the entire film. And we could hear her comments
’cause we were really close. (laughing) – She was a talker at the movie? – She talked, and she whispered. The classical music starts at the top, and she’s like, “Ooh, I like the music.” (laughing)
And then like, it goes on. She’s laughing, she
laughed at her own humor as well as some others. And at one point, Nina Totenberg,
who’s also in the film, was sitting next to
her, and she leaned over and asked for a tissue, and
Betsy starts hitting me, “She’s asking for a tissue,
she’s asking for a tissue!” (laughing) It turned out to be like, you know, kind of like the greatest
payoff of all time. (laughing) – [Gregg] That’s very cool. – This kind of incredible, iconic lady, like, watching our film about
her, and really, really, like, grooving on it was pretty fun. – Rashida, I mean, did you show parts of the film to your father? – No, no, we didn’t show him until we were pretty much locked, which was also very
nerve-wracking ’cause I have to, you could never talk to
Justice Ginsburg ever again. I have to deal with my dad. But he loved it, he laughed, he cried. And it’s funny because, you
know, people watch the movie, and they say to me, “I feel so lazy. “I feel like I’ve done
nothing in my life,” because he’s obviously
accomplished so much, and the first thing he said was, “I wish I could live forever,” which sums the whole thing up. There was like, one shot he didn’t like. He didn’t like his pants or
something, and that was it. He was totally fine. – [Chai] Or the pimp shoes. – Yeah, the pimp shoes. (laughing) He liked the pimp shoes. (energetic percussive music) – Bing, the two other
young men in your film, I mean, they had obviously never seen themselves on
film before, I would imagine. – But they’ve been around cameras. I mean, they grew up, skateboarding
is part and parcel of, you know, what it means
to be a skateboarder is you’re being filmed. You know, skate videos
are the throbbing heart of the skateboarding culture.
And so they grew up with it, but at the same time, you know, they saw themselves in
moments of celebration all throughout their childhoods because these edits came out. So they weren’t prepared I think, for, you know, what was
going to be in the film. But at the same time, they were. You know, they were there
when we filmed, you know, all those dark moments. Ultimately I think it
mattered more to them that they had a voice,
that they had, you know, it felt like they, you know,
their lives were validated. And I think they were surprised
that I was in the film. You know, not that I’m
in the film that much, but you know, the sort of
way that I’m in the film I think they were surprised by, and so it helped them, you
know, get more on board with it. – It strikes me, I mean,
we’re in the age of Trump, and everything is political these days. Now, all these films, you worked
on ’em four or five years, if not longer. I wondered, are there aspects of the film that came out differently, or may have met it with a
different reaction from audiences because of the moment
we’re living in right now? – [Morgan] Sure. – Yeah, I mean, yeah. – [Morgan] Without a doubt. It changes the perspective on everything. – Mister Rogers talks about
bullying in your film. – Sure, and building a wall,
in the Land of Make-Believe, you know, all these things. But for me, the issues
that we’re dealing with right now in our culture
have existed for a long time. I did a film called Best of Enemies about these debates between
Gore Vidal and William Buckley, which actually deals
with all the same issues of TV as a place to
either make conversation and civility better or worse. And also the kind of issue of, where are the grown-ups in our culture? They’re issues I care about, so I keep coming back to them in different films in different ways, and if that was a cautionary tale, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
is a hopeful tale. It was also, we have these
conversations as filmmakers about are we preaching to the converted? Are we just talking to each other? And I felt like it was
this rare opportunity to make a film that would play for people who I didn’t agree with. And it’s done that. And that’s the thing that’s actually given me the most optimism is that there are people who
I don’t agree with politically who have loved the film,
and maybe in that way, we can have some common
ground we can build upon. – I think with the Trump thing
though, it’s interesting. I mean, we had a similar experience with Identical Strangers, but things that you had never planned for, so you know, suddenly, border
separations are happening, and people saying, “Oh, isn’t it awful,
families being separated?” Which is you know, a
central theme of my film, but I think where the Trump
thing is interesting is, plays in possibly to the success
of documentary this year, which I don’t think
anyone really predicted. And it’s just a sense that the
real world is such a crazy, bonkers place at the moment that almost, going to fiction feels like, is like, well, fiction can’t match anything that’s happening in the real world, and it seems natural to kind of turn to documentary to kind of
make sense of the world. – I certainly, you know,
I’d always intended Quincy to be a deep dive into his life, but it started to morph
because we did film pre-Trump, and then we finished, you know, recently, and because the big
culmination in the movie leads up to the Smithsonian
African-American History Museum, and that was a real celebration. At the time it was like
right before the election, and it felt like, oh wow, we
finally, we have this museum. We’ll finally reckon with
the deep, dark, shameful past of this history, and you know,
my dad’s life really does, it maps out every, single decade of what it’s like to be black in America, and the movie became, because of what’s
happened in this country, it has become hopefully,
you know, a treatise on race and the fact that we haven’t really faced the pain that’s been
caused by the, you know, the racial inequalities in this country. But that became way clearer once we knew what kind of world we were
releasing the movie into. – Yeah, I mean, it struck me
that the opening of the museum, your dad produces the gala that they have, and Obama is there, and it just
takes on an added poignancy, that it was clearly an emotional night, but in retrospect, it’s
even more emotional. – Yeah. – I found it so moving.
– Thank you. – I mean, it just brought me
right back to that moment. But it’s interesting ’cause
we’ve been having this debate around Free Solo, this
conversation because here it is, a film that has got nothing
to do with politics, so to speak, but why are
audiences responding to it in the degree that they did? And I think it’s because we
give people an opportunity to see someone who
actually does something, and that also, he’s able to connect when you don’t think he could connect. Like, ultimately it’s about
people working together in some way, and like, an
inspiring story of courage, like, that you know, we
can all have this vision and work really hard and do something. Thank goodness for documentary films. – Well, I think the metaphor of your film, like, fits really well right now. Like, to a certain extent,
we’re all just like, pushed up against a rock. – [Rashida] With no ropes. (laughing) – We’re clinging on by
the skin of our fingers, with just like, a little bit
of chalk to keep ourselves from falling off, so. – But we’ll get through,
we’ll get to the top. – You know, I mean, it’s
like, such an amazing story, but also just as a metaphor for what all of human life is like, but maybe how people feel
in a precarious time. Obviously I kind of feel like
RBG is at the pinnacle of films that feel extremely relevant
at the time they’re released without obviously any
intention on our part. We started this film in January 2015 and ended up releasing it not only into Donald Trump’s America, but also into an era
of MeToo and Time’s Up, and the whole question
of women fighting back against discrimination in a
way they never had before. By the time you’re in your
final post-production stages, you’re just like, watching
the film again and again for like, stupid, little,
technical reasons, and you think if you watch
it one more time, you know, you’re going to kill yourself. There was something
about watching it through in those final hours that
made it feel really different, even to us, than the film
that we thought we made, just hearing Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quiet, but like, super-steely,
determined, little voice fighting, arguing back to, at that time, nine Supreme Court male justices who were kind of, you know, towering over, and at times, condescending to her, on the question of women’s
rights under the Constitution, it just felt like it had this
whole added layer of emotion that it’s like, oh, look at
that, like, we didn’t, you know, sometimes the outside world
can add a whole new dimension to a story that, you
know, we’d been working on and shaping over a period of years. – How much of a role do all of you play in the release of your movies? How responsible do you have to be for the social media around them, any viral clips that take off? – It depends on your distributor
and who’s helping you. The good thing was that
Fred Rogers is somebody who has a virality to him
in social media already, so part of it was just riding that wave, and then, in the wake of RBG, it’s audiences waking up to the idea that they want to have
this kind of experience with other people in a communal
space, not just at home, and it seems like a year ago, you couldn’t pay people to go
see documentaries in theaters, you know, and I remember a
lot of despair two years ago, and there’s nobody who would’ve predicted we would’ve had this
year with documentaries. – And Sundance was like, super quiet this year for acquisitions. – Very, for that same reason. – Right, right.
– This is a duff year for. – [Julie] Right, yeah,
oh, nobody wants to see documentaries in a theater, right? – And now, it’s like wow. – But we can’t get too optimistic, ’cause it’s like, you know, then– – It’ll change. – Right, so documentaries
are huge, they’re big, then like, you know, next year, people spend a bunch of
money to acquire them. If you don’t do well, then they say, “Oh, documentaries are dead,
they’re over,” you know. – But we can enjoy the moment. It’s an important
moment, and it’s amazing, and I feel like what happens
with this power of that voice is interesting. So we’ll see. – I’m curious because these
films often take years to make, and there is so much footage involved, both how you pace yourselves, and how you work through so much footage. I mean, Morgan, your other film this year, They’ll Love Me When I’m
Dead about Orson Welles, I mean, you kind of,
look at all his films, his final movie, The
Other Side of the Wind, fresh interviews, just
on a day-to-day basis, it must be like, well, excuse me, but like climbing a mountain. – Yeah.
– [Gregg] How do you do it? – But it’s great. I mean, I, that’s the fun part, you know, where every bit of footage
you look at is a surprise, and it’s like the paper chase where you find these
nuggets that make your week or your month, you know, and I had many of those
experiences on both the films. I love that part of it. I mean, the researcher part of me, and it’s something people
don’t talk that much about in documentary film
making, but it’s, you know, you just feel like there’s
always that new thing you find that is going to make your film work, and it’s not drudgery. In fact, it might be my favorite part of the process is the editing. I mean, that’s where
documentary films are made, they’re written in the edit room. – You’re in the right business then. – Yeah, exactly.
(laughing) – I’m interested in
Bing’s film ’cause like, having made like,
observational films before, which personally I find like, one of the toughest kind of
types of documentary to make, I mean, just like how much
footage you must’ve had. What was your ratio in the end with that? I mean, how many hours did you take out? – I never really calculated it. I mean, maybe I had like
200, 250 shoot dates, so. – [Morgan] Wow. – Is that a lot?
(laughing) – I had 800 hours, so I mean, – Wow, yeah.
– but that’s more. We had 2,000 hours of archival stuff. It was tough to get through. – That’s tough. – But it was also great because I saw all the stuff I’d never seen before. There’s stuff that my
dad hasn’t seen in years that was in the film. So it was, like, nice to
see him respond to this. – I mean, what was the biggest surprises, and some moment that you discovered that you just thought wow? – We found some really
great footage from like, never-aired-before French documentaries, and things like, you know, shows I’d never seen before
of my dad in process, and I thought that was really cool. And also there was a lot of really good, we took audio ’cause we
didn’t have any talking heads. We wanted it to all be
kind of visceral and audio, and we found a lot of stuff, like Frank Sinatra talking about my dad, Ray Charles talking about my dad. That kind of stuff I
think really made it feel intimate for him as well as the audience. – And I’m curious, in the
case of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you had Supreme Court audio, – [Julie] Yes.
– But of course no video – [Julie] Right. – So how much of a
challenge did that seem? – You know, the challenge was really just the psychological
challenge of saying, like, “Yes, we’re documentary
filmmakers, a visual medium, “but we’re not going to let the fact “that there aren’t
pictures here scare us away “from using substantial
chunks of this audio “’cause it’s really powerful.” You know, just even in some pitch reels that we put together, we
just hadn’t even covered it, we just like, you know, had, you were listening to her
voice in those recordings, just with a total black screen, and then we would go back to
our next interview, our next, and you know, we even said
to each other watching, like, “Wow, even with nothing on it, “that is a powerful voice, “so let’s not shy away from using it.” Like, that said, we cared about getting, like, to us the coolest find was the home movies of a young Ruth Bader, and then of her husband
Marty, when they were, for her college graduation,
and they were first together, like family members from
her husband’s family had saved them, and her
biographers had like, tracked them down like 15 years earlier. Justice Ginsburg didn’t even
know they existed anymore, and so when we showed them
to her, she was totally, she was like, “Where did you get those?” And we were like, “Well, we got them from your
husband’s family.” (laughing) “They were actually sitting
around somewhere, but.” – In the case of the
young Fred Rogers, I mean, did his family have those kind of? – They had some, but I actually
used virtually no pictures, maybe two pictures of him as a kid, and I kind of made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to front-load his childhood into the film. I wanted his childhood to come out in how he thought about
childhood through his show, so we ended up coming up with
this idea of the animation, and with Daniel Striped Tiger
as kind of the surrogate for who Fred was as a child, and that became the way of us investigating chapters of his childhood, but really in terms of how it influenced his thinking about the show he was doing. And that was just a wonderful
kind of creative opportunity to try something different. – I mean, documentary
sounds very analytical, just the facts. And yet, you watch each of these movies, and each one for very different reasons provokes just incredible
emotional responses. I mean, how conscious are you when you’re assembling your film of eliciting an emotional
response from the audience? – Well, with Free Solo, we knew that the climb was
going to be terrifying. How can we manage that for our audience? But, and this kind of
coincides with our surprise, where we began making this film,
and Alex was online dating, and setting up dates in
every stop of his book tour. (laughing) So our great surprise is when he brought a woman home, Sanni. It just really provided this
opportunity with the film for us to make it about a connection and kind of modulate how the climb went, where we could really build something, and so it was about climbing, but it was also about
connecting and falling in love. I didn’t understand
what sort of experience it would be when we made this film, and then watching it
with the first audience, we were like, “Whoa.” – For me, like, emotional truth is what we’re striving for in documentary. There is this school of thought which is that documentary
should be very dispassionate and just the facts, kind of thing, but I think you can have
that narrative fidelity, but if you don’t have a kind of emotional truth to your storytelling, then the audiences aren’t
going to connect with it, and that’s part of what makes it cinematic is eliciting that emotional response, and I think with the brothers
in Three Identical Strangers, you know, I wanted the
audience to go through what they went through. I wanted people to experience
the highs and the lows, and that’s very much why we kept the kind of forced perspective. So people talk about
the reveals in the film. There were a lot of twists
in Three Identical Strangers, but it’s very much from the
perspective of the brothers. You learn information as they learnt it, and so you’re very much, like,
on that journey with them, and that was really,
really important to me. – I mean, how much for
all of you is music, it’s not just an afterthought? It’s kind of, really part of the fabric of these movies. – Well, I mean.
(laughing) I’ll take that one. You know, I was just thinking
when you were speaking, like, I feel so lucky because I, you know, had this incredible
catalog available to us. None of the music in the
movie is not somehow, leads back to Quincy. To have somebody who’s created music that expressed a certain emotion, and then to be able to pair that with an emotional moment in his life is a real huge blessing. That being said, it spans so many decades, and there’s so many
different types of genres, and so the music selection became essential to the storytelling because it can be anything from the Sanford and Son theme song, to you know, Soldiers in the Rain, which is this really
emotional piece that he did, and to make sure that the
kind of stop and start, like, the gears of the movie felt right, it did all kind of end up being predicated on the music
selection for sure. – When you’ve got like, the
greatest living composer, you know, arranger, producer
of all time, it’s kind of like. – But there’s so much of it! There’s so much music,
there’s so much music. – I can’t imagine. And
at the end of the film, when it tells you how many
albums he’s worked on and shows, that it would take the rest of your life to listen to it all. – I know, I know, but
it’s also great, you know, embarrassment of riches. – I mean, Bing, how did you go about getting the score for your film? – There was a point where, a period of time where I was like, “Well, this film should work
without any music at all,” and so I started editing
with that mindset, and then in the final
year, like, you know, when we were really trying to dial it in, temp music became really important. You know, we knew we were going to be sort of up against the gun, so you know, having temp music that
would really, you know, sort of mimic what we wanted the composer to do would be really important. And there were two
needle drops that we got. Originally I wanted the end credits song to be Old Man by Neil Young, but he just outright said no.
(laughing) So we got a song that actually ended up being something that was
really close to me growing up, you know, that helped me survive, so. – Which one is that? – It’s called This Year
by The Mountain Goats. – How much of a challenge is music rights? Your film may be an example of that. – It was insane. The licensing and the music
rights were a huge battle. There’s so many people
represented in the film, and like, huge, important people who have their own estates
and all that stuff. There was a lot of conversations,
a lot of negotiating, a lot of begging. (laughing) – At least you had come connections. – [Rashida] Yeah, some, some. – We had this crazy thing. My editor put this Billy
Joel song in the film where the lyrics of the song, like, directly referenced two
characters from the film. We actually thought at one point it was about those characters. It just ends up that it was a coincidence, even though he was
around at the same time. My editor had it in the film, and the commissioners and
everyone who had put money in were like, “Oh, we love
that, we love that,” and then the record label wanted crazy, crazy amounts of money. So we had this great music
supervisor who just said, “Just try writing to him.” And I wrote, you know, we
didn’t even have an email. I wrote sort of like, a
handwritten letter to Billy Joel, and he came back, and he
let us have it for like, I don’t know, it was
like $1,000 or something for all worldwide rights, so I’m now the biggest
Billy Joel fan ever. – You just made it so every,
single documentarian’s going to write a letter
to Billy Joel. (laughing) That’s so cool. – A couple of you also have original songs at the end of your movies. – Our sort of theme song was, Diane Warren wrote it for the film. It actually came in kind of
after our Sundance premiere, and Jennifer Hudson agreed to sing it. Fortunately through our amazing composer, Miriam Cutler was friends with someone who was a friend of Diane’s, was like, “Oh, you’ve got to see this film.” Somebody showed her the film. She said, “I have to write the song.” She’s super fast, so she
wrote it in like two weeks, and then I think it took a longer time for Jennifer Hudson to agree to, you know, both to agree to sing it and then to have a moment in her insane, you know, transcontinental schedule to sing it. (energetic percussive music) – Another subject that came through in several of your films is that of aging. What did you learn kind
of following Fred Rogers or Ruth Ginsburg or
Quincy Jones about aging that you might not have realized before? – I mean, the thing is, as a parent, I realized first of all, how
much I got from Fred Rogers, and what he was teaching us about kids, he was actually teaching
us how to be parents, that he was always making the show not just for the child watching, but for the parent on the
couch in the back of the room, and kind of modeling how
we should talk to kids, and respect children. The natural instinct as a parent is to shield your kids from bad things or to tell them not to pay
attention to bad things, and kids are way too smart for that. I’m still learning how to
be the best parent I can. I feel like this film taught me so much about how to grow into that role because we’re not born with those chops. – I’m sure you’ve had some
experience with this too, but, you know, watching the
pain of him losing friends, you know, every year, every month. When you’re in your 80s,
and you’ve succeeded, and succeeded at living, the simple fact is that you
just lose friends all the time, and so it’s this constant
mirror of the inevitable. Quincy is a (laughs) he’s an anomaly in the sense that he pushes himself to the
brink decade after decade, whether it’s with health
scares or mental health scare, and he keeps bouncing back. His life is absolutely
a test of mortality. Everything he does is
a test of his mortality and his own limits, and I think
having friends die so often is now like, it’s this constant reminder that you can’t test mortality that much. You just can’t do it (laughing) because eventually you’re
not going to win the test. Not to be grim, but, you know, I think so much of what he does is about continuing to transcend and
push, and push, and push. And I think he’ll do that
for the rest of his life. – For a documentary filmmaker,
time is a great antagonist, and it always has been. You think of the great docs,
things like Hoop Dreams, or like the Seven Up! series, you know. If you stretch the timeline long enough, anyone’s life becomes just
the most compelling study of all kinds of things, from the kind of nature, nurture thing
that’s going on in my film to you know, the trauma and whether people can get past that that’s
kind of in your film. Time is such an important factor
in documentary filmmaking, and in my experience, the
longer you can stretch that, and you know, we got
six decades in our film, but even, you know, even
with Alex, you know, having to climb before the
end of this climbing season, and you know, and having to make it all before he gets too old
to kind of attempt it. You know, it’s kind of a central theme of all the best docs I feel. – Well, for us, it became
like, a central idea that you only have a finite amount of time. And that was really important to him, and it actually made me think a lot about how much time I have and
what I’m doing with my time. And we had you know, a very
good friend of ours die in the middle of, Ueli Steck, and a lot of these guys
die doing what they love. – Well, you said it simply in the film. You know, you can die at any time, and there’s this illusion
that that’s not the truth, and the fact that he does what he does is just a constant reminder, which is a constant reminder for us. – I mean, yes, it’s a really good reminder that we have to relish every, single day, and like, live it with intention. – Yeah, I mean, obviously, aging is a big part of RBG, the film and the Supreme
Court justice whose lifespan a lot of people in America
are quite focused on. I actually think there’s a pretty, some pretty big comparisons
between the way that your dad and RBG have dealt with not
only being in their 80s, but also dealing with really
serious health issues, the health issues that
come up in your film, and Justice Ginsburg going through both colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. Both of them kind of have
approached their aging with this just like unbelievably kind of kick-ass determination of, just like I never let
anything else get me, I’m not lettin’ this get me. I’m going to get up and fight another day. Like, there’s a sound bite
that I love in our film where Justice Ginsburg
says, like, kind of like, “The good thing about having colon cancer “and pancreatic cancer,”
which you’re like, you know, it’s amazing to see a
positive side to that, “is it’s really given me
such a great appreciation “for the joys of being alive.” And like, that’s like a real, that’s like a profoundly
wise thing to say. It’s sort of like Mister
Rogers-level wisdom, and you can’t go wrong
if that’s your mindset. Like, that’s a pretty
good way to look at life. – And I’m just saying, I mean, Morgan, your Orson Welles movie,
that’s almost the flip side, ’cause you could argue
he’s squandering his life as he goes through those final years. – Well, it’s called They’ll
Love Me When I’m Dead, so in a way maybe it’s
about the afterlife. He was so vital at the end of his life. He just didn’t get to finish things. You know, I mean, he was somebody who would not accept getting old and thought that he
was doing his best work at the end of his life, and the
next thing he was going to do was going to be the best film he ever did. And actually, I find this
incredibly inspiring. I mean, just spending time
seeing what he was willing to do here in his late 60s,
pretending he was a film student so he could sneak to shoot his indie film in the back of a car with
the blanket over his head, you know, all these, the
man who made Citizen Kane who was basically willing
to do anything it took. But it didn’t matter,
he had no ego about it. It all was about the film, and I feel like that’s
something that I just, I get so much inspiration from. – You know, looking back, what was the biggest influence growing up that may’ve shaped your
point of view as a filmmaker? – That’s a big question. I mean, I would say in documentary terms, probably you know, like
Michael Apted’s Seven Up! Also Hoop Dreams, that’s the big one. But then, just for
storytelling in general, Kurosawa and Hitchcock, which, you know, and I think the lines
between documentary and drama are getting increasingly blurred, and I think you know,
documentary’s a broad church, so all these influences
are increasingly relevant. – Julie, what was? – Yeah, I mean, you know,
there’s so many docs, I wouldn’t know where to start with that. I mean, Hoop Dreams and Roger & Me are the two that come to mind, but I think even more
really books, reading, like seeing how a story
gets put together in 1984 is kind of my all-time favorite just in terms of bringing
together big ideas, and like, a story that you’re so deeply
ensconced with on every page, and characters who you’re caring everything that happens to them. I mean, like, to me, that’s the feeling that you’re trying to create,
whether you’re writing a book, making a fiction film, or making a doc. – I mean, I started my
career as a journalist, and I was definitely under
the sway of new journalism, so my heroes were really, like, Joan Didion was a major hero for me, but people who were talking
about nonfiction issues, but with a kind of a
fiction way of storytelling and articulation, and that’s something that I was trying to do as a young man, that I’m still doing in documentary, and I think we’re all doing. – Bing, what do you look
back and see as an influence? – Uh, yeah, I didn’t really watch a lot of films when I was growing up. I feel like I read more
than I watched films, but there’s one film in particular
that I saw when I was 15 that was like, “Oh, I
want to tell stories,” is this weird Richard Linklater
film called Waking Life, and I’ve seen that film more
than any other film ever. There’s something about that that really, just the inquisitiveness of it. It’s very much about just like, trying to find your place in the world. I think that was the start of it all. – Very good, Rashida? – I’m just panicking that
this question is coming to me. (laughing) Like, I’ve just been
panicking for the last minute. I don’t know. I feel like
I’ve been very lucky. I had so much influence from
music to books to films, TV. I watched a lot of TV
growing up, and again, I feel like for me, it’s
the storytelling aspects. If I think of, you know,
any film by Mike Nichols was the reason I wanted
to become a filmmaker because it doesn’t matter who
the people were in his movie, there’s pathos, and heart, and you know, intelligence in storytelling. And I think recently, the reason I thought it
would maybe be a good idea to make Quincy was I saw
this movie Still Bill about Bill Withers that
I thought was so tender, and it was such a great
balance of a personal story, and educating people
who weren’t fans of his, making people who were fans feel good about knowing a little
bit more about his life. I just was really moved by that movie. – Chai? – Influences, you know, that film Stevie was a very important film
for me when I watched it. But I also worked for
Mike Nichols for a year, and between my first and second films, and it was one of the most important creative experiences I had. – [Gregg] What was he
working on at that time? – Closer, which was a very
intimate set in London, so we were kind of outside
where we’d normally be. Watching that process and
seeing how much he believed in the process was very important to me. You know, the drama, the structure, which you don’t, you know,
I make documentaries, but I think the power of those stories, and like, how much he would give was very, very influential for me. – Oh good. What’s the first thing you
do when you wrap a film? – First thing we do when we wrap a film. Oh, I don’t know, like
go hang out with my kids. When we wrap a film. Well, this one was immense relief. I felt immense relief, and I was like, “Jimmy, let’s just go and hang out “and hang out with our kids.” – Yeah. – I mean, sorry this sounds really corny, but probably just like, a drink, you know. Al and I definitely had a
couple beers after we finished. It’s a nice release. – [Chai] Daily. (laughing) – Bing, do you go skateboarding? – (laughing) Not as much as I used to, but I feel like the
film isn’t wrapped yet. I mean, it’s still, it just
seems like this ongoing thing that just keeps going and going. But like, on other projects
I worked on, you know, it’s yeah, just go have
a drink or something, yeah, with the crew. – Well, there’s that experience, you know, a documentary doesn’t feel
wrapped in the same way it’s like on a scripted film. You know, that it feels
like it’s not really wrapped until you screen it for an audience, and at that moment, it’s
not your film anymore, it’s their film, so that’s
the experience that I had on this film, and that I
think we all have is like, that’s the moment you can celebrate. ‘Til then, you’re just
holding your breath. – Yeah, I’ll go with cooking and eating. I like to cook and bake,
and I like to eat it, my husband likes to eat it, but sometimes during the sort of intensity of the final phases of making a film, some of the home-cooked
meals fall by the wayside, so I like to jump back
in with a good meal. – Yeah, I feel that my
documentary is still out there, and a living, breathing thing. I mean, just a month
or so ago we got a call from a woman who’d seen the film and said, “I was adopted from the same agency “as the triplets in this film, “and I’ve just done a DNA
test after watching your film, “and it’s matched with another woman.” She was from New York,
another woman in California, and they got together, and it turned out they were twins that had
been separated at birth, and at the age of 54,
meeting for the first time. So it’s still like, out there, and– – Got a sequel.
(laughing) – Still evolving. – Wow. – Listen, thank you all very
much for joining us here today. Tim Wardle, Julie Cohen,
Morgan Neville, Bing Liu, Rashida Jones, and Chai Vasarhelyi. It’s been a great conversation, thanks. – Thank you.
– Thank you. (energetic percussive music)

Documentary Roundtable: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Bing Liu, Rashida Jones | Close Up

57 thoughts on “Documentary Roundtable: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Bing Liu, Rashida Jones | Close Up

  • February 25, 2019 at 8:06 pm


  • February 25, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Where's the cinematography roundtable?

  • February 25, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Why can't we get a Production Designer's Roundtable? I'll pay to watch

  • February 25, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Why is this so late?

  • February 25, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Im over these Sub roundtables. These people behind the camera show be open and honest if they do the roundtables. I feel like I am watching someone pull teeth.

  • February 25, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Rashida Jones is a great talent and I see big things for her.

  • February 25, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    What a great roundtable, such a historic year for documentaries. There are so many great films here that they couldn't even fit Shirkers, They Shall Not Grow Old, and Hale County This Morning This Evening.

  • February 25, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    This was a wonderful roundtable. Very insightful answers and the interviewer was great. He let the roundtable members talk without interrupting too much. It flows very organically. Great job!

  • February 25, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    "Won't You Be My Neighbor," should have been nominated and win the Oscar.. It was an incredible!

  • February 25, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you so much THR! Such a great roundtable. You are learning, no Galloway, means happy viewers and a good roundtable, especially for the guests

  • February 25, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    theyre all so interested in eachothers films, that makes it so much better

  • February 25, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    Really great documentaries this year. Truly impressive.

  • February 25, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    A lot of us of a certain generation had the distinct pleasure of considering Mr. Rogers a dear friend.

  • February 25, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Rashida Jones ❤

  • February 26, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Bing absolutely kills all of his responses! I'm not at all surprised that the mind behind this incredibly personal and touching film (Minding the Gap)… oozes of empathy in real life.

  • February 26, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Mr Rogers this year, Jane Goodall last year, both snubbed at the Oscars. There's something fishy going on with the Academy's documentary voters who choose the nominees.

  • February 26, 2019 at 2:43 am

    One film that should have been nominated was Crime+Punishment which is on Hulu. It's a great film about 12 NYPD officers suing their department for corruption.

  • February 26, 2019 at 7:14 am

    I think Free Solo won because of how I think it pushed documentary filmmaking forward, it reminded me that most doc filmmakers really put themselves in danger– however, I really wanted Three Identical Strangers to win (as I think it included everything one can learn from documentary film theory, and the meta film aspect that is the exploitation of subjects that doc filmmaking is known for)

  • February 26, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Nostalgia literally does not mean what he said. It literally means 'pain of the past'.

  • February 26, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Is anybody else pissed that Minding the Gap didn't win the Oscar? That was one of the best documentaries of the decade!

  • February 26, 2019 at 9:50 am

    This was wonderful. Loved when they talked among themselves and the interviewer let them. Also, nice on the representation.

  • February 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    A bunch of soy boys, homosexuals, and broads.

  • February 26, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Rashida was in a relationship with 2Pac. That's say's enough for me and she's so pretty.

  • February 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    rashida jones!!!!!! i love u ma'am!!!!!!!!

  • February 26, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Does Trump have to come up in every freaking thing? Talk about the chicken little sky is falling mentality. I would hope these people would have a little deeper perception of humanity, but yet again they show like all the others, political and cultural bias.

  • February 26, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    bing can ring me anytime. YUMMY

  • February 26, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    Haven't seen Free Solo yet, but I was so excited to see a Chinese-Hungarian woman win an Oscar, I had no idea there were more than 3 of us in America lol

  • February 27, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Greg Killday should host every roundtable

  • February 28, 2019 at 1:08 am

    This is fantastic, what impressive people

  • February 28, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Great roundtable!! Wish it was longer. I loved "Free Solo" and "Three Identical Strangers"; will watch the others in the weeks to come.

  • March 1, 2019 at 9:23 am

    my fave roundtable this year! what a great moderator and what incredible, diverse documentary film makers we had this year!

  • March 1, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    the roundtables are so much better when the participants have seen each other's films. for some reason i feel like that's been more consistent in the documentary roundtables than some of the others. maybe the actors come second but that's it.

  • March 2, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Loving these roundtables!! Only getting better!

  • March 3, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Minding the Gap blew me away

  • March 3, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    The makers of Wild Wild Country should be on here. What an amazing documentary that was.

  • March 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Quincy Jones has lived a hell of a life, amazing

  • March 3, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    So far I've only watched Quincy… And I loved it. If you're a fan of music, this is for you. Quincy has been around for so many decades, he's done so much for the art. Also he reminded me of Jimmy Iovine (whose documentary is also on Netflix). He has also been around for a while and produced many great artists for decades.

  • March 4, 2019 at 4:15 am

    I am here for Bing.

  • March 5, 2019 at 11:39 pm


  • March 6, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    44:00 Now I definitely have to check out his film. That song kept me going and I am so thankful.

  • March 9, 2019 at 12:26 am

    So happy these directors have actually seen each others movies. Every time I watch the actresses and theyre like "I HAVENT SEEN IT BUT-" I don't believe their compliments.

  • March 10, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    yea, why wouldn't you interview jimmy chin instead? i just don't understand what contribution chai made to the directing process.

  • March 11, 2019 at 8:58 am

    This is one of the best THR Roundable interviews in my opinion. The interviewer is thoughtful and lets them go off on natural tangents and the film makers are thoughtful and seem really interested in each others films. I just get the impression that everyone at that table is so passionate about what they're saying and what they are listening to!

  • March 18, 2019 at 11:45 am

    excellent pacing and questions from the interviewer here… maybe because they make documentaries, it feels like these people are used to being in a social setting but also treating others with real attention and respect, whereas actors and fiction directors more often come off like they are doing a performance on every public appearance.

  • March 20, 2019 at 12:54 am

    Gregg is a better host compared to the previous interviews i've seen. what a wonderful rountable this time. Thank you for inspiring all of us

  • March 22, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Still not over the fact that Won't You Be My Neighbor wasn't even nominated for an Oscar

  • March 27, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Please use this interviewer for ALL of your roundtables, he's such a dear.

  • March 30, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Love, love, love watching THR Roundtables! This one did not disappoint. Well done, again!

  • March 31, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    I don't like the julie lady for some reason. She just seems a bit ….idk in your face

  • April 7, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    This collection of film makers, the subject matters, etc. etc. make me proud to be an American.

  • April 28, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Think an amazing Close Up discussion would be with young woman who have grown up in the spotlight with social media and having to deal with all in between. Such as puberty, sexuality, education, fame and more. I would suggest. Kendall and Kylie Jenner, apart of a very successful reality show. Emma Watson, being the world's most lovely bad ass witch in Harry Potter. Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones. Miley Cyrus, Americas country sweetheart. In today's social media society and these woman growing up in the time, i truly believe this conversation is needed. These woman could discuss on what could be changed within the idustry and much more. Young girls would watch and listen and those in power to make change would definitely hear.

  • May 28, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    I am only 9 minutes in and I am already preferring this interviewer to the others.

  • June 21, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I think this video is what it means to be American.

  • July 3, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Great questions, guests and movies – loved it!

  • July 12, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    the only category in which asians are invited to the hollywood reporter roundtable

  • August 11, 2019 at 3:36 am

    Man I just can’t stand that free solo chick, I think she took extra credit classes at Princeton, on how to act and speak with the exact same cadence and facial expressions as gweneth paltrow, Her mannerisms seem identical, maybe she’s not as bad as it seems but still she’s not that sweet innocent person she purports to be,, and as far as directing that film , I could have directed that film, Alex and el capitain were the stars, her husband did a great job with the cinematography, which she had very little to do with,, and did you see her on Oscar night, she rambled on so long , and did those long drawn out pause were she closes her eyes for a half hour, then smiles then finally speaks, no one else including the person everyone wanted to hear talk , Alex didn’t get to say a word, she was basically along for the ride,

  • September 18, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I don’t know why but I have the most interest of Bing Liu, probably because I used to skateboard and Minding the Gap was effortlessly great.


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