Through the Lens

We continue our series on documentary film in January with a bizarre tale of murder in small-town America. Dave Jannetta’s film “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere” explores the mysterious and grisly death of a brilliant but aloof mathematician at the local college in quaint Chadron, Nebraska. The offbeat film is part character study, part tragicomedy, and it’s told through the eyes of writer Poe Ballantine, who wrote a memoir about the case. He and Jannetta will join us Monday.

Tuesday, it’s a special holiday edition of our Through the Lens series about documentary film. Humbugs may sneer, but filmmaker Mitchell Kezin is obsessed with Christmas music, and he isn’t alone. In his new film JINGLE BELL ROCKS! Kezin hits the road to document the vibrant subculture of holiday music fanatics and the yuletide tunes they love. He’ll join us to talk about his pop-culture pilgrimage and introduce us to the motley crew of merry misfits that’s reinventing the seasonal soundtrack.

Jason DaSilva was 25 when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As a filmmaker, he eventually decided to try and make sense of the disease through his art form. So, he set out to capture what he calls the transformative experience of becoming disabled. DaSilva let the camera run as he dealt with his loss of vision, muscle control, and many other complications. Next week, we’re screening When I Walk as part of the Through the Lens documentary series. Wednesday, DaSilva joins us to talk about it.

The next film in our Through the Lens is called This Ain't No Mouse Music. It profiles Chris Strachwitz, a modern-day Alan Lomax who fell in love with American roots music soon after immigrating to the U.S. from Germany in the '40s. He founded a record label that released albums of the blues, Mexican norteño, zydeco, Hillbilly country—basically any authentic, rootsy music that caught his ear. Strachwitz joins us Thursday with filmmakers Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon to talk about his love affair with music rooted in America’s heartland.

Dan Krauss

On Wednesday, September 3, RadioWest and the Utah Film Center present the next documentary in their Through the Lens film series. The Kill Team tells the story of Specialist Adam Winfield, a 21-year-old infantryman in Afghanistan who attempted to alert the military to heinous war crimes his platoon was committing. With access to the key individuals involved in the case—including Adam, his parents, and his startlingly candid compatriots—this film is an intimate look at the personal stories often lost inside broader war coverage.


In 2009, four men from a poor New York town were arrested for trying to bomb a pair of synagogues. In the months leading up to their apprehension, the men were befriended by Shahed Hussain, an F.B.I. informant. The attorneys for the "Newburgh Four" thought they had a clear-cut case of entrapment, but the men received lengthy prison sentences.  A new film dissects their story and sheds light on the F.B.I.'s pattern of targeting Muslims in depressed communities and luring them into committing terrorist acts. Filmmaker David Heilbroner joins us Monday to discuss his film. It's called The Newburgh Sting.

Wednesday we continue our Through the Lens series with “Art and Craft,” an intriguing film about a beguiling man. Mark Landis is soft-spoken, slight of frame and long on talent. His artwork has appeared in museums across America, but really, they’re not his. Landis is an art forger and a self-styled philanthropist who donates his fakes to institutions. The filmmakers Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman join Doug to discuss their film about Landis, his enigmatic past, and the people he’s duped.

Thursday, we continue our Through the Lens series with The Case Against 8. In 2008, thousands of same-sex couples married in California, and the backlash was swift. It came in the form of Prop 8, the statewide ballot that successfully defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The film chronicles the ensuing legal battle that resulted in the first federal recognition of gay marriage. Directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White join us to talk about that journey and the precedent it set.

James "The Amazing" Randi is a renowned magician and escape artist, but he can't  abide charlatans. So he turned his energy to exposing psychics and con-artists with intricate investigations and hoaxes of his own. His story is the focus of a new documentary by Salt Lake filmmaker Tyler Measom, the latest in our Through the Lens film series. Tuesday, Measom joins us to talk about Randi's crusade for truth and how all of us, even "The Amazing" Randi himself, are susceptible to deception.

Journalist David Halberstam says when the government is twisting the truth, reporters have their biggest role to play. The new film DATELINE – SAIGON explores that idea through the work of Halberstam and other young reporters who in the early days of the Vietnam War, found themselves at odds with the Kennedy White House, and on a South Vietnamese assassination list. Thursday, director Thomas Herman joins Doug to talk about the journalists who set the standard for front-line war reporting.

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