RadioWest @Sundance

Each year, RadioWest sits down for in-depth conversations with filmmakers and producers during the Sundance Film Festival. Just like the festival, the RadioWest team has eclectic taste. We hope you enjoy the diversity of topics as much as we do.

Sundance 2016: Nuts!

Jan 29, 2016

Friday, we wrap up our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival with a true story of desperation, scams, and goat testicles. Director Penny Lane joins us to talk about John Romulus Brinkley, a man who claimed to have a cure for impotence and many other ailments in 1920s Kansas. He took to newfangled radio to tout his unorthodox treatments, but soon found his nemesis in one Morris Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Lane’s film is called NUTS!

Frank Zappa wasn’t just a musician, bandleader, and self-taught composer who released more than 60 albums in less than three decades. He was also a passionate and outspoken proponent of free expression. Filmmaker Thorsten Schutte has made a new documentary that draws from Zappa’s numerous interviews and TV appearances, using the iconic musician’s own words to explore his unique career and provocative opinions. Schutte joins us Thursday as we continue our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.

  Filmmaker Will Allen was 22 when he joined a community of people led by a man named Michel. Allen says at first he seemed elegant and smart and he promised them enlightenment. But it became clear Michel was a megalomaniac and he was soon leading by manipulation, paranoia, and abuse. As the group fell apart, Allen knew he had to find a way out of what he came to realize was a cult. Wednesday, he and former member Christopher Johnston join Doug to talk about the Sundance documentary HOLY HELL.

Filmmaker Robert Greene thought for years about a documentary on Christine Chubbuck, a Florida news reporter who committed suicide on live television in 1974. What he didn’t want to do though was make a straight-forward movie about a depressed woman. So Greene proposed an unorthodox approach to actress Kate Lyn Sheil. The film crew would follow Sheil as she prepared to take on the tragic role of Christine. Tuesday, Greene joins Doug to talk about performance, authenticity, and storytelling.

Monday, we continue our Sundance coverage with AUDRIE & DAISY. The two teen girls were raped and this documentary examines the fallout of shaming and bullying on social media that followed. Audrie was overwhelmed by what she saw as irreparable damage to her reputation and committed suicide. Daisy's story made national headlines, and her family became the target of an enraged community. Filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk join Doug to explore what they call a modern-day "Scarlet Letter."

Wayne Miller

Friday, we’re talking about the life of poet and activist Maya Angelou. A new documentary premiering at Sundance tells the story of Angelou’s journey past racism and abuse to become one of our greatest voices. But filmmaker Rita Coburn Whack says she didn’t want this film to be just about what Angelou did in her life, but also about who she was and how she loved. Whack and co-director Bob Hercules join Doug to explain how Maya Angelou’s story gives us a sense of who we all are as Americans.

Thursday, we begin our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival with the story of John Hull. Hull went blind in 1983 and he knew that if he didn’t try to understand this massive change, it would defeat him. So he kept an audio diary of his experiences. While he may have appeared to be adjusting well on the surface, his tapes reveal a desperate inner struggle. Directors James Spinney and Peter Middleton will join us to discuss their innovative documentary about Hull’s journey to a “world beyond sight.”

Shannon Whisnant has a nose for a bargain. But when he bought a used grill at a North Carolina auction, the severed human leg he found inside was not part of the deal. The leg belonged to John Wood, and his connection to it was as emotional as it was personal. Their battle over possession of the leg is profiled in a hysterical and insightful documentary film called Finders Keepers. Directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel join us Friday as we warp up our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.

Best of Enemies

Thursday, director Robert Gordon joins us to discuss his documentary film Best of Enemies, which profiles the caustic rivalry between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. Two brilliant and eloquent men who represented two wholly opposite ideologies, they engaged in a first-of-its kind series of debates on the ABC network in 1968 during the political national conventions. The broadcasts burned with the fire of the men’s mutual hatred for one another and it laid the groundwork for the future of TV.

Ever since the invention of radio and television, humans have been sending signals into outer space, announcing their existence to other civilizations and waiting for a reply, waiting for contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. In a new documentary called The Visit, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen constructs a believable scenario of first contact on Earth. Ultimately, the film is an exploration of humanity’s fear of strangers and the unknown. Madsen joins us Wednesday to talk about it.

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