The Diplomat, the new ESPN documentary about Katarina Witt, is shared with director Jennifer Arnold, and we also discuss her films, A Small Act (about education’s impact in Kenya), and American Mullet. We see footage from her films and she shares her experience with clever attention to detail.
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BYOD is hosted by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,” and has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice. Each week the show explores a different documentary filmmaker or aspect of filmmaking, with special guests and a live Q&A– diving deep into creative process and the business realities of producing and distributing films. Ondi shares her insider views, opinions, and personal stories, welcoming audience participation. BYOD aims to entertain, inform, and elevate documentaries in general by bringing attention to films and film makers that deserve exposure.
Jennifer graduated from UCLA and University of Nairobi with a B.A. in African History and returned to UCLA for a MFA in Film. Her award-winning film, MAID OF HONOR screened at Sundance before airing on HBO/Cinemax and Film 4. Jennifer returned to Sundance with her internet series, “The Mullet Chronicles,” which was developed into the documentary, AMERICAN MULLET and released by Palm Pictures and Lionsgate. Jennifer also co-directed a documentary for Ethan Coen and wrote a motocross script, SPEEDWAY, which was selected for Berlin Talent Campus’ script clinic, IFP’s No Borders and FIND’s Directors Lab / Fast Track Program.
She returned to Sundance a third time with “A Small Act.” In addition to being nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Best Documentary Emmy, “A Small Act” was awarded the Adrienne Shelly Directors Award, the NAMIC Vision Award and the Humanitas Prize for documentary film. “A Small Act” was broadcast on HBO in its 2010 summer series and was a top 10 documentary pick by Roger Ebert the same year.
Recently, Jennifer completed the documentary portion of “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” (distributed by Fox) and “Table Top,” starring Wil Wheaton (for Geek and Sundry). In addition to her contributions to the Nine for IX series, her upcoming projects include a narrative thriller entitled “The Killing Frost,” which is being developed with the support of Film Independent.
Now she’s back with a new film, The Diplomat, discussing one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, Olympic gold medalist Katarina Witt. The film will premiere on ESPN Aug 6th as part of the Nine for Nine series.
00:01 Welcoming Jennifer Arnold to BYOD.
02:53 Doc filmmakers in LA.
03:33 Working with ESPN on The Diplomat, about Katarina Witt.
07:11 The Diplomat, clip.
08:33 Katarina Witt’s background in East Germany.
11:05 A politicized icon of sports.
13:09 Shooting schedule and filming A Small Act in Nairobi and Kenya.
17:30 A Small Act, trailer.
21:15 Challenges in making, A Small Act.
24:18 A Small Act, clip.
29:07 Limitations of shooting in the villages.
33:02 The camera and motherhood.
33:37 Hilda, the holocaust survivor who helped the village.
35:38 The impact of Sundance on the education fund.
38:17 A Small Act, Hilda goes to Kenya.
43:03 The importance of VHS footage.
45:59 American Mullet and making the film about the greatest hairstyle ever.
47:39 American Mullet, clip.
50:37 Scouting for great mullets at Gay Pride San Francisco.