Tim Hetherington was a real inspiration to me, & Sebastian Junger (author of The Perfect Storm and War, who co-directed the incredible documentary Restrepo with him) made a portrait of the heartbreakingly short life of the fearless photojournalist, coming to HBO on the 18th.

Hetherington died in a mortar strike covering the civil war in Libya in April 2011 at the age of 40. Ajdabiya, a city near where he died renamed its largest public square after him, calling him one of their martyrs.


Aaron Koblin on applying & experiencing with interactive media technology in storytelling. From the 2012 Future of Storytelling Conference.

“I think it’s really actually what makes life worth living, is having rich stories & living our lives through them. I think actually our lives are really just a series of stories we’re telling ourselves”

Koblin talks about narrative projects he’s worked on where the experience mutates as a result of the viewer’s active participation. He speaks about having viewers richly experience a music video about nostalgia for where you come from by having the video tap into Google’s streetview imagery of the viewer’s hometown.

The biggest interest I take here is the potential for extending a documentary project’s reach by finding ways to make it all the easier for the viewer to relate to the issue being depicted. If you reach them where they stand, they’re much more likely to take action beyond just passively watching your film on Netflix, or blogging/tweeting about it at most.

Another way you could branch off of this is thinking about how to make data visualization for your factual content to be more dynamic, interactive, visually rich & personally compelling to the viewer/user. Infographics have been a fairly useful trend in the past few years, they present data starkly in a way that mass audiences will want to consume/learn & share. But they can be shallow or misleading, & they’re static. Transmedia technology can improve on the idea, & can be a great boon for filmmakers/producers.

This is a great jumping off point to start thinking about how you could design experiences for your documentary & factual projects, whether they be about informing people, connecting people, or even just disruptive means of marketing.

Coming soon to theaters: Orchestra of Exiles

I’ll admit this is one that wasn’t on my radar until this morning, but I’m quite intrigued & can’t wait to see it.

Academy Award nominated director Josh Aronson (Sound and Fury) brings the story of Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman standing up to fascism & saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish families to theaters with his new feature Orchestra of Exiles. Amongst those he saved were dozens of Jewish musicians with whom he would form the Palestine Philharmonic (which would become the current Israeli Philharmonic).

Aronson describes the narrative thusly: “In the early 1930s Hitler began forcing Jewish musicians out of orchestras across central Europe; never before had so many experienced players been jobless simultaneously. The Nazis unwittingly presented a unique opportunity and with the short window of time still available, Huberman dedicated himself to fulfilling a dream.

The struggle to create the Palestine Symphony is a densely layered story with a range of key characters that could hardly be more diverse. Among them: a high Nazi official, Goebbels; renowned conductors, Furtwangler and Toscanini; a future head of state, Chaim Weizmann; and the families of victimized Jewish musicians who made up the ranks of orchestras across central Europe. Even the most famous Jew in the world played a role; a man who, among other pursuits, was an amateur violinist who liked to read music with Huberman - Albert Einstein.”

The film starts its theatrical release on October 26th, to find out more visit distributor First Run Features. Here’s a list of specific upcoming playdates.

Hear an interview with Aronson about the film conducted by WAMC Northeast Public Radio.