A Concerto is a (Beautiful) Conversation with Michael Morgan

By C.J. Hirschfield

(Editor’s note: On August 20, 2021 Michael Morgan unexpectedly passed away at age 63 from an infection. In the weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital he had conducted at the San Francisco Symphony and Bear Valley Music Festival. The Oakland Symphony paid tribute to him.)

In April, 2021, ten documentary short subject films were short-listed for this year’s Oscars. At their best, documentary shorts tell a compelling story that, while lacking in length (they must be under 40 minutes) still manage to grab and hold us, leaving us richer for the experience.

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A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION

By Andrea Chase

In conversation after a watch party for A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-subject and co-director (with Ben Proudfoot) Kris Bowers said that part of the reason he wanted to make the film because the Emmy™-winning composer thought his grandfather, Horace Bowers, Sr., was a hero. A hero who should be celebrated. He also wanted to have an in-depth conversation with him while the 91-year-old was still with us. The result is a tender and intimate portrait of strength, joy, and how family shapes us.

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Higher and Lower – THE CLIMB: A Review and Interview

By Andrea Chase

The Climb begins with life-long friends Mark (director and co-writer Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (co-writer Kyle Marvin) cycling up a steep hill in the south of France. Mark is ahead, though both are panting heavily with the exertion. Kyle, who is about to be married, is thanking Mark for suggesting the ride, while also waxing rhapsodic about the bucolic beauty of the scene. Mark, the more experienced cyclist, is giving Kyle advice on how to pace himself. Then, while Kyle extols the virtues of his intended, Mark drops the bomb.

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IRMI—An Interesting Life, Indeed

By C.J. Hirschfield

When the feature documentary Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives was released in 1977, it rocked my world. I already loved documentaries, but this one–widely considered to be the first feature film about lesbian and gay identity–by gay people, quickly became a symbol of the emerging gay rights movement. I was living in glorious San Francisco at the time, where the film premiered at the Castro Theater. Directed by six people collectively known as the Mariposa Group, it took five years, and over two hundred interviews with gays, to complete the historic project.

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A Filmmaker With The Right Stuff: An excerpt from “Philip Kaufman” by Annette Insdorf

American director Philip Kaufman is hard to pin down: a visual stylist who is truly literate, a San Franciscan who often makes European films, he is an accessible storyteller with a sophisticated touch. Celebrated for his vigorous, sexy, and reflective cinema, Kaufman is best known for his masterpiece The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the astronaut saga The Right Stuff and an eclectic series of films including The Wanderers, Henry & June, The White Dawn and his remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier; on location with Phil Kaufman for The Right Stuff.

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