WBEZ | documentary http://www.wbez.org/tags/documentary Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Long-forgotten landscape architect helped save the Indiana Dunes http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-forgotten-landscape-architect-helped-save-indiana-dunes-110378 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jens%20Jensen%201.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Danish-born Jens Jensen helped develop Chicago’s park system. He’s also credited with helping preserve much of the Indiana Dunes. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)" />As the temperature rises, thousands will be flocking to the <a href="http://www.indianadunes.com/" target="_blank">Indiana Dunes</a> this summer. But if it weren&rsquo;t for a little-known landscape architect, the miles of beaches along southern Lake Michigan might not exist today.</p><p>Jens Jensen first became known for his pioneering work on Chicago&rsquo;s park system a century ago. The new documentary <a href="http://www.jensjensenthelivinggreen.org/" target="_blank"><em>Jens Jensen, the Living Green</em></a> also shows his role in saving the Indiana Dunes from industrial destruction.&nbsp;</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente recently sat down with the film&rsquo;s director Carey Lundin. She began by talking about how the Danish-born Jensen first ended up in Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jens Jensen 2.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; height: 496px; width: 620px;" title="Carey Lundin (middle) on location shooting the documentary Jens Jensen The Living Green. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Carey Lundin (middle) on location shooting the documentary Jens Jensen The Living Green. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)</em></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-forgotten-landscape-architect-helped-save-indiana-dunes-110378 The movie that brought Naperville face to face with its teens' drug use http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff%20Cagle.1_0.jpg" title="Kelly McCutcheon and Jack Kapson (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div><p>During the 2011-2012 school year, three students from one public high school in west suburban Naperville died from drugs. Kelly McCutcheon was a senior at Neuqua Valley High School at the time, and she started asking her classmates questions about their drug use. The project turned into a documentary that stunned the well-to-do, family-focused community.</p><p>Kelly had enlisted a high school junior, Jack Kapson, &nbsp;to help with sound recording, and together they videotaped more than 20 students talking about their experiences using heroin and other drugs.</p><p>Their project was filmed starkly and informally in backyards and bedrooms and cars. The filmmakers kept the footage away from parents, teachers and police. Kelly and Jack declined to be part of this story, but they gave me permission to use any part of their movie and quote from students they interviewed.</p><p><strong>Library agrees to host Naperville&rsquo;s first look&nbsp;</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/95L 400.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Naperville's 95th Street Library hosted the screening (Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Kelly and Jack asked Naperville&rsquo;s 95th Street Public Library to host the first screening of the film, which they called, &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs.&quot;</p><p>John Spears directed all of Naperville&rsquo;s public libraries at the time. &ldquo;The filmmakers were working on it up till the very end,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And that was one thing we were nervous about, because we hadn&rsquo;t seen it either. Given all the potential legal ramifications of showing this, we were really putting a lot of trust in two high school students.&rdquo;</p><p>Library officials agreed to two showings on Wednesday evening, May 30, 2012. Advertising went out, and soon after, irate parents started calling..</p><p>Spears, the library director, remembers one phone call in particular. He received it at his desk the day before the scheduled screening. It was a parent on the other end, telling Spears, &ldquo;You cannot show this movie. It&rsquo;s going to be the destruction of my&hellip;. it&rsquo;s just&hellip;. We will sue.&rdquo;</p><p>The library decided to go forward anyway.</p><p><strong>The screening</strong></p><p>The evening of the first screening, adults and teenagers filed into the library auditorium and people waited outside for the second showing.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many, many glitches that night,&rdquo; said Denise Crosby, a longtime columnist with the Sun-Times suburban papers, including the Naperville Sun. &ldquo;There were people gathered outside waiting for the next session and there were people inside for this session and there was a long delay. But [the audience was] there for the long haul&hellip;. They wanted to see it.&rdquo;</p><p>Among the hundreds of people who came to the library that night were the principal from Neuqua Valley High School, a counselor from a nearby middle school, and a reporter from the local television station. Managers from Naperville&rsquo;s other libraries came in to deal with the overflow crowd.</p><p>The young filmmakers had altered the &nbsp;voices of some speakers they videotaped, &nbsp;and a few kids in the film tried to mask their faces. But most participants were fully visible. And, according to accounts from people who were there, &nbsp;many of the participants were seated in the audience.</p><p>&ldquo;When it finally did get started,&rdquo; Denise Crosby said, &ldquo;there wasn&rsquo;t one person that was not glued to that documentary. There wasn&rsquo;t sound being made at all.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.5_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Jack Kapson waits for video to render during an hour-long delay before the first screening (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><p><strong>The kind of thing parents heard</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The first time I tried heroin... I&rsquo;d probably say sometime during my sophomore year.&rdquo;</p><div>&ldquo;They were like snorting it and I snorted like some Adderall and they were like if you can snort Adderall you can snort this. It&rsquo;s basically like the same thing&hellip;. You&rsquo;re trying to be like happy and just like not worry about anything but you are like stressing about all these little things, and when you get high that just goes away so you can just like chill.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s gives you a really strange comfortable feeling. A feeling that everything around you is okay. It&rsquo;s kind of like a false sense of security.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Denise Crosby, the newspaper columnist, &nbsp;says that for the two kids who made the film, &nbsp;&ldquo;This really was them screaming at the community: Look. Stop. Putting your head in the sand.&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.4_0.jpg" style="float: right;" title="(Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>One mother&rsquo;s experience</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For another woman in the audience that night, the film was particularly painful.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amy Miller&rsquo;s daughter Megan had died four months earlier from heroin. Megan was eighteen and a student at Neuqua when she died. The filmmakers had contacted Amy Miller beforehand to let her know that some of their interviews included stories about Megan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And still, Miller says she wasn&rsquo;t prepared for what happened when a girl in the film talked about going to see &ldquo;Alice in Wonderland:&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jeff="" neuqua="" on="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2_2_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Amy Miller watches the first showing of 'Neuqua on Drugs'." /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Megan was grounded at the time &ndash; but she convinced her mom to let us go if her mom came too. And so her mom sat on the other side of the movie theater and we were just tripping balls. Like we were sweating so bad and Megan had drawn a giant heart over her eye with eyeliner &lsquo;cause she was the Queen of Hearts and she drew stripes on my face because she was the Cheshire Cat.&rdquo;</div><div>&ldquo;I had no idea,&rdquo; Amy Miller told me when I talked with her recently. &nbsp;&ldquo;And here they were rows behind me in the theater and they took acid to watch the movie. And this is the first I&rsquo;m hearing about this, sitting in the library among hundreds of people, and the girl was in the row behind me and she leaned forward and apologized to me&hellip;. And that was pretty tough, you know? That was really hard. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. It was like my daughter, I didn&rsquo;t know her.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Library head John Spears said that feeling of disconnect was common among adults the evening of the screening, and for a long time. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the one thing &nbsp;I heard over and over and over from everyone is: How could this have been happening and we didn&rsquo;t even know it?&rdquo; Underneath their confusion, he says, was shock. There was a sentiment among some people in Naperville that &ldquo;these kinds of things don&rsquo;t happen here.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I spoke to dozens of people in Naperville and I asked everyone, &ldquo;Did this harsh film make a difference?&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dvdsss.jpg" style="float: right;" title="The shelf life of the documentary remains to be seen (Bill Healy)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The high school principal pointed to a student-led discussion program, which he says was being created at the same time students were making the documentary. Neuqua&rsquo;s also part of an innovative pilot program specific to heroin--it&rsquo;s a project of &nbsp;the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. That program is in two middle schools that feed into Neuqua, too.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A parent group recently got money from the city to create parent conversation circles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Naperville police track where users live and sometimes do surveillance on kids buying drugs on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</div><div>Early on in my reporting, Jack Kapson - the young filmmaker who helped create &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; - said heroin was still a problem in Naperville, though he thought it had gone back underground since the film was released.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2013 so far, &nbsp;Naperville has had three confirmed heroin deaths&mdash;down from six in 2011. Police stress, however, that the number of overdoses means kids are still using as much as they did in recent years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Columnist Denise Crosby says it&rsquo;s a mistake to think &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; was one high school&rsquo;s story, or even Naperville&rsquo;s story. &ldquo;People started looking at this as &ldquo;Oh, this is Neuqua Valley on drugs. So that&rsquo;s Neuqua&rsquo;s problem.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s just simply &ndash; again I cannot reiterate that enough &ndash; that is simply not the case. Yeah, Neuqua was the epicenter for this. But this issue is in all of our high schools. It&rsquo;s everywhere. In all of our communities.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The film, she says, should have been titled, &ldquo;Your High School on Drugs.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Bill Healy is an independent producer. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan">@chicagoan</a> and on <a href="http://billhealymedia.com">his website</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 02:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 Set in Chicago, early 1960s doc seeks a fairer urban America http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-10/set-chicago-early-1960s-doc-seeks-fairer-urban-america-108979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lee_train.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Here is a glimpse of Chicago from 1961, courtesy of <em>The City of Necessity</em>, a film co-produced more than 50 years ago by a contingent of local religious organizations.</p><p>The 22-minute film was a bid to show the benefits of living in cities, using Chicago as an example. There are shots of Chicago&#39;s early midcentury skyline, a parade down State Street (Streets and San&#39;s space-age float at the 5:53 mark is worthy of pausing and replaying) and good footage of old buildings being demolished.</p><p>But the documentary&#39;s framers are also pushing for a more humane and inclusive city.</p><p>&quot;The promise of the city is not always fulfilled,&quot; narrator George Ralph intones. &quot;Often one becomes a statistic in an unemployment office.&quot;</p><p>The cameras venture out into white, black and Latino neighborhoods--and the level of poverty and dilapidation is alarming by today&#39;s standards. Race and class are noted in the documentary.</p><p>&quot;We have no ghetto, and we have no Negro ghetto,&quot; Mayor Richard J. Daley is heard saying.</p><p>Then the film provides footage to the contrary.</p><p>We see Chicago nightlife at 16:30. The montage of peep shows, tattoo parlors and the &quot;Girls Girls Girls&quot; sign set to a burlesque-grade rock and roll score is the best part of the documentary.&nbsp;</p><p>After its release,<em> the City of Necessity</em> won a Golden Gate award at the San Francisco Film Festival. A copy of the film is the U.S.. National Archives.</p></p> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 05:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-10/set-chicago-early-1960s-doc-seeks-fairer-urban-america-108979 Morning Shift: Navy Pier's future facelift has to strike balance http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-13/morning-shift-navy-piers-future-facelift-has-strike <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Navy Pier - Flickr - Bernt Rostad.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With Navy Pier headed toward a re-design in the next couple years, can the design continue to attract so many tourists? And, Matteson, Illinois, officials are closing Lincoln Mall. What does this imply about the future economy of the south suburbs?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-42.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-42" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Navy Pier's future facelift has to strike balance" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 13 Aug 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-13/morning-shift-navy-piers-future-facelift-has-strike Morning Shift: Patronage, films and end-of-life care http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-19/morning-shift-patronage-films-and-end-life-care <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Elder Care-Flickr-Adams County Manor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we&#39;ll find out if patronage is alive and well in Chicago, then immerse ourselves in the sound of Third Coast&#39;s ShortDocs festival. And we speak with experts about what the best way to deal with a loved one&#39;s death is.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-26.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-26" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Patronage, films and Lil B " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 08:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-19/morning-shift-patronage-films-and-end-life-care If you only had months to live, how would you spend them? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/if-you-only-had-months-live-how-would-you-spend-them-107666 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/%28Star%20Tribune%3AMike%20Rominski%29.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="Zach Sobiech, whose goodbye song 'Clouds' touched millions, died on May 20 at age 18. (Star Tribune/Mike Rominiski)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">On May 20, 2013, Zach Sobiech died after a four-year battle with terminal osteosarcoma. While his name might not sound familiar, you may have heard his song <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDC97j6lfyc" target="_blank">&quot;Clouds&quot;</a>&nbsp;after it went viral on YouTube earlier this year, or watched this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NjKgV65fpo" target="_blank">video</a> (over 9 million views to date) on the day of his passing.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">After being told that he only had months to live, 18-year-old Zobiech decided to share his story with the world. First came the hit song, then a mini-documentary produced by none other than&nbsp;<em>The Office</em> star Rainn Wilson.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/soulpancake" target="_blank">SoulPancake</a>, a YouTube channel created by Wilson and featuring a revolving lineup of memorable characters (from Kid President to The Impression Guys), caught wind of &quot;Clouds&quot; and later teamed up with Sobiech for the groundbreaking online reality series<a href="http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzvRx_johoA8ITQgxBpeJTaDUhhIB7bfX" target="_blank"> &quot;My Last Days.&quot;</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Directed by filmmaker-actor Justin Baldoni, the 22-minute doc follows Sobiech and his family during his final months: a touching tribute to the Minnesota teen that manages to be charming, heartbreaking, inspiring and uplifting at the same time.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Wilson also recruited a long list of celebrity friends (including Bryan Cranston, Jenna Fischer and Jason Mraz) to lip-synch a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zxXAtmmLLc" target="_blank">music video</a> to &quot;Clouds,&quot; which Sobiech got to see just weeks before his death.</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;I want to be remembered as the kid who went down fighting, and didn&#39;t really lose,&quot; said Zobiech, when asked what kind of legacy he would like to leave behind, &quot;I want everyone to know, you don&#39;t have to find out you&#39;re dying to start living.&quot;</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">The delicate subject matter of a docuseries like &quot;My Last Days&quot; may not be the easiest to watch, but perhaps that is exactly why we should. Sobiech lived more in 18 years than most people do in a liftetime: a powerful reminder for all of us to be thankful for the little things and embrace every day as if it were our last.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;It&#39;s really simple, actually,&quot; Sobiech said about trying to make the world a better place. &quot;Just make people happy.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Luckily for everyone who got the chance to know him, either in person or through his documentary, he succeeded in doing just that.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">What do you think of this phenomenon? Would you film your last days to inspire others?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank"> Twitter </a>or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/if-you-only-had-months-live-how-would-you-spend-them-107666 The Jon Ronson interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/jon-ronson-interview-107111 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ronson%2C_Jon_by_Barney_Poole_-_for_PSYCHO_TEST.jpeg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Author and filmmaker Jon Ronson (Photo courtesy of Barney Poole)" />Jon Ronson is one of those writers who embodies what creative nonfiction is all about by demonstrating just how strange and wonderful the world can be. A Welsh journalist, documentary filmmaker, radio presenter and nonfiction author, his books include<em> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Them-Adventures-Extremists-Jon-Ronson/dp/0743233212">Them: Adventures With Extremists</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Psychopath-Test-Journey-Through-Industry/dp/1594485755/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141216&amp;sr=1-1">The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry</a></em> and most recently <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Sea-Jon-Ronson-Mysteries/dp/1594631379/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141216&amp;sr=1-2">Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries</a></em>. His book <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Men-Who-Stare-Goats/dp/1439181772/ref=la_B001H6KH4U_1_4?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1368141271&amp;sr=1-4">The Men Who Stare At Goats</a></em> was turned into a movie starring George Clooney. You can learn a lot more about him <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/">here</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>I saw that you have <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/faq.html">a standing reply</a> on your website that you will not investigate people&rsquo;s claims that they are victims of mind control. Aside from that, what personal information do your readers tend to volunteer to you most frequently?</strong></div><div>That they are married to psychopaths. Or that they&#39;re worried they may be psychopaths. There is an adage in psychology that if you&#39;re worried you may be a psychopath that means you aren&#39;t one. Because psychopaths never worry about being psychopaths. They&#39;re FINE with it. Which makes me suspect that psychopathy is the most pleasant feeling of all the mental disorders.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Isn&#39;t it interesting that so many people share the exact same delusion - that they&#39;re being mind controlled by the CIA. When our brains go wrong they go wrong in uncannily similar ways. It shows that we aren&#39;t all individual snowflakes. My guess is that some of the people who believe they&#39;re mind control victims actually suffer from a rare disorder called Delusional Disorder. The symptoms include &#39;non-bizarre&#39; delusions. That delusion is non-bizarre because some people over the years HAVE actually been mind controlled by the CIA.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Of the different cultures you&rsquo;ve written about, what have been some that seemed most tempting to join up with, even if just in theory?</strong></div><div>I had a good time writing the story Running Through Cornfields for my first book, <em>Them</em>, about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Rulers_of_the_World">Rachel Weaver</a>, one of the survivors of Ruby Ridge. But that&#39;s just because I liked Idaho and&nbsp;Montana. The rivers and mountains. But I guess that&#39;s not a great reason to become a white separatist. Anyway, they&#39;d never have me.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>How can you tell which media are right for which subjects (what works well for radio, web, books, etc?)</strong></div><div>Sometimes it&#39;s just whoever is interested in having me work with them at any particular time. I go in and out of favor with different people. For instance, British nonfiction TV has no interest in me at the moment. Sometimes the subject matter dictates it. I once made a documentary about the band The Shaggs that I knew had to be for the radio. There was no way I could do that story without getting to play their music. Here it is:&nbsp;</div><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3lhfKJauQV4" width="420"></iframe></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the thing I&#39;m always looking for is an adventure that might become a book. Whenever I do a documentary or a feature I&#39;m always wondering if it could be a rabbit hole that takes me to a book.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I remember asking Christiane Kubrick - when I was making my film <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQq3oYO5sI">Stanley Kubrick&#39;s Boxes</a> - what her husband was looking for during those ever&nbsp;lengthening&nbsp;gaps between films. She said, &quot;The magical moment of falling in love with a story.&quot; I know that feeling well. Whenever I start a story I look for that magical moment of falling in love with it enough that it may become a book.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Who are some of your &quot;favorite&quot; criminals (&quot;favorite&quot; of course meaning compelling, not as in you&rsquo;d want to move in with them).</strong></div><div>I loved my&nbsp;adventures&nbsp;with David Icke and Alex Jones in <em>Them</em>, infiltrating <a href="http://www.jonronson.com/them_bohemia.html">Bohemian Grove</a> with Alex. Not sure he counts as a criminal. <a href="http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/15/the-complexities-of-the-psychopath-test-a-qa-with-jon-ronson/">Tony in </a><em><a href="http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/15/the-complexities-of-the-psychopath-test-a-qa-with-jon-ronson/">The Psychopath Test</a>.</em> I liked him personally, and also he was mysterious. He claimed to have faked madness to escape a prison&nbsp;sentence&nbsp;and now he was stuck in a hospital for the criminally&nbsp;insane and&nbsp;nobody&nbsp;believed he was sane. I loved trying to work out if he was insane or not. It opened up such an interesting area about how we view and judge other people, how we read between lines, how morally corrosive it can be.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>If you had to teach a ten-minute course on interviewing, what advice would you be sure to impart upon your students?</strong></div><div>This could be terrible advice, but don&#39;t plan any questions in advance. That way you have to listen.&nbsp;You&nbsp;have to be a twig in the tidal wave of the&nbsp;conversation. But not preparing any questions doesn&#39;t mean don&#39;t do research. Do lots of research, just assimilate it, rather than plan and structure the interview. As I say, that might be the worst advice.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>You immerse yourself so fully in the stories you write. What have been some scenarios where you were conducting research or interviews and then found yourself in a potentially unsafe environment?</strong></div><div>The most recent time was writing <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005ZOCFNQ/boingboing">The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones</a>, which is in my new collection, <em>Lost At Sea</em>. He&#39;s the real life superhero I was patrolling with in Seattle. He took me to Belltown to break up a gang of armed crack dealers. They were, &quot;What the f*ck are you doing coming here in your costumes? This is not fun and games to us. If you don&#39;t get off our block we&#39;re going to shoot you.&quot; And Phoenix said, &quot;We&#39;re staying.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What are you reading right now?</strong></div><div>Nothing. I&#39;m watching <em>Freaks and Geeks</em> on Netflix. I think it&#39;s just about the best thing I ever saw. It breaks my heart that they only made one series. It makes me feel so helpless that I can&#39;t go back in time and fix it so they made more. It&#39;s like finding out someone died. Although I did notice one or two jumping the shark moments in the last episode or two - like James Franco liking Dungeons and Dragons. So maybe it was for the best that it died young and left a good looking corpse.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Do you stay in touch with anyone you write about?</strong></div><div>I would like to stay in touch with everyone. I consider it a real&nbsp;honor&nbsp;and&nbsp;compliment&nbsp;if people want to stay in touch with me after I&#39;ve written about them. Even if we massively disagree with each other politically, I always think we&#39;ve been thought something intimate together when we&#39;ve had some kind of encounter or adventure. They feel like family members.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What have been some of your most recent obsessions, even if they were only fleeting? (I for instance spent part of today googling Aleister Crowley and his ilk.)</strong></div><div>Ha. Last few days I&#39;ve looked at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Maura_Murray">the disappearance of Maura Murray</a>, workplace bullying and Amanda Palmer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>What&rsquo;s a potential story topic you figured would be rich for material but turned out to be relatively banal, and then another where you stumbled upon a wormhole in an unexpected place? &nbsp;</strong></div><div>The saddest example of a story that went nowhere was&nbsp;the months trying to write a book about the credit card industry. This was before the crash.&nbsp;I realized was that all these people who work in the credit industry &ndash; the list brokers, all these people who&rsquo;ve got these devious tricks to&nbsp;keep us ensnared &ndash; are really important. But they are also incredibly boring. They couldn&#39;t light up the page for me. So I abandoned the book. And instead I went to Alaska to write my story <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/dec/23/weekend.jonronson1">Santa&#39;s Little Conspirators</a>, that ended up in <em>Lost at Sea</em>, my new collection. That was about&nbsp;shenanigans&nbsp;in a Christmas theme town.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The opposite - a story I wasn&#39;t into but turned out to be extraordinary - was going to Hawaii to interview a soldier called Glenn Wheaton. He had been part of the US Military&#39;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing">remote viewing program</a>. The&nbsp;psychic&nbsp;spies. I really didn&#39;t have any interest in them. The writer Jim Schnabel had already written a very intricate book about them called <em>Remote Viewers</em>. I felt like I was&nbsp;telling&nbsp;a story that was already known. It was really miserable for me. While I was interviewing him we got talking about the &#39;other stuff&#39; they were doing. He said they were trying to become invisible and kill goats just by staring at them. So the wormhole opened up. And I ended up writing <em>The Men Who Stare At Goats</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Factchecking your work must be thrilling and exhausting. Which stories of yours were the most difficult to clear before publishing?</strong></div><div>I don&#39;t remember ever having much of a problem. I&#39;m pretty assiduous when I&#39;m gathering the stories. So fact checking is&nbsp;usually&nbsp;fine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>How does it feel to be the 348th person interviewed for &nbsp;<a href="http://zulkey.com/WBEZ?">Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</a></strong><br />It feels good!</div></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-05/jon-ronson-interview-107111 Environmental film festival returns to western suburbs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmental-film-festival-returns-western-suburbs-105832 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ChasingIce_filmstill2_by_James_Balog-Extreme_Ice_Survey2.jpg" style="height: 407px; width: 610px;" title="Chasing Ice, a documentary about photographer James Balog, plays this weekend as part of the One Earth Film Festival." /></p><p>If the Oscars left you wanting for some environmental fare, a film festival in Chicago&rsquo;s western suburbs has you covered. The second annual <a href="http://greencommunityconnections.org/2013-one-earth-film-festival/">One Earth Film Festival</a> this weekend in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park, as well as Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, will show 40 environmental films, including the award-winning documentaries <em>Chasing Ice</em> and <em>Dying Green</em>, as well as films produced by local students.</p><p>The festival is organized by Green Community Connections, a grassroots (though they call themselves a &ldquo;deep-roots&rdquo; group) environmental organization based in the western suburbs. (Full disclosure: A short film I co-produced showed during last year&rsquo;s festival.)</p><p><em><a href="http://www.chasingice.com/">Chasing Ice</a></em>, which had only a limited run in Chicago last year, will be shown Saturday morning at 10:30 at the Lake Theater in Oak Park. The film focuses on photographer James Balog, whose assignments for <em>Smithsonian, National Geographic</em> and numerous other publications fostered his fascination with glaciers. As Balog&rsquo;s work brought him face to face with the effects of climate change, he started the <a href="http://extremeicesurvey.org/">Extreme Ice Survey</a> to document <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/science/earth/arctic-sea-ice-stops-melting-but-new-record-low-is-set.html">retreating glaciers</a> through time-lapse photography.</p><p>Though not nominated for Best Documentary last weekend, <em>Chasing Ice</em> was up for Best Original Song. (&ldquo;Before My Time&rdquo; by J. Ralph predictably lost to Adele&rsquo;s &ldquo;Skyfall.&rdquo;) In addition to its hypnotic visuals &mdash;&nbsp;the ice survey team watches a hunk of ice several times the size of Manhattan quake and crumble into the sea &mdash; <em>Chasing Ice </em>provides a human lens through which to view the often unwieldy issue of climate change. Rather than take a tired political tack, the film zeroes in on Balog&rsquo;s own journey: his realization that the world is changing before his eyes, and his self-destructive obsession with helping stop it.</p><p>Other films deal with issues including the Great Lakes water supply, genetically modified food and fracking. Filmmaker Ellen Tripler will discuss her award-winning documentary <em><a href="http://www.dyinggreenthefilm.com/">Dying Green</a></em>, about a doctor who promotes &ldquo;natural&rdquo; burials that do not use chemical&nbsp;preservatives&nbsp;or embalming&nbsp;fluid.&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.lastcallattheoasis.com/">Last Call at the Oasis</a></em>, produced by the company behind <em>An Inconvenient Truth</em>, argues that a global water crisis will be the central issue of the 21<sup>st</sup> century.</p><p><em>Download a full schedule for the One Earth Film Festival <a href="http://greencommunityconnections.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2013_film_schedule_print.pdf">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmental-film-festival-returns-western-suburbs-105832 Local documentarians promote social change http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/local-documentarians-promote-social-change-104915 <p><p>Kartemquin Films has some big plans for 2013.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/In%20the%20Game.jpg" style="float: right; " title="'In the Game,' a documentary about gender equality in sports by director Maria Finitzo, is currently in production. (Kartemquin Films)" />The Chicago-based independent film company has an <a href="http://kartemquin.com">impressive list</a> of documentaries slated for the new year: stories that map the diverse breadth of the human condition.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Films in progress include <em>Almost There</em> (the portrait of a disabled artist obsessively documenting his own life), <em>American Arab </em>(in which Iraqi-American filmmaker and former Vocalo host Usama Alshaibi shares his personal experiences with racism in a post-9/11 world)&nbsp;and <em>On Beauty</em> (a chronicle of three physically atypical women and their plans to change society&rsquo;s definition of of the word &ldquo;beautiful.&rdquo;)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If you haven&#39;t heard the name Kartemquin&nbsp;before, perhaps you remember two of the studio&rsquo;s biggest success stories. In 1994, <em>Hoop Dreams </em>received&nbsp;the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win every major critic&#39;s prize in the following year. This heartwarming tale of two inner-city basketball players became the highest grossing documentary at that time and one of the highest rated documentaries ever broadcast on PBS.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">More recently, Kartemquin released <em>The Interrupters</em>: a stirring film about Chicago&rsquo;s &ldquo;violence interrupters&rdquo; that won Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2011.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/beneath_blindfold.jpg" style="float: left; " title="'Beneath the Blindfold,' an activist documentary about torture victims by local filmmakers Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer, premiered to critical acclaim in 2012." /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Director Steve James helmed both of these projects, and won a Director&rsquo;s Guild of America Award for his work on&nbsp;<em>Hoop Dreams</em>. James&rsquo; next film in development with Kartemquin is <em>Life Itself</em>, based on Roger Ebert&#39;s memoir of the same name.&nbsp;<em>Generation Food</em>, a documentary about the innovative efforts and obstacles to fixing the global food crisis, is scheduled for 2014.&nbsp;</p><p>While Kartemquin is the documentary film giant in Chicago, other local filmmakers also deserve praise for their raw talent and tireless dedication to social change.&nbsp;</p><p>During <a href="http://www.chicagoideas.com/videos/43">Chicago Ideas Week</a> last October, video journalist Jigar Mehta introduced the idea of &quot;Crowdsourced Documentary Filmmaking&quot; as the means for creating his latest project&nbsp;<em>18 Days in Egypt</em>.</p><p>He and interaction designer Yasmin Elayet enabled participants to chronicle the Egyptian Revolution through their own voices: uploading real-life footage, tweets and Facebook status updates. This collaborative method not only inspires filmmakers to work together en tandem, but also encourages audiences to take a more active role in collectively re-examining their connections to the world and to each other.&nbsp;</p><p>For those wishing to get more involved in our city&#39;s thriving documentary film scene, <a href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org">Chicago Filmmakers</a> is a great place to start. This 37-year-old media arts organization holds workshops, screenings and seminars to foster our ever-growing independent film community, and sponsors networking events for like-minded cinephiles as well.&nbsp;</p><p>The next filmmaker meet up is <a href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org/cf/content/filmmaker-meetup-0">tonight</a> from 7 to 9 p.m., with director Dinesh Sabu discussing his first feature-length documentary <em>Unbroken Glass.&nbsp;</em>If you want to learn more about the industry, connect with other filmmakers or find inspiration for your own work-in-progress, opportunities like this one should not be missed.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a></em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/SC1EOm4o_0A" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/local-documentarians-promote-social-change-104915 'Eleanore & the Timekeeper' escape monotony of routine http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-17/eleanore-timekeeper-escape-monotony-routine-94132 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/Ron_Fingers_450.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In her documentary,<em> <a href="http://www.hairlessfilms.org/eleanore.html" target="_blank">Eleanore &amp; the Timekeeper</a></em>, Chicago filmmaker Daniele Wilmouth took on a very personal topic, her family. She followed her grandmother Eleanore as she struggled to move her developmentally disabled son, Ronnie, out of her home.</p><p>At 91, Eleanore could no longer safely care for herself and Ronnie.</p><p>To learn more about the film and the task of documenting such a personal tale, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by local filmmaker Daniele Wilmouth.</p><p>The film screens Friday night at <a href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org/cf/index.php" target="_blank">Chicago Filmmakers</a> in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood.</p><p><em>Music Button: John Scofield, "Simply Put", from the album A Moment's Peace, (Emarcy)</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-17/eleanore-timekeeper-escape-monotony-routine-94132