POV’s series producer Yance Ford interviews Thom Powers, filmmaker, documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and the founder and curator of the Stranger than Fiction documentary series in New York.
I sat down recently with Thom Powers — filmmaker, documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and the founder and curator of the immensely popular documentary series Stranger than Fiction, also known as STF. Since 2005, STF has run three 10-week seasons (Spring, Fall and Winter) for an ever increasing audience. Powers and his finely curated series have established Tuesday nights at the IFC Center as the time and place for New York City-based documentary filmmakers and fans to view new and classic work and interact through vibrant Q&A’s and post-screening gatherings, where the conversations continue.
The Fall 2009 season opened this week with Ahead of Time, the directorial debut of cinematographer Bob Richman. Richman has shot a laundry list of fine documentaries including Constantine’s Sword by Oren Jacoby, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, and recently The September Issue by RJ Cutler. The new STF season also features some other great films — check out the calendar on the STF website.
In part one of my interview with Thom, he breaks down the history of STF, his curatorial approach and what it means to bring folks out from behind their computers and into the theater. Stay tuned for part two next week, when we discuss Toronto and some broader issues like distribution and the documentary landscape.
Yance works closely with POV's executive director and programming director to evaluate films submitted to POV She is instrumental in curating the series, a showcase of acclaimed documentary film on PBS. Yance frequently represents POV | American Documentary at conferences, festivals and markets, procuring work from filmmakers both nationally and internationally. Yance also oversees POV's annual call for entries, which yields upwards of one thousand entries, and coordinates POV's annual programming advisory board. Yance is a Programming Consultant and Pre- Screener for film festivals around the country, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, Latino Public Broadcasting, Creative Capital and the Sundance Film Festival. She has served on festival juries at Full Frame and Silverdocs, appeared on panels at Sunny Side of the Doc and DocuClub and served on the IFP Advisory Committee. A graduate of Hamilton College and the production workshop at Third World Newsreel, Yance is a former Production Stage Manager for the Girls Choir of Harlem and has worked as a Production Manager on numerous independent productions for the Discovery Health and History channels. Ford has also worked in various capacities on the documentaries The Favorite Poem Project, Juanita Anderson, Executive Producer, Brian Lanker's They Drew Fire (PBS), and Barry Levinson's Yesterday's Tomorrows (Showtime).Yance's favorite documentaries include:1. Hands on a Hard Body
2. Tongues Untied
3. Harlan County, USA
4. Cul de Sac
5. When We Were Kings
6. The Thin Blue Line
7. Night and Fog