Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, 2011, 79 min
Marine Corps Master Seargent Jerry Ensminger was a devoted Marine for nearly twenty-five years. As a drill instructor he lived and breathed the “Corps” and was responsible for indoctrinating thousands of new recruits with its motto Semper Fidelis or “Always Faithful.” When Jerry’s nine-year old daughter Janey died of a rare type of leukemia, his world collapsed. As a grief-stricken father, he struggled for years to make sense of what happened. His search for answers led to the shocking discovery of a Marine Corps cover-up of one of the largest water contamiation incidents in U.S. history. Semper Fi: Always Faithful follows Jerry’s mission to expose the Marine Corps and force them to live up to their motto to the thousands of soldiers and their families exposed to toxic chemicals. His fight reveals a grave injustice at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune and a looming environmental crisis at military sites across the country.
"All the investigative punch of a window-rattling Frontline episode and the smoldering intensity of a high-stakes issue drama." -- Film Journal
Best Documentary Editing, Tribeca Film Festival
Audience Award (2nd place), Tribeca Film Festival
Ridenhour Prize for Documentary Filmmaking
Best Documentary, Woodstock Film Festival
Audience Award, Woodstock Film Festival
Best Documentary, San Diego Film Festival
How to Grow A Band
Mark Meatto, 2012, 81 min
HOW TO GROW A BAND follows mandolin virtuoso (and MacArthur Foundation “Genius”) Chris Thile through a turning point in his life and musical career. By age 26, he had already reached some significant career highs, winning a couple of Grammys for both his solo records and his work with the platinum-selling, pop-bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. But, in a move that stunned fans in 2006, Thile and Nickel Creek went on “indefinite hiatus” while Thile paused to re-assess and, in many ways, start over.
The film follows Thile as he begins again with bold plans to bring to life a 45-minute musical elegy to a failed marriage written for traditional bluegrass instruments—an endeavor that led to the birth and formation of one of the most talented young bands in America, Punch Brothers. HTGAB charts the first steps of the band’s musical journey and looks behind the scenes at the decisions and compromises that must be made by artists looking to evolve and survive. This is a film about starting something. And about the first steps we take in relationships that we sense just might change our lives. The relationship this movie explores is the intimate, dazzling union that is Punch Brothers. HOW TO GROW A BAND is about much more than just a moment in time for a particularly talented band. It is about the creative process itself.
“Masterful Filmmaking…Top 10 Music Documentaris of 2012″ --Paste Magazine
"Critics Pick: the music is both challenging and heavenly.” -- New York Magazine
“Fascinating as it charts the sort of artistic and philosophical differences that can eventually undermine any group endeavor” -- Variety
Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037
Ben Niles, 2007, 84 min
Note by Note follows the creation of Steinway L1037, a grand piano, from the forests of Alaska to Carnegie Hall. It explores the relationship between craftsmen and their work, musicians and their instruments. From the factory floor in Queens to the artists' division of Steinway Hall, each piano's journey is complex and unique. Note by Note has screened in over sixty cities nationwide and was screened nationally on PBS in 2009.
"A meditation on the making of pianos and the making of music. A process that is very much like falling in love." -- Kenneth Turan, LA Times
Official Selection, Silverdocs
Official Selection, IDFA
Best Documentary, Sarasota Film Festival
National PBS Broadcast
Amanda Micheli, 2003, 81 min
A double-barreled, action-packed documentary about two Hollywood stuntwomen, Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell. Epper, who refuses to reture at sixty-four, doubled for Wonder Woman in the '70s. and Bell landed the coveted job doubling Xena at the age of eighteen. With star-studded interviews and rollicking live-action sequences, Double Dare is a candid look at two strong, dedicated women who pursue tough careers in male-dominated Tinseltown.
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
AFI Audience Award for Best Documentary
San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award
Best Documentary, Best Editing, Woodstock Film Festival
PBS broadcast: Independent Lens