“You got to think ridiculous when it comes to Christ,” insists the title modern-epoch apostle in Preacher, a documentary by Daniel Kraus about 72-year-old Bishop William Nowell, a charismatic, excitable and enthusiastic longtime Pentecostal pastor who gets more exercise at the pulpit than many people get at a treadmill or track.
Preacher screens at the Brooks Museum in Memphis tonight. The screening is loosely associated with professional Renaissance Man Scott Newstok’s “1611 Symposium” at Rhodes College, and across Memphis, celebrating the King James Bible’s 400th anniversary.
“…features big ideas and occasional gunfire… Holstein comes across so vividly and genuinely… feels like an argument for a certain kind of cinematic purity.” - Peter Gutierrez, TribecaFilm
“Excellent!” - Chicago Reader
“Endlessly intriguing…three films chronicling ordinary Americans at their rather extraordinary jobs. Their tiles are self-explanatory and deceptively simple — Sheriff, Musician and Kraus’s latest, Professor. The films, meanwhile, are anything but.” - Movieline
A college education has become part of the American dream. But what are we learning and who is teaching us?
For nearly four decades, Rabbi Jay Holstein has been one of the University of Iowa’s most popular professors. With a foul mouth, a raunchy sense of humor, and a piercing brilliance, Holstein uses massive 500-student lectures to turn inside-out the most fundamental assumptions on topics as divergent as sex, suicide, and the Holocaust. His courses, including “Quest for Human Destiny,” have become the stuff of campus legend, and between firing a Glock and running 10 miles per day, the 69-year-old Holstein spends his office hours wrestling with students over animal experimentation, alcohol use, and homosexuality.
Following the internationally acclaimed cinéma vérité of Sheriff and Musician, Professor tackles intellectual labor and in doing so grapples with some of life’s greatest and most elemental enigmas.
The third film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.
The life and hard work of Ken Vandermark,
legendary avant-jazz saxophonist and MacArthur Genius Award Winner
A unique, essential, and utterly fascinating portrait of life as a professional musician
“Critic’s pick . . . radically fresh . . . shot and edited with the same inquisitive spirit that defined Studs Terkel’s oral history Working.” - Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Times
“Deceptively simple . . . one of the best films of the year . . . a succession of haunting realities, none more so than a map of the shattered line between so many of our personal and professional lives.” - S.T. VanAirsdale, The Reeler
“RECOMMENDED. Paints a vibrant but decidely unglamorous portrait. The end result is a strange duality between work and play: Vandermark loves what he does, but because resources for the improvising musician are so limited, he can never rest.” – Chicago Reader
The second film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.
Common sense says you can’t make a living in America playing avant-garde improvisational jazz. But Ken Vandermark does it anyway.
Among musicians, Vandermark’s work ethic is almost mythic. The Chicago reed player has released over 100 albums with nearly 40 ensembles, spends over eight months per year on the road, and lives every other waking moment composing, arranging, performing — and trying to discipline his two hyperactive canines. Though Vandermark was the recipient of a 1999 MacArthur genius grant, he still spends most of his life in smoky clubs and low-budget recording studios, hoping people will plunk down hard-earned cash to hear his wholly non-commercial music.
Following the artful cinéma vérité style of the internationally acclaimed Sheriff, Musician forgoes all interviews and voice-overs. It is a fly-on-the-wall time capsule that expertly captures every subtle sound and texture of this most American of art forms.
“Musician is a precise and insightful cinema verite study of Ken Vandermark . . . Offers an unglamorized portrait of the artist as a purposeful drudge. Well-crafted and compelling.” - Variety
The first film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.
“This insightful program offers an intriguing peek at small-town law enforcement.” - Booklist
“without taking anything away from [Frederick] Wiseman, who remains a master, Sheriff is almost as good any documentary he’s made.”
– Noel Murray, The Onion
Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett oversees the rural Southern community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. Heading up what used to be a backwards, back-woods department, Hewett strives to maintain order and civility in a region fraught with murder, robbery, and the occasional theft of ceramic lawn ornaments. To accomplish this impossible task, Hewett uses the only tools at his disposal — God, guns, and the hundreds of blood relatives that populate his jurisdiction.
At once brutal, bizarre and funny, Sheriff employs the techniques of Frederick Wiseman’s pure cinéma vérité: no interviews, no music, no voice-overs. The result is an unexpected, intimate portrait of a complex man trying to do good in a bad, bad world.
Sheriff is an intimate portrait of an admirable blue-collar man and the first in the WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries from director Daniel Kraus designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.