FROM Joe Berlinger
Documentarian Joe Berlinger Joe Berlinger is a veteran documentarian who has been through a lot in his 25-year career. So he has a lot to say on a lot of topics -- including his latest movie, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru , now on Netflix, and much, much more. When he joined us in the studio, we started by talking about the 1992 film that kicked off his career, Brother's Keeper. Berlinger and his sometime collaborator, the late Bruce Sinofsky, were inspired to take a fly-on-the-wall approach for Brother's Keeper and other films thanks to their training with the Maysles brothers -- the famed documentarians behind films including Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. But such cinéma vérité films are not cheap to make -- especially in the early 90's, when shooting and processing film cost much more than the digital technology used today. Berlinger and Sinofsky maxed out a dozen credit cards and Berlinger used money set aside for his honeymoon (with his fiance's permission!) to process the final footage. The film won the audience award at Sundance that year, but the filmmakers still ended up distributing the film themselves after it became apparent that distributors were not interested in buying something with such dark subject matter. Berlinger faced another incredible struggle after the release of his documentary Crude. Multiple complicated and expensive legal battles left Berlinger wondering if he'd ever make a doc again. Just when he had about given up hope, the West Memphis Three were released from prison, thanks in large part to his Paradise Lost trilogy. Berlinger says seeing the falsely accused men freed gave him the will to go on. His newest film is Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru. It immerses the viewer in the motivational mogul's flagship seminar, Date with Destiny. Some 2,500 attendees pay $5000 each to spend a week during which Robbins works to whip them into better spiritual shape. Though Berlinger doesn't say so in the film, he became interested in the subject matter after reluctantly attending a previous such seminar -- at Robbins's invitation -- and found himself having what he describes as a transformative experience. That aspect of the story has helped spark the criticism that has been leveled at the film that Berlinger did not take a truly objective look at his subject. Berlinger says he believes this is actually one of the most objective films he's ever made, and that his intention was simply to share a positive experience in a cinéma vérité style, almost like a concert film. As for what to make of Robbins and his methods, Berlinger says, "You're free to think what you want," and hopes the film reflects that.
New documentary looks at guru Tony Robbins Joe Berlinger is an Oscar-nominated documentarian known for hard-hitting films like Paradise Lost, Brother’s Keeper and Crude. But his new film is more personal. It’s called Tony Robbins: I am Not Your Guru . It’s like a concert film, except instead of a rock band’s stadium show, it goes inside the self-help author’s 6-day seminar called "Date With Destiny." Joe Berlinger decided to make the film after Tony Robbins invited him to attend a “Date with Destiny” seminar in 2014. Berlinger talks about his personal experience with Robbins.
Joe Berlinger, Filmmaker Behind 'Paradise Lost' Series, Weighs in on 'The Jinx' Robert Durst’s unwitting, apparent confession on Sunday’s episode of The Jinx turned the documentarians into sudden participants in a real-life case. What do we know about when they started to cooperate with law enforcement? Also, what are the moral considerations for investigative journalists when reporting uncovers new evidence? We talk to one documentarian who’s been in a similar situation.
Whitey Bulger Documentary Yesterday, a nice little two-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica went up for rent. The previous tennant - James “Whitey” Bulger - vacated rather suddenly when the feds arrested the notorious Boston mobster at that apartment three years ago. Bulger is now serving a prison term of two life sentences plus five years for 11 murders, drug trafficking, racketeering, money laundering and extortion. In his new film, documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger explores whether the FBI was complicit in Bulger’s crimes.
George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (Part I) Lincoln in the Bardo dramatizes a grieving President Lincoln as he visits the grave of his beloved son Willie, who died at age eleven. In the novel, the buried dead believe they're not dead -- "they're sick and refer to their coffins as "sick boxes."
Farewell LA freeways, Peter Shire is back Angelenos don't want more freeways but we seem not to want mass transit either. Metro has killed the 710 freeway extension, and bus and train ridership is down across the region. What's the future of getting around in LA? And, Peter Shire is having a comeback. What attracts a new generation to his playful ceramics and furniture?