As part of the Master Class series hosted by filmmaker/professor Ellen Spiro at UT, I sat in on a conversation with Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein last night.
When I was a kid, I remember watching his doc Common Threads over and over on HBO. It was profoundly moving, and probably one of my earliest impressions of documentary filmmaking as a real artform (hey, I was 12 years old, remember!). I kept up with Epstein’s work over the years. SXSW even screened his engaging and amazing The Ceulluloid Closet the year it played the fest circuit, but that was before I was a part of the festival.
And, when my then-girlfriend was taking a Holocaust class at UT, she and I watched Epstein’s Paragraph 175, about as disturbing and effective as documentaries can get. The discussion at UT touched on all of these films, as well as many more that Epstein and his partners have worked on. It was a great discussion, and despite getting over a nasty cold, Epstein was a delightful presence.
Of course, though, it all kind of started with his 1984 breakthrough doc The Times of Harvey Milk. This landmark documentary will be screening tonight as part of an Austin Film Society hosted event with Epstein in attendance.