DAILY NEWS: "Hollow" Follow-Up; Editorials from Arthur Dong & Debra Chasnoff

by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE, with contributions from Arthur Dong and Debra

>> "Hollow" Hits HBO as Kennedy Heads to Mississippi

After premiering in the Documentary Competition at Sundance '99, "American Hollow," Rory Kennedy's documentary about an impoverished Appalachian family, traveled this year's festival circuit to much acclaim, winning Best
Documentary awards at the Newport, Chicago, Northampton, and AFI Film
. With a two-week Academy Award-qualifying run at New York's Film
, the film's incisive and respectful look at the rural poor will likely make it a prime contender come Oscar time. (Kennedy's partner at Moxie/Firecracker Films, filmmaker Liz Garbus, was nominated last year for her co-directorial effort "The Farm" (with Jonathan Stack), Of her own Oscar hopes, Kennedy offers, "We'll see," not wanting to jinx her chances.) Since her year-long stint in the "Hollow," Kennedy has moved on to another familial documentary for HBO; this time, she travels to Mississippi to chronicle three generations of mental illness in a single family and "the challenges they face."

As for her subjects in the Hollow, with whom she still speaks frequently,
Kennedy offers some updates: Iree Bowling, the 69-year-old matriarch is
"doing fine" and still taking care of her mother with Alzheimer's. Granddaughter Samantha stopped working because her youngest child is sick in the hospital; her abusive ex-husband was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Young Clint, who hoped to leave the Hollow one day, has "come and gone, but now he's back," and "everybody else," according to the filmmaker, "seems to be doing pretty well."

Just this month, "American Hollow" has had two special premieres, one on
Capitol Hill, the other at Harvard University. For the socially concerned
Kennedy, the screenings have been held in an effort to "try to draw intention to issues around rural poverty." She continues, "As we grow wealthier and wealthier, and healthier and healthier as a nation, the poor seem to get poorer and poorer. If there's been any time in our history that's been a good time to fight poverty -- and the issues around poverty like the lack of education and healthcare -- than this would be the time to do it."

"American Hollow" airs tonight on HBO, followed by repeat showings on Dec.
2nd and Dec. 14th.

At this year's Sundance Film Festival, Amy Goodman spoke to Kennedy, along
with the filmmakers responsible for this year's other "American" docs,
Chris Smith and Sarah Price ("American Movie") and the Hughes Brothers ("American Pimp"). [Anthony Kaufman]



>> EDITORIAL: Arthur Dong: "Anger is what pushes me forward"

"If anger is what pushes me forward," writes Arthur Dong in an excerpt from
a new book, "I hope that compassion is what comes forth." Arthur Dong is a
Peabody Award-winning independent filmmaker. His work includes "Licensed
To Kill
," nominated for an Emmy this year; "Coming Out Under Fire";
"Forbidden City, U.S.A." and the Oscar-nominated "Sewing Woman." This essay
is taken from the book "Hostile Climate 1999: A Report on Anti-Gay
," published this month by People For the American Way Foundation.



>> EDITORIAL: Debra Chasnoff: "I glance at myself in the mirror..."

"I glance at myself in the mirror," explains filmmaker Debra Chasnoff in an
excerpt, "Surprised that my face is the one they think poses such a threat
to so many children." Debra Chasnoff is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker
whose work includes "It's Elementary," broadcast on PBS this summer; "Deadly Deception" and "Choosing Children." This essay is taken from the book "Hostile Climate 1999: A Report on Anti-Gay Activity," published this month by People For the American Way Foundation.