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DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Dori Berinstein

DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Dori Berinstein

Dori Berinstein is a Broadway producer and a director of feature-length documentaries about theater. Her Broadway producing credits include Carol Channing: Larger Than LifeLegally Blonde, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Crucible, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Her 2007 film Show Business: The Road to Broadway told the fate of four musicals: Wicked, Avenue Q, Taboo and Caroline, or Change.

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love will play at DOC NYC on November 17. 

Women and Hollywood: Please give us your description of the film playing.

Dori Berinstein: “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does It Better,” “A Chorus Line.” Hit after hit, Marvin was the go-to composer and performer for film, Broadway, every president since Reagan, and concert halls worldwide. By age 31, Marvin had won four Grammys, an Emmy, three Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer, making him one of only 2 PEGOT winners ever! Stories from Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Ann-Margret, Carly Simon, Steven Soderbergh and many, many others enable us to tell a deeply personal, insiders’ story of one of the greatest artists of our time.

WaH: What drew you to this story?

DB: Marvin and I were working together on a new Broadway musical together when he so tragically passed away [last summer]. Aside from being a true genius, a tireless and brilliant creator, and a funny, funny guy, Marvin had the biggest heart of anyone I ever knew. His story just had to be told.

WaH: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

DB: Capturing such a vast and remarkable life was both humbling and daunting. Marvin so clearly touched everyone he met so deeply. It was tremendously challenging to be “true” to Marvin and not make a film that simply gushed. We talked with over 75 people. Not one person had anything remotely negative or controversial to say. We had to work quite hard to make sure we captured Marvin’s struggles, his creative angst, and his tireless efforts. It’s hard to believe anyone could be [that ] positive, full of life, a complete “mensch,” but Marvin was.

WaH: What advice do you have for other female directors?

DB: Documentary filmmaking is endlessly challenging. Make sure you’re deeply passionate about the story you’re setting out to tell. Once you have that story that you’ve just gotta tell, no matter what, dive in and give it your all.

WaH: Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?

DB: The digital revolution has flooded the marketplace with product. You may be able to get your film out there, but to have it rise to the top and get the recognition you want/need your film to have, you must be very clever about your distribution and outreach. A hybrid distribution strategy that includes online distribution and a very clever social media strategy is essential. 

WaH: Name your favorite women directed film and why.

DB: It’s impossible to just name one. Top films that I adored directed by a woman include Whale Rider, Boys Don’t Cry, Bend It Like Beckham, and anything directed by Mira Nair.

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