The Real and The Reality of Documentary Film with filmmaker Bill Guttentag.
The popularity of documentary films has exploded in recent years, resulting in a constant flow of narratives based on true events and real people. In a world where many would rather watch than read, the veracity of these films is often unquestioned. Should it be? Do these films manipulate reality? What are the responsibilities of the filmmaker? Guttentag tackles these and many other questions - The Commonwealth Club of California
Bill Guttentag, a two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker, wrote and directed Live!, a dramatic feature starring Eva Mendes, Andre Braugher, and David Krumholtz. The film was produced by Chuck Roven/Mosaic Media Group and distributed by The Weinstein Company. He also wrote and directed Nanking, a documentary which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film includes a stage reading he wrote that features Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, and Jurgen Prochnow. Nanking was released theatrically this winter by THINKFilm and will air later in the year on HBO.
In 2003 Bill Guttentag won an Oscar for the documentary Twin Towers (Universal). It was his second Academy Award; the first was for You Don't Have to Die, a film he made for HBO.
He has also received three additional Oscar nominations, as well as two Emmy Awards. His films have been selected three times for the Sundance Film Festival and have played and won awards at numerous American and international film festivals. His films have received a number of special screenings, including one at the White House.
Bill Guttentag created and executive produced the NBC series Crime & Punishment, which ran for three seasons (2002-2004). The series was part of the Law & Order family of shows, and was created with Dick Wolf, who was also an executive producer. Over the series’ run, nearly every show was in the Nielsen top 20.
Nanking, his most recent film, has won awards at a number of US and international film festivals (including Sundance). Guttentag was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Nanking, and the film was short-listed for an Academy Award. Nanking was released in China last summer and became the highest grossing theatrical documentary in Chinese history.
He has made documentary films for HBO, ABC, CBS and others. His HBO films include the Academy Award-nominated Crack USA, and Memphis PD: War on the Streets, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He directed Assassinated: The Last Days of Kennedy and King (executive produced by Oliver Stone) on the final year in the lives of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He also directed The Cocaine War, an ABC News/Peter Jennings Reporting special on the drug war in South America.