Archive for the ‘press’ Category

We got a nice write-up in the May-June issue of “Video Librarian.” They call “Forgetting Dad”: “… a captivating saga of family dysfunction” and gave it 3 out of 4 stars.
Please encourage your local or university librarian to purchase a DVD for their collection. All DVDs come with public performance rights so they could screen the film publicly whenever they want. More info here.

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We got a quite lengthy review in Germany’s most famous newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today from one of the country’s most highly regarded film critics Michael Hanfeld. It’s titled “You Can Forget Your Father.” Pretty appropriate, I’d say. Sounds like Herr Hanfeld ‘got’ it. Besides the usual plot description with occasional comment, the review also goes off on the ‘homeless America’ the film portrays: “It’s the land Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen sing about, the one John Steinbeck described, a land in which a person can become lost or invisible. Herr Hanfeld continues on to discuss the late German filmmaker Christian Bauer’s film “Missing Allen,” in which Bauer travels the US in search of his American cameraman, who has mysteriously vanished. It’s a terrific film, and I believe this is the first review to draw a comparison between the two films.

It’s strange how some reviews succeed at compacting both the film’s complex storyline and the emotional journey of my family and I into a relatively small space. Reading this nearly three years after the world premiere in Amsterdam, it feels like the film has been put into a box which can be put away high up on a shelf. The trauma of my father’s amnesia will probably never completely fade, but making the film and going public with it has put a frame around the whole ordeal and somehow helped contain it. Although it’s a nice feeling that the film will be showing on Germany’s largest TV station ZDF less than an hour from now, it’s no longer all that important to me. There’s more to life than trying to solve the mystery of my father’s amnesia.

Looking back on my last encounters with my father, it seems he was trying to tell me to not end up like him. In his sometimes awkward way, he was trying to give me some kind of advice on how to cherish what is going on in my life here and now rather than harping on the past or being overly pre-occupied with the future. He has yet to apologize for anything from his past, but he has regret written all over him.

You’ve got to love the long German word Herr Hanfeld uses to describe the feeling Justin and I had upon visiting our father at the end of the film: ‘erbarmungswürdig’ – ‘pitiful’ or ‘pitiable,’ or literally ‘worthy of pity.’ That’s a feeling that hasn’t gone away.

My father has taught me many valuable lessons in life, but the most valuable one yet is showing me vividly with his tortured mind and body how I don’t want to end up. As odd as it may sound, I’m thankful to him for this.

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Paula Guenon is conducting an in-depth interview with director Rick Minnich about FORGETTING DAD from 12-1 p.m. today PST on her show “Don’t Get Left in the Dust” on LA Talk Radio

Host Paula Guenon with director Rick Minnich on LA Talk Radio

. It will be broadcast live over the Internet and can be downloaded here.

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Here’s a little interview in the South Pasadena Patch reflecting some thoughts on my encounter with my father last weekend.
Tonight is the final screening of the Father’s Day Film Tour of California at the South Pasadena Public Library at 7 p.m.

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Director Rick Minnich will be a featured guest on the highly-regarded Center Stage with Mark Gordon radio program in Los Angeles from 7-8 p.m. tonight. Rick is scheduled to go on at around 7:45 p.m. but tune in early just in case.
Listen “live” on 88.9 FM and online at www.kxlu.com

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Composer Ari Benjamin Meyers, left, attends the Berlinale with filmmakers Matt Sweetwood and Rick Minnich. Photo by Monika Mueller-Kroll for NPR

Check out this two-minute report by Monika Mueller-Kroll with discussion with directors Rick Minnich and Matt Sweetwood and composer Ari Benjamin Meyers on the occasion of the “Forgetting Dad” screening at the Berlin Film Festival, Feb. 2011. It was broadcast on National Public Radio NPR Berlin at 11:32 pm on Friday, 18 February and Monday and Tuesday, 21 + 22 February.

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A fun podcast

Tim Schomacker

Tim Schomacker

I haven’t done a podcast for a while, and got a kick out of doing one yesterday. Bremen-based writer, journalist, radio producer and musician Tim Schomacker took the time to watch some of my films and come up with some questions that really got me thinking about what I’ve dedicated my life to doing – telling stories. His introduction is an astute analysis of the nature of memory (the theme of this year’s “35th Literary Week” in Bremen, Germany which Tim is covering at length) and a reflection upon the common threads that make up my film work. It’s a rare occasion that a journalist puts such effort into a piece, and makes me look at my work with fresh eyes and from a slightly different perspective. It was especially fun to talk about one of my youthful sins – the short film “The Book of Lenins,” which continues to attract attention fifteen years after its completion (who would have ever thought that?)
So for any of you who speak German and want to spend 45 minutes listening to me rambling about my filmmaking career thus far, interspersed with some clever observations from Tim, tune in here (podcast #7, also available for download).
Thanks again, Tim, for the pleasant conversation!

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(View the show here)

Talkshows aren’t exactly a mecca for documentary filmmakers, so it felt a bit strange to be invited to be on the NDR talk show DAS! last night. It’s a 45-minute program from 6:45-7:30 every evening, and features a single guest filmed in the studio without an audience. The conversation is broken up into little chunks by news reports and little films about this and that, mostly from Northern Germany – NDR’s home territory.

So I spent the evening on the red sofa with moderator Inke Schnedier, who led me through a praise-filled walk through my filmmaking career and my private life (my wife Susanne and our five kids), how I ended up in Germany, etc. It was all kind of light-hearted and superficial, as talk shows are. Yet at the same time, it was one of those rare opportunities to look at my life from the outside. It’s funny how much we take for granted and how little we reflect about some key moments in our lives. So I was all the more thankful that DAS! staffer Fanny Weiss cut together clips out of my previous films, and summarized what my filmmaking career has been thus far.

Strangely enough, Fanny remembered seeing my film HEAVEN ON EARTH on the German/Swiss/Austrian TV station 3Sat back in 2002, and when she watched it again, she was able to put two and two together. One of my the conversation topics during the show was to discuss one of the most memorable moments of my filmmaking career. While FORGETTING DAD was full of them, the one that has stuck most so far is my interview with General Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay. He was the one responsible for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

While we were in Branson, Missouri filming HEAVEN ON EARTH back in 1998, Tibbets and the other two surviving members of the Enola Gay passed through town on a book-signing tour. Without knowing quite how it would fit into the film, I seized the opportunity to interview Tibbets, sensing that it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. My gut feeling was right. Sitting only a couple of feet away from the hard-of-hearing Tibbets, who was 82 at the time, I was overcome by chills up and down my spine. But I stayed calm, and simply asked him to describe what he felt at the moment they dropped the bomb. Sure, it was typical military-talk about doing the right thing and all that. Yet at the same time, his body language seemed to express some second thoughts. Fortunately, my camerawoman Eeva Fleig let the camera run long enough after his last sentence to catch that magical look of uncertainty on his face.

It was one of those moments where a picture is really better than a thousand words. It was also, in retrospect, a key moment in defining myself as a filmmaker in terms of what kinds of stories I want to tell and how I relate to the people I film with. It was both eerie and exciting to see this clip again on the show. It’s part of who I am, even if I sometimes cringe at Tibbets’ words. But those were different times, and I’ll never be able to put myself in his shoes. My job is to let people like him talk openly, and find a context for who they are and what they’ve done to affect our world.

I guess I got to talk about just about everything that’s really important to me in my life: my family (I got to show off two of the guitars my eleven-year-old son Jonathan has built with a teeny tiny bit of help from me), my film crew (long-time cameraman Axel Schneppat and my editor and now co-director of FORGETTING DAD Matt Sweetwood; unfortunately no time to mention my fabulous soundman Raimund von Scheibner, composer Ari Benjamin Meyers, and graphic designer Makks Moond), and my films themselves.

The whole show flew right by. But I was in a good mood, and didn’t mind having to do some kind of memory test where I could recall only nine of the twelve objects which passed by me on a conveyor belt. (My oldest sons Jakob and Jonathan watched it on TV and got them all right.)

Who knows who saw the show. The weather was fantastic (I arrived in Hamburg early with Susanne and our three youngest children, and took a boat ride through the harbor), and lots of people were surely still outdoors enjoying it rather than in front of the TV. But it was a good experience. I got a kick out of seeing my sons Leander and Elias sitting on the other side of the soundstage watching me. On the way back to Berlin, Leander kept playing the kazoo I’d brought along for a little episode about HOMEMADE HILLBILLY JAM which we didn’t end up filming because of time constraints. Somehow it was a fitting end to a long, but enjoyable day.

Thanks to Fanny Weiss, moderator Inke Schneider, hostess Kim Argendorff, and travel coordinator Sabine Wittkowski for a great opportunity. And thanks to our publicist Nina Schattkowsky for making it all happen.

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Radio EINS interview

I was on Knut Elstermann’s 12 Uhr Mittags radio show this afternoon on Radio EINS (95.8 FM Berlin + Potsdam). He’s the movie king of the airwaves in Berlin and Potsdam, and it’s always an honor and a pleasure to be a guest on his show. He’s been following my career ever since Heaven on Earth back in 2001. On Thursday he also discussed FORGETTING DAD on his show. Both programs will soon be available here.

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Here’s today’s review in the Süddeutsche Zeitung – one of the most influential newspapers in Germany. It’s entitled “The Foreign Father” and the subtitle reads “Redemption Through Understanding – The Documentary ‘Forgetting Dad’ by Rick Minnich.” The article is an in-depth and insightful description of what happens in the film and the greater implications of my father’s amnesia and the trauma it created within my family.


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