Alison Klayman - What Are You Willing To Bleed For?
Alison is an award winning film director and journalist. Her new short movie Flower Punk about Japanese artist Azuma Makoto, who has sent his floral sculptures into space and sunk them to the bottom of the ocean, premieres in New York City on November 7th. Her latest feature, The Brink, where she followed Steve Bannon around for over a year up to and through the 2018 midterm elections, is available on Hulu.
We talk about workaholics, inspiration, starting projects and finishing them, relationships as part of a busy and successful life, getting out of your comfort zone, impostor syndrome and much more.
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Alison Klayman was the youngest director named by the New York Times chief film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis on their international list of 20 Directors to Watch. Alison’s documentary work has been recognized with awards and box office success, and she also directs nonfiction series and commercials. Her debut feature AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded a US Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance. It had its international premiere at Berlinale and went on to be shortlisted for an Academy Award, nominated for two Emmys, and earn Alison a DGA Award nomination and an appearance on The Colbert Report among other honors. NEVER SORRY has now been translated into over 26 languages and had major theatrical releases around the world, including on over 200 screens with IFC Films in the United States. It was also one of the highest grossing films of 2012 directed by a woman.
Her newest documentary THE BRINK was theatrically released in 2019 by Magnolia Pictures. In it she takes on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, following him for over a year as he tries to promote his brand of extreme nationalism and unite the far-right anti-immigrant parties of Europe. After its Sundance premiere, Variety called the film "impeccably crafted...an engaging and enraging, disturbing and highly revealing movie." In his Critic's Pick review, A.O Scott wrote "it's a fast-moving, tightly packed, at times unnervingly entertaining documentary.”
Alison’s other films include the Netflix Original feature documentary TAKE YOUR PILLS about the role of prescription stimulants in a hyper-competitive, overly medicated America. The Emmy and BAFTA-nominated film was executive produced by Maria Shriver and had its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. She is also the director of THE 100 YEARS SHOW about 103-year-old Cuban-American painter Carmen Herrera, who worked in obscurity for decades until finally receiving recognition late in life. The film was a festival favorite and five-time winner of “Best Documentary Short.” It had a theatrical run at New York’s Film Forum, and screened at the Whitney and other museums before being released worldwide on Netflix.