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Be The Media! Positioning Yourself as Subject in Documentary Filmmaking

November 29, 2023 @ 5:00 pm 6:00 pm EST

Learn from “Confessions of a Good Samaritan” Director Penny Lane’s decision to position herself as director, film subject, and kidney donor!

After the workshop, stick around for a screening of “Confessions of a Good Samaritan” and a talk by the filmmaker!

Director’s Statement

Every film is a personal film. At least, I think so.

But of course there’s something different about a film in which you, the director, decide to put your own dumb face at the center of it. On a selfish level, it would have been much easier and less embarrassing to do the kidney donation privately, and to forget all the ugly parts.

Ultimately what kept me going is that, simply put, there has never been a feature documentary about an organ donor. Certainly there has never been a feature documentary about a “Good Samaritan” kidney donor who will never meet her recipient, the hopes and challenges she faces along the way, a film that shows how the loftiest spiritual ideas can fall and break upon meeting the bureaucracy of medicine, what the donor learned about the part, present, and future of organ transplant from both ethical and scientific points of view – a film with a sense of humor and a theremin score! So even if my fears about making this film were pretty huge (for obvious reasons?) I knew there was this unique, probably important work of art floating out there in the ether, begging to be given form. More than any other film I’ve made, Confessions of a Good Samaritan felt like a calling, as if it chose me. In this way, the experience of making the film was similar to the experience of donating my kidney. Not exactly fun, definitely difficult, but ultimately rewarding, and the most important spiritual experience I have ever had. I feel honored, humbled and grateful for it all (even the embarrassing parts!).

Ultimately, this isn’t much of an advocacy film; the “call to action” is not that people should donate their kidneys (although I think more people probably should). I see it more as an inquiry into the nature of altruism, a relentless self-examination, and a compelling moral challenge.

Penny Lane (Director) has been making award-winning, innovative nonfiction films for over a decade. This includes six features – most recently Confessions of a Good Samaritan, premiering at SXSW 2023 – and over a dozen short films. A 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, Lane has also received grants and awards from the Sundance Film Festival, Cinereach, Creative Capital, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tribeca Film Institute, Wexner Center for the Arts and many others. Penny has been honored with mid-career retrospectives at the Museum of the Moving Image, San Francisco DocFest, Open City Documentary Festival and Cinema Moderne. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.

We are committed to lowering the barriers to access for events at The Sanctuary for Independent Media. For people who are hard of hearing or deaf, blind or low-vision, or whose physical limitations can interfere with a satisfying experience, let us know two weeks in advance so we can make appropriate arrangements.

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