I see MORE ART UPSTAIRS as having a new cultural relevance post-election. It was shot in Michigan and features a public that votes dramatically differently from the elites. Both are baffled by the other’s choices. But it’s ultimately a hopeful story because everyday people – more than a million – manage to get out of their Facebook silos and come together, despite deep disagreements, to have a civilized conversation … about art.
I appreciate how ArtPrize’s Kevin Buist, who functions as the film’s Virgil, puts it, “Everything is worth looking at critically. If I don’t like an artwork it’s not enough to just dismiss it. I want to figure out why crowds love it and why I am put off by it.” Kevin is the fellow who decided two years ago to introduce a parallel cash prize awarded by established art critics and writers, to balance out the public vote.
ArtPrize, the contest in which our characters compete, grabbed my attention after I’d worked on several projects in the capital “A” art world, which had begun to feel insular and irrelevant. Painting and populism don’t usually appear in the same sentence in those elite circles, so the promise of pretensions being stripped away and everyday people engaging with contemporary art and artists intrigued me.
There’s a tremendous opportunity with this film for a conversation about access, the role culture can play in restoring our country and bridging the deep divide between the public and the ”elites.”
Jody Hassett Sanchez is Director of Documentaries for Kingston Road Pictures and president of Pointy Shoe Productions, a documentary and long-form TV production company. Jody’s previous film SOLD Fighting the New Global Slavery has been broadcast in more than 60 countries, screened on more than a thousand campuses and included in the State Department’s international cultural affairs program. She shot the film in India, Pakistan, and West Africa.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Jody covered religion, culture, and education for ABC’s World News Tonight and filed stories for Nightline. Previously, she traveled the globe as CNN’s State Department producer, reporting on everything from democratic elections in Mongolia to refugee resettlement in Macedonia, as well as helping launch an art program that aired on CNNI and Delta flights.
Jody was a senior producer of CNN’s Cold War Postscript, a 24-part series that examined legacies of the Cold War. She was also part of the CNN team that won a national Emmy award for breaking news coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing and the ABC team that won a national Emmy for 9/11 coverage.
Jody is the founder and director of the Africa Film Project, a documentary boot camp that disrupts the traditional model of Western journalists and filmmakers telling Africa’s stories. AFP equips African filmmaker-journalists with the technical resources and editorial skills to create their own short documentary films.
SOLD: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade (2010) offers an intimate look at three extraordinary individuals battling a business that’s flourished under globalization – the buying and selling of humans. A Christian, a Hindu and a Muslim, they survive death threats, plot daring rescue raids, and challenge powerful interests in their battle to end slavery in the 21st Century.
“Cinematically beautiful despite the hideous subject … SOLD will make you want to applaud. (It) will make you want to do something.”
– Kathleen Parker, Washington Post & 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winner