Eyes on America: From Documentary to Satire & In Between


Join a panel of directors and writers whose films are featured in this year’s festival – each with a unique view of American culture and politics and what that means today.

Featuring American director and producer Mel Eslyn, whose uproariously funny post-apocalyptic sci-fi film Biosphere starring Mark Duplass as the US President is an uproariously funny buddy comedy with a heart of darkness; Australian-born artist duo Soda Jerk (Terror Nullius), directors of the multi-layered cinematic remix film Hello Dankness, a political parable that anarchically traces the rise and fall of the US empire; Danish director Christoffer Guldbrandsen, whose documentary A Storm Foretold is an engrossing portrait of Donald Trump’s outrageous adviser Roger Stone; and Nick Pinkerton, an American critic and screenwriter of Bright Horizons nominee The Sweet East, a freewheeling picaresque trip through the cliques and communes of today’s USA. Hosted by Alexei Toliopoulos.


Mel Eslyn is a producer, writer and director based in Seattle. She is president of Duplass Brothers Productions, and has produced some of the company’s most acclaimed films and TV projects, including MIFF 2021 Closing Night film Language Lessons, The One I Love (MIFF 2014) and Your Sister’s Sister (MIFF 2012). Biosphere (MIFF 2023) is her feature directorial debut.

Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s work is inspired by the observational style of the direct cinema movement. He has trained as a journalist and his work has won several prizes, including a Peabody Award. His breakthrough film, The Road to Europe, an observational doc-thriller about the enlargement of the European Union, created an international stir; his satirical landmark documentary New Alliance was an inspiration for the hit drama series Borgen. His latest documentary is A Storm Foretold (MIFF 2023).

Nick Pinkerton is a Cincinnati-born, Brooklyn-based writer focused on moving-image-based art. His writing has appeared in Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Artforum, frieze, Reverse Shot, 4Columns, Harper’s, the Baffler and the Village Voice, among other publications. He is currently a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, and has programmed at a variety of venues throughout New York City. He is the writer of The Sweet East (MIFF 2023), nominated for this year’s Bright Horizons Award.

Soda Jerk is an artist duo who make sample-based films with a rogue documentary impulse. They are fundamentally interested in the politics of images: how they circulate, whom they benefit and how they can be undone. Formed in Sydney in 2002, they’ve been in based in New York since 2012. Their new feature Hello Dankness (MIFF 2023) follows their controversial 2018 political revenge fable Terror Nullius, which was disowned by its commissioning body, who called the film “un-Australian”. The Guardian named the “dizzyingly ambitious satirical work” one of the best Australian movies of the decade.

Alexei Toliopoulos (moderator) is a comedian, writer, podcaster, film critic and technically a critically acclaimed investigative documentarian. You know him from investigating mysteries on Finding Yeezus, being funny on Question Everything, talking about film on The Mix and on heaps of podcasts. Alexei owns over 2000 Blu-ray DVDs and three Blu-ray DVD players.


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