Best Local Documentary Filmmaker - 2009
The defining characteristic of the successful narrative filmmaker is ego; for a documentary maker, it's soul. Sam Green evinced a deep well of the stuff with his 1997 debut, The Rainbow Man/John 3:16, an unexpectedly compassionate portrait of wacked-out born-again television personality "Rock 'n' Rollen" Stewart. Green's next major work, Academy Award–nominated The Weather Underground (2004), examined a particular strand of '60s political idealism, youthful commitment, and adult regret with extraordinary sensitivity and poignancy. His new project, The Universal Language, merges the history of Esperanto with a mammoth empty shopping mall in China and the story of an FBI-wanted revolutionary who has lived for years in Cuba. An exploration of the scarcity and viability of utopian thinking amid the new global depression, the film (which Green aims to finish by the end of the year) perfectly reflects the optimism and, yes, idealism, that distinguishes doc filmmakers.