'Citizenfour' Director Laura Poitras Unveils New Documentary Film Unit

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Laura Poitras

Field of Vision, created by Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook, will focus on short, non-fiction films.

Laura Poitras, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour, is joining up with fellow documentary filmmaker AJ Schnack (Kurt Cobain About a Son) and Charlotte Cook (the former director of programming at the Hot Docs film fest) to create a new filmmaker-driven film unit called Field of Vision.

Field of Vision will focus on short, non-fiction films and will begin by commissioning forty to fifty original pieces, which will be showcased on The Intercept, the news website lead by Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill in 2014 to produce adversarial journalism. Field of Vision has been developed in collaboration with The Intercept and First Look Media.

Audiences will get their first taste of the kind of work Field of Vision hopes to foster at the upcoming New York Film Festival on Sept. 27 when the fest screens Poitras’ Asylum, an episodic, short–form series tracking WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he publishes diplomatic cables and seeks asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. Asylum will screen alongside a selection of other original work commissioned by Field of Vision.

After its festival premiere, the online launch of Field of Vision’s first season will take place on Sept. 29 with one film per week to be posted on The Intercept through November. A second season will debut in early 2016. The first two seasons of Field of Vision will feature new works by Kirsten Johnson, Heloisa Passos, Iva Radivojevic, Michael Moore, Shola Lynch, Yung Chang, Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, Beau Willimon, Dustin Guy Defa, Jarred Alterman, Jill Magid, Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, and others to be announced in coming months.

"Our goal with Field of Vision is to create a platform that responds quickly to the world around us, tells great stories with images and encourages artistic risk taking with a fast production cycle," Poitras said. "In building Field of Vision, AJ, Charlotte and I are inspired by past examples such as World in Action and Life magazine."

Field of Vision is promising a broad range of original nonfiction work: episodic series, thematic approaches to a single topic by multiple filmmakers, in-depth investigations, fast-responding filmmaker assignments and collaborations with artists from different fields. Field of Vision will also team filmmakers with reporters at The Intercept to combine visual and written reporting.

"This is an exciting moment in documentary storytelling," Schnack said. "By providing an outlet for filmmakers to create both episodic and short-form films and by giving them the resources they need to produce original and innovative work, Field of Vision will expand visual storytelling in the digital age, while responding to unfolding events in real time.”

"Rarely do writers have the opportunity to work alongside visual journalists," Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept said. "Field of Vision will amplify The Intercept’s core mission while taking us in entirely new directions — injecting the vision of groundbreaking documentary filmmakers into the swirl of digital journalism."