80 episodes

Factual America examines America through the lens of documentary filmmaking. Guests include Academy Award, Emmy and Grammy-winning documentary filmmakers and producers, their subjects, as well as experts on the American experience. Find out more about the current and upcoming documentaries on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Sky Documentaries and other platforms directly from the creators. Whether we discuss true crime, music, burning social and political topics, history, or arts, Factual America is your #1 documentary film podcast.

Factual America is produced by Alamo Pictures, a London- and Austin-based production company that makes documentaries about the US from a European perspective for international audiences.

Factual America Matthew Sherwood

    • TV & Film
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Factual America examines America through the lens of documentary filmmaking. Guests include Academy Award, Emmy and Grammy-winning documentary filmmakers and producers, their subjects, as well as experts on the American experience. Find out more about the current and upcoming documentaries on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Sky Documentaries and other platforms directly from the creators. Whether we discuss true crime, music, burning social and political topics, history, or arts, Factual America is your #1 documentary film podcast.

Factual America is produced by Alamo Pictures, a London- and Austin-based production company that makes documentaries about the US from a European perspective for international audiences.

    Mothers of the Revolution: The Women Who Ended the Cold War

    Mothers of the Revolution: The Women Who Ended the Cold War

    On September 5th 1981 a group of women came together to change the world. These women marched from Wales to Berkshire to protest nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common, a British airbase.
    Feature-length documentary Mothers of the Revolution (2021) tells the true story of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and how it helped to bring the Cold War to an end. Between 1981 and 2000, in one of the longest protests in history, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a committed stand against nuclear proliferation. 
    Joining us is a subject of the documentary, Olga Medvedkov. A peace activist in Soviet Russia along with her husband Yuri, Olga faced severe persecution, partly for her friendship with the Greenham Common Women. Olga explains how she was introduced to the Greenham Common Women and the role they may have had in the collapse of the Soviet Union. 
    “You live in an Orwellian society, of course you can comply and 99% do because it’s dangerous, but 1% doesn't, and we belonged to that one tiny percent.” - Olga Medvedkov
    Time Stamps:
    00:40 - The trailer for The Mothers of the Revolution.
    04:13 - Who the Greenham Common Women were and how Olga got involved with them.
    11:46 - What motivated Olga to go against the Kremlin.
    13:35 - How Olga got in touch with the Greenham Common Women.
    20:49 - Getting arrested and the time Olga spent in jail.
    29:40 - Olga’s views on what the Greenham Common Women achieved.
    37:00 - The lack of hope Olga has for Russia’s future.
    38:22 - The concerns of a nuclear crisis starting between America and China.
    41:24 - The dangers of the division that is happening in America.
    44:50 - What it’s like seeing yourself in a movie.   Resources: Mothers of the Revolution (2021)
    MovieMaker Magazine
    Innersound Audio
    Alamo Pictures
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    More From Factual America:
    Apocalypse '45: The Harrowing Reality of the Pacific War
    Tim O'Brien: The Final Book on the Vietnam War
    MLK/FBI: America on the Collision Course
    Crip Camp: Cradle of the Disability Rights Movement

    • 50 min
    Becoming Cousteau: Legendary Explorer and Environmentalist

    Becoming Cousteau: Legendary Explorer and Environmentalist

    The National Geographic documentary Becoming Cousteau explores the life of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, a man well ahead of his time in bringing climate change and environmental devastation to the world’s attention. 
    Mridu Chandra, award-winning filmmaker and one of the producers of Becoming Cousteau, joins us to discuss Cousteau's remarkable life and passion for the environment. A scuba diving pioneer, Cousteau also was an accomplished filmmaker and three-time Oscar winner.  
    Mridu talks about the challenges that she and director Liz Garbus faced in making a film using only archival footage, and how Garbus was keen to bring Cousteau's story to life. 
    “Throughout his life, he was always ahead, and when it came to his environmentalism, it stemmed from his genuine passion, being an honest witness and decades of experience.” - Mridu Chandra
    Time Stamps:
    00:00 - The trailer for Becoming Cousteau.
    04:10 - What the film is about.
    05:01 - Who Jacques Cousteau was and the effect he had on the world of scuba diving.
    07:41 - Cousteau’s love for filmmaking. 
    09:25 - The challenges involved when working on an archival film.
    11:49 - How the idea for the film came about.
    13:21 - A clip from the film showing how Jacques Cousteau revolutionised diving.
    17:04 - How he changed over time while staying true to his moral compass.
    21:11 - The work he did to spread awareness of environmental destruction.
    24:26 - How he pushed the limits in everything he was involved in.
    27:12 - A clip from the film showing Cousteau’s love for his mother. Resources:
    Becoming Cousteau (2021)
    The Silent World (1956)
    MovieMaker Magazine
    Innersound Audio
    Alamo Pictures Connect with Mridu Chandra:
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    More From Factual America:
    The Rescue: A Story of Bravery, Cave Diving and Generosity
    The Space Station: The Wonderful Story of Human Cooperation
    Echoes of the Invisible: Pushing the Limits of Human Experience

    • 30 min
    Curse of the Chippendales: a True Crime Story Stripped Bare

    Curse of the Chippendales: a True Crime Story Stripped Bare

    The Discovery+ docuseries Curse of the Chippendales chronicles the dark side of the 1980s all-male striptease dance troupe.
    The muscular men of the Chippendales captured the hearts, minds, and dollars of the 1980s in their iconic cuffs and collars, but what started out as a first in women’s entertainment soon turned into a story of greed, jealousy and murder for hire.
    Executive producer Suzanne Lavery and writer and director Jesse Vile discuss what drew them to the Chippendales, how they created the film and the biggest challenges they faced in bringing this outrageous story to life. 
    “It’s a true-crime series but it’s true crime with a heart, there’s a lot more going on than murder and mayhem.” - Jesse Vile
    Time Stamps:
    00:00 - The trailer for Curse of the Chippendales.
    03:41 - What the docuseries is about.
    04:39 - How the male stripping at Chippendales started.
    07:28 - What it was like for the dancers working at the club.
    10:40 - The founder of the Chippendales and how he knew what would sell.
    13:55 - The dark side of the Chippendales.
    16:17 - The unique themes filmmakers were able to explore when making this doc.
    22:50 - The ‘napkin deal’ that changed the Chippendale organisation forever.
    25:40 - The crazy unbelievable world they were all living in at the Chippendales.
    27:09 - Why the creative team decided to turn the documentary into a 4-part docuseries.
    28:28 - The main challenges they faced in telling the story.
    32:48 - The different elements of the human spirit they show in the documentary.
    37:38 - Why they decided to make a true-crime doc.
    43:15 - The next project LightBox is working on. Resources: Curse of the Chippendales (2021) LightBox Pineapple Studios MovieMaker Magazine Innersound Audio Alamo Pictures Connect with Suzanne Lavery:

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    Under the Volcano: The Secret Birthplace of the 80s Greatest Hits HBO's Revolution Rent: Broadway in Cuba Some Kind of Heaven: Inside the Villages, Disneyland for Retirees Tina Turner: The Queen of Rock and Roll's Untold Story

    • 46 min
    Hawking: Can You Hear Me? The Remarkable Human Story of Stephen Hawking

    Hawking: Can You Hear Me? The Remarkable Human Story of Stephen Hawking

    Hawking: Can You Hear Me? is a Sky Original documentary that explores the remarkable human story of Stephen Hawking, through candid interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues.
    The film brings to life the man behind the persona of legendary theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking and in the process shows the impact fame and disability had on those closest to him.
    Joining Factual America to discuss the making of the film and the challenges they faced are director Oliver Twinch and producer Anthony Geffen. 
    “If you know how difficult things were and how challenging things were through his everyday life, you came to understand more how extraordinary his triumphs were.” - Oliver Twinch
    Time Stamps: 00:00 - The trailer for Hawking: Can You Hear Me?.
    02:47 - What Hawking: Can You Hear Me? is all about.
    04:22 - Stephen Hawking’s human side and common misconceptions about his life.
    08:26 - The private side of Hawking’s life and the difficulty accessing this side of him.
    10:17 - How Anthony gained the trust and confidence of Stephen’s family.
    13:51 - Why the interviews were so emotionally challenging for the interviewees.
    17:54 - How they made Hawking relatable and ‘human’.
    21:13 - How the family responded to the finished film.
    22:26 - The reconciliation Hawking had with his family before his death.
    23:30 - How the idea for the film came about and how Oliver got involved with the project.
    30:20 - How they came up with the structure that the film followed.
    34:25 - The biggest challenges they faced when making the film.
    37:11 - The positive aspects of Sky Docs compared to some other broadcasters.
    38:34 - How the documentary film world has changed and the future of documentaries.
    46:30 - The next projects Anthony and Oliver are working on.
    Resources: Hawking: Can You Hear Me?
    Innersound Audio
    MovieMaker Magazine
    Alamo Pictures
    Connect with Oliver Twinch:
    LinkedIn
    Connect with Anthony Geffen:
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    More From Factual America:
    Robin's Wish: Who Robin Williams Really Was
    Stewart Brand: America's Last Great Optimist
    Miles Davis: The Coolest Music Innovator of the 20th Century

    • 50 min
    The Rescue: A Story of Bravery, Cave Diving & Generosity

    The Rescue: A Story of Bravery, Cave Diving & Generosity

    The Rescue explores the story of the dramatic Tham Luang cave rescue in 2018, when twelve boys and their soccer coach were saved from deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand. But like all great documentaries, it is about so much more – bravery, cave diving, the human spirit and ultimately, generosity. 
    The Rescue is the latest masterpiece by the Oscar-winning director Chai Vasrahelyi, which she co-directed and co-produced with her partner in film and life, Jimmy Chin.
    Chai joins us to discuss how the filmmakers were able to bring to life one of the most perilous and extraordinary rescues in modern times. She explains the main challenges in the making of the film, why they used re-enactments, and how they obtained access to exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage from this dramatic event.   
    The Rescue, produced by National Geographic Documentary Films, had its theatrical release in the US on October 8th and in the UK on October 29th.
    “The ordinary people were able to do something so extraordinary.” - Chai Vasarhelyi  
    Time Stamps: 00:00 - The trailer for The Rescue.
    03:50 - What the film is about and what drew Chai to this story.
    06:49 - The commonalities between free climbing and cave diving.
    08:14 - Who the rescue team were and how the boys helped with their own rescue.
    11:12 - First clip: how the boys were rescued.
    14:22 - The main challenges of bringing this story to life.
    18:42 - Actual rescue footage and why re-enactments were used to complete the story.
    19:45 - How Chai keeps people engaged while watching a film. 
    20:57 - The next project Chai is working on.
    21:55 - Second clip: the moment when divers reached the boys for the first time.   
    Resources: The Rescue (2021)
    Free Solo (2018)
    MovieMaker Magazine
    Innersound Audio
    Alamo Pictures  
    Connect with Chai Vasarhelyi:
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    Connect with Factual America:
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    Connect with Matthew Sherwood:
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    More From Factual America:
    The Space Station: The Wonderful Story of Human Co-Operation
    Echoes of the Invisible: Pushing the Limits of Human Experience

    • 24 min
    Detainee 001: 'The American Taliban' John Walker Lindh

    Detainee 001: 'The American Taliban' John Walker Lindh

    A young man from the San Francisco suburbs journeys to the Middle East and soon finds himself as the face of Islamist extremism in post-9/11 America. This is the story of John Walker Lindh, as explored in the recent Showtime hit documentary Detainee 001.
    Emmy-winning director Greg Barker joins us to discuss this unlikeliest of stories.  The film shows how America grapples with justice in the fog of war, and how narratives were built and destroyed in the aftermath of 9/11.   
    We discuss the misconceptions people have about John Walker Lindh, the life of freelance war journalists, and how Greg has managed to gain access to high-profile subjects over the years. 
    “They all either got totally hooked on the adrenaline of war reporting, or they had a moment where they thought, I don’t want to get killed.” - Greg Barker  
    Time Stamps: 00:00 - The trailer for Detainee 001.
    03:23 - What the film is about and how people responded to John Walker Lindh.
    07:05 - The misconceptions that were pushed by the media about this man.
    10:22 - The vilification of Muslims in America.
    12:39 - How Greg accessed the footage for the film.
    18:22 - The freelance journalists that risked their lives to document the Taliban.
    22:04 - Why it was so difficult to get people to talk about the John Walker Lindh case.
    25:27 - Why Lindh joined the Taliban and the links he has to Malcolm X.
    27:21 - Where John Walker Lindh is and the difficulties Greg had in contacting him.
    30:57 - Why Greg wanted to make this film.
    32:06 - How he knew the Taliban would regain power in Afghanistan.
    35:33 - How he gains access to such high-profile subjects.
    42:36 - The next projects Greg is working on.
    44:15 - The shift in the type of documentaries that are getting commissioned.   Resources: Detainee 001
    White Coat Rebels
    MovieMaker Magazine
    Innersound Audio
    Alamo Pictures
    Connect with Greg Barker:
    IMDb
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    More From Factual America:
    Apocalypse '45: The Harrowing Reality of the Pacific War
    Tim O'Brien: The Final Book on the Vietnam War

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

DEADPOOL1895 ,

A Must for Doc Enthusiasts

This is a great podcast if you’re into factual entertainment. The listener learns a lot about America and the backstory behind the film. Fascinating!

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