117 episodes

If you love documentary films, hear from the top storytellers on Pure Nonfiction. Past guests include Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay, Errol Morris, Raoul Peck, Laura Poitras, Alex Gibney and more. Host Thom Powers leads conversations that are frank, funny and revealing. He has deep experience as a festival curator at TIFF and DOC NYC. He also hosts WNYC’s Documentary of the Week podcast.

Pure Nonfiction: Inside Documentary Film Toronto International Film Festival

    • TV & Film

If you love documentary films, hear from the top storytellers on Pure Nonfiction. Past guests include Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay, Errol Morris, Raoul Peck, Laura Poitras, Alex Gibney and more. Host Thom Powers leads conversations that are frank, funny and revealing. He has deep experience as a festival curator at TIFF and DOC NYC. He also hosts WNYC’s Documentary of the Week podcast.

    115: Uncovering China’s “One Child Nation”

    115: Uncovering China’s “One Child Nation”

    “One Child Nation” investigates China’s policy of pressuring families to have only one child. Filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang grew up in China during the years of the policy that lasted from 1979 to 2015. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews them about the making of the film and their strategies to avoid government surveillance and intimidation. Nanfu previously came under suspicion from Chinese authorities for her first film “Hooligan Sparrow” about a female human rights activist.







    On Twitter: @OneChildNation @WangNanfu @thompowers @PureNonfiction

    • 28 min
    114: “For Sama” Inside Syria

    114: “For Sama” Inside Syria

    The Oscar-nominated documentary “For Sama” takes a personal journey through the war in Syria. Waad Al-Kateab became a citizen journalist, capturing the siege of Aleppo and events of her own life. We watch her fall in love and get married to a doctor, Hamza, who shares her commitment to stay in Aleppo. The film is framed as a message for their daughter Sama who’s born during the war. In 2016, Waad and her family were finally forced to evacuate. In exile, she teamed with British filmmaker Edward Watts to shape her footage through a long editing process. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews Waad and Edward about their collaboration. On Twitter: @forsamafilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction

    • 28 min
    113: Inside “American Factory”

    113: Inside “American Factory”

    Barack and Michelle Obama picked the film “American Factory” to be the first film backed by their company Higher Ground. Now the film is Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Feature and available on Netflix. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviews filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert about their long history filming inside the factory in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. They previously made “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” that chronicled the demise of its original incarnation. That film was Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Short in 2009. Several years later, the city gained new hope when the Chinese company Fuyao reopened the plant to manufacture industrial strength glass for vehicles. Bognar and Reichert gained access to all levels of the factory from the Chinese management to the American workers. They benefited from working with Chinese field producers Lulu Men, Siyan Liu, Danni Wang, and co-producers Mijie Li and Yiqian Zhang. The interview lingers over the challenges of maintaining such intimate access, especially after the tensions rise over a battle to unionize at the factory. “It’s one thing to gain access and it’s another thing to gain trust,” says Reichert. This conversation was recorded in New York at the School of Visual Arts MFA program for Social Documentary in August 2019. Two recent events loomed in the background and come up in the conversation. One is the passing of documentary pioneer D.A. Pennbaker. The other is a mass shooting in Dayton that took place just a few days prior. On Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction

    • 38 min
    112: Sundance 2020 Preview

    112: Sundance 2020 Preview

    Hear insider tips and exclusive clips on documentaries at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers got an early look at over 25 films premiering at the festival. In this annual preview episode he discusses his favorites that will be looking to secure distribution deals. Last year, our Sundance Preview gave listeners early exposure to films like “Knock Down the House” and “American Factory” that went on to Sundance acclaim. This year, Powers’ picks include:The FightBoys StateThe DissidentWhirlybirdTimeGiving VoiceThe Truffle HuntersThe Mole AgentOn Twitter: @thompowers @PureNonfiction

    • 19 min
    111: Profiling Toni Morrison

    111: Profiling Toni Morrison

    Toni Morrison, who passed away in August at age 88, is the subject of a new documentary currently in theaters “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.” Filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders had known Morrison since the early 1980s when he began photographing her. In 2006, she gave him the inspiration to create the documentary trilogy “The Black List” in collaboration with Elvis Mitchell.Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Greenfield-Sanders in May at the IFC Center. They discuss his long history with Morrison, his interview with Oprah and his collaborators on the project including interviewer Sandra Guzman.On Twitter: @ToniMorrison @tgsfilm @thompowers @PureNonfiction

    • 17 min
    110: Joshua Wong on Hong Kong

    110: Joshua Wong on Hong Kong

    “Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower” on Netflix follows the Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong who started leading protests at the age of 14. His actions helped give rise to a democracy movement that brought over a million people to the streets this summer. Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers interviewed Joshua and the film’s director Joe Piscatella at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017 when the documentary made its debut and Joshua was 19. Since then, Joshua served time in prison for charges related to organizing a demonstration. He was released from prison after two months in June 2019.On Twitter: @joshuawongcf @PureNonfiction @thompowers

    • 22 min

Customer Reviews

CDMatthew ,

A must-listen for any doc enthusiast

I like all kinds of films, and there are MANY film podcasts to choose from. But if you LOVE documentaries as I do, Thom Powers’ PURE NONFICTION is one of the few podcasts (the only one?) that focuses on documentary films. Powers interviews superb filmmakers, both new and familiar, and often highlights docs before they find distribution. This is an excellent show, and with documentaries appearing to be increasingly popular, here’s hoping PURE NONFICTION will increase in popularity, too.

JJ8757686 ,

The best!

The best documentary podcast. Love the stories. Would love to hear from less well known docs too including shorts. Thanks for your hard work!

AnsonPtson ,

WOW

I found this on new and noteworthy and listened because I like true crime and true crime documentaries. This was a really great look at the filmmaking side and I am going to keep listening even to the episodes that are about people who don't do true crime shows.

Top Podcasts In TV & Film

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by Toronto International Film Festival