Filmmaker Jessica Yu’s main character, Tonga Torcida, learns about the human role in environmental destruction and the difficulties of change.
For longtime fans of filmmaker Jessica Yu’s documentary work, the shadow puppets that first greet audiences of her latest film “The Guide” by way of shadow puppets will come as a welcome reminder of her 2004 profile of the artist Henry Darger, “In the Realms of the Unreal,” while the introduction shortly thereafter of Tonga Torcida, an aspiring teenage docent at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique will seem like an ideal followup to her last film “Last Call at the Oasis,” which was an urgent overview of the world’s diminishing fresh water supply.
In 1997, rookie filmmaker Jessica Yu won an Oscar for her short subject documentary, “Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien.” Dodging movie stars onstage at the Academy Awards ceremony, Yu delivered one of the great Oscar night one-liners: “You know you’re entering new territory when your outfit costs more than your film.”
(more at: The News Observer)
Megan Rise writing for The Duke University Chronicle spoke with Jessica Yu on the occasion of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s tribute and retrospective screening of her work.
Recess: I’m excited for your work to be shown as the Full Frame Tribute this week. What should the audience expect from your films?
Jessica Yu: I think that what people will notice is that the subject matter and the style of the films being shown ranges a lot. Sometimes when you hear about a retrospective of someone’s work, there’s kind of a thematic continuity or stylistic exploration that’s very traceable, and I think in my work, it seems a little more eclectic. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s pretty noticeable.
(read more: Recess Interviews Jessica Yu Documentary Filmmaker)