A few weeks ago, I headed over to a hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to sit down with directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundebrg (who prefers to be called Annie). No doubt the setting was picked to appease the eponymous subject of their new documentary, Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work, who actually lives a few blocks from where we met. The day started with a roundtable with Ms. Rivers, who unleashed her token scathing wit. Bits of that session, and the one you are about to hear, were for a piece I wrote for Heeb Magazine. The real story of any documentary, however, comes not from the subject but from the filmmakers themselves, which is why I was delighted to talk to Ricki and Annie about their latest project.
The film is a solid study of an extraordinary woman, and it avoids the pitfalls an trappings many similar documentaries fall victim too. There are limited talking heads and archival footage is used in a very organic manner; it is neither reality show nor biography, but something more. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that the Ms. Stern and Ms. Sunberg’s previous works deal in much weightier material, such as Darfur. As they explain, they are simply after a good story and Joan provided one for them. They simply wanted to capture something compelling. Listen in for some fascinating insight from these excellent filmmakers.