Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., (www.intermat.tv)
a television company which executive produces programs and consults
with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc.
is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television
in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the
Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery
Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery
Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted
Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation
Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
June 21, 2007
Slipping through SILVERDOCS
This week the AFI, the American Film Institute is making headlines
because, for the first time in ten years, they have updated
their top 100 movies of all time CITIZEN KANE is number
one. Less well known of the things that the AFI is involved
with is its participation in SILVERDOCS, a documentary film
festival held in Silver Spring, MD right across the street
from the worldwide headquarters of non-fiction behemoth Discovery
Communications. Five years ago they teamed up to create this
Festival, which brings to the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver
Spring some of the most thought provoking documentaries made
I have attended four of the five years and have moderated
a panel or two for the last three years. This year I did two.
One, the kick off panel for the conference portion of the
Festival, was called INSIDE DISCOVERY, four producers from
various sized companies explaining to other producers how
to [possibly] crack the Discovery nut. It was an interesting
panel the goal was to make the it a dialog with the
audience and I think we achieved that. I followed that with
a Silver Session, which was a small group, called THE BUSINESS
OF THE BUSINESS which I did with Clark Bunting, President
of Discovery Studios, the in-house production unit for said
behemoth. Clark and I have known each other lo these many
years, since I worked at Discovery and have remained friendly.
We cooked this up one day over coffee in his office; we both
knew great producers who were terrible businessmen and who
had sailed straight into a financial iceberg. We knew several
good folks who had produced themselves into bankruptcy.
For a film festival, I didnt do very well. I only saw
one film, the opening one about Pete Seeger, folk singer,
political activist, nonagenarian. The best part of it was
not just the story of Mr. Seeger, it was the American backdrop
against which he lived his life. It made me realize that as
much as I find these times troubling in the history of our
country, there have been other troubling times.
The McCarthy era, the age of HUAC [the House Un-American Activities
Community] was a shameful, painful time in the history of
this country, the brutality of which we tend to forget until
films like the one about Pete Seeger remind us that there
was a time in which voices were silenced and people were punished
by losing their jobs and having opportunities denied
for speaking their minds, having flirted with socialism or
Communism or failing to name names. It was a time we should
not forget we need to be reminded that there have been
other troubling times in the history of the Republic and that
we have somehow survived and bettered ourselves in the process.
Another remarkable film was screened, A WALK TO BEAUTIFUL,
a film produced by friends at Engel Entertainment [producers
of The Dan Ho Show, Runway Moms and The Sara Snow Show]. It
takes us into the world of Ethiopian women who are shunned
because they suffer from fistula, an injury from child bearing
that results in the woman constantly leaking urine, resulting
in her generally becoming a village pariah. The film chronicles
these womens efforts to reach a hospital where they
can be cared for.
It reminded me how fortunate I am to be living in a western
country where, even in our health care challenged nation,
this is a problem that would be fixed.
Many of the films were like Pete Seeger: The Power of Song
and A Walk To Beautiful, films that cause us to think and
call us to action.
The downside of this wonderful festival and conference is
that most, if not all of these films, could not find a home
on any commercial network. They are too thoughtful, too topical,
not the kind that will generate ratings, drawing in crowds.
These kinds of films once could have found a home in cable
but I doubt that most cable networks would touch these films
now. That doesnt change the fact they deserve a broader