PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 23, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — There’s cinematic gold to be mined outside your comfort zone.
That’s the belief of Morgan Spurlock and Chelsea Handler, who each talked about their new documentaries Saturday at the Cinema Cafe at the Sundance Film Festival.
Handler’s project at the festival is four mini documentaries on hot-button topics: racism, drugs, marriage and Silicon Valley. The programs will precede her upcoming talk show, “Chelesa Does,” for Netflix.
Spurlock is here to promote “Eagle Huntress,” a Sundance children’s film about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who broke with centuries of tradition to learn the previously male art of hunting with an eagle.
Spurlock also spoke about the kind of projects for which he is better known, including “Supersize Me,” a Sundance-premiered documentary for which he ate McDonalds food for weeks, chronicling the damage to his health.
“I wanted to do something outside my comfort zone,” Handler said, of her documentaries, which mix her quirky, off-the-cuff comedy with serious interviews.
“I want to be scared, not comfortable, (to) be curious, talk to real people and have real conversations ─ honest conversations,” Handler said.
“If you are going to be in this entertainment industry, we are not saving lives, so at least be interesting.”
Handler said making the documentaries was a cultural education. For example, she interviewed people living in the South who believe slavery is a positive, mutually beneficial institution.
“They believe it so strongly, and think it’s OK to say that. It made me sad,” Handler said, adding that she’s been reading books on the racism since, to increase her understanding.
“People think we have a black president so everything is done. It’s not…. The most I could ever hope for is to spark conversation, to get to where we need to go.”
Spurlock talked about his series, “Inside Man,” for which he traveled to Taiwan for a show on medical tourism. A doctor suggested he swallow a pill-sized camera as part of a colonoscopy.
Waiting for the camera to reemerge involved calling film crews to the men’s room every time Spurlock felt “hopeful.”
Spurlock laughed when an audience member noted that every time the filmmaker put himself in an uncomfortable situation he was also involving his film crew.
“As much as they don’t like it, they know I don’t like it more,” Spurlock said.
“In life in general, the more you can put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the better person you are when you come out the other side.”
Spurlock said humor used in storytelling can be very powerful.
“If you can make someone laugh you can make someone listen,” he said. “Barriers come down, and suddenly you might change a point of view.”