ArtCenter College of Design, hosted by ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman

30 Documentary Filmmaker Ivy Meeropol on the Active Pursuit of Empathy

30 Documentary Filmmaker Ivy Meeropol on the Active Pursuit of Empathy

Ivy Meeropol is a documentary filmmaker whose emotionally and politically charged films explore social and cultural injustice from the inside out. Her work in TV and film ranges from an exploration of the threat posed by the nuclear power industry to the good, bad and ugly of the American political system, particularly as it relates to her family (more on that in a moment). But what distinguishes her work most is her disarming refusal to judge the characters in her films as heroes or villains– a process Ivy describes as an “active pursuit of empathy.” The result is a deeply nuanced body of work that reverberates with wisdom, intimacy and socio-political nuance. That empathy infuses every scene of her latest film, Bully, Coward, Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn, which recently premiered at the New York Film Festival. Combining archival footage with original reporting, the HBO film explores the complicated, controversial, and enduring legacy of Cohn, the closeted right-wing political attack-dog who was an early mentor to Donald Trump. Cohn launched his notorious career as the young prosecutor who convicted Ivy’s grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, of spying for the Soviet Union at the height of the Red Scare. Cohn succeeded in his quest to send both of them to the electric chair, leaving their two young sons (one of whom was Ivy’s father) orphaned. Over the course of an intimate and animated Change Lab interview, she explored the personal and political forces at play in her work, her willingness to allow her films the freedom to dwell in ambiguity and her sense of responsibility to ask questions previous generations never could.   Related links:

Duration: 54 min

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