Discipline: Film/Video – documentary

Tom Weidlinger

Discipline: Film/Video – documentary
Region: Berkeley, CA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2014

My work deals with a wide range of subjects, from the emotional development of boys to humanitarian aid in the Congo. Though the themes of social justice and human relations run through all my films, I make a point of starting with a blank slate on each new project, with no axe to grind.

I gravitate toward people who are doing interesting work, who reach across cultural and political divides and defy easy categorization: A man swimming down the Hudson to call attention to environmental issues, aid workers in the Congo who learn it’s useless to feed the starving without giving them a better way to feed themselves, an Indian sports hero whose real accomplishments transcend his fame and his medals.

Once I have the subject(s) I still have to figure out the story. Stories don’t just tell themselves because the filmmaker fortuitously captures it and tells it. That may be a good definition of news reportage but, even so, it’s dangerous, because it makes unspoken assumptions about truth and objectivity.

All media makers manipulate “reality.” I aim for transparency in my films, inviting viewers to go on a journey with me – a journey that begins with certain stated assumptions, but which often ends up with entirely different conclusions. I have never made a film that turned out the way I expected it to. Twists, turns, and surprises – and what I learn from them – are the reasons that I keep doing what I do.



Tom Weidlinger worked in the Garland studio.

Marian MacDowell and friends originally named this studio in memory of Anna Baetz, the nurse who helped care for Edward MacDowell in the waning years of his life. With generous support from the Garland family, the studio was renovated in 2013 and renamed the Peter and Mary Garland Studio. The inward opening, diamond-pane windows were replaced…

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