Screens String

Screens String

Katja Esson

A five-minute conversation with the German-born, New York-residing Esson is indicative of the challenges a TFPF panelist faces. "It's very time-consuming," she says, less in complaint than in awe. "I'm staring at the box right now, and I'm almost finished. It's tough, because we're giving a lot of money to some people and none to others. I have to be fair, and I can't let my own taste get in the way." Esson's 2003 documentary "Ferry Tales" – a fascinating vérité study of the subculture bubbling up in the Staten Island Ferry women's restroom during the morning commute – was nominated for an Academy Award, and her prospects since (for documentary and fiction work) are many. She's in post-production on her Siegfried and Roy documentary – while currently working on others – and is reading narrative scripts when she can. "Just telling you about it," she laughs, "I'm getting dizzy." "Ferry Tales" is an earthy, unpretentious work hinging more on human interaction than artful effect, so it should come as no surprise that Esson's criteria – despite her objectivity – tend toward substance over style. "Of course we're looking for originality and creativity, but what is working for me the most are the ones with some kind of spirit or love or motivation to get the story on film," she admits. "Some are very eloquent, witty, others intellectual, but they just don't get me."

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