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Bill Cosby Fighting $1M/Month Legal Bill in Arbitration

A fee dispute between actor Bill Cosby and one in a string of law firms hired to address his legal problems shows the firm was billing Cosby $1 million a month in the run-up to his first sex assault trial.

The imprisoned Cosby is challenging a California arbitration award that trims the $9 million bill from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to below $7 million.

Cosby, 81, accuses the firm of elder abuse and “egregious” billing practices, and of fraud for representing both him and the insurance company he was battling in court, American International Group Inc., over his coverage.

The arbitration panel found that Quinn Emanuel told Cosby’s personal lawyer and “general counsel,” Monique Pressley, of the potential conflict, but not the actor himself, and voided Cosby’s 2015 contract with the law firm that included $1 million retainer. However, the panel found the potential conflict never caused Cosby any harm, and the firm did solid work for Cosby.

The Quinn Emanuel team was led by partner Christopher Tayback, the son of the late actor Vic Tayback. Quinn Emanuel lawyers charged about $500 to $1,000 an hour. Cosby is seeking refunds of the approximately $4.3 million he has paid the firm, while the arbitration panel ordered him to pay an additional $2.4 million, for a total of about $6.7 million.

Cosby said that, given his age and blindness, he did not understand the scope of the work or other parts of the contract when he signed it in October 2015. The firm worked on the case, along with local lawyer Brian McMonagle and others, through Cosby’s arrest two months later and several key pretrial hearings. They parted ways with Cosby less than a year later, long before his first criminal trial in June 2017 or the April 2018 retrial, when he was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004.

The Quinn Emanuel team was among more than a dozen lawyers to help Cosby defend a dizzying array of legal problems across the country as dozens of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct or defamation. The firm was hired to work on civil cases involving just three accusers, but its work grew to include cases involving 10 women, and 40 “same-act” witnesses lodging similar accusations, across the country, according to the arbitration papers.

Over nine months of work, the firm said it racked up more than 11,000 hours of work by lawyers, along with costs including $300,000 in online searches and $48,000 for a lawyer’s work reading two gossip novels and a book about the Playboy Mansion, where one of the alleged Cosby assaults occurred. The retired judges on the arbitration panel rejected those two items.

The law firm did not immediately return a message left late Monday seeking comment. Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said he has not been involved in the fee dispute, which echoes an earlier lawsuit, later settled, that a Philadelphia firm lodged against Cosby over unpaid legal bills.

Cosby is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after he was convicted at a 2018 retrial near Philadelphia. He is appealing the conviction.

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Bill Cosby Fighting $1M/Month Legal Bill in Arbitration

A fee dispute between actor Bill Cosby and one in a string of law firms hired to address his legal problems shows the firm was billing Cosby $1 million a month in the run-up to his first sex assault trial.

The imprisoned Cosby is challenging a California arbitration award that trims the $9 million bill from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to below $7 million.

Cosby, 81, accuses the firm of elder abuse and “egregious” billing practices, and of fraud for representing both him and the insurance company he was battling in court, American International Group Inc., over his coverage.

The arbitration panel found that Quinn Emanuel told Cosby’s personal lawyer and “general counsel,” Monique Pressley, of the potential conflict, but not the actor himself, and voided Cosby’s 2015 contract with the law firm that included $1 million retainer. However, the panel found the potential conflict never caused Cosby any harm, and the firm did solid work for Cosby.

The Quinn Emanuel team was led by partner Christopher Tayback, the son of the late actor Vic Tayback. Quinn Emanuel lawyers charged about $500 to $1,000 an hour. Cosby is seeking refunds of the approximately $4.3 million he has paid the firm, while the arbitration panel ordered him to pay an additional $2.4 million, for a total of about $6.7 million.

Cosby said that, given his age and blindness, he did not understand the scope of the work or other parts of the contract when he signed it in October 2015. The firm worked on the case, along with local lawyer Brian McMonagle and others, through Cosby’s arrest two months later and several key pretrial hearings. They parted ways with Cosby less than a year later, long before his first criminal trial in June 2017 or the April 2018 retrial, when he was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his Philadelphia-area home in 2004.

The Quinn Emanuel team was among more than a dozen lawyers to help Cosby defend a dizzying array of legal problems across the country as dozens of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct or defamation. The firm was hired to work on civil cases involving just three accusers, but its work grew to include cases involving 10 women, and 40 “same-act” witnesses lodging similar accusations, across the country, according to the arbitration papers.

Over nine months of work, the firm said it racked up more than 11,000 hours of work by lawyers, along with costs including $300,000 in online searches and $48,000 for a lawyer’s work reading two gossip novels and a book about the Playboy Mansion, where one of the alleged Cosby assaults occurred. The retired judges on the arbitration panel rejected those two items.

The law firm did not immediately return a message left late Monday seeking comment. Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said he has not been involved in the fee dispute, which echoes an earlier lawsuit, later settled, that a Philadelphia firm lodged against Cosby over unpaid legal bills.

Cosby is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after he was convicted at a 2018 retrial near Philadelphia. He is appealing the conviction.

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FC Bayern Opens 1st African Soccer School in Ethiopia

German champion football club Bayern Munich has signed an agreement to open its first soccer school in Africa, locating it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

FC Bayern Munich told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that it is inspired by the young football players and fans in Ethiopia, which is ranked 150th worldwide, according to the international soccer governing body, FIFA.

“Two-thirds of the Ethiopian population is younger than 25 years. We will support the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) in terms of young development and coaches education programs,” Holger Quest, team leader of media operations at FC Bayern Munich, told VOA. 

Last week, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder, other state officials and FC Bayern executive board members traveled to Addis Ababa to sign the agreement.

Soeder told Ethiopian media the agreement would bring Bavarian expertise in football to the sports-hungry nation of Ethiopia. 

“That is a good basis for a promising partnership,” he said.

The international FC Bayern Youth Cup tournament took place in Nigeria in 2018 and 2019. The success of the tournament led to the idea to give young athletes around the world a way to showcase their talents, and include those players from disadvantaged areas.

FC Bayern Munich has developed many world-class players in their academy, including Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos Kolgers. 

“We want to share our knowledge to help football grow across all continents and nations,” FC Bayern media head Quest said.

Speaking to VOA Horn by telephone from Addis Ababa, EFF President Esayas Jira said Ethiopia would benefit from the coaching and training to be offered by FC Bayern.

The soccer school would accept 30-40 young athletes ages of 8-10, with their training costs covered by Bayern Munich, Jira said.

“The kids would have a chance to join Bayern Munich youth academy” once they successfully completed school training,” he added. 

In the agreement, Bayern Munich said it would also finance the school training and education. FC Bayern coaches would lead youth coaches to train local players in Addis Ababa starting May 3, Jira told VOA.

FC Bayern’s club mission states their programs help equip children with the tools to play football, and combines FC Bayern strategy of football with the lessons of “our philosophy and mentality, which typifies qualities like ambition, respect, ‘fair play’ and a strong team spirit that are beneficial both on and off the pitch.”

Bayern Munich’s football school provide young athletes three days of weekly training “to give youngsters a sense of what it is like to train like a professional football (player),” Jira said.

The FC Bayern club also hopes the new school increases exposure to the team in Africa.

When Bayern officials and Bavarian Prime Minister Soeder met with Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, to discuss the details of the agreement, they presented her with a Bayern Munich shirt with “Sahle-Work 1” on the back.

FC Bayern has also established football schools in China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore and the United States as well. 

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FC Bayern Opens 1st African Soccer School in Ethiopia

German champion football club Bayern Munich has signed an agreement to open its first soccer school in Africa, locating it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

FC Bayern Munich told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that it is inspired by the young football players and fans in Ethiopia, which is ranked 150th worldwide, according to the international soccer governing body, FIFA.

“Two-thirds of the Ethiopian population is younger than 25 years. We will support the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) in terms of young development and coaches education programs,” Holger Quest, team leader of media operations at FC Bayern Munich, told VOA. 

Last week, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder, other state officials and FC Bayern executive board members traveled to Addis Ababa to sign the agreement.

Soeder told Ethiopian media the agreement would bring Bavarian expertise in football to the sports-hungry nation of Ethiopia. 

“That is a good basis for a promising partnership,” he said.

The international FC Bayern Youth Cup tournament took place in Nigeria in 2018 and 2019. The success of the tournament led to the idea to give young athletes around the world a way to showcase their talents, and include those players from disadvantaged areas.

FC Bayern Munich has developed many world-class players in their academy, including Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos Kolgers. 

“We want to share our knowledge to help football grow across all continents and nations,” FC Bayern media head Quest said.

Speaking to VOA Horn by telephone from Addis Ababa, EFF President Esayas Jira said Ethiopia would benefit from the coaching and training to be offered by FC Bayern.

The soccer school would accept 30-40 young athletes ages of 8-10, with their training costs covered by Bayern Munich, Jira said.

“The kids would have a chance to join Bayern Munich youth academy” once they successfully completed school training,” he added. 

In the agreement, Bayern Munich said it would also finance the school training and education. FC Bayern coaches would lead youth coaches to train local players in Addis Ababa starting May 3, Jira told VOA.

FC Bayern’s club mission states their programs help equip children with the tools to play football, and combines FC Bayern strategy of football with the lessons of “our philosophy and mentality, which typifies qualities like ambition, respect, ‘fair play’ and a strong team spirit that are beneficial both on and off the pitch.”

Bayern Munich’s football school provide young athletes three days of weekly training “to give youngsters a sense of what it is like to train like a professional football (player),” Jira said.

The FC Bayern club also hopes the new school increases exposure to the team in Africa.

When Bayern officials and Bavarian Prime Minister Soeder met with Ethiopia’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, to discuss the details of the agreement, they presented her with a Bayern Munich shirt with “Sahle-Work 1” on the back.

FC Bayern has also established football schools in China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore and the United States as well. 

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Half of Americans Back Stronger Role of Religion in Society

Around half of Americans favor religion playing a greater role in U.S. society, while 18 percent oppose that idea, according to a Pew Research Center study published Monday.

Despite there being a separation of church and state, religion plays a significant part in daily U.S. life: the president traditionally is sworn in using a Bible, while “In God We Trust” is printed on bank notes.

France, Sweden and the Netherlands, meanwhile, posted almost opposite results: 47 percent, 51 percent and 45 percent respectively were opposed to religion playing a key role in society.

Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2018, France (20 percent) and Japan (15 percent) were the countries with the lowest proportion of citizens favoring strengthening religion’s role in society.

Indonesia (85 percent), Kenya (74 percent) and Tunisia (69 percent) came out as the countries most in favor of a bigger place for religion.

The study did not make a distinction between different religions.

In the U.S., the proportion rose to 61 percent among people aged 50 and over, but dropped to 39 percent among 18- to 29-year-olds.

The study was carried out with a representative sample of at least 1,000 people in each country.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Half of Americans Back Stronger Role of Religion in Society

Around half of Americans favor religion playing a greater role in U.S. society, while 18 percent oppose that idea, according to a Pew Research Center study published Monday.

Despite there being a separation of church and state, religion plays a significant part in daily U.S. life: the president traditionally is sworn in using a Bible, while “In God We Trust” is printed on bank notes.

France, Sweden and the Netherlands, meanwhile, posted almost opposite results: 47 percent, 51 percent and 45 percent respectively were opposed to religion playing a key role in society.

Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2018, France (20 percent) and Japan (15 percent) were the countries with the lowest proportion of citizens favoring strengthening religion’s role in society.

Indonesia (85 percent), Kenya (74 percent) and Tunisia (69 percent) came out as the countries most in favor of a bigger place for religion.

The study did not make a distinction between different religions.

In the U.S., the proportion rose to 61 percent among people aged 50 and over, but dropped to 39 percent among 18- to 29-year-olds.

The study was carried out with a representative sample of at least 1,000 people in each country.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Scouts BSA Girl Troops Gaining Popularity in US

It’s a cold, windy day in Washington, D.C., but that’s not stopping a group of about 20 girls from taking a 5-mile hike in Rock Creek Park.

As the girls in their khaki uniforms walk through the woods, they said they are happy to be in the first all-girls Boy Scout troop in the nation’s capital. Olivia Hurley, whose brother is a Boy Scout, said she always wanted to be one. 

“I think I’m going to get life skills and community service opportunities,” said the teenager. “I like being with all girls because it gives us an opportunity to learn and empower each other.”

The Washington troop was formed on Feb. 1, when the 109-year-old Boy Scouts of America allowed girls ages 11 to 17 to join all activities. Now called Scouts BSA, boys and girls are placed in separate troops. Girls were able to join the younger Cub Scouts program last year. 

​According to the Boy Scouts of America, approximately 15,000 girls have joined about 2,000 new Scouts BSA troops in the United States. There are about 40 troops in the Washington metropolitan area.​

Outdoor focus

The girls in the Washington troop said they like the challenge of learning and doing the same things as the boys, including leadership and outdoor activities. Today, they are learning to build a campfire, which Sophie Schell discovered is easier said than done as the wind kept extinguishing the flames. 

“I thought it would be a cool opportunity to practice my leadership skills, so I get better at leading and being more in the outdoors,” she said. “I also know some pocketknife safety, and I’ve swung an ax, which is pretty awesome.”

Dressed in a traditional Boy Scouts uniform, Scoutmaster Craig Burkhardt is leading the girls. Scouting is a tradition in his family, and he hopes it will continue with his daughter, who asked to join Scouts BSA. 

“Scouting is a very adaptable program for girls,” he said, despite critics who think girls should not be in the Boy Scouts. “The girls in my troop jumped into it with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever seen in any of the boy troops.”

Girl Scouts program

Perhaps not surprisingly, Girl Scouts of the USA is critical of the all-girl Scouts BSA troops, calling Girl Scouts the world’s single best leadership development program for girls. The group has a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for changing Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA.

Samantha Hermoza said she joined Scouts BSA because Boy Scouts do a lot more outdoor activities than Girl Scouts.

“The Girl Scouts is a good organization,” she said, “but I prefer being outdoors with nature.”

In the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, another girls troop is reciting the Scouts BSA oath at their monthly meeting in a local church basement. Today, they are learning first aid, how to properly fold an American flag, and how to tie different kinds of knots.

‘Pioneers’

Scoutmaster Meghan Thomas said the girls have jumped into the program. 

“They’re excited to be pioneers by being part of an all-girl troop,” she said.

Her daughter Corbett joined Scouts BSA, but also remains in the Girl Scouts. 

“They both have different activities that they do, so I enjoy both of them,” Corbett explained. “And I didn’t want to quit one just to join the other.”

Her sister Sophie preferred Scouts BSA. 

“It gives more opportunity to show that just because we’re girls, we can go hiking or camping, and things like that,” Sophie said.

Assistant Scoutmaster Mark Sprulls hopes each of his three daughters will become a coveted Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank in scouting, like him. 

“I want them to have the same opportunity and learn the same types of skills that I learned. I would like them to be confident in themselves, and be able to handle any situation, and not think that they have to rely on a man to help them,” he said.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Scouts BSA Girl Troops Gaining Popularity in US

It’s a cold, windy day in Washington, D.C., but that’s not stopping a group of about 20 girls from taking a 5-mile hike in Rock Creek Park.

As the girls in their khaki uniforms walk through the woods, they said they are happy to be in the first all-girls Boy Scout troop in the nation’s capital. Olivia Hurley, whose brother is a Boy Scout, said she always wanted to be one. 

“I think I’m going to get life skills and community service opportunities,” said the teenager. “I like being with all girls because it gives us an opportunity to learn and empower each other.”

The Washington troop was formed on Feb. 1, when the 109-year-old Boy Scouts of America allowed girls ages 11 to 17 to join all activities. Now called Scouts BSA, boys and girls are placed in separate troops. Girls were able to join the younger Cub Scouts program last year. 

​According to the Boy Scouts of America, approximately 15,000 girls have joined about 2,000 new Scouts BSA troops in the United States. There are about 40 troops in the Washington metropolitan area.​

Outdoor focus

The girls in the Washington troop said they like the challenge of learning and doing the same things as the boys, including leadership and outdoor activities. Today, they are learning to build a campfire, which Sophie Schell discovered is easier said than done as the wind kept extinguishing the flames. 

“I thought it would be a cool opportunity to practice my leadership skills, so I get better at leading and being more in the outdoors,” she said. “I also know some pocketknife safety, and I’ve swung an ax, which is pretty awesome.”

Dressed in a traditional Boy Scouts uniform, Scoutmaster Craig Burkhardt is leading the girls. Scouting is a tradition in his family, and he hopes it will continue with his daughter, who asked to join Scouts BSA. 

“Scouting is a very adaptable program for girls,” he said, despite critics who think girls should not be in the Boy Scouts. “The girls in my troop jumped into it with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever seen in any of the boy troops.”

Girl Scouts program

Perhaps not surprisingly, Girl Scouts of the USA is critical of the all-girl Scouts BSA troops, calling Girl Scouts the world’s single best leadership development program for girls. The group has a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for changing Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA.

Samantha Hermoza said she joined Scouts BSA because Boy Scouts do a lot more outdoor activities than Girl Scouts.

“The Girl Scouts is a good organization,” she said, “but I prefer being outdoors with nature.”

In the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia, another girls troop is reciting the Scouts BSA oath at their monthly meeting in a local church basement. Today, they are learning first aid, how to properly fold an American flag, and how to tie different kinds of knots.

‘Pioneers’

Scoutmaster Meghan Thomas said the girls have jumped into the program. 

“They’re excited to be pioneers by being part of an all-girl troop,” she said.

Her daughter Corbett joined Scouts BSA, but also remains in the Girl Scouts. 

“They both have different activities that they do, so I enjoy both of them,” Corbett explained. “And I didn’t want to quit one just to join the other.”

Her sister Sophie preferred Scouts BSA. 

“It gives more opportunity to show that just because we’re girls, we can go hiking or camping, and things like that,” Sophie said.

Assistant Scoutmaster Mark Sprulls hopes each of his three daughters will become a coveted Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank in scouting, like him. 

“I want them to have the same opportunity and learn the same types of skills that I learned. I would like them to be confident in themselves, and be able to handle any situation, and not think that they have to rely on a man to help them,” he said.

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In Tribeca Film Festival Documentaries, Tragedy Seen in First-Person

Sasha Joseph Neulinger knew that if he was going to work through the traumas of his childhood, he was going to have to watch the home movies. 

 

Growing up, Neulinger’s father was an avid videographer whose boxes of tapes took on a more chilling quality after it was uncovered that Neulinger, between the ages of three and seven, was sexually abused by not just one relative but several family members. In “Rewind,” which will premiere at the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival , Neulinger, now 29, sifts through those tapes to help him piece together what he calls the puzzle of his life.

“A lot of the home videos weren’t labeled. So I’d be watching an incredible moment from my childhood that I had completely forgotten about,” Neulinger says. “This was an experience of reclaiming beautiful moments and understanding a new context to what happened. There were these moments and then there could be an in-tape cut and all of a sudden I’m staring at one of my abusers.”

At this year’s Tribeca, which will open Wednesday with the premiere of Roger Ross Williams’ HBO documentary “The Apollo,” several films use personal video footage as portals into tragic pasts.

From “Grizzly Man” to “Capturing the Friedmans,” documentaries have long plumbed personal archives for first-person investigations. This year, two of the biggest non-fiction hits — the moon mission recreation “Apollo 11” and the World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” — have breathed new life into recovered film.

But the sheer intimacy of the documentaries on display at Tribeca provides a private exhumation, reaching into a recorded past to reveal first-person experiences with sexual abuse, addiction and gun violence. For Neulinger, watching his father’s videos was a way to better understand both his abusers and himself.

“It allowed for a new context. It gave me an opportunity to rediscover myself and see this beautiful child,” says Neulinger, who also directed “Rewind.” “For a lot of victims of abuse, there’s shame around abuse. There’s this victim-mindset that the abuse must have occurred to me because I’m dirty, disgusting or unlovable. That was something I was still carrying deep down inside.” 

’17 Blocks’ 

 

“17 Blocks” began innocently. Davy Rothbart, then in his early 20s and living in Washington D.C., gave a video camera to a curious African American nine-year-old named Emmanuel Sanford-Durant, the younger brother to a friend of Rothbart’s. Emmanuel kept filming, on and off, for the next ten years. Sometimes his sister, Denice, or his then drug-dealing brother, Smurf, picked it up.

A decade later, a shooting brought heartbreak to the family. Emmanuel’s hundreds of hours of footage became a deeply personal close-up view of urban gun violence shattering the lives of an American family. Blood is seen being cleaned from the front hallway. 

 

“How do we capture an epidemic that’s so vast and yet keep it personal?” wondered Rothbart.

“17 Blocks,” which takes its name from the distance of the family’s home to the Capitol, includes further filmmaking in the years after the shooting. But Emmanuel’s footage is the heart of the film. Rothbart, who became an author, filmmaker and “This American Life” contributor, had stayed in touch with the family.

In the footage, Rothbart could see life — and the cost of gun violence — through Emmanuel’s eyes. “You’re kind of discovering somebody,” he says.

‘All I Can Say’

Documenting one’s life has, of course, become far more commonplace today. But Shannon Hoon, the late Blind Melon frontman, was extensively filming himself long before the days of Instagram and Facebook. “All I Can Say” is based almost entirely on the footage Hoon left behind when he died of an overdose in 1995 at age 28.

His tapes begin in 1990 while a not-yet-famous Hoon watched tractor competitions in Lafayette, Indiana, and run right up to the day of his death. Hoon obsessively chronicled himself while Blind Melon went from an upstart band to a rock sensation thanks largely to their hit video for “No Rain.” 

 

About six years ago, Hoon’s daughter, Nico, brought a box of her father’s High-8 tapes to Danny Clinch, a photographer-filmmaker who had shot the band.

“I knew Shannon often had a video camera with him,” says Clinch. “We realized that he basically filmed everything. It was overwhelming. We had a rough cut and all of a sudden [Hoon’s longtime girlfriend] Lisa would call us and say, ‘Hey, I found two more tapes.”‘

Often speaking directly into the camera, Hoon documents everything from hanging out with Axl Rose to the band arguing over a Rolling Stone cover to himself peeing in a urinal. He filmed his daughter being born. He filmed many of his interviews with journalists. It amounted to 250 hours of footage. The filmmakers — Clinch, Taryn Gould and Colleen Hennessy — opted to credit Hoon as co-director.

“The idea that he was documenting himself for the world to see is really interesting,” says Clinch. “Did he feel like his candle was burning really bright and it might fade out? I don’t know.”

Director Asif Kapadia extensively used personal film archives for his Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy.” But “All I Can Say” is almost entirely from Hoon’s point of view. Holding so much of Hoon’s life in his hands, Clinch grants, has been a heavy responsibility.

“It’s been a lot on my shoulders to be given the gift of these tapes,” says Clinch, exhaling.

But among the films at Tribeca, none bore a heftier load than Michael Metelits, the son of Marion Stokes. Matt Wolf’s “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” chronicles Stokes’ mad mission to record television 24 hours a day. She recorded on up to eight TVs, from the mid-70s until her death in 2012. A communist activist who became wealthy, she was fascinated by the rise of round-the-clock TV news.

She left behind 70,000 VHS tapes. The tapes chronicle not Stokes’ own life but a quarter century of American history as filtered through video.

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In Tribeca Film Festival Documentaries, Tragedy Seen in First-Person

Sasha Joseph Neulinger knew that if he was going to work through the traumas of his childhood, he was going to have to watch the home movies. 

 

Growing up, Neulinger’s father was an avid videographer whose boxes of tapes took on a more chilling quality after it was uncovered that Neulinger, between the ages of three and seven, was sexually abused by not just one relative but several family members. In “Rewind,” which will premiere at the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival , Neulinger, now 29, sifts through those tapes to help him piece together what he calls the puzzle of his life.

“A lot of the home videos weren’t labeled. So I’d be watching an incredible moment from my childhood that I had completely forgotten about,” Neulinger says. “This was an experience of reclaiming beautiful moments and understanding a new context to what happened. There were these moments and then there could be an in-tape cut and all of a sudden I’m staring at one of my abusers.”

At this year’s Tribeca, which will open Wednesday with the premiere of Roger Ross Williams’ HBO documentary “The Apollo,” several films use personal video footage as portals into tragic pasts.

From “Grizzly Man” to “Capturing the Friedmans,” documentaries have long plumbed personal archives for first-person investigations. This year, two of the biggest non-fiction hits — the moon mission recreation “Apollo 11” and the World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” — have breathed new life into recovered film.

But the sheer intimacy of the documentaries on display at Tribeca provides a private exhumation, reaching into a recorded past to reveal first-person experiences with sexual abuse, addiction and gun violence. For Neulinger, watching his father’s videos was a way to better understand both his abusers and himself.

“It allowed for a new context. It gave me an opportunity to rediscover myself and see this beautiful child,” says Neulinger, who also directed “Rewind.” “For a lot of victims of abuse, there’s shame around abuse. There’s this victim-mindset that the abuse must have occurred to me because I’m dirty, disgusting or unlovable. That was something I was still carrying deep down inside.” 

’17 Blocks’ 

 

“17 Blocks” began innocently. Davy Rothbart, then in his early 20s and living in Washington D.C., gave a video camera to a curious African American nine-year-old named Emmanuel Sanford-Durant, the younger brother to a friend of Rothbart’s. Emmanuel kept filming, on and off, for the next ten years. Sometimes his sister, Denice, or his then drug-dealing brother, Smurf, picked it up.

A decade later, a shooting brought heartbreak to the family. Emmanuel’s hundreds of hours of footage became a deeply personal close-up view of urban gun violence shattering the lives of an American family. Blood is seen being cleaned from the front hallway. 

 

“How do we capture an epidemic that’s so vast and yet keep it personal?” wondered Rothbart.

“17 Blocks,” which takes its name from the distance of the family’s home to the Capitol, includes further filmmaking in the years after the shooting. But Emmanuel’s footage is the heart of the film. Rothbart, who became an author, filmmaker and “This American Life” contributor, had stayed in touch with the family.

In the footage, Rothbart could see life — and the cost of gun violence — through Emmanuel’s eyes. “You’re kind of discovering somebody,” he says.

‘All I Can Say’

Documenting one’s life has, of course, become far more commonplace today. But Shannon Hoon, the late Blind Melon frontman, was extensively filming himself long before the days of Instagram and Facebook. “All I Can Say” is based almost entirely on the footage Hoon left behind when he died of an overdose in 1995 at age 28.

His tapes begin in 1990 while a not-yet-famous Hoon watched tractor competitions in Lafayette, Indiana, and run right up to the day of his death. Hoon obsessively chronicled himself while Blind Melon went from an upstart band to a rock sensation thanks largely to their hit video for “No Rain.” 

 

About six years ago, Hoon’s daughter, Nico, brought a box of her father’s High-8 tapes to Danny Clinch, a photographer-filmmaker who had shot the band.

“I knew Shannon often had a video camera with him,” says Clinch. “We realized that he basically filmed everything. It was overwhelming. We had a rough cut and all of a sudden [Hoon’s longtime girlfriend] Lisa would call us and say, ‘Hey, I found two more tapes.”‘

Often speaking directly into the camera, Hoon documents everything from hanging out with Axl Rose to the band arguing over a Rolling Stone cover to himself peeing in a urinal. He filmed his daughter being born. He filmed many of his interviews with journalists. It amounted to 250 hours of footage. The filmmakers — Clinch, Taryn Gould and Colleen Hennessy — opted to credit Hoon as co-director.

“The idea that he was documenting himself for the world to see is really interesting,” says Clinch. “Did he feel like his candle was burning really bright and it might fade out? I don’t know.”

Director Asif Kapadia extensively used personal film archives for his Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy.” But “All I Can Say” is almost entirely from Hoon’s point of view. Holding so much of Hoon’s life in his hands, Clinch grants, has been a heavy responsibility.

“It’s been a lot on my shoulders to be given the gift of these tapes,” says Clinch, exhaling.

But among the films at Tribeca, none bore a heftier load than Michael Metelits, the son of Marion Stokes. Matt Wolf’s “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” chronicles Stokes’ mad mission to record television 24 hours a day. She recorded on up to eight TVs, from the mid-70s until her death in 2012. A communist activist who became wealthy, she was fascinated by the rise of round-the-clock TV news.

She left behind 70,000 VHS tapes. The tapes chronicle not Stokes’ own life but a quarter century of American history as filtered through video.

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