GW Brief: Filmmaker, GW professor premieres documentary at SXSW festival

Correction appended

The founder and director of the Documentary Center at GW produced and co-directed a film that will premiere at a national film festival next month.

“The Matador” chronicles the rise of a prominent Spanish bullfighter and will premiere at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, in March. GW professor Nina Seavey’s film will compete against seven other films in the “best documentary feature” category.

“The Matador” follows the life of David “El Fandi” Fandila and his quest to become the greatest bullfighter in Spain.

“The bullfight is an amazing tradition throughout Spain and Latin America, but it’s also a very violent tradition. (“The Matador”) really goes to the heart of this ancient ritual,” Seavey said.

Stephen Higgins, a photographer who produced and directed the film, followed Fandila for three years. Higgins ended up with hundreds of hours of footage, but as a first time filmmaker he was unsure how to organize it. In 2006, he turned to Seavey and her 25 years of documentary filmmaking experience.

“He found out about me and sent me some of his material and I said that it looked like the kind of material that I could really make a film out of,” Seavey said.

Along with years of experience in the documentary world, Seavey has several film awards to her name. She has won film awards for “The Ballad of Bering Strait” and “The Battle of the Alamo,” a Discovery Channel special.

Seavey said the process of making a documentary film is different from a feature film.

“We finished shooting the film . then we started the long process of directing the film, which in documentary really happens in the editing,” she said.

Seavey described the film as a unique “experience” for viewers.

“I think it’s a film that is different than a lot of documentaries; it’s really a spectacle film,” she said. “You come out of it and you just think, ‘wow.’ You didn’t know this world existed, you didn’t know why it existed,” she said.

The film will screen three times at the South by Southwest film festival.

Correction, Feb. 25: The article incorrectly stated that the film will screen three times at the South by Southwest, TriBeCa and Sundance film festivals. It will be screened three times at the South by Southwest film festival.

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