Academy Award Win for ‘Strangers No More’
Thank you to Hampshire Professor Emeritus Jerome Liebling >>
Strangers No More, a film by Hampshire alums Karen Goodman 72F and Kirk Simon 72F, won an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.
The Simon & Goodman Picture Company production follows the lives of several students at the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, Israel, where children from 48 different countries and widely diverse backgrounds learn together. Many have faced poverty, political adversity, and war, and the documentary chronicles the ways the school staff, and other students, help them recover from their pasts and create new lives.
The Oscar nomination was the fourth for Simon and Goodman, who have also garnered three Emmys and the DuPont-Columbia Award for Independent Programming.
“The fourth is as exciting as the first,” says Simon. He is pleased to see that Strangers No More
is drawing more viewers since the nomination. “As a documentary filmmaker, you’re always struggling to reach an audience.”
The school itself is also getting notice.
“A lot of people are calling, and wanting to help,” says Goodman, who learned of the Bialik-Rogozin School through a colleague. “The moment I entered the school I knew we had to do this film.”
Their Hampshire educations proved invaluable for Simon’s and Goodman’s careers. Both acknowledge the impact of emeritus professors Jerry Liebling and Elaine Mayes, especially for teaching students the “documentary vision” which Simon says was rare in classrooms in the 70s.
“Jerry and Elaine gave us a fantastic grounding for filmmaking and photography,” says Simon. Goodman adds that “we wouldn’t be where we are today without that mentorship, and the experiential way that Hampshire is structured. It was project oriented, so you had to get a film off the ground and make it work.”
Simon and Goodman are now working on the second season of their HBO series Masterclass
, which chronicles the interaction of emerging young artists with notable mentors in their fields (first season mentors included tenor Placido Domingo, architect Frank Gehry, and artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel).
“We just try to create the best documentaries that we can,” says Simon, noting that he advises students to “do whatever it takes to finish a film in the best possible way. And that’s more about the size of your vision than your budget. Don’t compromise. You can accomplish a lot with great ideas.”
The cinematographer of Strangers No More is also a Hampshire College graduate, Buddy Squires 74S.
For more information about Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman’s films, visit www.simongoodmanpictures.com.