Here we finally arrive at the darker shadow selves of the characters from the film and stage production of The Neeting ( the interpreter) . The thrust of what motivates governments or individuals to abandon truest self over greed or fear haunts this short film’s theme . Their charm is corrupted by ambition and finally catch glimpses of the world the interpreter tries to escape from .
Catherine Gropper is winning awards and finalist selections for her film series The Meeting (the interpreter) inspired from her meetings with Anatoli Samochornov.Her doc. Tents of God (honorable mention,2019) Embers ( 4 star review The Scotsman 2001)Miss Crandall ‘s Classes ( Mead theatre,DC ). Member dramatists guild; New York women in film and television ; Clarion Choir; Promise Productions; worked with Zoe Caldwell; Salome Jens,Honor Roll in dramatists guild; films for indigenous people; doc. in pre production ( Save Our Swans ); wildlife environment
How did you start making films?
When I work with actors in my plays I become very respectful for their responses
and human expression. Occasionally, a camera lens can capture raw emotion, however
subtle, mirroring how we feel. So the camera’s silence tells the story of somebody inside.
I also love the light and reflections from nature that only a camera can capture in a time
lapse. Nothing escapes my curiosity and I use my phone wherever I am as a sketchbook
to draw ideas from. Probably I was making film in my mind before it was actualized
since I saw stories evolve out of human expressions, and mostly I love the universality of
how we all relate emotionally from our souls.
Why are you fascinated with the documentary genre?
The current events and news of this last decade has prompted me to reveal the
truth, the harrowing truth of what is really shaping our lives. In documentary genre I can
elicit specific images from history. When a documentary artist shapes her point of view,
it is substantiated by factual, rather than made-up, drama. These realities can be very
What was the first documentary project that you worked on?
“Tents of God” is a 12-minute documentary film set in Staten Island after
Hurricane Sandy smashed the islanders and natural habitat pretty badly. Visiting the
small and vital island, I experienced a personal loyalty to those who I interviewed. Their
lives were shattered and some of them were not even lucky enough to have the
government buy back their land so they could move on. Most wanted to stay, as any of
us would also. What struck me was their abiding sense of community. In some of the
frames I explored tents which were erected where people donated food, clothing and even
massage to lift their spirits. The D’Amico family whom I am still in touch with had to
completely rebuild their home. I got to meet the mother and her children and they have
promised me home-baked onion bread when I return. There is so much pride in Staten
Islanders. Lisa Oz reflects this in her answer of how her family loved where they lived
and her roots. Ultimately, just the gigantic symbol of those orange, languid ferries back
and forth to Manhattan that I took since I was young girl, had a particular visual that was
necessary to share on film.
Tell us about your latest short documentary and how it went into production.
It isn’t easy to amalgamate cinematic truths about current politicians. At first, I
would capture a lot of footage about the 2016 election because America was beginning to
show signs of shaving off its own convictions of the Constitution. The documentary in
the Montreal Independent Film Festival 2022 grew out of writing my stage play, “The
Meeting (The Interpreter).”
That story revolves around a particular protagonist who is the actual translator-
interpreter at the infamous Trump Tower in 2016. No matter how convoluted the facts
became about Russian collusion or Hillary Clinton or sanctions, the meeting really
happened. Like all of us caught in a continuum of stories and sick, searing political
ambitions, it became apparent that this one individual, this interpreter, had his life turned
upside down, and ultimately, because it represented us, the everyday men and women,
my intent was to watch how he made peace with conflicts surrounding him.
What was the inspiration behind the making of the latest short documentary?
I knew the Interpreter from this meeting and we became friends. I interview him
and we shared many conversations and maybe even interpretations of what transpired.
Ultimately, I had to shape a series of short films highlighting not only the historic
personalities prior to the 2016 election; it was also necessary to uphold the dignity and
private honor of the actual translator-interpreter who was very torn, being Russian-
American, between two countries that he loves.
What kind of impact would your documentary have on the world?
Like most artists, my hope is that my short films bring to life how our personal
lives are sometimes shattered just from realities that power-hungry leaders push into our
egos. I use edgy, harsh music and clips of the FBI which has, ironically, become a
character all by itself. I’d like to think that everyone would carefully concentrate on how
their personal liberties are being evacuated in the name of glossy media, soundbites and
Please name three of your most favorite documentary filmmakers.
Michael Moore captures contemporary history in scenes such as when George W.
reads to schoolchildren as someone whispers in his ear about the Twin Towers were
deliberately flown into. What is particularly powerful is without hearing anything the
viewer knows what he is being told, having lived through it. Moore is also not afraid to
film in other countries, such as Norway to film how humanely they treat and rehabilitate
inmates in prisons and he spectacularly edits with a painter’s artistic and meticulous style.
Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah” (1985), an almost 10-hour documentary does not use any
holocaust footage; rather, his film mainly records interviews and witnesses to reveal
history. Interviews are a particular strength in the genre of documentary.
David Attenborough is perhaps my favorite documentary filmmaker because he
narrates the exquisite and perfect harmony within nature, and we get to go up close and
swim with whales and fish through corals. The perfection of mother nature is a constant
reminder of how we must protect our oceans and earth.
How difficult is it to reach a larger audience with short documentaries and distribute
It actually depends on how good they are. The criteria for creating and editing a
first-rate short documentary is to distill it to its best form. Even then, it is very difficult to
reach a larger audience. Independent film festivals like this one, the Montreal
Independent Film Festival, open up possibilities for cinematic risk takers. That’s what
we all really are and your festival, particularly being in Montreal exposes short
documentaries form emerging documentaries in the hope of distributing them to a wider
What is your next documentary film?
My new film, “Mute Voices,” reveals how mute swans are being killed
unnecessarily in New York State in the name of management. I interviewed naturalists
including Fabian Cousteau and the award-winning actress, Jane Alexander, who is also an
avid protector of avian life. The sheer beauty of a white swan splashing down on its
natural habitat is a poem I try to capture. The film will be released in 2023.