Meet Our Editor Matt Lauterbach

Matt Lauterbach, who is the post-production manager at Kartemquin Films, is the editor on Unbroken Glass. Matt, who moved into documentary filmmaking from the teaching world, is a firm supporter of documentary as an educational tool, and believes that it is the most powerful way to communicate the experiences, emotions, and ideas of others. He recently helped complete The Trials of Muhammad Ali, is working on completing American Arab, after cutting The Penelope Project.

What is it about the editing process that you enjoy?

Editing is a very reflective process, and I love the challenge of crafting a film and bringing everything together in a way that is true to the film’s subject.  It is also important that you take the viewer on a journey — one that is genuine and meaningful — so that is an aspect I really enjoy as well.

How did you get involved with Unbroken Glass?

Dinesh and I were in the same Kartemquin intern group together, and we began collaborating on projects together. Later, we got started on the intriguingly titled  “Parent Project,” which would become Unbroken Glass. He was at the point where he really wanted to expand its scope, so he approached me to help out. I first got involved as kind of the person off-camera asking Dinesh questions. When it became a Kartemquin project, he was comfortable enough with me to ask me to come aboard as an editor. Trust is a huge part of the editor/director relationship in general, but particularly with this project which involves such sensitive material.

What is your approach to editing Unbroken Glass?

Dinesh came to me at a point when he was realizing that he was too close to the material and needed another set of eyes. It’s been nice because I’ve had the freedom to peruse all of the material and shape the ‘bricks’ that we are going to build the film out of. Right now, we are at a point where we are trying to get the chronological story of his parent’s time together completely straight. There are a lot of memories by a lot of different people, so what we’ve done is create chronological strands of his parents marriage, their immigration to the US, his mother’s decline, and his father’s science career and anger problems.

Sounds interesting, but also very challenging.

That is the part that I am really itching to get to: how do we make this into a film. We have a lot of different parts that individually have strength, but how we going to dip back and forth between present and past, and also ultimately, what is it all leading to? What will be our conclusion? There is so much that we need to try and test out, but that is the freedom of the editing room! You can try things and if it doesn’t work, that is okay.

Ultimately, what is your goal as an editor, and what do you want viewers to take from the film?

My goal as an editor is to be true to the questions and experiences inherent in the footage. In my view, editing is an act of perspective taking. It is an act of empathy. In Unbroken Glass, I think the subjects having to cope with the memory of trauma, figuring out how to find meaning in their parent’s death, and figuring out a way to talk about these things are some of the film’s central themes. However, as an editor, it doesn’t really matter what I think the film should be about. It is about the experiential reality of Dinesh’s journey, his siblings, and his family.

We should also note that Matt has a sharp smile and impeccable taste in Trader Joe’s frozen food, both boons in the doc editing world. Join Matt and the rest of the Unbroken Glass team on September 5th at Schuba’s for “Drinks in Progress.”

Join us for “Drinks in Progress”

If you’re in Chicago, come meet the “Unbroken Glass” team on September 5th at Schuba’s for an evening of drinks and music. We’ll be showing some new clips from the film and .

Our good friend DJ Zak Piper will be spinning records, from his extensive collection of classic soul.  Tickets cost $25, and entry includes one drink and a custom “Unbroken” pint glass.  Proceeds will support the film.

Hope to see you there! More info, including tickets here.

Independence Day

ZToday is August 15. On this day in 1948, India became independent of British rule. 65 years of Independence! Midnight’s children are now senior citizens.  “Jai Hind!” They say, “long live India!”

On this day in 1968, my parents were married. Today would have been their 45th anniversary.

This is just a coincidence. The story I’ve been told is that astronomically, 15th August 1968 was actually a pretty inauspicious day. My father was in a hurry to get married and return to the United States to begin teaching.

Some would say that it’s impossible to talk about Independence without talking about partition. Thousands, (millions?) of people were uprooted from their homes, crossing the boundary of the newly formed states of India and Pakistan. Violence errupted. After partition came decades of political instability, developing world problems, etc. “Birth pangs,” they say. When written out like that it’s a tough story.

And it’s hard for me right now to think about my parent’s anniversary without thinking about what followed. Struggle, mental illness, instability, death. On paper it’s a tough story.

People still celebrate Independence Day, despite what followed. People celebrate the moment of self-determination and freedom. In that moment is the seed of potential, of possibility. What happened after independence happened after independence. To minimize this day’s importance just because of the challenges the country has faced after that, (some of which possibly stemmed from the manner independence was gained), is specious and wrong. Today is a day to celebrate that moment of possibility and promise. That pregnant moment, full of the unknown.

No one is here to really celebrate my parents’ anniversary, I guess it’s not really an anniversary since both of them have past away. Sometimes I worry that in making this documentary I might focus too much on the negative, the social issues that intersected their lives and problems they faced. My sister likes to remind me that our mother loved going out to Chi-chi’s, a Mexican restaurant, and eating chips and salsa until her nose was running.

So I’m going to table all the other stuff, and take today to celebrate that moment they shared on the 15th of August 1968. I picture my dad at that time, younger than I am now, imagining his life stretched out before him, the possibility, the promise, the unknown. He had just gotten his Ph.D, and was marrying a beautiful young woman from his caste. He was doing everything right. He was going halfway around the world to live in the United States. I picture my mother, a teenage bride, unsure of what to do, turning down an offer from medical school to make her parents happy. But maybe she was intrigued and charmed by this shy, curly-haired boy and his intellect. Maybe she was inspired by what this unknown life in America could be, far, far away from the life she knew growing up in Jaipur, India. I hope that on that day they felt the promise of independent India, the promise of America, the promise of each other. They had a moment when it was all there within reach! They were there together, intoxicated on the possibility and the unknown stretched out before them.

Life was happening, and they were living it!

That’s what I’m going to celebrate today. Jai ho!