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Pretty good...and pretty slick but also conceptually this is an interesting instinctive journey of discovery. Maybe a bit too fast for my slow brain at times but always engaging and even entertaining.
Your director's statement is pretty amazing too. I just hope that the people who hold the purse strings will have some idea about what you're driving at...Most of them are on a different planet…
Paul Cox Melbourne-based international film director

I just wanted to express how impressed we all were with the presentation of 'Amerikan Peephole', I really hope one of our Australian networks picks it up. Kind regards and keep'em coming.
Daniel Bowden

Disappointed both with the quality of the filming and even more so, with the editing of the individual interviews. Presumably it might improve if you were to attempt personally to put the whole thing into some context at the beginning and wind it up with a conclusion with your own face speaking.
As for the individual opinions and the way they were edited without any attempt at individual or collective context gives the impression of a most unprofessional collection of spluttering weirdo’s and NOT at all a sampling of average American opinions of their country - at least not the way I know them. Moreover there are several undue lengths and overbearing emphasis on long-winded and politically or sociologically irrelevant statements.
Remember that the majority opinion of Michael Moore's celebrated documentaries, even among Democrats was and is, that he may well have cost John Kerry the election with a severe case of insensitive and unsophisticated overkill. 
Francis Von Shoenborn New Mexico-based TV host

The criticisms are good aren't they?  You know, I don't even think Von Shoenborn is too bad either.  He has some valid points.  Some totally off the mark too. I agree with him about some of the interviewees go on but I also think it endears the people too because they are conversations not rehearsed delivered diatribes.
Peita Collard  Melbourne-based theatre director and actor

Leiss brilliantly captures the essence of a world in crisis simply with candid, profound, and intelligent conversations with a group of articulate thinkers of diverse ages who maybe able to influence their/our society and the world at large to let go of the grip of ego and selfishness to create a better world, in Amerikan Peephole.
Hiran Perera Melbourne -based writer and publisher

Hey Peter, finally got time this afternoon to watch the film. Very impressive and more eye opening than we all realize
Dolores San Miguel Melbourne-based rock and roll manager

Watched "Peephole" this weekend. Great stuff - your usual assortment of American gems. "Fridgehenge?"  That was a revelation - never heard of it before, but loved it. The bit about WTC7 was spooky. I never heard any controversy here in NYC about it collapsing, but, yeah, what did cause that? All in all, more thought provoking stuff from Mr. Leiss. Well done.
John Deane New York-based photographer

I got the film and liked it.  It is always a bit embarrassing to see yourself (me) on screen. The nervous tics, the all too familiar mannerisms that define one...but you definitely brought out something that most of America ignores, or cannot bring itself to say. It humanizes America, because it shows that in spite of the rest of the world's opinion of America as a monster, a heartless, out of control empire, it still has citizens who do not agree with the stato di cose. (Remember Winder’s film, the state of things?)
Since people can be so provincially grounded in their politics, it is often difficult as an American to travel.  Europeans have the luxury of a colonial past well behind them, and can somehow make me, the American, responsible for the misdeeds of my leaders.  Such a nationalist approach gets us nowhere. I also liked the splash/dash visuals of "America, out the car window, which is how most of us experience it.
Laurence Malone New Mexico-based writer and traffic critic

At the quest of meaning. The blind journey. The lack of control.
Our great minds can sometimes cause us great grief.
Food for thought but I don’t know if I’m up to it. I sometimes turn to the east where they say that the answer is;  "Don’t ask the Question".
Robert Ashton  Melbourne-based photographer

In his latest offering, 'Amerikan Peephole', Leiss has revived the art of the polemic in documentary film.  By allowing his subjects the space to elaborate on their feelings and theories on contemporary American society and politics, we are given a glimpse of this most extraordinary period in modern US history, through the lens of some of its most strident native critics.  Make no mistake, this is not your run of the mill documentary; there is no concession to 'objectivity' beyond that expressed by the interviewees themselves.  They describe the legacy of the current administration's monstrous failure to aid the hurricane-stricken city of New Orleans and the impact of the costs born of foreign military adventurism.  What we can take from this film is manifold: the meaning of post-Cold War triumphalism and the ramping-up of consumerism, the logical extension of George Bush senior's 1992 doctrine "the American lifestyle is not negotiable", or the inherent dangers of aggressive pre-emptive unilateralism.  However, perhaps most significant is the Kafkaesque connotations of the neo-con juggernaut and its theoretically limitless war on 'terror', caught in full throttle before the 2006 congressional elections.
Toby Heydon Melbourne-based writer and historian

What a great concept, I, nor the others were bored for a second. Amerikan Peephole makes fascinating watching. It tackles and gets to the core with a blend of poignancy and a touch of tenderness beneath.
The accessibility often missed in many films got us attached to the screen and looked at each other at the end of it. Just imagine the five of us watching and listening to 24 American in silence for 52 minutes. That says it all, I'd say.
Yvonne Baggenstos

I really liked Bridge at Midnight Trembles. But I liked Amerikan Peephole better. Such a fascinating and articulate group of people.
Miranda Nation Melbourne based actor

Just read all the critics from the bottom up. They say it well, as does Paul Cox.  It's good to get constructive criticism, but I would tell Francis "thanks but come off it" - nothing longwinded in that.  His segments in the film are some of the best, and we could use more of his drollery in his writing.  His point about Michael Moore cost the election is total crap (pardon my unprofessional, scatological response), even if a few Democrats said it (I've never heard anyone say it), and reflects that he has not studied the way the elections of 00 and 04 were stolen.  John Deane's response was interesting, as a New Yorker making reference to the WTC7 information unheard in the city of 9-11!!!
Jim Coke teacher, producer, photographer

Good work indeed!  Visually and conceptually captivating.  Amerikan Peephole is a remarkable and revelatory intersection of American Cultural Fringe, Radical Intellectual Elite and disaffected youth.  The highway metaphor is a continuing reminder of lives spent in perpetual transience.  Perhaps where the film scores its biggest impact though, is in what the film isn't overtly saying.  Rather, it is what the viewer fills in.  The important realization that Americans have not heard from this cross section of society in quite a while.  Our cowering, corporate controlled media has successfully shut them out. However, after eight frightening years of the true radical fringe living out their apocalyptic vision of a new world order, how eminently and eloquently sane these voices now sound.  The film simply couldn't be more timely.
Renee Barkan NY Theatre Producer (2x4 Productions)

American Peephole presents an honest and harsh look at the reality of the US government’s greed and power.  It allows us to probe into the real underworld of America’s so called humanitarian values. It serves its purpose as a wake up call to the bullshit the world leaders shovel in order to keep control.
Bush says it all when he is quoted saying to his Texan buddies at the beginning of this film “you have to believe in what you’re doing!” His self-belief in the madness that has ensued throughout American politics is quite disturbing to say the least. The reality is that Bush Junior is keeping the family wealth on the increase through weapons and warfare. Life becomes cheaper and even more disposable as the rich get richer. Greed is such a disgusting and futile disease, yet it seems to flow naturally through the veins of powerful leaders.  It must be so handy to hide behind Christianity and sell yourself as ‘a good soul’. I am sure his Texan daddy is real proud of him.

American Peephole’ serves a real purpose of bringing real people’s voices and opinions to the forefront. I consider this documentary a splendid effort of energy and passionate cause on the part of Australian filmmaker Peter Leiss. Good on him for giving a damn!
Tony Bove Melbourne-based media director

Many thanks for letting me see the comments on Peephole. I am sure you can believe that I was not surprised by anything I read in them. I can easily understand most of the comments being positive and I can readily understand the view expressed by Von Shoenborn - you might recall that I made the same suggestion about an opening statement. I hasten to add, however, that I think the finished product utterly vindicates the decision you made to go without the opening statement. On Von Shoenborn's opinion, one must collude that he is commenting on the film he might have made (had he been making one) and not on the film you made. I suggest that he is simply being bloody minded in deprecating the film quality and the editing standards. One must simply accept his point of view as an expression of his own idiosyncracy.
I suggest that you would be justly entitled to think that these comments are, collectively, the most authoritative criticism you can expect to receive on your work. These, after all, are the people whose point of view you sought to communicate and they are telling you that you have succeeded in doing that. In a profound sense, whatever "professional" critics might have to say after they have seen the work, is of little relevance (although, of course, one hopes they will say nice things). All in all, I think you can feel well pleased.
Howard Dossor Melbourne-base writer and literary academic


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