Filmmaker: Take better care of our veterans

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Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Lucy Walker directs “The Crash Reel,” currently airing on HBO. “The Crash Reel,” which had a World Gala Premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival uses the intimacy and power of cinema verité to take the audience on an exhilarating ride through the life of Kevin Pearce, an American snowboarding champion, as he prepared for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Walker’s documentaries have won over 50 film awards, and she has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. The first nomination was for “Waste Land,” a documentary feature that also won over 30 other awards including Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin, and second was for “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” a documentary about survivors of Japan’s 2011 tsunami that also won the nonfiction jury prize at Sundance. Her three previous feature documentaries are “Devil’s Playground,” “Blindsight,” and “Countdown to Zero.” Walker also has been nominated for two Emmys for Outstanding Directing for Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues.” A Fulbright scholar, Walker grew up in London, received an undergraduate degree from Oxford University and holds a graduate degree in film from New York University’s Tisch School. 

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

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Lucy Walker: I would love to tell the president about our #LoveYourBrain campaign which comprises a variety of initiatives around getting more support for those with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Down syndrome and their families, and also addressing safety issues in extreme sports, such as the lack of helmets and insurance. In particular I would ask the president to take better care of the estimated 400,000 veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBIs. Right now there is a 600-day wait for a first medical appointment in California. These people have been injured serving our country; please let’s serve them better.

RB: If you could ask the president one question, what would that be?

LW: What does he do to love his brain every day? He must be under so much pressure, so stressed, so exhausted. What can he teach us about how he looks after himself?

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama?

LW: According to the Pearce family philosophy, you shouldn’t give people advice or tell them what to do or not to do. You should only tell people how you feel, and how much you love them. So, I would tell the president that I profoundly appreciate all that he has done to bring peace and prosperity to this country and that I feel happier and more relaxed because of ObamaCare — so thank you for that. But, I feel anxious about guns, so please let’s keep working on that. I think that’s how the Pearce family might say it.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

LW: The Simon Pearce glass factory in Quechee, Vt., and the Pearce family home nearby. The president deserves to hang out with America’s loveliest, warmest and most functional family after he has to deal with all the most difficult situations and people in the world. The glass is beautiful too.

RB: What CD/piece of music would you recommend that the president add to his collection? Why?

LW: “The Crash Reel” soundtrack, of course! Because it’s full of fabulous tracks by Lykke Li, Grizzly Bear, M83, Moby, Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Asaf Avidan, Ben Howard, and Bon Iver. It’s our favorite playlist. We think he has good taste in music and will appreciate it. 

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

LW: I have one! My documentaries are political. And I share with all good politicians the desire to make the world a better place.

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.