Max Kutner

Writer and Filmmaker

MAX KUTNER is a New York-based writer and documentary filmmaker. He has written for print and web, including Newsweek, The Brooklyn Paper, Thought Catalog, io9, and The Date Report. His videos have shown on PBS and the Madison Square Garden marquees. His award-winning film, At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd, is currently screening at festivals.

More About Max

MAX KUTNER is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and documentary filmmaker. He has written for print and web, including Newsweek, Boston, Smithsonian, The Brooklyn Paper, Thought Catalog, io9, and The Date Report. His film work has shown on PBS and the Madison Square Garden marquees and won festival awards.



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My Stories In Boston and Smithsonian Magazines This Month

I’m happy to say that I have stories in both Boston and Smithsonian magazines this month. The Boston one is a feature for the annual education issue about the college rankings industry and how schools like Northeastern have gamed the system. Northeastern has jumped 120 spots since 1996 in the U.S. News & World Report's “Best Colleges” list through genius number crunching and more than a billion dollars spent.

Read “How to Game the College Rankings.”

I also have front- and back-of-book stories in Smithsonian this month. In the “Phenomenon” section, I write about a German photographer who puts instant film in a microwave in order to give his work a unique look. And in the “Spotlight” section, I highlight some of the best exhibitions opening now at the Smithsonian museums.

My Newsweek Cover Story: Death On The Farm

Four years ago, I read a local newspaper article about a farmer who killed 51 of his cows and then himself near my college in Poughkeepsie, NY. I had spent the previous summer making a documentary film about struggling farmers, and so the story of this man’s suicide stuck with me.

Last fall, when tasked with pitching stories for my Columbia Journalism School master’s project, I immediately recalled the farmer story. Once I was sure that this tragic incident was part of a larger trend - an international one, it turned out - I moved forward. The resulting article is now a Newsweek cover story, available online and at news stands today.

I’m so appreciative of the nearly 100 people who granted me interviews or helped provide information. Some of these people spoke about things they had long since tried to forget, knowing now that the stories of farmers dying by suicide must be told. I’m also grateful for my master’s project advisor, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, and the other Columbia professors and mentors helped guide me throughout the process.

Some Press For My PBS Documentary Short

The Daily News and Brokelyn posted about my Coney Island Lighthouse documentary short, which was broadcast on PBS this week.

Daily News: Students shine light on last civilian lighthouse operator Frank Schubert in new documentary”

Brokelyn: "Watch a short film on the Coney Island lighthouse"

More on the short here.

My Coney Island Doc Shows On PBS

This week, PBS’s Metrofocus broadcast a documentary short I made with a Columbia Journalism School classmate about the Coney Island Lighthouse. That lighthouse was the last in the country to have a civilian lighthouse keeper. The 4-minute short was shown on WLIW, Thirteen, and NJTV.

Check out the segment below. You can also watch the full program here.

My First Article Of 2014, Profiling Brooklyn’s Karaoke Legend

Here is my first published article of 2014, a print and video profile of Joe McGinty, a former member of The Psychedelic Furs who now runs a live piano karaoke night at Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Excerpt:

There’s something quaint about Piano Parlor that drives its appeal. Unlike Koreatown’s karaoke bars with flashing lights, McGinty’s event has no cheesy backing tracks or video screens. Just good old-fashioned lyrics binders. “Sometimes I can fake it,” McGinty says of requests for songs not in the books. “There have been times when I’ve played songs that I haven’t even heard before.” He loves music, but not every song. “People will ask for ‘Piano Man’ and I will not do that song,” he says. He also gets tired of “Killing Me Softly,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. “A group of girls will go up there and realize they don’t remember the words,” he says.

Articles Round-Up

I Profiled A City Council Candidate For Decide NYC

Decide NYC, a website devoted to the 2013 city elections, just published a profile I did on City Council candidate Carlos Menchaca. The candidate defeated an incumbent in the primary and will essentially run unopposed in the general election next month. His victory will be historic, since he will be Brooklyn’s first openly gay council member and New York City’s first Mexican-American council member, a feat I’ve previously written about.

"3rd and 3rd" Wins Its Second Festival Award

The Red Hook International Film Festival just announced this season’s winners and my film, At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd, won Best Documentary. 

I had a great time at the festival this past weekend, especially since I have spent the past two months reporting from Red Hook for Columbia Journalism School.

This is the film’s second festival award. It will screen for free this upcoming Monday (10/21) at Videology in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Red Hook Film Festival Will Screen “3rd and 3rd” This Saturday

My documentary, At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd, about a neglected Brooklyn landmark and the Whole Foods opening next door, will screen at the Red Hook Film Festival this Saturday, 10/12.

This year’s festival showcases films that deal with Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane hit Red Hook hard and many residents and business owners are still recovering.

I’ve been spending time in the neighborhood lately for my Columbia Journalism School reporting class.

More festival info here.

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