BY PAUL BICKLEY
In Tricky Dick and the Man in Black, Richard Nixon invites Johnny Cash to perform at the White House in 1970 and issues a press release stating that Cash will perform Guy Drake’s “Welfare Cadillac” and Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” songs about small-town Americans who don’t wear long hair, use drugs, or burn draft cards. Cash performed neither, instead playing, among others, a new song, “What Is Truth,” an implicitly anti-war song adjuring the older generation to “help the voice of youth find/‘What is truth.’”
Finding the truth—and a good story—are keys to a good documentary says new Bloomington resident Ray Nowosielski, who produced Tricky Dick, which was co-directed by two-time Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple. Tricky Dick is now on Netflix as part of the ReMastered series created by Emmy and Peabody award winners Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.
Another Nowosielski documentary, also directed by Kopple, is A Murder in Mansfield, which explores the emotional fallout from a mother’s 1989 brutal murder in Ohio. “Murder contains the most dramatic scene I’ve ever shot,” Nowosielski says. It’s available on demand through Investigation Discovery.
As a documentary producer, Nowosielski says he assesses the potential story behind each film. “I find nonfiction stories with good characters and conflicts, and hope there’s a full story there,” he says. Nowosielski has produced or directed nine feature-length documentaries and produced for the Emmy-nominated third season of HBO’s VICE. “Documentaries give me a backstage pass to reality,” he says.
Nowosielski, 37, grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and graduated with a B.F.A. in film/video from Chicago’s Columbia College. After living in Los Angeles, New York City, and Austin, Texas, Nowosielski moved to Bloomington recently with his wife, Ruth Vaca, an Indiana University alumna.
Beyond film, Nowosielski recently co-authored The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing/Hot Books) with Nashville, Indiana, resident John Duffy. The book presents evidence suggesting the CIA withheld information from the FBI about Al-Qaeda terrorists that could have prevented 9/11. It is available through Amazon.
For more information, visit ray.nowosielski.com.