Anne Macksoud and John Ankele, Filmmakers

We are two “old dogs” saddened by the suffering we see all around us and moved to take action. Since 1985, we have produced and directed documentary films about the subtleties of individual human experience and the complexities of our collective challenges.

Our political leaders cannot solve the problems of our time. They themselves are too beholden to privileged, powerful constituencies motivated to preserve the status quo. Change must start with ordinary people who understand the interrelatedness of our global community. Ordinary people have the will, resourcefulness, and compassion to craft new solutions serving our common good.

We offer our films as catalysts for this kind of solution— as tools for education and activism in the name of social change. We invite you to watch them at home, show them to your friends, share them with your classes and your community. We are happy to answer questions, provide additional resource materials, and suggest ways of using our films that will support your own efforts to nurture and protect this world we share.

 

Background

John Ankele, B.A., M.Div.

As a producer of radio and TV programming in the 1960’s, Ankele used mass media to empower faith communities advocating for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. During the struggle for independence in southern Africa, he worked with and trained political activists in the use of media to bring about social change. Before teaming up with Anne Macksoud, his documentary subjects covered: African “prophet healers” in marginalized communities, who blend “spirit-based” Christianity with indigenous African beliefs & practices; the rise of the underground church in China against the backdrop of state suppression of religious beliefs and practices; the impact of women’s empowerment on health care and living standards in India.

As an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and as a student in the zen and Shambhala Buddhist traditions, he has been involved for many years in interfaith dialogue around contemplative practice and social justice.

Cartier-Bresson said that there ‘must be a relationship between the eye and the heart’—that good filmmaking requires not just seeing the world in its beauty but feeling the world in its suffering. We are trying to pass on that moment when otherness dissolves and we realize that we are not strangers—that we share this life, this planet. As Old Dogs, Anne and I aim to look at present systems through an ethical lens, listening for and lifting up the prophetic voices that can guide us all in ‘repairing the world.’

Anne Macksoud, B.A., M.A.

Anne Macksoud spent 17 years as a teacher (English literature, photography, and music) before transitioning to film and video production. Once she discovered the “eye-opening” power of the documentary medium, she brought rented documentaries into her classroom on a regular basis. Eventually, she began helping her students make their own films and slide shows on the issues of the day (civil rights, the Vietnam War, and global poverty, to name a few). She approaches filmmaking from the perspective of an artist as well as an educator.

Although I enjoy the entire production process, I see film primarily as a means to an end—a useful tool for opening minds and hearts. I feel that John and I have gained greatly from our filmmaking in a number of ways. This ‘job’ has been two decades of ‘enrichment courses,’ and we feel lucky to be able to do this work.

About Our Name

Anne says:

John and I have been at this work for a long time. We are, in fact, ‘old dogs’—not in the sense that we are slow to learn new tricks (on the contrary, we are skilled in the newest non-linear editing technology), but in terms of an old dog’s calm perspective, knowing how to conserve energy for the essentials. John, who is a Buddhist practitioner, says that the wise Tibetan lamas were called ‘old dogs.’ I can’t claim that. It’s enough that the two sweet old dogs in the logo (the boxer John’s, the beagle mine) were beloved teachers for us and the inspiration for our company name.