Video: John Ridley and Nō Studios Are Curating a Documentary Film Series

Watch the Milwaukee-born screenwriter talk with the directors here.

This video was made in partnership with Nō StudiosMilwaukee Magazine is partnering with the video production company to showcase the stories of local artists and musicians. Watch for more content like this here.

Milwaukee’s own Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley sat down with three of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today to talk about their work for Nō Studios’ Critical Content series. 

He spoke with Matthew Heineman, the director of Retrograde; David Siev, the director of Bad Axe; and Shaunak Sen, the director of All That Breathes. The insightful conversations delve into the three director’s recent films, each of which have received accolades across the industry.

Heineman’s Retrograde was filmed over the last nine months of the war in Afghanistan, following a U.S. special forces unit, as well Afghan soldiers and civilians attempting to flee before the Taliban return. The movie captures the chaotic scene from the frontlines in a rare and thought-provoking portrait of war and its consequences. 

Siev’s Bad Axe follows an Asian American family who own a restaurant in rural Michigan. After the COVID pandemic hits, they struggle to keep the business afloat, while also facing discrimination from their community. 

Sen’s All That Breathes, explores a bird hospital in New Delhi, India. The two brothers who run the hospital care for the thousands of birds sickened by the polluted skis in the dense city. The film examines the link between class, civil unrest and environmental failures through the lens of the dwindling bird population and these brothers’ efforts to save it. 

Watch Ridley’s interviews with the filmmakers below. 




Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.