“The Joy Block” Directed by Joanie Fox (Oregon)

By Mikel Fair / a few months ago
The Joy Block Directed by Joanie Fox (Oregon) Photo 9 Liz WP

The Joy Block, Bloco Alegria, Samba Documentary

First of all, we had a great time screening "The Joy Block" at Oregon Documentary Film Festival 2018. Furthermore Director Joanie Fox drew a huge crowd for the screening. Joanie Fox also won the Best Director Award for a short film. Several members of the Portland Samba community were in attendance.

Director Joanie Fox The Joy Block Bloco Alegria Samba Documentary

The Joy Block, Bloco Alegria: Synopsis

"In Portland, OR there is a thriving Samba community nurtured and cultivated by a diverse group of 30 community musicians and dancers known as Bloco Alegria, (The Joy Block.) The band emulates the traditions of Rio de Janeiro where community bands on various city blocks frequently entertain. The band ranges in age from 20-70 and has varied professional backgrounds. The thing that has brought them together since 2011 to entertain and spread community is their love of the music. Together, as a collective they take the next step to produce their own show at the historic Star Theater."

Joanie Fox Director's Biography

Joanie Fox is a writer, producer and is also a director living in Portland, Oregon. First of all, Joanie began a career in the arts at the age of 11 dancing with Ballet West. At 17, she moved to Boston to dance professionally with jazz and tap ensemble "Boston Gold." Furthermore, Joanie moved to New York City to perform on Broadway at Radio City Music Hall with "The Wizard of Oz, Live". She then did national tours and off-Broadway productions before studying acting and moving to Los Angeles. Most Noteworthy, she landed a recurring role on the hit TV Series "ER." She also appeared on Grey's Anatomy, JAG and The Fighting Temptations. Joanie produced the award winning North American premiere of "Wedding Dress" at Theatre 40.  Fox is also the writer of "Skater Boy" with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. Finally, Joanie's screenplay, "Arranging Mia" was an award winner at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival 2017.

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Interview With Director Joanie Fox (Part 1)

  1. First of all, why did you submit to the Oregon Documentary Film Festival?  "Oregon Documentary Film Festival seemed like the quintessential festival for "The Joy Block" to screen at since we shot the film in Portland, Oregon and our cast and crew are all Oregonians."
  2. Is there any special meaning and significance to the title?  "The Joy Block is the bands name translated from Portuguese. Samba music is infectiously joyful and the band (Bloco Alegria) emulates the Rio style samba bands who perform on various city blocks within the community."
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Interview With Director Joanie Fox (Part 2)

  1. Why did you choose to tell this particular story and documentary?  "Derek Rieth, a former percussionist with Pink Martini, introduced me to the Portland Brazilian music scene. Derek was instrumental in creating this local scene. Many of the original members of Bloco Alegria were his former students. After Derek passed away in 2014, I was moved by the members of this community and their dedication and love for the music Derek inspired them to pursue."
  2. Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find in the planning stages of this project?  "I always thought of a hobby as being private or small. Something you did on your own. I realized as Jay Mower, one of the band members illustrates so beautifully, a hobby can be big and large. I too had to re-evaluate what I thought a hobby could be."
The Joy Block Directed by Joanie Fox (Oregon) Photo 5 JB4 WP
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Documentary Cameras and Gear

What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective.

"Sony A7S, a Sony FS5, and GoPro hero 4 for Star Theater. For interviews we used Canon 5d mkII and GoPro. Being on a budget, the GoPro footage was useful in the edit."

Interview With Director Joanie Fox (Part 3)

  1. Furthermore, do you have plans for a future film? "My next project is about Derek Rieth. He is certainly known for his 18 years as a percussionist with Pink Martini Band. In 2014 Derek took his own life after a long battle with bipolar disorder. Derek also had a profound influence on the Portland music community. Above all, he is revered internationally for his passion and mastery of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian drumming and percussion. Derek's legacy lives on and continues to inspire generations of Northwest musicians."
  2. Finally, you have successfully a film. Furthermore, do you have any advice for a filmmaker that is planning a documentary film production? " First of all, if you can, work with a seasoned producer. Certainly, having AJ Gordon involved from the beginning was invaluable. I learned so much from him. I also learned from our awesome crew members."
The Joy Block Directed by Joanie Fox (Oregon) -headshot

Director Joanie Fox

Joanie Fox: Director's Statement

My passion to tell stories through a visual medium is driven by the hope to reach a vast demographic to elevate consciousness and provoke change. The films I desire to make reveal the human condition, while exposing the societal and social implications imposed conscious or unconsciously with the hope for humanity to heal and transcend such obstacles. I think each person has a unique contribution to life. Perhaps our existence here is an accumulative experiment and we are all participating in our own way.

Joanie Fox: Director's Statement Part 2

When approaching each new story and character I am conscious to show up with curiosity and wonder. I want to authentically tell the story passionately, without judgement. Acceptance is a theme I find myself continually exploring in my non-fictional and fictional projects. I am motivated to make films illuminating individual and community healing. I feel like going through this journey of acceptance also turns pain into purpose. Often times society associates joy with success and pain with failure, yet how can we have one without the other? If we could accept that one is as great as the other. Perhaps some of the suffering could subside and we could collectively move past the limitations imposed by fear and judgement.

The Joy Block Poster Joanie Fox
About the author

Mikel Fair

My name is Mikel Fair. I am the Director of Film Festival Circuit Inc. First of all, we are a company that manages film festival events in Texas and Oregon. Furthermore, we like to have fun and celebrate independent film. I worked for 15 years in the television and film production as a location sound mixer and production manager. I have also worked in post production as an editor, post sound mixer and composer. Above all, watching independent films and reading creative screenplays is my passion.