Penn Jillette is a bit of a Renaissance man—in addition to performing magic with his partner Teller, he’s hosted television shows, starred in a nearly-published video game, and even written and produced his own documentaries. In fact, Jillette’s love for documentaries is why he’s hosting the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards today in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Jillette waxes about why he’s so jazzed to host this year.
“Hosting this show is very simple for me,” Jillette told THR for a written article in the publication’s montly magazine, recently reprinted online. “It's not a career move, it's not a financial move. I just like people who make documentaries, so I want to be around them. I get to rub elbows with people who are really doing smart, good stuff. I don't get to do that very often. I live in Vegas.”
The awards show, which will honor the nonfiction work of nominees from around the globe such as California Typewriter, a film about cats in Instanbul called Kedi, Cries from Syria, and much more. Jillette, who has produced documentaries such as The Aristocrats (which examines the history of the famous dirty joke) and Tim’s Vermeer (about the 17th century painter), finds himself drawn to these films on a deep, emotional level.
“All we care about is other people and all we want out of art is to get a glimpse into someone else’s heart,” says Jillette. “In documentaries, for better or worse, they often deal with a really bad thing, but for much of the film you’re able to put aside the context and really relate to the people onscreen.”