Monday Memo: TIFF and Sundance to Spotlight Diversity in Film Criticism as Sheffield Doc/Fest Announces Award Winners


Many of this past week’s highlights are not necessarily exclusively doc related, but they are worth your attention none-the-less. In The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz reported that “On Wednesday, Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson announced at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards that both TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah will allocate 20 per cent of their respective press credentials to underrepresented writers.” IndieWire’s Eric Kohn notes, “The announcement came just days after a report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that women wrote only 22.2 percent of 19,559 reviews of the 100 top-grossing films posted to Rotten Tomatoes.” Jenna Marotta further detailed the release, “The report found that 63.9 percent of those reviews were written by white men, versus white women (18.1 percent), underrepresented men (13.8 percent), and underrepresented women (4.1 percent).” Meanwhile at Mel Magazine, Jessica Ritchey took on this issue from a different angle with her incisive piece, “You’re Doing Women No Favors With Your Mocking ‘Ugh, Only Straight White Men Like This’ Takes.”

Maybe the most read pieces of the week came from Eric Allen Hatch, former programmer of the Maryland Film Festival, in which drops a weighty manifesto via Filmmaker Magazine on the future of arthouse programming a-la Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 “State of Cinema” address. “MOONLIGHT, GET OUT, and I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO were not ‘surprise hits,’ they were the triumphant first blast of what the next 25 years of moviegoing will look like. As the successes of these and other films cohere in the marketplace, tone-deaf gatekeepers’ stale assumptions of what art house films and audiences look like will no longer fly—not artistically, and not financially. The reactionary people who, over the past two decades, have tripped up visionary cinema’s path to the big screen with their own lack of vision are on their way out.”

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Monday Memo: Karlovy Vary Reveals Competition Titles


It doesn’t seem possible, but this week’s memo is my 150th, so much thanks to Raphaela and Thom for giving me a venue to share each week’s best in documentary news. It a source of info I deeply appreciated before it was passed on to me by Rahul Chadha, and I continue to cherish now that I’m the one sifting through the news each week. I hope you find these weekly roundups as helpful and enlightening as I. And with that, on to the news!

Last Tuesday, the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival announced its documentary competition lineup for its 53rd edition, which runs June 29-July 7. Of the twelve films in competition, eight are world premieres, notably Vitaly Mansky’s PUTIN’S WITNESSES, Audrius Stonys and Kristīne Briede’s BRIDGES OF TIME. Meanwhile, Basil Tsiokos geared up for San Fransisco’s SF DocFest (May 31-June 14) and Cape Town and Johannesburg’s Encounters Documentary Festival (May 31-June 10) by delving into the new nonfiction offerings making their debut at each festival over at What (not) To Doc.

Tomorrow, our 2018 Spring Season concludes with one of my favorite films of the last year in Jason Kohn’s hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of famed tennis coach Nick Bollettieri in LOVE MEANS ZERO with a live Q&A with the director himself. Tickets for our closing night event can still be had here.

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Monday Memo: Memorial Day Edition


Still from ATOMIC CAFE

Following the grand ball that is the Cannes Film Festival and a double header week for us here at Stranger Than Fiction, it feels like just about everyone was in need of a breather. The long holiday weekend likely contributed to this unusually light week for documentary news. It’s almost unheard of to go a week without some kind of festival announcement, grants are awarded, or some prize is being given to someone. Outside Charlie Phillips‘s preview of the Sheffield Doc/Fest in The Guardian, there has been nothing of the sort for the past seven days.

Tomorrow, we continue our 2018 Spring Season of Stranger Than Fiction at the IFC Center with a special screening of Pierce Rafferty & Kevin Rafferty’s doc classic ATOMIC CAFE in a new, beautiful 4K restoration. Both of the directors will be on hand for a live Q&A following the screening. Tickets are still available here.

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Monday Memo: Stefano Savona’s SAMOUNI ROAD Wins L’Œil d’or at Cannes


Still from Stefano Savona's SAMOUNI ROAD

The curtains have closed on this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and though no mention of the festival’s premiere documentary prize is not mentioned anywhere on its official awards page, according to Pat Mullen at POV Magazine, the jury awarded Stefano Savona’s SAMOUNI ROAD this year’s L‘Œil d’or for best documentary. Mullen continues, “SAMOUNI ROAD offers a story of celebration in a rural community in the outskirts of Gaza City as a family prepares for a wedding and finds a moment to heal and move forward after the war. The film won out of 17 documentaries in competition. Honourable mentions went to Mark Cousins’ THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES and Michel Toesca’s LIBRE.”

Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Savona’s film “is devastating and yet oddly distanced, leaving the viewer with sorrow, indignation but also space for reflection on the cruelty and injustice of Israel’s tactics in its war against Palestine”, while Jay Weissberg of Variety said it is “destined to become a touchstone in the cinematic representation of the [Gaza] Strip”. Meanwhile, Peter Bradshaw relayed in The Guardian that THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES is a “whimsical but heartfelt love letter to Welles”, as Damon Wise spoke with Mark Cousin about the film for Deadline. And back at The Hollywood Reporter, Jordan Mintzer put forth a lukewarm take on Michel Toesca’s doc on farmer-turned-activist Cedric Herrou.

This week at the IFC Center, our 2018 Spring Season of Stranger Than Fiction continues with a pair of screenings in Liz Garbus’s THE FOURTH ESTATE tomorrow night and Parvez Sharma’s A JIHAD FOR LOVE on Thursday evening, both featuring live Q&As with their respective filmmakers. Tickets for each are still available here.

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Monday Memo: 5050×2020 Takes on Cannes, Kim Yutani is New Sundance Director of Programming


We’ve been without a Monday Memo for the past couple weeks as I was out of town scoping out this year’s edition of Hot Docs (see my festival wrap-up over at Nonfics) and the 4th annual Nitrate Picture Show in Rochester, where a 100 year old print of an obscure silent short doc called OUR NAVY was screened and this year’s closing night ‘Blind Date with Nitrate’ was none other than Robert Flaherty’s astonishing 1934 doc, MAN OF ARAN. Suffice to say, I’ve had a lovely, though immensely busy couple weeks away. Now, on to the news!

Though Hot Docs has now come and gone, last week they revealed their award winners in Hind Bensari’s WE COULD BE HEROES, which won Best International Feature, and Yuqi Kang’s A LITTLE WISDOM, which took home the Best Canadian Feature Doc Award, while Alan Bogarin and Jonathan Bogarin was awarded the Emerging International Filmmaker Award for 306 HOLLYWOOD. Meanwhile, Michael Del Monte’s TRANSFORMER won the Audience Award, just nosing out Matthew Shoychet’s THE ACCOUNT OF AUSCHWITZ and Morgan Neville’s WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?.

Currently, Cannes is in progress and the biggest news coming out of the most prestigious film event of the year is the 5050×2020 campaign, which saw 82 actresses, directors, agents, and other film industry women gathered on the red carpet to bring attention to gender inequality in the film industry. “Since the launch of the Cannes Film Festival, only 82 films directed by women have been honored by an official selection in competition, compared to 1,645 films directed by men, a ratio of less than five percent”, reported Rebecca Keegan in Vanity Fair. In that same vein, it seems a perfect moment to share that a new feminist film journal called MAI has published their first issue online.

Tomorrow night at IFC Center, our 2018 Spring Season of Stranger Than Fiction continues with Kate Novack’s intimate fashion portrait THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ, with Novack and her producer Andrew Rossi on hand for a live post-screening Q&A! Tickets are still available for purchase here.

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