Monday Memo: Cinema Eye Honors Turn Ten


Last Wednesday marked the end of a week of a celebratory filmmaker outings for those nominated for this year’s Cinema Eye Honors, which is now in its tenth year of existence. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn documented the pre-award show outings, which included a private visit to the Whitney, live band karaoke featuring the likes of Steve James, the Ross brothers and Robert Greene, and much more. At the Cinema Eye Honors awards ceremony, “Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON took home three awards, Outstanding Cinematography for Johnson, Outstanding Editing for Nels Bangerter and Outstanding Nonfiction Feature for Johnson and producer Marilyn Ness,” while “O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA received two awards: Outstanding Direction for Ezra Edelman and Outstanding Production for Edelman and Caroline Waterlow.” This year’s Audience Award went to Clay Tweel’s GLEASON. The full list of honorees can be found here.

In other awards news, the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) revealed their nominees this past week, putting 13TH, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS, WEINER, NOTES ON BLINDNESS and THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS up for Best Documentary. And while Cara Buckley debated whether O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA was a mini-series or a just a really long feature film in The New York Times, Glenn Whipp wondered aloud in The Los Angeles Times whether the film will be upset at this year’s Oscars. A pair of must read end of year rundowns also appeared this week, one from Robert Greene in Sight & Sound and a whole host of cinephilic lists over at Senses of Cinema’s World Poll 2016.

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Monday Memo: Sundance Approaches and Phones in Theaters?


The first full week of 2017 has already flashed before our eyes, but not a whole lot happened in terms of documentary news. Most excitingly, Sundance approaches and giddy critics are chomping at the bit to see what will be the most remarkable finds this year in Park City. While the festival’s Documentary Programming Associate Basil Tsiokos continues to roll out his previews of each film over at What (not) To Doc, while at Doc Soup, Tom Roston has composed a list of docs to watch out, not just at Sundance, but also Slamdance and in theaters later in the year. In other festival news, the Rotterdam International Film Festival revealed their lineup, which included the lengthily titled duo Rong Guang Rong’s CHILDREN ARE NOT AFRAID OF DEATH, CHILDREN ARE AFRAID OF GHOSTS and Jung Yoonsuk’s BAMSEOM PIRATES SEOUL INFERNO. Doc filmmakers should also take note that today is Hot Docs’ Late Deadline for submissions – you can do so here.

In a rare role reversal, our own Thom Powers was at the receiving end of questioning by Daniel Clarkson Fisher for Nonfics about “what he looks for, what trends he’s seeing, and how he continues to champion a greater appreciation for nonfiction cinema”. A highlight — “Fisher: The New York Times has used the phrase “kingmaker” to describe your place in the world of documentary — Powers: Mind you, this is the same newspaper that told you Iraq had weapons of mass destruction”.

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Monday Memo: 2017 Eases In By Looking Back


While the holidays have now come and gone and we’ve already cracked into the new calendar, for the last two weeks much of the movie blogosphere has been on holiday itself, resulting in a rather brief Monday Memo this week. The majority of folks who did publish new work were mostly looking back at 2016, with rundowns of the year’s best docs coming from Katie Walsh and the staff at The Playlist and Daniel Walber of Nonfics, whom importantly noted, “The list of great, undistributed docs of 2016 is long, and includes such dramatically different films as INAATE/SE/ and ALL THIS PANIC. And three beautifully crafted documentaries, all directed by Mexican women, are an especially frustrating omission of 2016’s commercial release schedule: Betzabé García’s KINGS OF NOWHERE, Maya Goded’s PLAZA DE LA SOLEDAD and Tatiana Huezo’s TEMPESTAD.”

At IndieWire, Chris O’Falt published the favorites of 2016 of 35 different directors, including Jonathan Demme, Ezra Edelman, Alma Har’el, Kirsten Johnson and more. For Fandor’s Keyframe, Kevin B. Lee and whole host of critical colleagues recounted their favorite video essays composed in 2016. The only people seeming to have the gumption to look forward is Gregory Ellwood, whose posted his Oscar predictions at The Playlist, Christopher Campbell, who listed his top 100 recommendations for doc watching via Netflix this January via Nonfics, and Basil Tsiokos, whose insightful previews of the doc to debut at Sundance later this month were the centerpiece over at What (not) To Doc last month.

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Monday Memo: Holiday 2016 Edition


As tends to happen as the year draws to a close, doc news and general coverage has slowed to a crawl. The most talked about stories of the week were not necessarily news, but reflective think pieces looking back at this tumultuous year or forward to the era of President Trump and beyond. Kiva Reardon‘s rightful call for female film critics on TIFF’s blog lit up social media, while at IndieWire, Anthony Kaufman dropped a firebrand outline for the doc community titled “Stories of Trump’s America: How Documentary Filmmakers Plan to Escape the Liberal Bubble.” Treading similar territory, Filmmaker Magazine published NUTS! director Penny Lane‘s more personal take in “Notes on Truth (Or, Documentary in the Post-Truth Era).” Taking direct action, Laura Poitras and the fine folks behind Field of Vision and Firelight Media have revealed a new project titled OUR 100 DAYS, that “will produce and distribute 10 shorts that explore topics like the rise in hate crimes, immigration, gender equality and LGBTQ rights,” reports Ashley Lee in The Hollywood Reporter.

Looking much further back, the Library of Congress announced it’s 2016 additions to the National Film Registry, including “THE ATOMIC CAFE (1982), which documents the threat of nuclear war following World War II; PARIS IS BURNING, a 1990 film that explores the complex ballroom subculture among gay men, drag queens and transgender women in New York City; SUZANNE, SUZANNE, an insightful profile of a substance abuser who confronts the legacy of physical abuse; Penelope Spheeris’ controversial, landmark documentary about the hardcore punk-rock scene in Los Angeles,” THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, and a handful of shorts by Solomon Sir Jones that document the “rich tapestry of everyday life” of African American communities in Oklahoma during the 1920s.

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Monday Memo: IDA Documentary Awards, Oscar Shortlist, Sundance Premieres & More


Early in December there is always an avalanche of awards and lists and festival announcements and more, so it’s no surprise that at the top of this week’s news is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released it’s shortlist of the 15 films still in the running for the Oscar for Best Documentary. Cara Buckley highlighted the racially and politically driven focus of this year’s shortlisters for The New York Times, while Christopher Campbell outlined where can find all 15 films over at Nonfics. The 32nd annual IDA Documentary Awards also took place this past week, with Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA winning Best Feature, Orlando von Einsiedel’s THE WHITE HELMETS winning Best Short, and Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s MAKING A MURDERER taking home Best Limited Series. Additionally, IDA published a lengthy interview with its Amicus Award Honorees, Norman and Lyn Lear. Other award news included the European Film Academy naming Gianfranco Rosi’s FIRE AT SEA as the Best European Documentary at the European Film Awards over the weekend, and Cinema Eye Honors naming their immensely diverse 2017 Heterodox Award nominees in ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, THE FITS, KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE, MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART, and NEON BULL.

Adding to the chorus of praise that is awards season, a whole host of best of lists turned up over the last week, each with their own nonfiction infusion. The staffers over at The New York Times, Vulture, Slant and IndieWire, each published their’s. Included between the lists was NO HOME MOVIE, WEINER, CAMERAPERSON, HOMELAND: IRAQ YEAR ZERO, and of course, O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, amongst others.

Just a week after Sundance dropped its competition linup, its Premieres section has been revealed and features new work from Lucy Walker, Barbara Kopple, Stanley Nelson, Rory Kennedy and more. Shortly thereafter, the Documentary Shorts were also announced. On the opposite coast, the Tribeca Film Festival hired former SVP of acquisitions and productions at Alchemy, Jeff Deutchman as its new Programmer at Large, according to Graham Winfrey of IndieWire. And Basil Tsiokos looked at the new nonfiction offerings of this year’s Dubai International Film Festival, while Leo Goldsmith looked back at his experience at Doclisboa for Film Comment.

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