Monday Memo: TIFF Wraps Up, Cinema Eye Announces Shorts List


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Like so many in the business of film making, curating, critiquing or just consuming, I’m feeling a little overstimulated after 11 days of movie-going at the Toronto International Film Festival, but in a good way. I managed to catch 46 films of the 296 features on offer this year, 19 of which were docs, many of which were outstanding. I managed to log a trio of reviews over at IONCINEMA, while an avalanche of doc coverage was amassed at outlets like Nonfics, POV Magazine, and Cinema Scope, among countless others. Found in the mix was Amy Kaufman’s extensive takes on RATS and AMANDA KNOX, and Steven Zeitchik‘s review of BEFORE THE FLOOD, all for the LA Times, while The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee also ruminated on AMANDA KNOX.  At Realscreen, Jonathan Paul spoke with Errol Morris about his latest, THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY, while Kevin Ritchie asked Werner Herzog about INTO THE INFERNO. At yesterday’s closing awards ceremony Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was given the People’s Choice Documentary Award, while Fisher Stevens’ BEFORE THE FLOOD and Steve James’ ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL were named the second and first runners up, respectively.

In the midst of the action, our own Thom Powers hosted TIFF’s annual one day Doc Conference, featuring live panels and discussions on a wide range of non-fiction filmmaking related topics. If you weren’t able to make it, most of the events are now available to stream on TIFF’s YouTube channel, including conversations with Steve James, Jonathan Demme and more. Meanwhile, VR made its prescence known at the festival this year with its POP VR event reports Realscreen’s Jonathan Paul. Looking at the many films that scored distribution at TIFF, Kate Erbland wrote an overview of the sales for IndieWire, including Magnolia’s pick up of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and Syndicado’s purchase of IN EXILE.

Here at Stranger Than Fiction, we’ve revealed that our Fall Season is devoted to the documentary work of Jonathan Demme. The series features a six film retrospective with live director Q&As at each screening, beginning on September 27th with his legendary Talking Heads concert doc, STOP MAKING SENSE. Season passes and individual screening tickets are available.

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STF Fall Season: Jonathan Demme Retrospective


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STF devotes its 12th year to a six-week retrospective of documentaries directed by Jonathan Demme. The director will attend each screening for a Q&A. “We’re honored to host Jonathan Demme as we trace the past three decades of his performance and profile films,” said STF Artistic Director Thom Powers. “Whether he’s capturing the artistry of the Talking Heads, Spalding Gray and Neil Young or the activism of Jean Dominique, Carolyn Parker and Jimmy Carter, Demme consistently delivers a thrilling cinematic experience.” Jonathan Demme’s documentary career is also being recognized at DOC NYC this fall, where he will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Visionaries Tribute Luncheon on Thurs. Nov. 10.

The season kicks off on September 27 with Demme’s acclaimed Talking Heads’ concert film STOP MAKING SENSE.  It continues with SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA (Oct. 4) that introduced new audiences to monologist Spalding Gray; THE AGRONOMIST (Oct 11) about the Haitian radio journalist Jean Dominique; NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD (Oct. 18) on musician Neil Young performing in Nashville; I’M CAROLYN PARKER: THE GOOD, THE MAD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL (Oct. 25) on a resilient resident of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth as she rebuilds post Hurricane Katrina.  The season concludes on November 1 with JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS about the former president Jimmy Carter as he tours with a controversial book about Israel and Palestine.  The season is copresented by The New York Film Academy.

The regular STF fall season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night for six weeks, starting September 27. Each event includes a discussion with the filmmaker or special guests, followed by a gathering at a nearby bar. Full season schedule appears below.

Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $17 for the general public and $14 for IFC Center members. A Season Pass, good for admission to all 6 evenings is available for $75 ($60 for IFC members)

Stranger Than Fiction: Fall 2016 Season                  7:00pm Tuesdays at IFC Center, September 27 – November 1

Each show features a Q&A with the director or other special guests

Sept 27 – Opening Night: STOP MAKING SENSE (1984, 100 min)

Oct 4: SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA (1987, 85 min)

Oct 11: THE AGRONOMIST (2003, 91 min)

Oct 18: NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD (2006, 103 min)

Oct 25: I’M CAROLYN PARKER: THE GOOD, THE MAD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL (2011, 93 min)

Nov 1 – Closing Night: JIMMY CARTER MAN FROM PLAINS (2007, 126 min)

STF is delighted to welcome back the New York Film Academy. to copresent the Fall season.  New York Film Academy students learn to make films by making films. Many films.  Intensive, hands-on Conservatory and MFA programs in Documentary Filmmaking pair rigorous instruction with mentoring in order to support students as they work on a series of their own documentaries.  Short-term workshops follow the same intensive model.

Under the guidance of a world-class faculty, this approach has earned NYFA a slot on The Independent Magazine’s list of the 10 Best Academic Programs For Documentary Filmmakers.  Recent graduates of NYFA’s Documentary program have garnered an Academy Award-nomination, an Emmy Award, and top honors at Toronto, Sundance and other major festivals.  They have excelled in creative positions with Morgan Spurlock, Robert Redford, Alex Gibney, VICE on HBO, Rolling Stone, VICELAND, VICE, Fusion, Wall Street Journal, and many, many others.  Faculty hold at least five Academy Awards, six Academy Award nominations, and over a dozen Emmys.


Monday Memo: Wiseman To Be Honored With Oscar, Telluride & Venice Hit The Ground Running


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With forty films, a Golden Lion, three Primetime Emmys, and a Peabody award credited to his name, Frederick Wiseman has been selected as one of four individuals to receive honorary Oscars at this year’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Awards gala. Barry Walsh of Realscreen reported that “the Honorary Award is given ‘to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.'”

On the eve of the 2016 Telluride Film Festival, its hyper secretive program was revealed and IndieWire’s Eric Kohn combed through the A-list offerings, making special note of the latest from Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, as well as the Leonardo DiCaprio backed THE IVORY GAME and Doug Nichol’s essayistic doc, CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER. Glowing reviews of Herzog’s INTO THE VOLCANO and Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson’s THE IVORY GAME from IndieWire’s David EhrlichEric Kohn, and The Wrap’s Robert Abele, respectively. Shortly after the lineup announcement, Basil Tsiokos gave a rundown of the festival’s non-fiction offerings over at What (not) To Doc.

Tsiokos also outlined the Venice Film Festival‘s doc lineup, highlighting the world premiere of Terrence Malick’s first doc outing VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY and Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Rick Barnes’ DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE, among many notable others. Having screened over the festival’s first weekend, Obaidah Zytoon and Andreas Dalsgaard’s THE WAR SHOW has already been dubbed “a deeply affecting documentary of the Syrian conflict” by Jay Weissberg of Variety, while Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian highly recommends Ulrich Seidl’s “brutal, illuminating” SAFARI with a four star review, and Vanessa Friedman and Nicolas Rapold wrote commending pieces on Francesco Carrozzini’s FRANCA: CHAOS AND CREATION and Sergei Loznitsa’s AUSTERLITZ for The New York Times.

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Monday Memo: Getting Real, NYFF & Camden Unveil Doc Programming


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With Telluride, Venice and Toronto just days away from premiering brand new titles from the likes of Herzog, Malick, Morris, James and more, the fall festival fervor is beginning to mount, as both the New York Film Festival and the Camden International Film Festival have revealed their documentary lineups. Unsurprisingly, the offerings are A-list all around. From September 27-29, the International Documentary Association will host its Getting Real ’16 conference in Los Angeles, featuring keynotes from Ava DuVernay, Shola Lynch, and Steve James, as well as live conversations with Mark Cousins, Ezra Edelman, Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman. Interested parties can register for the event here.

A bit further down the pipeline, DOC NYC is prepping for their fall festivities by announcing that Jonathan Demme and Stanley Nelson will both receive Lifetime Achievement Awards and A&E IndieFilms’ Molly Thompson will take home the Leading Light Award from this year’s Visionaries Tribute, scheduled to take place November 10. Looking even further into the future, Anne Thompson has published her early doc Oscar predictions at IndieWire, listing GLEASON, LIFE, ANIMATED, OJ: MADE IN AMERICA, WEINER and ZERO DAYS as the current frontrunners. And while on the topic of honors and awards, the Library of Congress is currently accepting nominations for the 2016 National Film Registry.

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Monday Memo: Herzog Contemplates The Internet, European Film Awards Name Doc Noms


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Undoubtedly, every return of Werner Herzog to the big screen is cause for celebration, so it’s unsurprising to find that with the release of his ominous cinematic inquiry into the future of the internet and robotics with LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD has been met with a celebratory chorus of critical praise. The folks at both Film Comment and WNYC proclaimed it the film of the week, while critics like Keyframe’s Tina Hassannia, Notebook’s Duncan Gray and Co.Create’s Neal Ungerleider dug deep into Herzog’s latest existential interrogation, ultimately finding much to love. Other warm reviews came in from Marc Spitz in The New York Times, Robert Abele at The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday and Emma Sandler of Forbes, who interestingly points out the fact that the project was originally intended as an advertising piece for Netscout before it reached Herzog’s inquisitive hands. Matt Zoller Seitz, though appreciative, was not as enthusiastic, writing at RogerEbert.com, “The film is saved from mere competence by that Herzogian feeling, at once grandiose and self-deprecating.”

At the Toronto International Film Festival, whom added a handful of notable new docs to their already stellar looking lineup this past week (Terrence Malick’s VOYAGE OF TIME, Gianfranco Rosi’s FIRE AT SEA, among others), Herzog is scheduled to drop a pair of new films, one fiction – SALT AND FIRE – and one non-fiction – INTO THE VOLCANO. Pat Mullen reported on the festival’s additions for POV Magazine, while Michael Nordine gave a brief preview of how Malick made his first venture into documentary filmmaking for IndieWire.

While TIFF continues to reveal more films, Kosovo’s DokuFest wrapped last week, naming OLEG AND HIS RARE ARTS by Andrés Duque the winner of its International Documentary Competition and DEPTH TWO by Ognjen Glavonic the winner of the Balkan Documentary Competition. The European Film Awards also named 15 films nominated for the documentary category, including Piotr Stasik’s 21 X NEW YORK, Fredrik & Magnus Gertten’s BECOMING ZLATAN, Pietro Marcello LOST AND BEAUTIFUL, and Sergei Loznitsa’s THE EVENT, which can currently be streamed for free via Doc Alliance.

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