Monday Memo: Lineup For DOC NYC & IDFA 2017!


As it happens, I am currently in Stockholm visiting my doc loving co-workers at Influence Film Club, but I would be remiss to share a mini memo that spreads the good word that DOC NYC has announced its complete 2017 lineup! Among the 111 feature length documentaries on offer this year, Guy Fiorita’s MOLE MAN and Julia Bacha’s NAILA AND THE UPRISING will have their world premieres as part of this year’s Viewfinders competition, while David Wexler’s VIGILANTE: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF CURTIS SLIWA AND THE GUARDIAN ANGELS and Prudence Katze and William Lehman’s THE IRON TRIANGLE will world premiere in the Metropolis competition. Jessica Mach reported on the announcement for Realscreen, noting, “Over 350 filmmakers and special guests are scheduled to participate in panels or present their films.” Festival passes and individual screening tickets are now available for purchase.

Last week also saw the unveiling of IDFA‘s 2017 lineup, containing a mind-boggling “312 titles (from 3,886 submissions), of which 90 documentaries will have their world premieres during the festival.” The 30th edition of the festival will take place in Amsterdam from November 15 to 26. A boat load of brand new doc trailers are available at the festival’s YouTube page.

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Monday Memo: DOC NYC PRO Lineup Unveiled as DINA & FACES PLACES Hit Theaters


Those working in the field of nonfiction filmmaking have much to look forward in this year’s newly announced lineup for the 2017 DOC NYC PRO conference, which announced features “100+ speakers including acclaimed filmmakers and industry leaders across eight days of panels, case studies, master classes and happy hours.” The conference runs November 9-16 at Cinepolis Chelsea concurrent with the festival’s public film screenings. Passes for this must attend industry event can be purchased here.

Last Wednesday, DOK Leipzig revealed that David Spaeth’s BETRAYAL will open the festival, which runs October 30 through November 5. The festival is also honoring the doc filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt with a special program titled “Visual Electrics. The Cinema of Jay Rosenblatt” and a master class in which Jay Rosenblatt will give insights into his working methods. Meanwhile at What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos previewed of new nonfiction offerings at both the Hamptons International Film Festival, which concludes today, and the BFI London Film Festival, noting that “among the more than 200 new feature offerings of the respected UK event are nearly 60 documentaries.”

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Monday Memo: NYFF Begins, DOC NYC Reveals Short List & International Emmys Name Noms


Just as The Associated Press proclaimed, last Thursday the curtain went up on a documentary-rich New York Film Festival and much has been written thus far to celebrate. Richard Brody notes in The New Yorker, Travis Wilkerson’s new standalone feature version of DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN? as a festival highlight, along with Varda and JR’s FACES PLACES. In Manohla Dargis‘s preview of this year’s edition for The New York Times she notes, “One program to explore is the Spotlight on Documentary, which features several worthwhile offerings, including ARTHUR MILLER: WRITER and JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD, two views from the inside.” Questioning the merits and future possibilities of literary docs like these at LitHub, Craig Hubert writes with fervor, “A writer’s work, or the work of a publication, especially over a long career, is slippery and often contradictory, and demands a portrait that challenges this ambivalence. What we get usually is something that acts as a visual Wikipedia page, a series of bullet-point facts presented without a critical eye.” As has become customary, Basil Tsiokos gave a thorough preview of the new nonfiction offerings at the fest via What (not) To Doc, while at Criterion Cast, Joshua Brunsting listed five recommendations to catch, including a trio of docs that top the list.

Just two days after Esquire published Nick Schager’s list of the best documentaries of 2017 so far, DOC NYC announced its 15-film Short List of Oscar contenders along with its TIFF debuted opening-night selection, THE FINAL YEAR. Breaking the news at IndieWire, Anne Thompson pointed out that “Historically, most DOC NYC picks do land on the Academy’s official 15-film Oscar Short List. For the past four years, the Short List had nine to 10 titles overlap, with four or five titles going on to Oscar nominations. For the last six years, DOC NYC screened the documentary that went on to win the Oscar.”

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Monday Memo: Burns & Novick’s VIETNAM Escalates as Nicks’s FORCE Rolls Out


While TIFF 2017 has now come and gone, this past week saw plenty of wrap ups and reviews still filing in, including my own wrap-up of the best docs I saw this year in Toronto over at Nonfics. Included amidst these films is Frederick Wiseman’s EX LIBRIS – THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, which also appears in the Top Picks of MUBI’s Notebook and The Film Stage‘s list of the best films at TIFF (see also: Wiseman on the latest episode of The Close-Up podcast). According to the 36 critics who voted in IndieWire‘s annual TIFF survey, Brett Morgen’s JANE was the best doc of the fest, while Rolling Stone shortlisted Jason Kohn’s LOVE MEANS ZERO and the folks at Vox name dropped Greg Barker’s THE FINAL YEAR and Agnès Varda and JR’s FACES, PLACES as their favorites. Meanwhile at Filmmaker Magazine, Tiffany Pritchard reported on TIFF’s Doc Conference, “an entire day of panels and talks were presented.” Probably the most thorough coverage of docs at TIFF this year can be found over at POV Magazine’s TIFF Hub, where tons of reviews can be found, as well as a handful of interviews, including this new one with Wavelength’s programmer Andréa Picard.

The Camden International Film Festival takes place during TIFF, and thus generally gets a bit overshadowed, but at Film School Rejects, Christopher Campbell argues that the festival “allows nonfiction fans to feel like most movie fans,” noting that “many documentary film festivals hold special pitching events for filmmakers, but they tend to be behind closed doors. Camden opens theirs up to the public, and this year’s took place before a sold out crowd at the Camden Opera House.” At CIFF proper, Ziad Kalthoum’s TASTE OF CEMENT and Jonathan Olshefski‘s QUEST took home Best Documentary Feature and the Audience Award, respectively, reports Daniele Alcinii at Realscreen. Looking internationally, Basil Tsiokos previewed the new nonfiction films to have their debuts at this past weekend at South Korea’s DMZ Docs, as well as the domestic, NYC based Urbanworld Film Festival.

In the hustle and bustle of festival happenings, I failed to mention last week that on September 14th the Cinema Eye Honors announced their 2018 Shorts List, including Laura Checkoway’s EDITH + EDDIE (which Cher boarded as executive producer this week, reports Chris Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter), Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s HEROIN(E), and Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke’s PROJECT X. Apparently I wasn’t the only one late on the uptake, as Kate Erbland reported the news nearly a week later at IndieWire.

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Monday Memo: TIFF Wraps as RAT FILM, EX LIBRIS & STRONG ISLAND Reach Audiences


After ten days of film-going, the Toronto International Film Festival came to a close last night after the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award was bestowed upon Agnès Varda and JR for their L’Œil d’or winning collaboration FACES, PLACES at the awards ceremony at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The week prior, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to honor Varda with an Oscar at the annual honorary Governors Awards to take place in November, reported Anne Thompson at IndieWire.

Unsurprisingly, there have been reams of coverage coming out of Toronto, from round-ups such as Thompson‘s documentary breakouts or The Hollywood Reporter‘s Best of the Fall Festivals, which names Greg Barker’s “fascinating, frequently moving” THE FINAL YEAR and Brett Morgan’s “wondrous, moving account of” trailblazing wildlife conservationist Jane Goodall among its rank, as well as copious doc reviews logged (too many to individually list here) by the hardworking folks over at Cinema Scope, MUBI’s Notebook, IndieWire, NonficsPOV Magazine. In IDA’s The Feedback, Tom White spoke with director Erika Cohn about her TIFF debuted feature THE JUDGE, which had a rough cut preview earlier this year as part of IDA’s DocuClub. Jeremy Elphick talked to Ben Russell about his new mining doc GOOD LUCK, “his lengthy relationship with Suriname, and the experience of shooting for the first time in Serbia,” at 4:3. Additionally, Nicolas Rapold interviewed Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, the directors behind the much discussed CANIBA, “about the film’s aesthetics and ethics beachside at the Venice film festival, where CANIBA had its world premiere before screening at TIFF and in Projections at the New York Film Festival.” Let’s not forget that the team at Realscreen covered TIFF’s Doc Conference, with Jessica Mach on gender barriers in the doc industry, Daniele Alcinii on lessons in privately financing your documentary, and Selina Chignall on building a career in documentary. More will surely surface in the week to come.

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