Monday Memo: Doc Fortnight in Motion, CPH:DOX Announces 2018 Program


MoMA’s Doc Fortnight “has played host to an annual collection of non-fiction films that push boundaries both aesthetically and narratively. Be it groundbreaking works from groundbreaking filmmakers, or like much of the list we are about to dive into, profoundly moving efforts from names many may not be familiar with,” writes Joshua Brunsting in his Criterion Cast preview of the festival’s 17th edition which kicked off on Thursday evening. Singling out highlights in Jeffrey Perkins’s GEORGE, Jackie Ochs and Susanna Styron’s OUT OF MY HEAD, Stephen Organ’s HABANEROS and a restrospective on the documentary films of the late Jonathan Demme, Daniel Eagan notes in Film Journal, “For many years, Doc Fortnight was curated by MoMA’s Film Department. Recently, guest curator Kathy Brew has programmed the series, this year with Gianna Collier-Pitts.” Basil Tsiokos also gave an overview of the new non-fiction offerings at Doc Fortnight, as well as at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival at What (not) To Doc.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX has announced the full 200+ film program of its 15th edition. Of the 12 features in competition for the DOX:Award, Nasib Farah and Søren Steen Jespersen’s LOST WARRIOR, Christian Krönes and Florian Weigensamer’s WELCOME TO SODOM, Marcus Lindeen’s THE RAFT, Salomé Lamas and Stanislav Danylyshyn’s EXTINCTION, Andreas Dalsgaard’s THE GREAT GAME, and Alexander Rynéus, Malla Grapengiesser and Per Bifrost’s GIANTS AND THE MORNING AFTER are all world premieres.

Meanwhile back stateside, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival revealed “that renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger will curate the 2018 Thematic Program, and the festival will honor Jehane Noujaim’s illustrious body of work with the 2018 Tribute.” And at IndieWire, Eric Kohn reports that while “few major festivals are run by women, or by people of color; several key positions held by white men have now been vacated, creating tremendous prospects for injecting a more complex identity into the festival ecosystem.” He continues, “For many, the answer comes down to one easy solution: Hire a woman. Four major international festivals — Sundance, Berlin, Cannes’ Directors Fortnight and the Toronto International Film Festival — are currently hiring top programming roles. The people who fill those slots could have a radical impact on the kinds of movies resonating on the festival circuit, and eventually, those with the potential to reach wider audiences.”

Stranger Than Fiction’s 2018 Winter Season continues this week at the IFC Center with Daniel McCabe’s THIS IS CONGO, a a highly-immersive, unfiltered look into the conflicts at the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tickets for tomorrow’s screening are still available here.

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Monday Memo: Field of Vision Launch Fellowship & Artist-In-Residence Program as True/False Announces 2018 Lineup


As I will soon be heading back to Columbia, MO for the True/False Film Festival, I would be lying if I didn’t share my excitement about this week’s unveiling of the festival’s 2018 lineup, with highlights ranging from a selection of films by this year’s True Vision Award winner Dieudo Hamadi, through hints about their hush-hush secret screenings and complete details about the return of their Neither/Nor series. The festival is set to run March 1st through the 4th. Riding that same wavelength, the Tribeca Film Festival announced that its 17th edition will open on April 18th with the world premiere of Lisa D’Apolito’s LOVE, GILDA, “which opens a window into the world of celebrated Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian Gilda Radner, who became a cultural icon the moment audiences first laughed with her on the debut episode of Saturday Night Live.”

Back in 2016, we hosted the fine folks of Field of Vision for a special screening of their online series THE JOURNEY. This past week, Field of Vision announced a new fellowship, featuring a quartet of filmmakers in Garrett Bradley, Michelle Latimer, Charlie Lyne and Lyric Cabral, and its first-ever artist-in-residence, Josh Begley. The announcement continues, “The first year of fellows were selected from filmmakers who had worked with Field of Vision over the last three years. In addition to creating a framework for idea development, creative support, and a grant, Field of Vision will conduct workshops throughout the year in the areas of digital security, research, and legal issues. Fellows will also be invited to participate in Field of Vision’s editorial process, from identifying urgent stories to offering filmmaker feedback and guidance.”

Here at Stranger Than Fiction, our Winter 2018 season continues as we meditate on the 15th anniversary of America going to war in Iraq with a special screening of Oscar-nominated director Jehane Noujaim’s terrific CONTROL ROOM, with both film subject Josh Rushing and producer Rosadel Varela in attendance for a live Q&A. Tickets to the event are available here.

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Monday Memo: 2018 SXSW Film Festival Lineup Announced


Right on the heels of Sundance, the 2018 SXSW Film Festival has revealed its first wave of titles, including the Documentary Feature Competition, Documentary Spotlight, Visions, 24 Beats Per Second, Global programs. Gabriel Silverman’s TRANSMILITARY, Abby Epstein’s WEED THE PEOPLE, Nick Budabin’s CHI-TOWN, Tiller Russell’s OPERATION ODESSA, and Thom Zimny’s ELVIS PRESLEY THE SEARCHER are among the many nonfiction films slated for world premieres.

Docpoint 2018, the Helsinki Documentary Film Festival wraps up today. Basil Tsiokos, in his overview of the new doc offerings at the festival at What (not) To Doc, noted, “Over 75 new and recent nonfiction features, in addition to retrospective programming and sorts, screen at this Finnish event.” Also across the pond, IDFA announced that Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia has been appointed its new artistic director, succeeding interim director Barbara Visser, who oversaw the 2017 edition after IDFA founder Ally Derks stepped down.

Now that this year’s edition of Sundance has come and gone, Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson has had some time to mull her favorite non-star driven docs of the festival, just as Josefina Buschmann shared her thoughts at IndieWire on the VR doc experiences that were on offer. A pair of notable post-fest reviews also came in on KUSAMA – INFINITY via Stephen Zacks at Hyperallergic, and HAL via J.R. Kinnard of Nonfics.

Let’s not forget that we at Stranger Than Fiction return to the IFC Center tomorrow for our Winter Season kickoff with Roberta Grossman and Sophie Sartain’s SEEING ALLRED with a very special guest in Gloria Allred, the film’s subject. If you’re quick, it’s not to late to pick up a season pass over here.

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STF WINTER SEASON ANNOUNCED


Courtesy of Sundance Insitute | photo by Alex Pollini

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Stranger Than Fiction, the weekly documentary film series now in its 14th year, hosted by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen and presented by IFC Center, announces its 2018 winter season of nine films. The series opens with SEEING ALLRED (Feb 6), fresh from its Sundance premiere, about the controversial feminist attorney Gloria Allred. The closing night film is a preview of THE CHINA HUSTLE (Mar 27) investigating the perils of Wall Street deregulation, executive produced by Alex Gibney. STF showcases the growing prominence of episodic works, previewing two highly anticipated series FLINT TOWN (Feb 27) focusing on the police department in the Michigan city known for its water crisis; and WILD, WILD COUNTRY (Mar 13) about a religious cult accused of crimes, executive produced by Jay & Mark Duplass. “If you crave documentaries that generate passionate discussion, you’ll get more than your money’s worth from this line-up,” said STF Artistic Director Thom Powers who also hosts the podcast Pure Nonfiction.

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Monday Memo: Oscar Noms Revealed as KAILASH Wins Sundance Grand Jury Prize


The end of award season is on the horizon! This week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed their nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards, which will take place March 4th. The nominees for Best Documentary Feature are ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL by Steve James, FACES PLACES by Agnès Varda and JR, ICARUS by Bryan Fogel, LAST MEN IN ALEPPO by Firas Fayyad, and STRONG ISLAND by Yance Ford, while the nominees for Best Documentary Short are EDITH+EDDIE by Laura Checkoway, HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 by Frank Stiefel (currently streaming via Short of the Week), HEROIN(E) by Elaine Mcmillion, KNIFE SKILLS by Thomas Lennon, and TRAFFIC STOP by Kate Davis.

Meanwhile, the festival fervor in Park City has subsided, with the 2018 Sundance Awards ceremony having taken place Saturday evening. Derek Doneen’s KAILASH, which Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter called “an exciting and inspirational look at the fight against child slavery,” was honored with the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize, while Alexandria Bombach’s ON HER SHOULDERS, having received substantial praise from Bilge Ebiri in The Village Voice, Jay Weissberg of Variety, and David Ehrlich of IndieWire, received the Directing Award. Bing Liu, who received the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking, spoke with Tom White of the International Documentary Association about his debut MINDING THE GAP, which John Fink of The Film Stage writes is “a tour de force of documentary filmmaking…a lively, often beautifully shot film about a pit of hopelessness–from dead end jobs to drunken arguments to bad decisions. This is modern day John Cassavetes with tattoos and punk music.” Rudy Valdez’s THE SENTENCE, which was picked up by HBO for distribution later this year, received the Audience Award.

In the World Cinema Documentary competition, Talal Derki’s IDFA debuted feature OF FATHERS AND SONS, dubbed “a vital addition to the cultural picture of the Syrian conflict” by Daniel Schindel of The Film Stage, took home the Grand Jury Prize. The Directing Award went to Sandi Tan for her debut feature SHIRKERS, which Richard Brody called “gloriously, gleefully idiosyncratic, a blend of punk energy and local documentation” in The New Yorker (along with love for Robert Greene’s BISBEE ’17). Though Variety’s Guy Lodge called Stephen Loveridge’s MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. “pretty standard-issue on the aesthetic front,” the film received a Special Jury Award, while Alexandra Shiva’s THIS IS HOME was honored with the Audience Award.

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