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.
The Writers Guild of America awarded Brett Morgen’s JANE with Best Documentary Screenplay at the 2018 WGA Awards. The film was up against BETTING ON ZERO, NO STONE UNTURNED and OKLAHOMA CITY. At the same time, Tatiana Siegel broke the news at The Hollywood Reporter that “The producer and subject of LAST MEN IN ALEPPO won’t be in attendance at the upcoming 90th Academy Awards when their film competes for best feature documentary on March 4, as the Syrian government has refused to expedite the travel visa process for producer Kareem Abeed and White Helmets founding member Mahmoud Al-Hattar, who is featured in the film. The move comes as a blow to the team behind the doc, which marks the first Syrian-produced and -directed film nominated for an Oscar.” Another Oscar nominee also turned up in the news when IndieWire’s Jude Dry reported on how STRONG ISLAND director Yance Ford is making history, as it is “first time a film from an out transgender filmmaker received an Oscar nomination, and only the fifth nomination for a transgender person ever.”
There has been a shakeup of senior management at two major documentary institutions this past week. Covering the story for Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos reports, “The International Documentary Association announced today that Kevin Iwashina has been appointed as President of the Board of Directors. He steps in for Marjan Safinia whose term ends this year. The IDA also announced that filmmaker and philanthropist James Costa and producer and Authentic Entertainment CEO Lauren Lexton have been elected as Co-Vice Presidents.” Additionally, at Realscreen’s Lauren Malyk reported that “Mathieu Dagonas has been appointed the new executive director for the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC).”
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), along with the Southern Documentary Fund (SDF) and UNC-TV (Public Media North Carolina) has announced a new initiative – Beyond Borders: Diverse Voices of the American South – which hopes to “bring together Asian American filmmakers from the South to build a network with the intention to connect with social justice, independent documentary, and cultural organizations in the region.” Similarly, following its Sustainability Summit, the National Endowment for the Arts has revealed its Documentary Sustainability Initiatives in hopes of building a sustainable infrastructure for the nonfiction storytelling community.
Other noteworthy doc coverage includes Filmmaker Magazine‘s interview with three documentarians on making films about their own families, John L. Dorman‘s feature in The New York Times on the new IMAX doc AMERICA’S MUSICAL JOURNEY, Joshua Partlow‘s conversation with Myles Estey, producer of THE TRADE, for The Washington Post, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich on Josephine Decker and Zefrey Throwell’s genre mash-up FLAMES, and Harry Harris on Werner Herzog’s THE GREAT ESCSTASY OF WOODCARVER STEINER at Little White Lies.
I’ll leave you this week with David Freid’s GUNS FOUND HERE, which is now available to stream via Short of the Week. If you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.