In a week in which scientists successfully actualized teleportation and Trump found himself mired in a Russian influenced campaign scandal, it may have been difficult to wade through the news stories to find the notable documentary related stories (light as they may be this week). Most noteworthy are the 2017 Emmy Awards nominations, which include AMANDA KNOX, THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS and 13TH among those in the running for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special, and O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, OKLAHOMA CITY and THE WHITE HELMETS up for an award for Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking.
Looking at the festival circuit, Basil Tsiokos noted that the 34th Jerusalem Film Festival is now in full swing (with a fascinating selection of docs in competition), while both the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Locarno Festival have announced their programs. More immediately relevant, today PBS is launching its 6th Annual PBS Online Film Festival where 25 films, including POV’s OUR VOICES ARE RARELY HEARD are available to stream through July 28th.
Though festival lineup announcements bring new feature length titles to the fore, PBS’s newly revealed fall lineup includes Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 18-hour, 10-part series, THE VIETNAM WAR, which will have its world premiere on Sundays through Thursdays beginning September 17th. Other notable fall inclusions are Michael Collins’ ALMOST SUNRISE (which Glenn Kenny warmly wrote about at RogerEbert.com this week) and John Scheinfeld’s CHASING TRANE.
Having taken home the Audience Award from Sundance earlier this year, it is no surprise that Jeff Orlowski’s CHASING CORAL, which arrived on Netflix on Friday, has garnered quite a bit of critical attention in the past week. At A.V. Club, Mike D’Angelo admits that “for once, reading a book or in-depth article on the subject [of climate change] wouldn’t be remotely as persuasive (except perhaps regarding the question of whether human activity is primarily responsible). If your eyes work, your heart will sink.” Similarly disheartening praise of this timely film came in from Andrew Lapin of NPR, Godfrey Cheshire at RogerEbert.com, and Nicole Herrington, who deemed it a NYT Critics’ Pick. Also worth a read is Steven Zeitchik‘s feature interview with Orlowski in the Los Angeles Times.
Only a few other films received any notable coverage this week. One of these was Errol Morris’ THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY – writing for FilmLinc, Jordan Raup performed separate interviews with Morris and his subject Elsa Dorfman. Steve Greene looked at POV’s pairing of THE WAR SHOW and LAST MEN IN ALEPPO for IndieWire. And at Hyperallergic, Allison Meier wrote at length about BEAR 71, an interactive VR documentary “that uses trail camera footage and animal tracking to follow the life of one grizzly in Banff National Park.”
If you are looking for some suggestions of what to watch, Scott Tobias has listed nine offbeat sports documentaries that are currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime over at The New York Times, while the folks at POV recommended a trio of its classic doc productions that are now streaming on their site. Tim Grant’s wrestling short THE ARIA OF BABYFACE CAULIFLOWER BROWN was published this past week at Op-Docs.
I’m signing off this week with a piece from Chaz Ebert that highlights how the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) Program in Documentary Filmmaking is empowering future filmmakers, and another by Daniel Walber at Nonfics that revisits THE COVE and reassesses its lasting impact on Taiji. Until next week, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.