Alison Klayman’s film AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY has finally been released in theaters, after racking up festival laurels and media attention for months. Writing for the POV blog, Tom Roston interviewed Klayman, discovering that Ai was pleased with the way the film turned out. Christopher Campbell had his own interview with Klayman, who admitted that she didn’t realize when she began working on the film that it would touch on such a wide variety of issues—art, activism and freedom, to name a few.
Writing for Movies.com, Campbell also did an end-run around the political discussions surrounding THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to name NEVER SORRY the best superhero film of the summer, based largely on the incredibly fearless acts of dissent and political activism that Ai engages in in China. J.P. Sniadecki at Cinema Scope had an interview with Ai himself, and talked to him about the artist’s use of documentary techniques in his work, for a nice change of pace. And Ryan Lee Wong of The Margins magazine worked up a review of NEVER SORRY, writing that the film “traces the transformation of a controversial Chinese artist into an international icon of dissent.”
Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul’s SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, one of the doc darlings of this year’s Sundance festival, also got its theatrical release this week. The film earned a critic’s pick from Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, who said of Bendjelloul, “Using a well-balanced mix of talking-head interviews, archival imagery and some dreamy animated sequences, Mr. Bendjelloul builds a narrative that simultaneously moves in two seemingly opposite if complementary directions.” And writing for the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Kaufman profiled SUGAR MAN producer Simon Chinn, who has also found success producing some other big budget docs, including MAN ON WIRE and THE IMPOSTER.
Realsceen’s Adam Benzine got ahold of some early news regarding the Toronto International FIlm Festival’s doc selections, reporting that the fest would host THE STORIES WE TELL by Sarah Polley, about the treatment of narratives within families, and THE SECRET DISCO REVOLUTION by Jamie Kastner, about, well, disco. Benzine later reported that Shola Lynch’s doc FREE ANGELA & ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS about Angela Davis would be given a gala world premiere at TIFF, and that Liz Garbus’s LOVE, MARILYN would also premiere there at a gala screening.
In distro news, Magnolia Pictures picked up A PLACE AT THE TABLE, a doc about the hunger crisis in the U.S. by directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush. And in debut news, Spike Lee’s upcoming doc about the Michael Jackson album Bad, BAD 25, has secured its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. New docs by Jonathan Demme and Michael Mann were also set to premiere at Venice.
POV hosted a twitter chat with THE LIGHT IN HER EYES directors Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer, who fielded questions on what it was like making a doc in the Middle East. The film, about a religious leader in Syria, is available for viewing on POV’s website until August 19.
At the What Not To Doc blog, Basil Tsiokos provided a roundup of the docs screening at the NewFest, which runs from July 27-31 at Lincoln Center in NYC. This year marks the first that the festival has partnered with the Los Angeles-based Outfest in its programming.
Christopher Campbell at the Documentary Channel blog sat down with THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES director Lauren Greenfield for a conversation that touched on Greenfield’s photography background, the nature of schadenfreude and dealing with angry documentary subjects.
Director Roger Ross Williams (MUSIC BY PRUDENCE) kept notes on his experience workshopping his new film GOD LOVES UGANDA at the Sundance Documentary and Story Edit lab, and was good enough to share them with Filmmaker Magazine.
The Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Vimeo account saw some activity this week, after the festival posted a host of videos taken from its festival held earlier this year. Among those videos posted were masterclasses with MAN ON WIRE director James Marsh, THE INTERRUPTERS director Steve James, and legendary director Albert Maysles, among several others.
The throwback machine uncovered a July 7 post by Melbourne International Film Festival curator Dan Edwards penned for Senses of Cinema on China’s digital documentary movement, made up of filmmakers who operate outside of the state-sanctioned media creation system.
Writer Michael Sicinski surveyed the body of work turned out by Austrian documentarian Nikolaus Geyrhalter for online magazine Notebook , focusing somewhat on his film ABENLAND,which focuses its attention to some degree on both the nocturnal and the surveillance state.
GLAAD’s blog reported on July 23 that the doc BRIDEGROOM from director Linda Bloodworth-Thomason had broken the Kickstarter funding record for a film, bringing in $384,375 in 30 days. The film is about the same sex couple Tom Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Cone, and the struggles faced by Cone in dealing with a government and family that refused to acknowledge their relationship following Bridegroom’s accidental death.
Flavorwire on July 24 tallied a list of 25 must-see music docs, drawing heavily on films focusing on the music of the 1960s, but also noted neo-classic Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and gave a nod to Michael Rappaport’s BEATS RYHMES AND LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST.
Writing for the Times, Ruth La Ferla examined Timothy Greenfield-Sanders new film ABOUT FACE: THE SUPERMODELS THEN AND NOW, which looks at models’ response to the inexorable march of time. The film is set to be broadcast on HBO on July 30.
Lance Acord, who has worked as a DP for both Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola, was named the director of the remake of the 2009 Marshall Curry doc RACING DREAM. Although this will be Acord’s first time directing a feature, he has already helmed a number of commercials.
This week, Chris Russo at The Post Lab talked with editor Philip Harrison about cutting the film VITO, a profile of gay rights activist Vito Russo. The film premiered on HBO on July 23.
Back in early July, Connor Crosby of EditingWhiz asked his Twitter followers for tips on editing a documentary, and the recommendations came pouring in.
Christopher Campbell noted the passing of Herb Vogel, the former postal worker and art collector who, along with his wife Dorothy, was profiled in the 2008 film HERB & DOROTHY. Campbell also noted the passing of former astronaut Sally Ride, the first woman in space, who also happened to executive produce a documentary about a toy-making competition.
The Third Coast International Audio Festival recently named the winners of its 2012 ShortDocs Challenge, which gave participants a list of constraints and then set them loose to produce short audio docs.
At the Documentary Television site, Peter Hamilton wrote a post about the geographical distribution of producers working in nonfiction television. Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles as New York City dominated as the home of the majority of producers
Michael Murie of Filmmaker Magazine took a look at some of the new camera technology filtering out. Murie zeroed in on the Canon EOS M, one of a rash of CMOS sensor cameras that dispense with an SLR’s mirrorbox, making the shooting of video much easier.
The International Documnetary Film Festival Amsterdam awarded its inaugural Worldview Awards to Riaan Hendricks and Neil Brandt’s THE DEVIL’S LAIR, and Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman’s LOGS OF WAR. The films were identified for the awards as a result of the Doc Circle Pitch at the Durban FilmMart, the largest coproduction market in Africa.
Christopher Campbell has this week’s theatrical releases, which include the aforementioned AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY and SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, as well as Fredrik Gertten’s BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*