It’s that magical time of year when film lovers the world over descend upon Park City for the annual Sundance Film Festival. As you’d expect, there is a ton of coverage coming across the wire, so I’ll list some highlights rather than collecting everything here. Before things even really got rolling, the festival’s box office was hacked Saturday afternoon, shutting down ticket sales for a period of about an hour reports Variety. The busy bodies at IndieWire posted a page with every link to all the coverage they’re publishing throughout the festival, as did the folks over at Fandor’s Keyframe. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times and Jim Brunzell of Hammer to Nail both wrote previews of the festival, noting doc films throughout. At No Film School, Oakley Anderson-Moore reported on how and why documentary filmmakers at Sundance are using VR. And in the latest episode of Pure Nonfiction, Thom Powers interviewed veteran sales agent Josh Braun, who runs Submarine Entertainment, about what its like being right down in the thick of things at Sundance.
Christopher Campbell of Nonfics has already logged a trio of doc reviews: IN LOCO PARENTIS, THE WORKERS CUP and TROPHY. Variety’s Dave McNary reports that Matthew Heineman’s CITY OF GHOSTS has won this year’s Candescent award, which is annually presented “to a powerful social-issue film that has been supported during production by the DFP and premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.” Bradley Warren warmly reviewed Jonathan Olshefski’s POV produced QUEST for The Playlist, while David Fear wrote an extensive feature on the follow up to Al Gore’s monumental climate change doc, AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER at Rolling Stone. Bryan Fogel’s doping doc ICARUS received a pair of glowing reviews from Matt Goldberg of Collider and Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times. Realscreen published a pair of pieces in Selina Chignall‘s review of RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD and Daniele Alcinii‘s take on RISE. Lastly, Owen Gleiberman shared his analysis of OKLAHOMA CITY for Variety.
All in all, it was a solid week for female filmmakers. Much like the rest of the world, thousands of the good people in Park City took part in the Women’s March, with Chelsea Handler taking the lead, says Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post.. Eric Hynes, Dana Kendall and Jeremy Kinser reported on the happening for Sundance itself. The week began with The Center for Investigative Reporting announcing “the launch of Glassbreaker Films, a new film studio ‘intended to support and empower women in documentary filmmaking, reports Casey Cipriani of Women and Hollywood.’” Additionally, according to Laura Berger, also of Women and Hollywood, Chicken & Egg Pictures announced that “the recipients of this year’s Breakthrough Filmmaker Award are Geeta Gandbhir (PRISON DOGS), Kirsten Johnson (CAMERAPERSON), Penny Lane (NUTS!), Grace Lee (AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS), and Dawn Porter (TRAPPED).” Shortly thereafter, Kate Erbland of IndieWire reported that Seed&Spark “has announced its brand new #100DaysOfDiversity initiative, billed as ‘a movement joining creators, audiences, brands, festivals and organizations to actively increase representation in entertainment in 100 days.’” Plus, The New York Times wrote a brief feature for a Guardian doc short titled RADICAL BROWNIES, about “a youth group for activist girls of color,” which is now available to stream for free.
In other festival news, the lineup for 17th Edition of Film Comment Selects was announced via Film Linc and features a pair of docs in VOYAGE OF TIME and ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. Looking back, Nick Davis wrote a festival wrap-up for the Chicago International Film Festival which also featured a handful of non-fiction titles.
A week and a half ago, director Hugh Gibson received the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2016 Rogers Best Canadian Film award at the annual TFCA Awards Gala for his debut feature THE STAIRS, but in an act of Canadian comradeship, decided to split the $100,000 prize between himself and the other two nominees, Kazik Radwanski (HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER) and Matt Johnson (OPERATION AVALANCHE).
Other cash awarded this past week came in the form of grants via Rooftop Films, whom selected Robert Greene and Kirsten Johnson, among other filmmakers, to receive cash prizes from Rooftop Films. “Greene will be awarded a monetary grant of $15,000 to help finish his new film, BISBEE ’17, and Johnson will receive a $10,000 grant to support her upcoming film, DEADPAN,” according to Brent Lang of Variety. While BBC Scotland filmmakers are suffering from lack of funds, writes Julia Horton of The Times, Robert Mitchell of Variety reports that BBC proper “has formed a partnership with nonprofit organization BRITDOC Foundation to fund up to four documentaries a year.”
It was a rather quiet week theatrically, with most pieces pertaining to previous big screen or new small screen releases. Calum Marsh and Neil Bahadur debated Jonathan Demme’s JT + THE TENNESSEE KIDS over at MUBI’s Notebook, Mark Dujsik covered the domestic release of Luc Jacquet’s ANTARCTICA: ICE & FIRE for RogerEbert.com, and at Doc Soup, Tom Roston debated the merits of the YouTube based feature FRAUD. Ethan Anderton also helped break the news at /Film that James Cameron is teaming with AMC to produce a documentary series on the history of science fiction.
I’ll send you off into your first week under President Trump with two morsels to chew on: Alex Winter’s new Field of Vision short TRUMP’S LOBBY and an outline of 11 docs about immigrants everyone should watch, published by Huffington Post by Carolina Moreno. As always, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.