Early in December there is always an avalanche of awards and lists and festival announcements and more, so it’s no surprise that at the top of this week’s news is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released it’s shortlist of the 15 films still in the running for the Oscar for Best Documentary. Cara Buckley highlighted the racially and politically driven focus of this year’s shortlisters for The New York Times, while Christopher Campbell outlined where can find all 15 films over at Nonfics. The 32nd annual IDA Documentary Awards also took place this past week, with Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA winning Best Feature, Orlando von Einsiedel’s THE WHITE HELMETS winning Best Short, and Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s MAKING A MURDERER taking home Best Limited Series. Additionally, IDA published a lengthy interview with its Amicus Award Honorees, Norman and Lyn Lear. Other award news included the European Film Academy naming Gianfranco Rosi’s FIRE AT SEA as the Best European Documentary at the European Film Awards over the weekend, and Cinema Eye Honors naming their immensely diverse 2017 Heterodox Award nominees in ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, THE FITS, KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE, MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART, and NEON BULL.
Adding to the chorus of praise that is awards season, a whole host of best of lists turned up over the last week, each with their own nonfiction infusion. The staffers over at The New York Times, Vulture, Slant and IndieWire, each published their’s. Included between the lists was NO HOME MOVIE, WEINER, CAMERAPERSON, HOMELAND: IRAQ YEAR ZERO, and of course, O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, amongst others.
Just a week after Sundance dropped its competition linup, its Premieres section has been revealed and features new work from Lucy Walker, Barbara Kopple, Stanley Nelson, Rory Kennedy and more. Shortly thereafter, the Documentary Shorts were also announced. On the opposite coast, the Tribeca Film Festival hired former SVP of acquisitions and productions at Alchemy, Jeff Deutchman as its new Programmer at Large, according to Graham Winfrey of IndieWire. And Basil Tsiokos looked at the new nonfiction offerings of this year’s Dubai International Film Festival, while Leo Goldsmith looked back at his experience at Doclisboa for Film Comment.
Theatrically, it was a relatively quiet week, with only Pietro Marcello’s hybrid-doc LOST AND BEAUTIFUL making any real impact. The project turned up in Film Comment as Jonathan Romney‘s Film of the Week, receiving an extensive feature, as well as in The New York Times as a NYT Critics’ Pick via A.O. Scott. Raoul Peck’s magnificent I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was praised by Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com as a film that captures how James Baldwin saw and wrote about the world “with imagination, sensitivity, and passion tempered by sorrow.” Over at 4:3, Jeremy Elphick spoke with director George Gittoes about his film SNOW MONKEY. Across the pond, LIFE, ANIMATED has arrived in theaters, garnering positive press from Ewan Cameron in Little White Lies and an extensive feature from BFI via Nikki Baughan. At The Talkhouse, Lou Pepe, director of THE BAD KIDS and co-director of LOST IN LA MANCHA, shared what he loves most about doc filmmaking.
Set for small screens everywhere, PBS’s Independent Lens announces their 2016-2017 season, beginning Monday, December 26th with MEET THE PATELS and wrapping up Monday, June 19th with REAL BOY. The full schedule can be found here.
The Columbia Journalism Review published a must read piece by Judith Matloff bluntly titled, “Documentary filmmakers fear more legal challenges in Trump era.” Reporting on the coming release of ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE, Daniel Glassman runs along similarly worrisome journalistic themes in is feature in POV Magazine. While filmmakers will surely be carefully considering their decisions in the near future, 2016 Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellow Eileen Meyer‘s final piece of advice on documentary editing at the POV Blog will surely come in handy.
Lastly, Realscreen’s Daniele Alcinii reports that Kickstarter has promoted its former documentary outreach lead, Liz Cook, to the post of director of documentary film in an effort to have her “work with filmmakers and content creators to build communities of support and bring projects to life via the funding platform.” Until next week, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.