The International Documentary Association (IDA) this week announced that it was scrapping its DocuWeeks program in favor of a new Screening Series in response to recent changes in the rules regarding how doc films could qualify for an Oscar nomination. As Steve Pond of The Wrap reported, the new series will take place between September and January. The organization was still working out the details of how it would select films for the new series.
The Silverdocs Documentary Festival is also no more, having been rechristened the AFI Docs Film Festival, and will expand its screening locations from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post had the details.
Mike Thomas of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Illinois Department of Revenue had denied storied doc film production organization Kartemquin Films exemption from sales tax, based on the rationale that the organization was guilty of “making and selling propaganda DVDs.” The ruling led to some understandable head scratching by Dana Harris of Indiewire, as well as a writer at The Documentary Site.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of BITTER SEEDS, a film by Micha Peled that looks at the ramifications of the corporatization of farming practices all over the globe. The film is screening on Tuesday April 16 at 8pm at the IFC Center in Manhattan, and Peled will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.
Writing for the New York Times, Michael Kamber penned a great piece on late photojournalist Tim Hetherington and the new Sebastian Junger Film that memorializes him, WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? THE LIFE AND TIME OF TIM HETHERINGTON. At the Los Angeles Times, Robert Abele also wrote a capsule review for the film.
Over at Forbes Magazine, filmmaker Julia Bacha shared her thoughts on the potential impact of documentary films, using her own work BUDRUS as a case study. On a related note, a coalition of groups an organizations, among them the Bay Area Video Coalition, released a free Impact Playbook intended to help filmmakers and other media creators understand the potential impact of their work. Abigail Maravalli at American University’s Center for Social Media reported on its release.
Reflections on the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival continued to hit the web this week. At Indiewire, Sean Farnel issued his latest missive regarding fair trade for filmmakers at festivals, recapping a panel discussion on the issue held at Full Frame. Robert Silva interviewed Farnel in order to understand the impetus for his new campaign. Also at Indiewire Silva wrote up a list of five things he learned in Durham, North Carolina. Chuck Tryon had a series of three dispatches on the festival for Filmmaker Magazine, which you can find here. And Marianna Torgovnick of the TED talks blog listed nine films from the festival that she thought were must-sees.
Basil Tsiokos kept himself busy at his What (Not) to Doc blog this week, turning out documentary overviews for the Tribeca Film Festival, New Zealand’s Documentary Edge Festival and the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.
A nice selection of filmmaker interviews were published this week. At the Neon Tommy website, filmmaker Debbie Lum was interviewed by Shakio Liu about her new film SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE and the fetishization of Asian women. The Independent Lens blog spoke with WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES director Kristy Guevara Flanagan.
Rachel Aloy of the Independent Lens blog interviewed Alan Spearman about his beautiful short AS I AM. At Filmmaker Magazine, Lauren Wissot interviewed THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA director Marten Persiel. And this time writing for Global Comment, Wissot also chatted with HERMAN’S HOUSE director Angad Singh Bhalla.
Back at Filmmaker Magazine, Scott Macaulay talked with musician Kathleen Hanna, director Sini Anderson and producer Tamra Davis about the THE PUNK SINGER, which follows Hanna’s life. If that’s not enough for you, Indiewire has a whole host of short interviews with directors screening work at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.
Writing for Film School Rejects, Christopher Campbell reviewed THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA, which may or may not be a documentary. And at the Documentary Channel blog, Campbell had a round-up of the week’s documentary news. Campbell also wrote about this week’s theatrical releases for the Doc Channel website, which included THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA and AMERICAN MEAT. Campbell and David Walber also issued the second The Realness podcast, which addresses the film FREE ANGELA & ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS as well as the practice of narrative remakes of documentary films.
For those curious about the latter film, Nicolas Rapold wrote a review for the New York Times, calling AMERICAN MEAT “inelegantly titled,” but “plainly and persistently presented.”
David Edelstein yesterday wrote a piece about how documentary seems to dominate the current cinematic zeitgeist, breaking the genre down into 17 sub-categories.
At Indiewire, director-cum-critic Robert Greene wrote a great piece about the issues related to film criticism raised by the Rodney Ascher film ROOM 237. And writing for Indiewire’s Press Play blog, Kevin B. Lee wrote about the continued conversation surrounding the film, focusing on its use of footage from THE SHINING.
In this week’s Docutopia post, Anthony Kaufman remembered the lasting effect that the late film critic Roger Ebert had on documentary films.
Joe Leydon unearthed a 1982 interview he had conducted with the late filmmaker Les Blank and published it on his Moving Picture Blog this week.
The Film Stage’s Danny King wrote a review of Sarah Polley’s film STORIES WE TELL, finding it “an exquisite, elegant rebuke to the standards that define so many of our most popular filmic narratives.” And at Artfuse, Gerald Peary reviewed RICKY ON LEACOCK, Jane Weiner’s film on direct cinema pioneer Richard Leacock.
Bryce J. Renninger of Indiewire profield the MIT Open Doc Lab, examining the research surrounding storytelling conducted by its staff members. And the MIT Doc Lab itself interviewed Brett Gaylor of Mozilla in the latest installment of its digital storytelling series for Filmmaker Magazine.
For those interested in the POV Hackathon, I interviewed Director of Digital Adnaan Wasey back in August 2012 following the first hackathon for the POV blog.
In a piece for the Independent Film Project site, Marc Schiller made the case for why filmmakers need to start acting like rock stars if they’re interested in getting paid.
i-Docs noted that the latest issue of the Australia-based Journal of Studies in Documentary Film focused on, uh, i-Docs.
At the Sundance’s Artists Services site, Orly Ravid shared some helpful tips on how to navigate digital distribution.
And for the web-inclined, the POV blog published this helpful guide to compressing video for use with HTML 5.