Doc news this week was dominated by the release of the names of the fifteen documentary features named to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Oscar award shortlist. Peter Knegt of Indiewire tallied the list, and soon enough people from around the doc world were weighing on on who made the list, and who might have been left off. An added layer of interest was added as this was the first doc shortlist announced since the documentary branch of the Academy changed its rules, ostensibly to help films made with a theatrical release in mind.
At the What (Not) to Doc blog, Basil Tsiokos pointed to capsule reviews that he had done of most of the shortlisted films. Writing for the New York Times, Melena Ryzek weighed in on the list, as did Dan Schnidel at Screenpicks. At the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell assessed whether the doc rule changes had worked, while Tom Roston also reviewed the list. The DocGeeks blog did us the favor of rounding up available trailers for the films on the shortlist, while the team at Realscreen gathered interviews it had conducted with seven of the shortlisted filmmakers over the past year.
In other Oscar news, Kay Shackleton reported that documentary filmmaker pioneer D.A. Pennebaker was given an honorary Oscar award on Dec. 2 at the 2012 Governors Awards. Huffington Post writer Allan M. Jalon got a chance to speak with the living legend on his career and recent award. Thomas White also covered the awards for the International Documentary Association (IDA) website.
The New York Film Critics Circle also issued its awards this week, with David France’s HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE winning the best first film award, and THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon winning the best documentary feature award. And Adam Benzine of Realscreen reported on wins for Malik Bendjelloul’s SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN and THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE from the National Board of Review.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN continued to rack up accolades at the International Documentary Association (IDA) awards, winning the best doc of 2012 award, as Greg Kidday of The Hollywood Reporter noted. Steve Pond of The Wrap also covered the awards.
A variety of year-end lists started to pour out this week. First, the POV blog published the results of its poll on the “greatest” documentaries of all time, with the Maysles Brothers classic GREY GARDENS topping the list, followed by PARIS IS BURNING by Jennie Livingston and then Steve James’ HOOP DREAMS. Albert Maysles himself responded to the poll results in a short quote.
Jennifer Merin of About.com also rounded up a list of the best docs of 2012, while the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) did the same for docs from Canada. Writing for Indiewire, Sean Farnel took a different tack by highlighting films he hoped would not be overlooked in 2013.
Filmmaker Caveh Zahedi also stirred up a debate this week, after he released a video alleging that his film THE SHEIK AND I had been “blacklisted” by STF Artistic Director Thom Powers. Powers rebutted those claims in a post on this website which you can read here. At Filmmaker Magazine, Scott Macaulay wrote a piece about his own exchanges with Powers and Zahedi on the issue. Film writer Eric Kohn also wrote of his exchanges with with the pair in a piece for Indiewire. Zahedi also later responded to Powers’ rebuttal with his own, which he posted on his blog.
Anthony Kaufman’s Docutopia post this week focuses the themes of innocnece in the films ONLY THE YOUNG by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims and TCHOUPITOULAS by brothers Turner and Bill Ross. Both films got a significant bit of press this week, probably owing to a theatrical run by both that started at the IFC Center on Friday. At the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell posted an interview with the Turner brothers and posted an exclusive clip from the film. Mims and Tippet were also interviewed by a few outlets this week, including by Karen Kemmerle at the Tribeca Film Institute blog, Christopher Campbell (this time writing for the Film School Rejects site), and Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail.
The POV blog also provided a handy list of tips for filmmakers looking to pitch their projects to funders.
At the New York Times, A.O. Scott bestowed a coveted Critic’s Pick on the Jay Bulger biopic BEWARE OF MR. Baker in a film review.
Back at Filmmaker Magazine, Esther Yi interviewed director Joshua Z. Weinstein on his film DRIVERS WANTED, which follows several New York City taxi drivers.
Maria Goodavage of the Independent Lens blog wrote up a list of seven books that inspired popular documentaries.
Angelica Das of the Center for Social Media at American University wrote up coverage of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and specifically of the festival’s Interactive Conference.
And finally, the European Documentary Network interviewed Ingrid Kopp, director of digital initiatives for the Tribeca Film Institute.
That does it for this week, but please email tips and recommendations here, or send them via Twitter to @GuerrillaFace. Thanks, and have a great week everyone.