The DOC NYC Festival, which runs Nov. 8-15 in New York City, announced its lineup, which features a nice mix of films, premieres and panels, with a number of filmmakers and other special guests in attendance. The festival kicks off Thursday, Nov. 8 with two gala events, a screening of the film ARTIFACT with subject and actor/musician Jared Leto in attendance, as well as a screening of the film VENUS AND SERENA, which follows the famous tennis-playing Williams sisters. Head to www.docnyc.net to check out the festival’s full lineup and purchase tickets, and follow the fest’s Twitter account at @DOCNYCfest.
It doesn’t look like the debate over the new Oscar doc rules is ending anytime soon, although it’s starting to take on the tenor of a tempest in a teapot (alliteration!). Interestingly, the debate seems to reflect the fact that a film made to screen solely in a theater increasingly seems like an anachronism (or at the very least, a poor business decision). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) seemed to take note of the problems facing its documentary branch members this year, sending out a note indicating that it had extended its voting period from to Nov. 26, from Nov. 14. At Variety, John Weisman wondered if the rule changes were an improvement or a stumbling block. Writing for Indiewire, Anthony Kaufman took aim at filmmaker Michael Moore, one of the forces behind the rules changes, for hampering indie doc makers. Deadline’s Pete Hammond had a lengthy take on the issue, talking with Moore about further changes to the process that could occur. Steve Pond at TheWrap.com reported yesterday that Moore had proposed to eliminate the documentary rules completely.
Maybe somewhat lost in all the noise was the fact that the Academy released the names of eight films included in its shortlist of short docs being considered for an Oscar. Christopher Campbell at the Documentary Channel blog gave the films a once-over.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting BROTHERS ON THE LINE by director Sasha Reuther on Tuesday, Oct. 16. This acclaimed documentary feature explores the extraordinary journey of the Reuther brothers–prolific labor statesman whose crusade for social justice, under the banner of the United Auto Workers union, transformed the landscape of a nation. Tickets for the 8 pm screening have already sold out, but an additional screening has been added at 6 pm. Info and tickets can be found here. Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times wrote a piece about the history explored in the film, as well as the reasons Reuther was inspired to make the doc.
CNN made news this week with an announcement that it was launching a feature docs division.Adam Benzine of Realscreen reported that CNN had already signed a development deal with Alex Gibney to create new content for the channel. At the New York Times, Brooks Barnes noted that CNN had already acquired one film, GIRL RISING, by Richard E. Robbins. CNN also reportedly had plans to start shopping around for films at festivals in the near future.
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) this week put the entire lineup for its 2012 iteration online, and Bryce Renninger at Indiewire had the details. This year the festival, which runs Nov. 14-25, placed 16 films in competition for the best documentary award. Kevin Ritchie of Realscreen reported that WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE by director John Appel would kick off the festival.
Doc fiending denizens of New York City rejoiced this week upon news that the Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) was set to begin construction of a documentary-only theater in Chinatown. Jay A. Fernandez of Indiewire reported that the new theater was slated to have 73 seats and sport 4k digital projection technology. (Although I, for one, hope they also manage to hire someone who can screen actual film for repertory docs.) And the news lead Christopher Campbell to bemoan his mistimed move from New York City at the Doc Channel blog.
New York City’s media making institutions were also bolstered this week by the announcement that the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) was going to open a “Made in New York” Media Center featuring resources for both filmmakers and those interested in new media. In fact, new media seems to be a focus of the center’s plans; it will feature a “transmedia incubator” intended to help projects finding new ways to tell stories. You can check out the new center’s websitehere.
The POV blog had an incredibly active week. First, Tom Roston made his case for why Antonio D’Ambrosio’s LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR was a film worth watching. Roston followed that up with a post on storied NYC media arts center DCTV, which officially made the announcement on its new theater at a 49th anniversary celebration. Adam Schartoff continued the blog’s output with an interview with Ron Simon, curator of the PaleyDocFest2012.
The blog also played host to a recap of a Twitter chat with Michael Collins, director of the film GIVE UP TOMORROW. Also, Heather McIntosh had the second installment of her documentation of a visit paid to Chicago-based doc production house Kartemquin Films, where she got an up close look at an old-school crystal sync camera—the technology that arguably birthed cinema verite. And finally, POV Digital Director Adnaan Wasey shared with us the latest version of its best documentaries of 2012 rundown, with THE LAW IN THESE PARTS by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz topping the list.
On his blog, Henry Jenkins shared a conversation between Ellen Seiter and Patricia Aufderheide, both figures in educating filmmakers and other artists about their rights concerning fair use footage and other materials—a necessary read for artists interested in fair use principles. The conversation’s saliency was proved when filmmaker Jordan Boschman posted online some exchanges he had with Audrey Ewell, one of the producers behind 99%: THE OCCUPY WALL STREET COLLABORATIVE FILM. The give and take is long, but a fascinating read in which Boschman spells out the fair use principles underpinning his use of footage with great thought and in substantial detail. (h/t Tim Horsburgh)
At the PBS Mediashift blog, Amanda Hirsch got an opportunity to talk to some of the minds behind the incredibly successful social media campaign recently carried off by the HALF THE SKY project.
Anne Thompson of Indiewire took some time to examine the distro model employed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing for their recent film DETROPIA. Following a screening at Sundance, the pair had some interest from a few established distributors, but decided to roll the dice and try to forge their own path. The results of their efforts are still unclear, according to Ewing. But their approach makes for a great read.
Also writing for Indiewire, Alec Kubas-Meyer considered the influence that YouTube aesthetics have had in documentary film, using LEVIATHAN Lucien Castaing-Taylor Véréna Paravel and ROOM 237 by Rodney Ascher as the basis for his claim.
Basil Tsiokos of the What Not to Doc blog has a great overview of docs screened at the New Orleans Film Festival, which runs Oct. 11-18 and is overseen by its very capable executive director, Jolene Pinder.
This week the PaleyDocFest is playing host to an interactive screening of STF regular Jonathan Goodman Levitt’s FOLLOW THE LEADER, to take place on Oct. 16 at 6:30 pm, followed by a reception. The event will allow audience members to vote in real-time during an episodic viewing of the film. You can find tickets here, and use the discount code “Changeworx” for a 50% reduction in price. Memo readers can also take advantage of a few free tickets by emailing email@example.com with the subject line “STF MONDAY MEMO/FREE TICKETS for FTL:RCI at PALEY DOCFEST” by Monday night with the names of members of their party.
Noel Murray of The Onion’s A.V. Club considered whether documentaries needed to be fair in their depiction of an issue, adding that he judged docs largely on their aspirations. “If they’re narrative-based, I’m interested in how well they tell the story. If they’re abstract and arty, I consider the imagery and the rhythm more. If they’re personal, I look for passion and insight. And if they’re issue docs, I want sound journalism,” he wrote.
Doc distributor Icarus Films sent out a notice about the U.S. premiere of Shoei Imamura’s A MAN VANISHES at Anthology Film Archives, along with details on screenings of five of his lesser-seen films in the U.S. All of the screenings take place Nov. 15-21.
Director Till Schauder wrote for Moviemaking Magazine a piece on the making of his doc THE IRAN JOB, a film that follows U.S. basketball player Kevin Sheppard’s efforts to play roundball in Iran. The film currently has a run in NYC’s IFC Center for those who are interested.
In his weekly Docutopia post, Anthony Kaufman wrote about the personal documentary’s approach to the past and memory, using directors Ross McElwee and Alan Berliner as his prime examples.
Sarah Polley’s latest film, THE STORIES WE TELL, earned a review from the editor of Canada’s POV Magazine, Marc Glassman. Cassandra Szklarski of the Canadian Press wire service also reviewed the film, which has gotten a warm reception at festivals for its complicated approach.
The HotDocs Fieldnotes blog had an interview with Angad Bhalla, director of the film HERMAN’S HOUSE, which started a run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Oct. 12.
Over at the Independent Lens blog, director Brad Lichtenstein talked about the influence that directors Robert Altman, Frederick Wiseman and George Stoney had on his latest film, AS GOES JANESVILLE.
With Ben Affleck’s new film ARGO hitting theaters this weekend, Christopher Campbell took an opportunity to profile the film SCIENCE FICTION LAND, a documentary film about the film behind the film. (Campbell does a much better job of explaining this.)