Monday Memo: Sundance Institute Announces Documentary Edit and Story Lab Projects


It will be a busy week for film festival goers, with New York’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest and the long running Sydney Film Festival all having begun late last week and running though the end of this weekend. Basil Tsiokos outlined the new non-fiction offerings for each festival over at his What (not) To Doc blog, just as Joshua Brunsting previewed the films at the 28th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Tom Roston spoke with the festival’s senior programmer, Leah Sapin, about this year’s curatorial focus on empowerment for Salon. Writing for The Star, Graham Walker listed twenty things to see and do this year at Sheffield Doc/Fest, while Matt Turner looked at how a trio of docs are challenging the narrative around the Syria crisis for Little White Lies. Covering the Sydney Film Festival, the fine folks at 4:3 have already published Ivan Čerečina‘s review of AUSTERLITZ and Anders Furze‘s take on KING OF THE BELGIANS.

Last Thursday, the Sundance Institute “announced the eight projects selected for its annual Documentary Edit and Story Labs, taking place in two sessions at the Sundance Resort in Utah from June 23-July 1 and July 7-15.” Projects selected include IMPEACHMENT by Brazilian director Petra Costa and editor Jordana Berg, and PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE by director Hao Wu and editor Nanfu Wang. IndieWire’s Kate Erbland dissected the announcement, noting that projects “explore such timely themes as modern day lynchings, the Dakota Access Pipeline, impeachment, immigration detention centers, and more.” Looking back at the Sundance Documentary Film Program and the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship’s 3rd annual Contemplating the Cut series, which took place back at the beginning of April, Colin Nusbaum outlined his tips and takeaways for doc editors over at the POV Blog.

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Monday Memo: UNDER THE GUN Defamation Charges Dismissed as LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD Hit Theaters


It seems that the industry is still recouping from its Cannes getaway, as this week was unsettlingly quiet on the news front. New York’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival is set to begin this Friday, as Andy Webster noted in his preview of the programming on offer in The New York Times. Meanwhile, two other enticing documentary film festivals are currently in motion. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos looked at the new nonfiction on offer in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa at the Encounters Documentary Festival, as well as those being screened at SF DocFest in San Francisco, both of which run through mid-June.

It is with great pride that tomorrow we close out our 2017 Spring Season at the IFC Center with Jeff Orlowski’s breathtaking CHASING CORAL with the director himself in attendance to present the film. The screening is sold out, but a limited number of tickets may be released to the rush-line, 15 minutes before showtime.

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Monday Memo: Agnès Varda & J.R.’s VISAGES, VILLAGES Wins L’Œil d’or at Cannes


Just two days prior to our THE GLEANERS AND I screening at IFC Center in celebration of Agnès Varda’s 89th birthday (tomorrow – featuring a live Q&A with Varda fan and fellow filmmaker Kirsten Johnson), the tireless film essayist, along with her newfound friend in French street artist J.R., has won the third L’Œil d’or (Golden Eye Award) for best documentary for VISAGES, VILLAGES. The film has garnered quite a critical response thus far, with Owen Gleiberman proclaiming this week that “she’s the world’s most ageless filmmaker,” raising the bar from her previous thrift-shop docs THE GLEANERS AND I and THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS, At Film Comment, Amy Taubin concurred, “In her magnificent, groundbreaking, nearly 60-year career, this is one of her most profoundly personal and exuberantly populist works.”

As Cannes wrapped up, the IndieWire staff listed their top 10 films of the festival and included VISAGES, VILLAGES among them. Two other docs made the cut – Eugene Jarecki’s THE PROMISED LAND, and Emmanuel Gras’ MAKALA, which received a L’Œil d’or special mention and won the Critics’ Week Nespresso Grand Prize. Sarah Ward of Screen Daily admired Jarecki’s film, noting that “It’s an engaging, informative and impassioned journey,” while both Boyd van Hoeij of The Hollywood Reporter and IndieWire’s Michael Nordine felt a bit lukewarm on Gras’. Meanwhile, Wendy Mitchell covered “a Cannes Doc Day panel of documentary experts discussing the challenges and opportunities of making non-fiction films in the ‘post-truth’ era” for Screen Daily.

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Monday Memo: Three Big New Titles In Development on Manning, Welles & Trump


Few weeks come with so many surprising, exciting and, well, BIG announcements in the realm of documentary production. Just as Cannes was kicking off, news broke that Oscar winner Morgan Neville would be heading a new feature length doc for Netflix on the final 15 years of Orson Welles and his long in the works final project, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. The announcement comes in the wake of other exciting Welles related news, as earlier this year Netflix announced its commitment to funding the final completion of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, and just a month later a collection of “letters, postcards, diaries and doodles from a teenage Orson Welles, along with unpublished scripts of his many incomplete projects from the ’50s and ’60” were acquired by the University of Michigan from his youngest daughter, Beatrice Welles, for its extensive Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection.

The following day, The Hollywood Reporter’s Tatiana Siegel broke the news that Michael Moore and Harvey Weinstein have reteamed to bring the world FAHRENHEIT 11/9, “a palindromic bookend” to their Palme d’Or winning, top-grossing documentary of all time, FAHRENHEIT 9/11. A day later, just as Chelsea Manning was finally to be released from a maximum-security U.S. military prison, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland reported that Tim Travers Hawkins would be teaming up with Pulse Films, as well as executive producers Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook, to direct CHELSEA XY, a feature length doc on “the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman”.

For the second week in a row, we here at Stranger Than Fiction have a double header on our hands this week. Tomorrow at IFC Center, director Errol Morris and subject Elsa Dorfman will be on hand for a Q&A following a screening of their film THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY, while on the following day we return for a Wednesday Night special screening of COMPANY TOWN, with directors Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow in attendance for another live Q&A.

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Monday Memo: AFI DOCS Announces 2017 Lineup, STF Alum GET ME ROGER STONE Debuts on Netflix


A week has passed since the curtains closed on Hot Docs 2017, but coverage of the festival continues to roll in. Both Anthony Kaufman and Anne Thompson reported on the twenty projects that were proposed to funders and broadcasters at the Hot Docs Pitch Forum for IndieWire, noting their favorite projects of prior iterations (STRONG ISLAND, BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY) and promising projects from this year’s edition (Elan and Jonathan Bogarín’s 306 HOLLYWOOD, Robert Greene’s BISBEE ’17), while Corey Atad‘s festival dispatch turned up at Vice and my report on the under-covered highlights of the festival was published over at Nonfics.

Tel Aviv’s19th annual Docaviv and Ecuador’s EDOC (Encuentros del Otro Cine) are both currently underway, as Basil Tsiokos reminds at What (not) To Doc, but stateside doc lovers have their attention focused on the fact that AFI DOCS (running June 14-18) and the LA Film Festival (June 14-22) have revealed their 2017 lineups. Meanwhile on the other side of the globe, the Sydney Film Festival (running June 7-18) also announced their 2017 program.

After taking home the Special Jury Prize for inspirational documentary filmmaking, Amanda Lipitz’s STEP is getting a sneak peak screening tomorrow at IFC Center as part of our spring season! Director Lipitz will be on hand for a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets for the event are on sale here.

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