Monday Memo: JANE Tops Critics’ Choice Doc Awards as IDA & BIFA Noms Drop


Award season rolls on! Thursday evening saw the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association announce the winners of the second annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards with Brett Morgen’s JANE being named Best Documentary, while Evgeny Afineevsky and Frederick Wiseman were co-honored with Best Director for CRIES FOR SYRIA and EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, respectively. Ceyda Torun’s debut feature KEDI won Best First Documentary, as Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s THE VIETNAM WAR took home Best Documentary Series.

In tandem with the Critics’ Choice Doc Awards, the International Documentary Association named its nominations for the 2017 IDA Awards, with Matthew Heineman’s CITY OF GHOSTS, Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles’s DINA, Agnès Varda and JR’s FACES PLACES, Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s LA 92, and Yance Ford’s STRONG ISLAND all up for Best Documentary. The British Independent Film Awards also unveiled their own nominations this past week. Those up for Best Documentary include Aaron Brookner’s UNCLE HOWARD, Carol Salter’s ALMOST HEAVEN, Lucy Cohen’s KINGDOM OF US, Morgan Matthews’s WILLAMS, and Daisy-May Hudson’s HALF WAY.

DOC NYC is nearing, and to celebrate they’ve been running flash sales on tickets at 5 for $5 for select films. The current sale runs through noon today. On Wednesday, the festival announced its 2017 jury members, featuring the likes of filmmakers Doug Block and Andrew Rossi, as well as Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson, Women Make Movies’s Debra Zimmerman and more.

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Monday Memo: Critics Groups Name Top Docs of 2016 While Sundance Drops 2017 Lineup


Holiday season is upon, hence why last week’s memo never materialized (that and it was a surprisingly slow doc news week). This past week however has been bustling with award season breaks, winter festival announcements and a whole host of new films available for streaming online. First off, as has become tradition following the gorging of Thanksgiving weekend, the Sundance Film Festival announced its full 2017 competition lineup, including the US Documentary Competition with new work by Brian Knappenberger, Yance Ford, Matthew Heineman and Shaul Schwarz, as well as the World Cinema Documentary Competition, featuring films by Ramona Diaz, Rahul Jain, Jiu-liang Wang and more. As we move closer to the Trump administration, both Mark Olsen of The Los Angeles Times and Brooks Barnes of The New York Times predict a politically volatile Park City program, each highlighting some obvious hot spots like Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis’s WHOSE STREETS?, which explores the violence in Ferguson, Missouri that went down in the summer of 2014. More titles will be announced shortly. And while Sundance will always overshadow its rebellious younger Park City rival, the Slamdance Film Festival also listed their lineup of eight doc features, five of which are world premieres.

Now that we are officially knee deep in December, film critics around the world are getting antsy to proclaim their picks for the best films of the year. Both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review named Ezra Edelman’s mammoth O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA the Best Documentary of the Year, while at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO pulled an upset over Edelman’s film, which was the runner-up for Best Documentary and received a nod for Best Editing. (Side note: Edelman and Peck turned up in conversation with Bryan Stevenson and Thom Powers on race, Trump and doc making in the latest episode of Pure Nonfiction.) Sight & Sound Magazine also polled a 163 critics for their year end lists, whom collectively included FIRE AT SEA, CAMERAPERSON and O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA amongst their top 26.

It’s not just critics that are naming their favorites of the year already though. The Gotham Independent Film Awards took place early last week, with O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA once again coming out on top, while across the pond the British Independent Film Awards gave their top doc prize to James Spinney and Peter Middleton’s NOTES ON BLINDNESS. Looking towards this year’s Oscars, The Hollywood Reporter’s Gregg Kilday considered whether or not this might be the year to see a non-fiction film take home the Oscar for Best Picture. Being that an abundance of similar talk fruitlessly centered around CITIZENFOUR last year, I seriously doubt it.

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Monday Memo: An Avalanche of Award Show Announcements


Light on general doc commentary and festival news, this week was instead overflowing with awards season announcements. First, the IDA Documentary Awards named their long list of nominees, with 13TH, FIRE AT SEA, O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, CAMERAPERSON, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and WEINER listed in the running for Best Feature. The following day, the Cinema Eye Honors, now in their 10th year, released their own list of nominees, with the same films up for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, minus 13TH. On Thursday evening, Ezra Edelman and Ava DuVerney came away the big winners at the inaugural Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, as O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA came away with 4 awards, including Best Documentary (Theatrical Feature) and Best Director (Theatrical Feature), and 13TH with 3 awards, including Best Documentary (TV/Streaming) and Best Director (TV/Streaming).

Across the pond, the British Independent Film Awards listed a completely different set of films with their 2016 nominees for Best Documentary – THE CONFESSION: LIVING THE WAR ON TERROR, DANCER, THE HARD STOP, NOTES ON BLINDNESS and VERSUS: THE LIFE AND FILMS OF KEN LOACH. The European Film Awards followed suit with another diverse list of nominees for Best European Documentary in 21 X NEW YORK, A FAMILY AFFAIR, MR. GAGA, S IS FOR STANLEY, THE LAND OF THE ENLIGHTENED and of course, FIRE AT SEA.

With DOC NYC on the verge of its inception, its director of programming, Basil Tsiokos, continues to preview the festival’s copious offerings at What (not) To Doc. David Morgan of CBS News also began to sift through the immense lineup, noting that “145 documentary features — nearly a record — have qualified for submission for this year’s Academy Awards. Audiences at this year’s DOC NYC Festival will find no shortage, either, with more than 250 films and events scheduled, including 110 feature-length documentaries, nearly half of which were directed or co-directed by women.” Riding that same wave of excitement, the folks over at Cinema Tropical listed the Latino films scheduled to screen at the festival.

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Monday Memo: IDA Awards Announce Nominees In Tandem With Euro Awards


There’s no denying it now: Awards season is in full swing. This week the International Documentary Association announced the nominees for the 31st Annual IDA Documentary Awards, as well as their honorees who include Gordon Quinn, Ted Sarandos, Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe, Matthew Heineman, Tony Tabatznik and the Bertha Foundation. At indieWIRE, Anne Thompson mulled on the selections, contemplating how they’re beginning to shape the Oscars. Additionally, Variety’s Kristopher Tapley, Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka, The Hollywood Reporter’s Hilary Lewis and Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie each reported on the nominations.

In addition to the IDA Awards nominations, both the British Independent Film Award nominations and the European Film Awards nominations were announced. The BFI and Cineuropa’s Naman Ramachandran reported on the British Independent Film Award nominations, while Guy Lodge of Variety and David González published the nominees for the European Film Awards, also at Cineuropa. James Gay-Rees’ PALIO, which is among the British Independent Film Award nominees, was reviewed by Joe Leydon at Variety.

Tomorrow, Stranger Than Fiction continues with Jeff Malmberg’s modern doc classic, MARWENCOL. Following the screening, film subject Mark Hogancamp and co-author/film producer Chris Shellen will be doing a post-screening Q&A and signing of the new book “Welcome to Marwencol.” Tickets to the screening are still available and can be purchased here.

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