Monday Memo: Joan Didion Haunts the Screen As DOC NYC Approaches

This year’s Halloween memo might not as spooky as one might hope, and surprisingly brief, considering the season. That said, award season marches on: Variety’s Kristopher Tapley reported, “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Friday that 170 films have been submitted for documentary feature Oscar consideration.” Of the many submitted, just 15 will make the shortlist and only 5 will receive official nominations or Best Documentary. Within surprising accuracy, DOC NYC’s Shortlist program has done an incredible job of estimating what films will receive Oscar nods, and the festival’s Director of Programming, Basil Tsiokos, has already begun to preview the festival’s various programs at What (not) To Doc, while he, along with Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen, also appeared on Pure Nonfiction to discuss this year’s edition of the festival.

Tsiokos also gave an overview of the 21st Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, which takes place in the Czech Republic each year, while at IDA’s page, Patricia Aufderheide gave a rundown of the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival, a “newbie DC festival is a project of an investigative nonprofit, 100Reporters, which publishes and offers to other publishers investigative journalism about government corruption.”

Following the unveiling of the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nominations, on Tuesday the organization announced “Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris will receive the lifetime achievement award,” reported Taryn Nobil of Variety. With perfect timing, Morris turned up in conversation with Nicolas Rapold  in Film Comment to discuss WORMWOOD, “a four-hour, six-part series that will stream on Netflix starting December 15 and, in a just-announced “non-episodic” form with an intermission, will screen theatrically in qualification for Academy Award consideration at the same time.”

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Monday Memo: Cinema Eye Honors Turn Ten

Last Wednesday marked the end of a week of a celebratory filmmaker outings for those nominated for this year’s Cinema Eye Honors, which is now in its tenth year of existence. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn documented the pre-award show outings, which included a private visit to the Whitney, live band karaoke featuring the likes of Steve James, the Ross brothers and Robert Greene, and much more. At the Cinema Eye Honors awards ceremony, “Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON took home three awards, Outstanding Cinematography for Johnson, Outstanding Editing for Nels Bangerter and Outstanding Nonfiction Feature for Johnson and producer Marilyn Ness,” while “O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA received two awards: Outstanding Direction for Ezra Edelman and Outstanding Production for Edelman and Caroline Waterlow.” This year’s Audience Award went to Clay Tweel’s GLEASON. The full list of honorees can be found here.

In other awards news, the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) revealed their nominees this past week, putting 13TH, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS, WEINER, NOTES ON BLINDNESS and THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS up for Best Documentary. And while Cara Buckley debated whether O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA was a mini-series or a just a really long feature film in The New York Times, Glenn Whipp wondered aloud in The Los Angeles Times whether the film will be upset at this year’s Oscars. A pair of must read end of year rundowns also appeared this week, one from Robert Greene in Sight & Sound and a whole host of cinephilic lists over at Senses of Cinema’s World Poll 2016.

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Monday Memo: CAMERAPERSON Comes Out On Top (again) At Sheffield Doc/Fest

Being that this past week we wrapped up another successful season here at Stranger Than Fiction, there was much less doc news than last week’s jam packed agenda, and it just so happens to be my birthday, I’m going to attempt to keep this week’s memo brief. That said, the most reported on event this past week was the Sheffield Doc/Fest, which wrapped up Wednesday evening, unsurprisingly awarded Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON with the Grand Jury Award, and gave HBO’s Sheila Nevins the Creative Leadership Award for making “an essential contribution to the international documentary industry.” Alongside Nick Fraser, commissioner for BBC’s Storyville, Nevins also took part in an ‘In Conversation’ event at the festival, which Realscreen’s Manori Ravindran dutifully covered. At IndieWire, Chris O’Falt spoke with six doc filmmakers who have successfully pitched projects at the Sheffield Doc/Fest MeetMarket in the past about what worked and what didn’t. Taking a broader look at the fest, Ros Cranston reflected on the formal and technical aspects of filmmaking that were on display in Sheffield for the BFI.

Just as Doc/Fest wrapped, Brooklyn’s BAMcinemaFest was gearing up. Touching on the festival’s offerings, including the various high profile docs lining the program, A.O. Scott wrote a preview feature of the fest in The New York Times, as did Calum Marsh in Village Voice, Matt Prigge for Metro, the staff at IndieWire and Basil Tsiokos at What (not) To Doc. Tsiokos also previewed the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which began the same day as BAMcinemaFest, and San Francisco’s Frameline, which concludes Sunday, June 26th.

A few weeks back, Robert S. Boynton of The New York Times reported that The Museum of Modern Art had “wrongly canceled the New York debut of UNDER THE SUN, a documentary about North Korea that has been criticized by that country and Russia,” which was previously scheduled to screen as part of the Doc Fortnight festival back in February. According to reports from Graham Winfrey at IndieWire and Artforum, in seemingly reactionary fashion MoMA has fired Assistant Film Curator Sally Berger, who has been with the museum for 30 years and made the decision to pull the film. In Filmmaker Magazine, Howard Feinstein has lionized Berger, lovingly stating that “nothing can take away from Berger’s record of nonconforming achievements, ahead of their time in an environment hardly known for its artistic courage, especially before MoMA’s acquisition of P.S. 1.,” while reminding that she was a driving force in the development of Doc Fortnight and the promotion of postmodern and avant-garde non-fiction.

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