Monday Memo: Docs & Politics + DOC NYC PRO Lineup Revealed


In a busy week for nonfiction cinema news, Vice’s incredible coverage of the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, miraculously encapsulated in the 22 minute short CHARLOTTESVILLE: RACE AND TERROR (watched over 5 million times on YouTube at this point) is undoubtedly the lead this week. In response to Trump’s appalling press conference following the events, “16 out of 17 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned and asked the president to do the same. The White House advisory council is dedicated to cultural issues including arts funding, economic promotion of the arts and arts education among other responsibilities,” reports Salon’s Gabriel Bell. Ruminating on these events, Jude Dry of IndieWire called WHOSE STREETS? “essential cinema” “for the Charlottesville Resistance.”

Almost facetiously, at The Guardian, Rebecca Nicholson asked, “Why political documentaries are storming the screens,” just as James Luxford posed the question, “What impact do environmental documentaries really have?” at Little White Lies. Meanwhile at IndieWire, Oscar nominated filmmaker Roger Ross Williams wrote about how Full Frame Documentary Festival’s new School of Doc program is attempting to address issues with race in the doc world, describing it as “a program that empowered minority students to tell their own stories, and to expose them to future career opportunities.”

In other film festival news, DOC NYC revealed its initial schedule for this year’s DOC NYC PRO, an 8-day conference “featuring documentary panels and master classes, including an expanded initiative to support works-in-progress with a section called “Only in New York.” DOC NYC also announced this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees at the 4th annual Visionaries Tribute would be Sheila Nevins and Errol Morris. Selina Chignall unpacked the announcements over at Realscreen.

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Monday Memo: DOC NYC PRO Announced, Field of Vision Sets Off


While the New York Film Festival rages on with the upcoming premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s JUNUN this coming week and Jacob Bernstein’s EVERYTHING IS COPY (which was reviewed by Steven Zeitchik in The Los Angeles Times and by Variety’s Nick Schager) this past week, DOC NYC is gearing up for their own festivities, announcing a rebrand of their industry conference with DOC NYC PRO. The eight-day series of talks, panels, masterclasses, and professional development workshops was reported on by Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie. Speakers already scheduled to present at the already stacked event include Sheila Nevins, Jon Alpert, Abigail Disney, Kirby Dick, Justine Nagan, Simon Kilmurry and Dan Cogan.

Stephen Holden wrote a broad overview of the New York Film Festival for The New York Times, making special mention of Michael Moore’s TIFF-premiered WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, which was just picked up for theatrical release this past week by ex-Radius heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League’s still unnamed new distribution company. Jeremy Kay of Screen Daily broke the news, with subsequent reports coming in from Variety’s Dave McNary and Brent Lang, as well as from Deadline’s Patrick Hipes. The Guardian’s Nigel M. Smith quoted Moore speaking at the press conference of his new film and why he didn’t invade the UK for ideas as saying, “We don’t have much to learn from the UK…The UK has in recent years started to look too much like us.” Eric Hynes reviewed Moore’s latest project (along with other TIFF Docs) for Film Comment, aptly observing that “Every interview is a setup, every scene is “a scene,” and his every appearance contradictorily signifies both Liberal Crusader and Ugly American. We’re invited to see these layers of artifice, and encouraged to feel and think more deeply because, not in spite, of them.” In anticipation of the film, The Close-Up podcast released an in-depth conversation with the filmmaker recorded back in 2012.

As festival season rolls on, Oscar debate begins to heat up, as Peter Knegt‘s pair of pieces in indieWIRE on the likeliest doc candidates to go up for Oscars later this year. He pegs AMY as the front runner, but only head of THE HUNTING GROUND, CARTEL LAND, THE LOOK OF SILENCE and THE WOLFPACK by a smidge.

Last week here at Stranger Than Fiction we kicked of our Fall 2015 season with director Evgeny Afineevsky’s WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM. If you missed the screening, you can now watch the post-screening conversation between Thom Powers and the filmmaker, or read Jeffrey Fleishman‘s rave in The Los Angeles Times. We also had a late addition to our Fall schedule, slotting in director Jennifer Peedom’s Mount Everest climbing doc SHERPA on on November 5th. The film was, in addition to being selected as WNYC’s Documentary of the Week, glowingly reviewed by Sheri Linden in The Los Angeles Times and Ken Jaworowski in The New York Times. Tomorrow we welcome directors Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue with their intimate and transformational new feature, BODY OF WAR! Screening tickets and season passes are still available for purchase here!

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