FOCAL Awards 2018 host Hardeep Singh Kohli
Every year the London based FOCAL Awards celebrate the best use and preservation of archival material in cinema. Last Tuesday, the 2018 FOCAL International Award winners were announced – Bill Morrison’s DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME won Best Use of Footage in an Arts Production, Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO won Best Use of Footage in a Cinematic Feature, Peter Bratt’s DOLORES took home Best Use of Footage in a Factual Production, and Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin’s LA 92 was honored with Best Use of Footage in a History Feature.
On that award season wavelength, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed that it is “extending invitations to join the organization to 928 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.” Of those invited, 49% are female, bringing the overall Academy membership of women to 31%, and 38% of new members are 38%, bringing the overall membership of people of color to 16%, and 85 of those invited work in the documentary field. Those invited include doc filmmakers such as Bill and Turner Ross, Evgeny Afineevsky, Nanfu Wang, Yance Ford, Petra Costa and Katy Chevigny.
While the Academy is tinkering with its very makeup, Ben Travers at IndieWire is already debating what films might win big at the Emmys. He notes, “HBO has a slew of contenders, all of which have caused a stir in and outside the industry. ANDRE THE GIANT has big-name subjects supporting the doc on the famous wrestler-turned-actor, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, and David Letterman. THE ZEN DIARIES OF GARRY SHANDLING is a personal passion project from Judd Apatow, and his intimate understanding of the late comedian combined with his influential friends should help set the doc apart. Meanwhile, ELVIS PRESLEY: THE SEARCHER has the pull of The King himself.”
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.
Last Thursday, Realscreen’s Daniele Alcinii broke the news that the “GoDigital-owned digital distributor Distribber.com has partnered with the International Documentary Association (IDA) to launch a quarterly grant program that will allow filmmakers the opportunity to distribute their content to major online platforms and retain rights and revenue.” No Film School’s Emily Buder followed up, “The catch? You can’t apply cold. The program is only open to a film already receiving fiscal sponsorship from the IDA, Pare Lorentz grant recipients, or films nominated for the IDA Annual Documentary Awards.” Josh Fox‘s HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD (AND LOVE ALL THE THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE), which debuted at Sundance earlier this year and is set to be shown on HBO on June 27, has been selected as the first film to receive the grant.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival celebrated ten years of its Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant with a special presentation at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center this past week featuring Ian Olds, Esther Robinson, Rachael Rakes and Thom Powers who helped establish the grant. Graham Winfrey of indieWIRE reported on the event.
While you may have thought our screening of THE WITNESS was our final screening of our Spring Season, we made a surprise addition with a very special Wednesday evening screening of Jonathan Demme’s 1992 documentary COUSIN BOBBY to take place on June 15th. Demme himself will be on hand to discuss his film centering around his cousin Robert Castle, an Episcopalian priest known for his work in the black communities of Jersey City and Harlem. Tickets now on sale to the public here, while STF Spring Season passholders get in for free.