Following the release of Trump’s proposed federal budget on Wednesday, which lays out plans to eliminate funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Responding to the news, Sophie Gilbert outlined the real cost of abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts for The Atlantic, while the International Documentary Association released a public statement about the future funding for the NEA, NEH and CPB. The Public Broadcasting Service also published its own advocacy site (Value) in the wake of the budget proposal. Turning to Ken Burns’s 1990 CIVIL WAR documentary as proof, Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson also made a strong case for preserving public humanities funding. Those looking to show their support of the National Endowment for the Arts should head over to the Americans for the Arts Action Center, where citizens are guided through the process of contacting your local U.S. representatives about this issue.
After news broke last week of Jason Pollock’s SXSW debuted doc STRANGER FRUIT containing new footage of Michael Brown just before his murder by police in Ferguson, MO, Mitch Smith of The New York Times reported “a lawyer for the convenience store at the center of the accusations released additional video on Monday that he said disproved the documentary’s assertions,” adding further confusion to the case. The video was published by the Washington Post, along with an additional news break by Wesley Lowery.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, we are nearing the end of our winter season. Tomorrow at the IFC Center, we host very special 20th Anniversary screening of Monte Bramer’s 1997 Sundance Audience Award winner PAUL MONETTE: THE BRINK OF SUMMER’S END. The film’s producer, Lesli Klainberg, will be on hand for a live Q&A following the film. Tickets for the event are still available for purchase here.
Photo by Shane Epping of Mizzou News
As you may have noticed, there was no Monday Memo last week thanks to the remarkable celebration of non-fiction cinema that is True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, which I had the pleasure of attending for the second year in a row. My thoughts on this year’s edition can be found over at IONCINEMA, as well as a trio of interviews that will follow shortly. Despite the festival’s rather small line-up, with each passing year it seems to garner more international attention thanks to its intelligent curation, community focused outlook and baseline fun factor. Steven Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times wrote no less than four dispatches from the fest, outlining what sets it apart from other festivals, noting formal trends and thematic through-lines, as well as the game-shows and other carnivalesque happenings that only happen at True/False.
A whole host of other True/False round-ups were logged by indieWIRE’s Sam Adams, Hammer to Nail’s Jim Brunzell, AV Club’s Noel Murray, Alissa Wilkinson at RogerEbert.com, and Vadim Rizov, who posted a pair of dispatches at Filmmaker Magazine that focus “on the thorny subject of what happens when documentaries do — or antagonistically don’t — try to serve as compassionate ambassadors to the world on behalf of their subjects.” More specifically, indieWIRE’s Chris O’Falt reported on the emotionally charged premiere of CONCERNED STUDENT 1950, as well as exactly why a handful of filmmakers choose to have their films shown as a one of True/False’s fabled secret screenings before their world premiere at a festival geared more toward sales and distribution deals.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, our winter season continues this week with a pair of screenings in Gabriel London’s THE MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST, about the legendary escape artist on Tuesday, and on Thursday, a special 10 Year Anniversary screening of the cult-hit documentary DARKON, by Luke Meyer & Andrew Neel, about American LARPers. The filmmakers of both films will be present for post-screening Q&As at each of their respective screenings. Tickets to both screenings are still available and can be purchased here.
Paul Almond in 1971 (Photo by Norma James, Toronto Star via Getty Images)
With so much attention being paid to Richard Linklater’s twelve year project BOYHOOD last year while other (possibly more deserving) long term doc equivalents like Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson’s AMERICAN PROMISE fly confidently under the radar, it’s important to remember where the seed for these projects was originally planted: Michael Apted and Paul Almond’s half-century spanning UP series. Sadly, this passed week Paul Almond died of complications of a recent heart attack at the age of 83. Margalit Fox of the New York Times wrote a profile of the man’s life and work, as did David Colker of the LA Times and Mike Barnes of The Hollywood Reporter. The Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie also reflected on Almond’s filmmaking career.
We at Stranger Than Fiction are playing host to a pair of film screenings this week in Tuesday’s work-in-progress showing of director Howard Weinberg’s NAM JUNE PAIK & TV LAB: LICENSE TO CREATE, which explores the collaborative collisions of the TV LAB through the prism of one of the giants of 20th century video art, and Thursday’s showing of director Nick Broomfield’s AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER, the follow-up work to his clear-eyed profile of America’s first female serial killer and the greed and paranoia that surrounded her case in AILEEN WUORNOS: THE SELLING OF A SERIAL KILLER. Both filmmakers will be on hand for Q&As at the IFC Center for their respective screenings.