Barely a week into December and the holiday/award season goodies are already being handed out in mass! While both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review named AMY the best doc of the year, the New York Film Critics Circle begged to differ by giving the title to a film close to their hearts (and zip codes), IN JACKSON HEIGHTS. As reported by Andrew Pulver of The Guardian, Ross A. Lincoln of Deadline, and various Hollywood Reporter staffers, Joshua Oppenheimer’s heavily favored THE LOOK OF SILENCE took home the prize for best doc early in the week at this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards. And to continue the diverging chorus of opinions, Judith Dawson and Louise Osmond’s crowd pleasing DARK HORSE was named best doc at this year’s British Independent Film Awards.
Amidst this hail of honors, the International Documentary Association Awards also celebrated their 31st edition, naming THE LOOK OF SILENCE as the best doc feature, alongside a lengthy list of deserving honorees. In the wake of the announcements, a flurry of discussion as taken place in pieces from Rebecca Keegan in The Los Angeles Times, Nigel M. Smith of The Guardian, Variety’s Kristopher Tapley, Scott Feinberg in The Hollywood Reporter and Realscreen’s Manori Ravindran. In tandem with the IDA Awards, IDA executive director Simon Kilmurry briefly appeared on KCRW to discuss the state of documentaries. Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released their 15 film Oscar shortlist for documentary feature, including most of the expected contenders, including 11 films previously programmed as part of DOC NYC’s Shortlist section. Stephanie Goodman singled out AMY and THE HUNTING GROUND as forerunners in her report of the announcement in The New York Times, while at the POV Blog, Tom Roston aptly commented on the inclusion of 3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS and WE COME AS FRIENDS, and the blatant snubbing of MONTAGE OF HECK and THE WOLFPACK. At indieWIRE, Anne Thompson and Peter Knegt revealed their predictions for the final 2016 Oscar contenders.
With eight films on this year’s Oscar shortlist having had their world premieres at Sundance earlier this year, it’s no secret that Park City has become a major springboard for non-fiction fare. So, despite all the excitement about awards, it was the Sundance Film Festival‘s revealing of their 2016 competition titles that sparked the most interest this week from critics and doc lovers alike. In his piece in The New York Times on the annoucement, Brooks Barnes riffs on this idea, noting that “Sundance, coming up on its 32nd installment, has long served as a launching pad for documentaries. TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, which went on to win the 2014 documentary Oscar, was first seen in competition.” Sandy Cohen of The Washington Post and Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie reflected on the festival’s lineup, while indieWIRE’s Eric Kohn and Kate Erbland listed “9 Hidden Gems from the 2016 Sundance Lineup,” singling out a pair of docs, including the anonymously directed HOLY HELL and Robert Greene’s KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE.