Monday Memo: As DOC NYC Wraps, IDFA Kicks Off


Fall festival season marches on with IDFA gearing up across the pond as DOC NYC came to a close here at home late last week. Despite being eyes deep in DOC NYC duties as the festival’s director of programming, Basil Tsiokos took the time to plot out a two part introduction at What (not) To Doc to the new nonfiction offerings set to have make their debut in Amsterdam this week. He began by noting that “The world’s largest nonfiction event bids farewell to founder and longtime director Ally Derks with its 30th edition, which showcases over 180 new and recent documentary features.” Writing at First Showing, Alex Billington gives his introductory thoughts on his first visit to IDFA. Variety also published a pair of pieces on the festival, including Stewart Clarke on “Young Directors at Forefront of HBO Europe’s Documentary Slate” and Damon Wise reporting on “The Visual Voice, a 16-film sidebar celebrating documentary’s greatest films, chosen by its biggest names.”

Those that couldn’t attended DOC NYC or its professional conference DOC NYC PRO this year would do well to head over to its YouTube channel where plenty of screening intros, Q&As, and conference sessions can be viewed in whole. DOC NYC’s trio of juries announced their award winners on Thursday, with Nicole N. Horanyi’s THE STRANGER receiving the Grand Jury Prize in the Viewfinders competition, James Crump’s ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970: SEX FASHION & DISCO winning the Grand Jury Prize in the Metropolis competition, and Kate Davis’s TRAFFIC STOP taking home the Grand Jury Prize in the Shorts competition. Daniele Alcinii reported on the awards ceremony for Realscreen, noting, “TRAFFIC STOP now qualifies for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the annual Academy Awards without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.”

Speaking of Oscars, last week at the Governors’ Awards Agnès Varda received an honorary Oscar. IndieWire’s Jenna Marotta recounted the morning after from the La Résidence de France in Beverly Hills where Varda was celebrated over brunch with French peers, as Sam Adams reflected at Slate on how Varda has continuously proven how documentary filmmakers can in fact be movie stars. Meanwhile at Deadline, Antonia Blyth took an early stab at the Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature. Notably absent from that list is Errol Morris’s WORMWOOD. Anne Thompson reports at IndieWire that “The documentary branch executive committee deemed WORMWOOD ineligible for Best Documentary Feature, based on post-O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA rules designed to weed out episodic documentary series. Yet WORMWOOD qualifies in all other AMPAS categories covered by the general submission form: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and all the crafts.”

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Monday Memo: Lineup For DOC NYC & IDFA 2017!


As it happens, I am currently in Stockholm visiting my doc loving co-workers at Influence Film Club, but I would be remiss to share a mini memo that spreads the good word that DOC NYC has announced its complete 2017 lineup! Among the 111 feature length documentaries on offer this year, Guy Fiorita’s MOLE MAN and Julia Bacha’s NAILA AND THE UPRISING will have their world premieres as part of this year’s Viewfinders competition, while David Wexler’s VIGILANTE: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF CURTIS SLIWA AND THE GUARDIAN ANGELS and Prudence Katze and William Lehman’s THE IRON TRIANGLE will world premiere in the Metropolis competition. Jessica Mach reported on the announcement for Realscreen, noting, “Over 350 filmmakers and special guests are scheduled to participate in panels or present their films.” Festival passes and individual screening tickets are now available for purchase.

Last week also saw the unveiling of IDFA‘s 2017 lineup, containing a mind-boggling “312 titles (from 3,886 submissions), of which 90 documentaries will have their world premieres during the festival.” The 30th edition of the festival will take place in Amsterdam from November 15 to 26. A boat load of brand new doc trailers are available at the festival’s YouTube page.

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Monday Memo: Thanksgiving Edition


As with most holiday weekends, Monday has come too soon, but hopefully you’ve stuffed yourself silly, enjoyed the company of family and friends and maybe even watched a doc or two (possibly the final film of our fall season, DANNY SAYS?)! Over at the POV Blog, Tom Roston gave thanks for a variety of doc film related goodness, while I gave thanks to The Criterion Collection for releasing D.A. Pennebaker’s doc classic DON’T LOOK BACK by hitting up their bi-annual half sale at Barnes & Noble which wraps up today. Celebrating the release, Criterion posted a series of outtakes from the film, an interview with Patti Smith about the film’s influence on her life, and an in depth essay on the film by Robert Polito. How could one not be thankful for that?

DOC NYC concluded this year’s edition over a week ago now and coverage of the festival’s riches continue to hit the net, including Daniel Walber‘s top five festival favorites found at Nonfics and a pair of indieWIRE articles from Aubrey Page and Ryan Anielski covering DOC NYC PRO’s Pitch Day and Show Me The Money sessions, respectively. Similarly, on behalf of the New York Film Festival, Alex Hunter posted a video this week of a live conversation with Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook about their ongoing journalistic doc short development and distro project, Field of Vision. And following the conclusion of this year’s edition of CPH:DOX, the festival announced that the 2017 edition of the fest would be permanently shifting to March.

Having concluded yesterday, IDFA announced its award winners, honoring Jerzy Sladkowski’s DON JUAN with the VPRO IDFA Award for best feature-length documentary and Roman Bondarchuk’s UKRAINIAN SHERIFFS with the Special Jury Award, reports Barry Walsh for Realscreen and Damon Wise for Variety. Also at Variety, Damon Wise has published a piece on how IDFA’s DOK Incubator helps doc filmmakers raise their game. Meanwhile, Realscreen’s Manori Ravindran covered the project pitches at the IDFA Forum in painstaking detail in a pair of posts, with another forthcoming.

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Monday Memo: DOC NYC Concludes, IDFA Gears Up & Sundance Awards Grants


After a week of social media madness as part of the DOC NYC team, I’ve returned to Stranger Than Fiction feeling invigorated and up to date, ready to report the latest in non-fiction goodness. And speaking of DOC NYC, the festival wrapped up last Thursday after 8 days of documentary celebration, from the Visionaries Tribute at which Frederick Wiseman, Jon Alpert and Barbara Kopple each received Lifetime Achievement Awards, to the final awards ceremony at which MOTLEY’S LAW by director Nicole Horanyi and CLASS DIVIDE by director Marc Levin took home the Grand Jury Prizes. Jeremy Gerard of Deadline and Zack Sharf of indieWIRE both reported on the awards. The festival’s week long industry conference DOC NYC PRO popped up on and off throughout the week via Aubrey Page‘s indieWIRE report of the opening Morning Manifesto featuring all 15 of the DOC NYC Short List filmmakers, Kevin Ritchie‘s coverage of Reaching Your Audience Day and Michele Stephenson’s Morning Manifesto at Realscreen, as well as Ryan Anielski‘s outline of Abigail Disney’s keynote on doc funding at indieWIRE. A full list of additional DOC NYC coverage can be found here.

Wrapping up just prior to DOC NYC, Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX awarded the DOX:Award to Robert Machoian and Rodridgo Ojeda-Beck’s GOD BLESS THE CHILD, the NORDIC:DOX to Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola’s RETURN OF THE ATOM, the FACT:AWARD to Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s AMONG THE BELIEVERS, and the NEW:VISION Award to Rosa Barba’s BENDING TO EARTH and Ali Cherri’s THE DIGGER. Demetrios Matheou wrote up an overview of the festival’s winners and disappoints over at indieWIRE. Looking forward, the world’s largest non-fiction festival kicked off in Amsterdam on Wednesday. Variety’s Jennie Punter wrote up a preview of this year’s IDFA, while Basil Tsiokos broke the massive line-up into a pair of posts at What (not) To Doc. But, IDFA is not the only doc festival left on this year’s docket. Portugal’s still fresh-faced Porto/Post/Doc announced the lineup for the festival’s second edition. Cineuropa’s Vitor Pinto reported on the announcement.

After the DOC NYC takeover of the IFC Center last week, Stranger Than Fiction returns for its final screening of the Fall Season tomorrow with DANNY SAYS. Director Brendan Toller and producer Pamela Lubell will both be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. Tickets are still available here.

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Monday Memo: Gotham Nominees Announced, Oscar Qualifiers Listed


Bright and early Thursday morning Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, Variety’s Gordon Cox and The Hollywood Reporter’s Hilary Lewis each broke the news that the Gotham Independent Film Awards had named their 2015 nominees, including APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT, CARTEL LAND, HEART OF A DOG, LISTEN TO ME MARLON and THE LOOK OF SILENCE. The following day, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the full list of 124 contenders in the Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature, as reported by Steve Pond at The Wrap, indieWIRE’s Zack Sharf and Dave McNary for Variety. And while we’re still quite a ways away from the event scheduled on June 9th, Realscreen reports that submissions for the 2016 Realscreen Awards are now open.

With the 13th edition of DocLisboa having begun late last week, Cineuropa’s Vitor Pinto previewed the Portuguese productions on offer, as Basil Tsiokos wrote up an overview of the fest at What (not) To Doc. Tsiokos also previewed the docs on offer at The American Museum of Natural History’s Margaret Mead Film Festival and NYC’s NewFest. At MUBI’s Notebook, Boris Nelepo reflected on the career of the Serbian filmmaker Želimir Žilnik, who is receiving first complete international retrospective as part of DocLisboa. As IDFA draws near, indieWIRE’s Tambay A. Obenson took the time to highlight a trio of films of African diaspora, while Jorn Rossing Jensen reported on the many Norwegian productions that will be making their way to Amsterdam for Cineuropa.

The Montreal International Documentary Festival revealed the programming schedule for their annual industry conference, Doc Circuit Montréal (DCM) reports Daniele Alcinii of Realscreen. Likewise, Cineuropa’s Vladan Petkovic covered the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival’s announcement of the program for its Inspiration Forum, “a platform intended to facilitate the search for new themes and their interpretations.” Scheduled speakers include Julian Assange (via Skype) and Maria Alyokhina (Masha) of Pussy Riot.

This week Stranger Than Fiction continues with a special screening of AN OMAR BROADWAY FILM, showing prison life through the eyes of the prisoners – the violence, the boredom, what everyone inside the prison, both inmates and guards, do to survive. The film’s director, Douglas Tirola, will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. Tickets are still available here.

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