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.
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.
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.
Out of what appears to be strictly a matter of greed, soul singing legend Aretha Franklin has filed suit and successfully received an emergency court injunction barring the Telluride Film Festival from world premiering Sydney Pollack’s long gestating posthumous documentary AMAZING GRACE, “which shows the making of Ms. Franklin’s album of the same name more than four decades ago,” reports Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply of The New York Times. Reacting to the news Franklin issued a statement saying, “Justice, respect and what is right prevailed and one’s right to own their own self-image,” despite “a recently discovered 1968 contract that Franklin signed allowed the use of the footage,” according to The New York Times. Catherine Shoard of The Guardian covered the story as well, noting “that four years ago Franklin sued Elliott over the same issue, and ‘the lawsuit was resolved after Elliott agreed not to release the film’.” Steven Zeitchik and Rebecca Keegan of The Los Angeles Times and Tambay A. Obenson of indieWIRE also covered the news, while Chris Willman featured the film in question for The Hollywood Reporter. Looking to the Toronto Film Festival where the film is set to screen later this week, our own Thom Powers has assured the show will go on, stating, “We’re proceeding with plans to screen AMAZING GRACE at TIFF. We haven’t heard of any legal procedures regarding the film in Toronto.”
Before all this legal hub-bub went down, at What (not) To Doc Basil Tsiokos gave an overview of the non-fiction offerings screening at both Telluride and Venice, which kicked off last Wednesday. Coverage from Venice has been slowly coming in, including Kaleem Aftab‘s positive review of Rinku Kalsy’s FOR THE LOVE OF MAN for indieWIRE, Guy Lodge‘s glowing review of Amy Berg’s JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE at Variety, and a pair of supportive reviews of Evgeny Afineevsky’s WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM from The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber and Variety’s Jay Weissberg. Weissberg also reviewed Frederick Wiseman’s latest, IN JACKSON HEIGHTS, while Manori Ravindran spoke with the institution-obsessed documentarian Realscreen about his first (and likely last) foray into crowdfunding and why he prefers long-form to television friendly films.
STRAY DOG from director Debra Granik was among the films nominated for a Spirit Award this week.
This week the Film Independent Spirit Awards announced their nominations for best documentary, with nods going to STRAY DOG and CITIZENFOUR, among other films. Kevin Ritchie of Realscreen reported on the development, as did Christopher Campbell of Nonfics.com.
Also at Realscreen, Manori Ravindran reported on films up for awards at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Ravindran also had two reports on the IDFA forum, you can read part one here, and part two here. Writing for the POV blog, Kel O’Neill had his own report of the IDFA DocLab interactive conference.
Writing for Ion Cinema, Jordan M. Smith had a report on docs in production that are also Sundance hopefuls. Smith also had a roundup of doc awards nominees and winners.