While the holidays have now come and gone and we’ve already cracked into the new calendar, for the last two weeks much of the movie blogosphere has been on holiday itself, resulting in a rather brief Monday Memo this week. The majority of folks who did publish new work were mostly looking back at 2016, with rundowns of the year’s best docs coming from Katie Walsh and the staff at The Playlist and Daniel Walber of Nonfics, whom importantly noted, “The list of great, undistributed docs of 2016 is long, and includes such dramatically different films as INAATE/SE/ and ALL THIS PANIC. And three beautifully crafted documentaries, all directed by Mexican women, are an especially frustrating omission of 2016’s commercial release schedule: Betzabé García’s KINGS OF NOWHERE, Maya Goded’s PLAZA DE LA SOLEDAD and Tatiana Huezo’s TEMPESTAD.”
At IndieWire, Chris O’Falt published the favorites of 2016 of 35 different directors, including Jonathan Demme, Ezra Edelman, Alma Har’el, Kirsten Johnson and more. For Fandor’s Keyframe, Kevin B. Lee and whole host of critical colleagues recounted their favorite video essays composed in 2016. The only people seeming to have the gumption to look forward is Gregory Ellwood, whose posted his Oscar predictions at The Playlist, Christopher Campbell, who listed his top 100 recommendations for doc watching via Netflix this January via Nonfics, and Basil Tsiokos, whose insightful previews of the doc to debut at Sundance later this month were the centerpiece over at What (not) To Doc last month.
Still from indieWIRE's Twitter Link to Reality Checks
Entertainment attorney Victoria Cook stirred up much conversation around the perception of gender equality within the non-fiction filmmaking community with a lively Facebook post that was subsequently republished at The Female Gaze as an opinion piece titled “In Reality, We Must Demand Equal Representation for Women Documentarians, Too.” As an outpouring of opinions from within the doc making community hit the net, Cook expanded her thoughts in a follow-up piece for indieWIRE’s Women and Hollywood Blog, “Gender Parity in Documentary Filmmaking Is A Fiction.” indieWIRE’s own Anthony Kaufman responded via a Reality Check’s piece asking if the documentary industry is indeed unfair to women. Cook hopes to continue the conversation in person at a meet up at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival in Park City.
Speaking of Sundance, Basil Tsiokos has been spending quite a lot of time previewing each of the docs hoping to make a splash with their Park City world premieres at What (not) To Doc. In addition, Variety has learned that the originally anonymous filmmaker responsible for the religious cult doc HOLY HELL due to premiere at Sundance is Will Allen. The report from Dave McNary reveals that “his name was kept secret so that he could finish the film while minimizing the possibility of interference by the some of the subjects of the film.”
While Tsiokos, McNary and so many others are looking forward to what 2016 holds, the British Academy Film Awards have just announced their nominations, including nods to AMY, LISTEN TO ME MARLON, CARTEL LAND, SHERPA and HE NAMED ME MALALA, and the National Society of Film Critics named AMY the Best Documentary of 2015. Dan Epstein of Rolling Stone also wrote at length about the resurgence of the music doc in 2015. Looking toward the Oscars and back at last year’s releases, Cara Buckley outlined what it takes for a non-fiction feature to embark on the Oscar race for The New York Times. And, while not exactly dealing with docs, Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes, also of The New York Times, reviewed the supposed truths on which the fiction features in the Oscar race were built upon and how far each film strayed.
The film POINT AND SHOOT from director Marshall Curry was among those nominated for an IDA award this week.
This week the International Documentary Association (IDA) announced the nominees for its documentary awards. Kevin Ritchie covered the announcement for Realscreen, while Anne Thompson did the same on her Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire.
The Macarthur Foundation this week announced that 15 documentary projects had received grants from the institution. Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie covered the announcement. And at the POV blog Tom Roston interviewed grant recipient Yance Ford.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting two screenings at the IFC Center. On Tuesday, November 4 at 8:00 p.m. STF presents THE WAR ROOM from directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, a film that follows the inner workings of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Following the screening Hegedus and Pennebaker will be in attendance for a Q&A. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.
20 FEET FROM STARDOM from director Morgan Neville was one of the films named to the Oscar doc shortlist this week.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) this week announced the 15 docs named to this year’s Oscar shortlist. Adam Benzine of Realscreen covered the news, as did Peter Knegt of Indiewire and Tim Gray of Variety. Basil Tsiokos took a look at the shortlisted films and linked to previous coverage of them at his What (Not) to Blog, while Larry Rohter of the New York Times noted a focus on politics and music. Inkoo Kang of the Women in Hollywood blog at Indiewire took note of five women directors whose films made the shortlist. In his Docutopia post at the SundanceNOW blog, Anthony Kaufman examined the effect that recent rule changes had on the doc Oscar process. And Lily Rothman of Time explained how viewers could watch every film on the doc shortlist.
The other big news came this week when the Sundance Film Festival announced the films in its 2014 lineup. Again, Adam Benzine had coverage at Realscreen, as did Daniel Fienberg of Hitfix. Indiewire had a rundown of the films in the World Cinema doc competition, and in the U.S. doc competition. Christopher Campbell had a nice rundown of the Sundance films, along with some trailers for films. And Kevin Ritchie of Realscreen had coverage of the docs screening at this year’s Slamdance.
The International Documentary Association (IDA) also had its awards ceremony this week, with Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio of the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire providing coverage. Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter also wrote up the awards.
The International Documentary Association (IDA) this week named the nominees for its documentary awards. At Nonfics.com, Christopher Campbell noted that Jason Osder’s LET THE FIRE BURN lead nominees in major categories, while Steve Pond had coverage at The Wrap. Adam Benzine had the news at Realscreen, while Anne Thompson did the same at Indiewire. In a blog post, POV also noted their nomination for the best continuing series award.
The film THESE BIRDS WALK from directors Bassam Tariq and Omar Mullick opened in theaters on Friday, winning a Critics Pick from New York Times writer Nicolas Rapold and a solid review from Scott Tobias at The Dissolve. Robert Greene wrote his own review for Hammer to Nail, as did Omer M. Mozaffar at RogerEbert.com. In a post at Indiewire, the pair wrote a piece sharing their ideas on how to make a documentary that evades social issue cliches. Tariq and Mullick were also featured on the latest episode of Adam Schartoff’s Filmwax podcast, while Tom Roston posed five questions for the pair in a post at the POV blog. Christopher Campbell and Daniel Walber also discussed the film in the latest episode of their podcast The Realness.
The folks at the True/False blog drew attention to a recently uploaded YouTube video documenting the festivals’ panel on doc criticism from earlier this year. The video’s posting seemed to provoke a response from Sam Adams of Indiewire, who wrote a piece asking if critics really understood documentary films.
This week Stranger Than Fiction is playing host to a screening of CALVET from director Dominic Allen on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Film subject Jean-Marc Calvet will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.