Monday Memo: O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA Wins Best Doc at Oscars & Independent Spirits


Before last night’s best picture debacle cemented the 2017 Oscars as one of the wildest on record, Ezra Edelman’s eight hour American epic O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA made history as the longest film to ever win an Oscar, regardless of category, just after taking Best Documentary Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards the night before.. Shortly thereafter, Orlando von Einsiedel took home the award for Best Doc Short Subject for THE WHITE HELMETS. The full list of Oscar winners can be found here. Leading up to the ceremony, Joel Bocko made a video essay for Fandor on the many merits of Edelman’s film, titled NOT JUST O.J., Mandalit Del Barco looked at the trio of docs up for Oscars that dealt directly with Syria’s civil war at NPR, while at ABC News, Taylor Maple outlined in detail how the Student Academy Awards may open doors to the film industry for its young honorees. And over at IDA’s blog, Caty Borum Chattoo shared a telling study of race and gender in Oscar-shortlisted documentaries from 2008-2017.

Tomorrow night at the IFC Center, we will be hosting a very special 25th anniversary screening of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s landmark documentary BROTHER’S KEEPER. To help mark the occasion, Berlinger will be on hand for a live Q&A moderated by Morgan Spurlock! This show is now sold out.

Continue reading…


Monday Memo: Berlin Wraps While MoMa’s Doc Fortnight Kicks Off


Still from MACHINES, directed by Rahul Jain. Courtesy of Autlook Films.

“In these times of fake news and alternative facts, we need the voices of documentarians more than ever to hold the powerful to account and explore the nuance of the world that cable news squawkers deny. And, just perhaps, to help us make our world a little more compassionate.” On a day like today, in times likes these, it is heartening to read such words of fervent inspiration. Writing an impassioned, must-read guest column last week in The Hollywood Reporter, Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the International Documentary Association, wrote a spirited call to arms for the documentary filmmaking community in which he, and all of us, seek hope, inspiration and truth in non-fiction cinematic storytelling.

Tomorrow at the IFC Center, our winter season continues with a special screening of the truly stranger than fiction tale of TICKLED, co-presented by HBO Documentary Films. The film’s co-director David Farrier and film lawyer Cam Stracher will both be on hand for a live Q&A following the film. Tickets are still available here.

Continue reading…


Monday Memo: True/False Announces 2017 Lineup & Podcast


I’ve returned after a week away from the cold, movies, the internet and headlines feeling mentally rejuvenated and ready to get back into the swing of things. A bit of ocean air seems to have done me well. And being that next month I’ll be heading to Columbia, Missouri once again for this year’s edition of the True/False Film Festival, it is exciting to find that they’ve revealed not only their 2017 lineup and schedule, but that they will be launching a new bi-weekly podcast – the True/False Podcast – on which “True/False programmers will sit down with filmmakers and tackle a new topic each episode.” The first episode is scheduled to go live two weeks before the festival begins, on February 23.

Speaking of podcasts, last week’s episode of Pure Nonfiction featured a conversation between our own Thom Powers and John Heilemann, co-creator of TRUMPED: INSIDE THE GREATEST POLITICAL UPSET OF ALL TIME, which aired on Showtime last week after its Sundance premiere.

Tomorrow, we here at Stranger Than Fiction are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a very special screening of THE LOVING STORY, which tells the dramatic story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia in the 1950s, and their landmark Supreme Court Case, Loving v. Virginia, that changed history. Director Nancy Buirski will be on hand for a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets and season passes are still available here.

Continue reading…


Monday Memo: Oscar Noms, PGA Awards & Sundance Overshadowed By Trump


It’s been an incredibly difficult week to keep up with documentary news, as my normal means of news gathering have been swamped with story after story of Trump’s growing list of executive actions, and understandably so. It’s times like these that make us reconsider the importance of the arts and the industries that grease their wheels. I mean, why read about award shows and film festivals while journalists are being charged with felonies for covering the protests during the inauguration, Stephen Bannon has publicly stated that media should “keep its mouth shut” and the president himself has issued a an order on immigration that severely restricts immigration from seven Muslim countries and more? Because cinema, and more specifically, documentaries, epitomize the human condition, inspire empathy, and more often than not advocate for social change in times of political unrest – now more than ever.

In response to Trump’s immigration restrictions, Field of Vision currently has a callout for footage from inside airports pertaining to the Muslim Ban. Anyone with footage can reach out to contact@fieldofvision.org or share it anoymously in their secure drop. Reporting from Sundance, IndieWire’s Anthony Kaufman, Realscreen’s Valentina Valentini and Vulture’s Jada Yuan each parsed how the festival’s documentary selections worked in relief to the Trump administration thus far. Even this week’s episode of Pure Nonfiction, featuring Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, who was profiled in the 2011 documentary THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, deals directly with the political impact of documentary films and the current political climate we’ve found ourselves in.

Right here at home, we announced last Friday that Stranger Than Fiction will be returning to the IFC Center for our 2017 Winter Season, which begins Tuesday, February 7th with the NYC premiere of Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon’s THE WAR SHOW, about “a Syrian radio DJ who documents the experiences of herself and her friends as their dreams of hope and liberation in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring give way to the grim realities of repression, forced emigration and extremism.” Alaa Hassan, the film’s producer, will be on hand for a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets to our opening night event, as well as season passes, can be purchased here.

Continue reading…


Monday Memo: Sundance 2017 Begins as Women Celebrated Worldwide


It’s that magical time of year when film lovers the world over descend upon Park City for the annual Sundance Film Festival. As you’d expect, there is a ton of coverage coming across the wire, so I’ll list some highlights rather than collecting everything here. Before things even really got rolling, the festival’s box office was hacked Saturday afternoon, shutting down ticket sales for a period of about an hour reports Variety. The busy bodies at IndieWire posted a page with every link to all the coverage they’re publishing throughout the festival, as did the folks over at Fandor’s Keyframe. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times and Jim Brunzell of Hammer to Nail both wrote previews of the festival, noting doc films throughout. At No Film School, Oakley Anderson-Moore reported on how and why documentary filmmakers at Sundance are using VR. And in the latest episode of Pure Nonfiction, Thom Powers interviewed veteran sales agent Josh Braun, who runs Submarine Entertainment, about what its like being right down in the thick of things at Sundance.

Christopher Campbell of Nonfics has already logged a trio of doc reviews: IN LOCO PARENTISTHE WORKERS CUP and TROPHY. Variety’s Dave McNary reports that Matthew Heineman’s CITY OF GHOSTS has won this year’s Candescent award, which is annually presented “to a powerful social-issue film that has been supported during production by the DFP and premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.” Bradley Warren warmly reviewed Jonathan Olshefski’s POV produced QUEST for The Playlist, while David Fear wrote an extensive feature on the follow up to Al Gore’s monumental climate change doc, AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER at Rolling Stone. Bryan Fogel’s doping doc ICARUS received a pair of glowing reviews from Matt Goldberg of Collider and Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times. Realscreen published a pair of pieces in Selina Chignall‘s review of RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD and Daniele Alcinii‘s take on RISE. Lastly, Owen Gleiberman shared his analysis of OKLAHOMA CITY for Variety.

All in all, it was a solid week for female filmmakers. Much like the rest of the world, thousands of the good people in Park City took part in the Women’s March, with Chelsea Handler taking the lead, says Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post.. Eric Hynes, Dana Kendall and Jeremy Kinser reported on the happening for Sundance itself. The week began with The Center for Investigative Reporting announcing “the launch of Glassbreaker Films, a new film studio ‘intended to support and empower women in documentary filmmaking, reports Casey Cipriani of Women and Hollywood.’” Additionally, according to Laura Berger, also of Women and Hollywood, Chicken & Egg Pictures announced that “the recipients of this year’s Breakthrough Filmmaker Award are Geeta Gandbhir (PRISON DOGS), Kirsten Johnson (CAMERAPERSON), Penny Lane (NUTS!), Grace Lee (AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS), and Dawn Porter (TRAPPED).” Shortly thereafter, Kate Erbland of IndieWire reported that Seed&Spark “has announced its brand new #100DaysOfDiversity initiative, billed as ‘a movement joining creators, audiences, brands, festivals and organizations to actively increase representation in entertainment in 100 days.’” Plus, The New York Times wrote a brief feature for a Guardian doc short titled RADICAL BROWNIES, about “a youth group for activist girls of color,” which is now available to stream for free.

Continue reading…