Still of Laura Poitras' RISK, Art of the Real's Closing Night Film.
While Richard Brody and Basil Tsiokos reminded us that both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Brazilian doc festival It’s All True began last Thursday, both of which are hosting a handful of doc world premieres and festival favorites, it seems that the large majority of journalistic eyes were focused on the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Art of the Real festival this past week. Writing in MUBI’s Notebook, Jaime Grijalba Gómez works through how the program reveals “what is at the core of what we call documentary or non-fiction cinema,” just as Daniel Walber looked at “what critics can learn from [the festival’s] great programming” for Nonfics. Michael Sicinski highlighted his favorites from the festival thus far in Village Voice, including Patric Chiha’s “docudrama about Bulgarian Roma hustlers in Vienna” BROTHERS OF THE NIGHT, which Tanner Tafelski gushed about over at Kinoscope. Additionally, Neil Young spoke with director Austin Lynch for Little White Lies about his directorial debut GRAY HOUSE, as Em Cominotti and Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli, the co-directors of EMPATHY, interviewed each other for Brooklyn Magazine.
Tuesday saw The Peabody Awards Board of Jurors reveal its 12 winners in its Documentary category for programs released in 2016. Laura Berger covered the announcement for Women and Hollywood, noting that seven of the twelve films are women-directed or co-directed, including Dawn Porter’s Stranger Than Fiction alum TRAPPED.
Speaking of Stranger Than Fiction, our spring season continues tomorrow with Kyoko Miyake’s Sundance hit TOKYO IDOLS, which gets at the heart of a Japanese cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality and internet popularity. Director Miyake will take part in a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets are still available for this event here.
After a week away to take care of unexpected life happenings, the memo is back! First up PBS’s announcement of the lineup for the 30th season of POV, featuring the likes of CAMERAPERSON, DO NOT RESIST, Oscar nominated shorts JOE’S VIOLIN and 4.1 MILES and more. The series begins on June 26th with Julia Meltzer’s DALYA’S OTHER COUNTRY. Curators looking to host a screening of any of the films can now book a handful of the films via the POV Lending Library.
The Cannes Film Festival also revealed their 2017 selections last Thursday, with few doc picks as has been traditionally the case. David Hudson dug through the selections for Fandor, noting Claude Lanzmann’s new doc on North Korea titled NAPALM, and Raymond Depardon‘s 12 DAYS, a documentary mysteriously about “where justice and psychiatry meet.”
Tomorrow at the IFC Center, our Spring Season will kick off with Bill Jersey’s 1967 landmark of the cinéma vérité movement, A TIME FOR BURNING. Director Jersey will be on hand for live Q&A. Tickets for the event and spring season passes are still available here.
Many of you may remember, a little over two years ago the admirable Rahul Chadha, whom manned the memo long before I, announced that he would be permanently signing off. As a budding doc journalist and avid tracker of doc development, I had come to love and rely on the memo for my weekly comprehensive fix of doc news and was mildly worried this helpful resource was doomed. In a surprise twist of fate, at the recommendation of Rahul, I was asked by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen, the dynamic duo behind Stranger Than Fiction, if I’d like to fill Rahul’s considerable shoes and continue on with the memo under my watch. Without hesitation, I jumped at the chance, and to my astonishment, this week’s Monday Memo marks my hundredth. Before we get into this week’s memo I just wanted to thank Rahul for recommending me, and Thom and Raphaela for the opportunity. It’s been an honor and great source of pride. So, without further ado…
Following in the wake of Trump’s proposed budget cuts, Michael Schneider reports for IndieWire that Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland publicly took issue with several PBS’ Independent Lens documentaries at a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, stating, “When you produce shows like KUMU HINA, almost a third of a million dollar investment, or BABY MAMA HIGH [which cost] $50,000, which you know $50,000 pays for the healthcare of ten individuals on the Affordable Care Act, I have to respond to people in my district… and in fact they would resent if I was publicly funding that.” That came just days after Raney Aronson-Rath, the executive producer of PBS’ Frontline, published a public cry for help on Frontline’s website in response to the proposed budget cuts. She urges, “If you feel as I do that public media is essential to our democracy and to enhancing public understanding of the critical issues of our day, please make your voice heard. Visit www.ProtectMyPublicMedia.org to both sign a petition to support continued funding and to find information about the ways public media serves our communities.”
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, our winter season wrapped up last week with Amanda Micheli’s VEGAS BABY. If you missed out on any of our winter screenings, I urge you to go back and read Joseph Schroeder and Megan Scanlon‘s recaps of each event, complete with live Q&A videos and more. We’ll be announcing our spring lineup within the coming weeks.
After last week’s politically charged dispatch of stories on Trump’s proposed budget cuts and the controversy over Jason Pollock’s STRANGER FRUIT, this week, thankfully, seems a bit subdued. The most notable news of the week is the dual lineup announcements of Toronto’s massive Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s more focused Art of the Real. At Realscreen, Daniele Alcinii spoke with Hot Docs’ Director of Programming Shane Smith and several filmmakers about this year’s lineup. The complete Hot Docs program and schedule can be found in PDF form here.
Now in its second year, Chicago’s DOC10 film festival kicks off later this week. Leading up to the proceedings, the festival has been posting brief interviews with the filmmakers behind each of the ten films programmed on their website, while over at RogerEbert.com, Matt Fagerholm has given a thorough overview of the festival’s offerings, highlighting RAT FILM, WHOSE STREETS? and THE CINEMA TRAVELERS, among others. Also in motion this week is the Paris based doc fest Cinéma du Réel, which Basil Tsiokos previewed at What (not) To Doc.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, we’re closing out our winter season tomorrow at the IFC Center with Amanda Micheli’s VEGAS BABY, with Micheli herself in attendance for a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets are still available.
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.