Monday Memo: DOC NYC PRO Announced, Field of Vision Sets Off


While the New York Film Festival rages on with the upcoming premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s JUNUN this coming week and Jacob Bernstein’s EVERYTHING IS COPY (which was reviewed by Steven Zeitchik in The Los Angeles Times and by Variety’s Nick Schager) this past week, DOC NYC is gearing up for their own festivities, announcing a rebrand of their industry conference with DOC NYC PRO. The eight-day series of talks, panels, masterclasses, and professional development workshops was reported on by Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie. Speakers already scheduled to present at the already stacked event include Sheila Nevins, Jon Alpert, Abigail Disney, Kirby Dick, Justine Nagan, Simon Kilmurry and Dan Cogan.

Stephen Holden wrote a broad overview of the New York Film Festival for The New York Times, making special mention of Michael Moore’s TIFF-premiered WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, which was just picked up for theatrical release this past week by ex-Radius heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League’s still unnamed new distribution company. Jeremy Kay of Screen Daily broke the news, with subsequent reports coming in from Variety’s Dave McNary and Brent Lang, as well as from Deadline’s Patrick Hipes. The Guardian’s Nigel M. Smith quoted Moore speaking at the press conference of his new film and why he didn’t invade the UK for ideas as saying, “We don’t have much to learn from the UK…The UK has in recent years started to look too much like us.” Eric Hynes reviewed Moore’s latest project (along with other TIFF Docs) for Film Comment, aptly observing that “Every interview is a setup, every scene is “a scene,” and his every appearance contradictorily signifies both Liberal Crusader and Ugly American. We’re invited to see these layers of artifice, and encouraged to feel and think more deeply because, not in spite, of them.” In anticipation of the film, The Close-Up podcast released an in-depth conversation with the filmmaker recorded back in 2012.

As festival season rolls on, Oscar debate begins to heat up, as Peter Knegt‘s pair of pieces in indieWIRE on the likeliest doc candidates to go up for Oscars later this year. He pegs AMY as the front runner, but only head of THE HUNTING GROUND, CARTEL LAND, THE LOOK OF SILENCE and THE WOLFPACK by a smidge.

Last week here at Stranger Than Fiction we kicked of our Fall 2015 season with director Evgeny Afineevsky’s WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM. If you missed the screening, you can now watch the post-screening conversation between Thom Powers and the filmmaker, or read Jeffrey Fleishman‘s rave in The Los Angeles Times. We also had a late addition to our Fall schedule, slotting in director Jennifer Peedom’s Mount Everest climbing doc SHERPA on on November 5th. The film was, in addition to being selected as WNYC’s Documentary of the Week, glowingly reviewed by Sheri Linden in The Los Angeles Times and Ken Jaworowski in The New York Times. Tomorrow we welcome directors Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue with their intimate and transformational new feature, BODY OF WAR! Screening tickets and season passes are still available for purchase here!

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Monday Memo: FIELD OF VISION & JUNUN Set For Online Debuts Post-NYFF


After being inundated by an avalanche of doc news in the wake of TIFF, this past week has been comparatively quite quiet. Coverage from Toronto keeps trickling in through pieces like Jason Gorber‘s list of the festival’s top docs that was published over at Nonfics and film reviews like my piece on Kent Jones’ HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT posted at IONCINEMA, while most media has already trained their eyes on the New York Film Festival which kicked off last Friday. Prior to opening night, Manohla Dargis wrote a thorough preview of the fest for The New York Times, as did Basil Tsiokos at What (not) To Doc, both of whom somehow overlooked the world premiere of Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook’s FIELD OF VISION short subject series, which took place last night. If (like most of us) you weren’t able to make yesterday’s screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the series is scheduled to hit the net tomorrow!

As reported by Stephen Holden in The New York Times, Noah Boambach’s DE PALMA is set to make a splash later this week, as is Paul Thomas Anderson’s first non-fiction feature JUNUN, on his friend and frequent creative collaborator Jonny Greenwood. Most excitedly, much like FIELD OF VISION, JUNUN will be available for online viewing the day after its NYFF premieme on October 9th via the meticulously curated streaming service, MUBISophie Monks Kaufman wrote about the surprise development for Little White Lies.

Here at Stranger Than Fiction, tomorrow night marks the opening of our Fall 2015 season with a very special screening of TIFF’s People’s Choice Documentary Award winner WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM at the IFC Center! Director Evgeny Afineevsky will also be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. Season passes are still available here.

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Monday Memo: IFC Center Announces Expansion, DOC NYC Names MISS SHARON JONES! As Opening Film


In a sea of exciting doc news, for us at Stranger Than Fiction the most thrilling thing to hit the wire this week was the announcement that our theatrical home, the IFC Center, will be expanding “from 10,328 square feet to 20,071 square feet” according to Kate Erbland‘s exclusive at indieWIRE, more than doubling the number of screens from 5 to 11. In a statement from the article, “John Vanco, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the IFC Center said, ‘IFC Center has spent the past ten years celebrating filmmakers from New York and around the world by showcasing their documentaries, fiction features and short films for Greenwich Village audiences hungry for the best in contemporary and classic cinema. Expanding our facility is crucially important in allowing us to continue to fill a unique and important cultural space in the downtown arts scene, as well as helping vital works of cinema get launched into broader release.'”

The IFC Center is also the home of DOC NYC, who announced this week that Barbara Kopple’s MISS SHARON JONES! will serve as their Opening Night selection, as well as the fact that Jon Alpert, Barbara Kopple and Frederick Wiseman will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at the festival’s second annual Visionaries Tribute. The announcement was picked up by Gregg Kilday at The Hollywood Reporter, Manori Ravindran at Realscreen and Anne-Katrin Titze at Eye For Film.

Nearing ever closer, the Toronto International Film Festival continues to garner quite a lot of press attention. Rolling Stone’s David Fear posted a list of his top 25 films to look out for, starting with Sydney Pollack’s AMAZING GRACE and including Laurie Anderson’s HEART OF A DOG, Amy Berg’s JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE and more. Similarly, Alexander Huls of Blog TO listed his top 10 docs to catch at the fest, while Eric Kohn named 7 hidden gems that included Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola’s RETURN OF THE ATOM. Surprisingly absent from each of these lists was Morgan Neville’s KEITH RICHARDS: UNDER THE INFLUENCE, which was extensively featured in The New York Times by Jon Pareles. In The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy surveyed the fall festival circuit in hopes of gauging the awards season buzz to follow, while Anthony Kaufman outlined the TIFF doc sales market for indieWIRE. And if you are looking for a taste of what’s on the menu at TIFF this year, Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie has a pair of posts that pair synopses with trailers for each doc on offer.

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Monday Memo: New York Film Festival Releases Lineup, Includes P.T. Anderson’s First Doc


The first still from Paul Thomas Anderson's JUNUN

In a week in which the Toronto International Film Festival announced its programming schedule for its ever eventful Doc Conference and Hot Docs announced the appointment of Shane Smith as their new Director of Programming in an attempt to plug the hole left by the departure of Charlotte Cook earlier this year, the biggest news of the week may be the release of the New York Film Festival’s lineup. Most notably, included as part of the Special Events programming is the world premiere of JUNUN, Paul Thomas Anderson’s first attempt at documentary filmmaking. According to Nicholas Kemp’s Film Society of Lincoln Center announcement, the film “follows the musical journey of his close friend and collaborator Jonny Greenwood to northern India, to record an album with an Israeli musician Shye Ben Tzur and illustrious local musicians.” Reporting for Rolling Stone, Daniel Kreps outlined the surprise film’s origins.

Prior to the world premiere of Fredrick Wiseman’s IN JACKSON HEIGHTS in Venice and its subsequent screenings at TIFF in tandem with showings of his recently restored classic TITICUT FOLLIES, A.O. Scott celebrated the legendary doc filmmaker in The New York Times, gushing, “There are nonfiction films that force you to suppress your summarizing reflexes, to slow your thinking and open your sensory receptors to new modes of perception, even when what you are perceiving seems to be perfectly ordinary. The master of this kind of filmmaking is Frederick Wiseman, now 85, whose sustained acts of attention to various places, institutions and social phenomena constitute one of the great monuments of modern filmmaking.”

While Wiseman was on the mind of Scott, Variety’s Addie Morfoot had the Emmys and their recent rule changes on the brain. She writes, “a rule change this year has opened up the Emmy nonfiction category, allowing theatrical hits such as CITIZENFOUR to compete for Emmys,” increasing the competition in an already increasingly competitive field which now includes titles from Netflix, while Emmy mainstays like PBS and HBO continue to produce outstanding content. Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie reports that Justine Nagan, POV’s new executive producer and executive director of American Documentary, has plenty to plans already in the works to keep PBS on the fore of doc filmmaking. The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will air September 20, 2015.

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Monday Memo: Poitras’ CITIZENFOUR Premieres at NYFF


The new film from Laura Poitras, CITIZENFOUR, had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.

This week CITIZENFOUR, the new film from director Laura Poitras on the events surrounding the NSA leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden, premiered at the New York Film Festival. Steven Zeitchik reported on the premiere for the Los Angeles Times, as did Emily Buder of Indiewire. At The Hollywood Reporter, Scott Feinberg posited the idea that the film had leapt to the top of the doc Oscar race. Ronnie Scheib of Variety reviewed the film, as did Eric Kohn of Indiewire. Also, George Packer released a profile of Poitras for the New Yorker. Finally, Adam Benzine of Realscreen reported that a new doc on Snowden, titled SNOWDEN’S GREAT ESCAPE, was in the works.

The film THE OVERNIGHTERS from director Jesse Moss premiered in theaters this week. At Nonfics.com, Katie Walsh interviewed Moss about how he handled some of the surprises thrown at him during production. Writing for the A.V. Club, A.A. Dowd gave the film an A- review, while Noel Murray of The Rolling Stone explored how the film came to be. And at the New York Times, Eric Hynes wrote on the intimate approach employed by Moss in making the film.

This week Stranger Than Fiction continues its tribute to Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker with a screening of COMPANY: ORIGINAL CAST ALBUM, a rarely screened film that documents the recording session of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.” It will be accompanied by the short LAMBERT & CO. The films screen this Tuesday, October 14 at the IFC Center in Manhattan at the special time of 8:30pm. Following the screening D.A. Pennebaker will be in attendance for a Q&A. For more information or to purchase tickets, please go here.

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