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, MUBI. Sophie 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.
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.
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.
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.
The International Documentary Association (IDA) this week announced that it would be giving awards to filmmakers Alex Gibney, Laura Poitras and Geralyn Dreyfous. Christopher Campbell had coverage at Nonfics.com, while Steve Pond had the same at The Wrap. Adam Benzine of Realscreen and Rebecca Keegan of the Los Angeles Times also penned pieces on the awards.
Canadian documentarian Michel Brault passed away this week. Catherine Perreault remembered the filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada’s site, as did Christopher Campbell at Nonfics.com. Ray Pride of Movie City News took note of Brault’s work on wrestling, LA LUTTE.
The Cinema Eye Honors announced its list of 15 finalists for its nonfiction short film award. Kevin Ritchie covered the news for Realscreen, and Christopher Campbell rounded up some trailers–and the full film in some cases–at nonfics.com.
This week Stranger Than Fiction plays host to BIG MEN, director Rachel Boynton’s look at the involvement of U.S. oil companies in Africa. The screening takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan, and will be followed by a Q&A with Boynton. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.