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.
Canadian ilmmaker John Greyson was arrested in Egypt while researching a potential film.
Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, along with doctor and potential film subject Tarek Loubani, were arrested in Egypt this week while considering beginning work on a documentary film about Loubani’s work. Adam Benzine of Realscreen had details of his arrest, as did Sean Tepper of the Toronto Star. The Documentary Organization of Canada called on its government to aid in winning the release of the pair.
Director Bill Siegel talked with WYNC interviewer Leonard Lopate this week about his new film THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI, which hit theaters this week. Noel Murray of The Dissolve and Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times turned in reviews of the film.
At the Tribeca Institute website Ron Mwangaguhunga wondered if documentaries could save newsweeklies, noting the recent launch of Time Magazine’s new doc unit, Red Border Films. In a piece for the POV blog, Heather McIntosh provided a rationale for new interest in docs from CNN, Time and Al Jazeera America.