You may have noticed the lack of last week’s holiday styled memo, but this week we’ve returned with plenty of nonfiction news to get you up to speed. Up top we’ve got IndieWire’s Anne Thompson making her early predictions for what docs will be in the running for the 2018 Oscar for Best Documentary. Unsurprisingly, Matthew Heineman’s CITY OF GHOSTS (see this week’s slew of coverage on the film below), Agnès Varda’s FACES, PLACES, and Laura Poitras’ RISK are among the forerunners thus far.
In festival happenings, Ben Nicholson reported for Sight & Sound on this year’s edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the first under its new chief programmer Luke Moody. At What (not) To Doc, Basil Tsiokos put forth his usual thorough overview of new nonfiction for the 35th edition of LA’s Outfest, noting a pair of centerpiece selections in Lori Kaye’s KEVIN AUCOIN: BEAUTY & THE BEAST IN ME and Katherine Fairfax Wright’s BEHIND THE CURTAIN: TODRICK HALL. Doc filmmakers should also take note that this coming Friday is DOC NYC‘s Extended Deadline for submissions for its 2017 edition.
This past week has put me, and likely many of you, through the emotional ringer. With multiple police shootings of unarmed black Americans (be sure to read Jude Dry‘s IndieWire piece on “How Black Lives Matter Created The Accidental Documentarians” and Sam Adams‘ follow-up “These Are the Documentaries We Need to See”), the atrocities of police assassinations, and Abbas Kiarostami’s untimely death at the uncaring hands of cancer, it’s been a pretty horrendous week. So, let’s begin with a lineup of therapeutic, moving memorial pieces to the Iranian master, beginning with a pair of remembrances at IndieWire from fellow filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Ramin Bahrani, as well as admiring Sight & Sound critics Geoff Andrews and Ehsan Khoshbakht. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody contributed to the chorus of praise and respect, as did Tina Hassannia at The Globe and Mail, and Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.
Even outside the context of the greater cultural situation, race and sex surfaced as a hot topic this week, headlined by a piece that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Rebecca Keegan on “Why the second movie is the biggest hurdle to becoming a filmmaker — especially for women and minorities.” On the brighter side of things, IndieWire’s Michael Nordine reported that London’s National Film and Television School has launched a series of new initiatives to foster female directors, while Screen Daily’s Michael Rosser broke the news that female directors sweep the East End Film Festival awards, including Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami who won the award for Best Documentary for SONITA.
In other festival news, Basil Tsiokos laid out the doc offerings of both LA’s Outfest and the 33rd Jerusalem Film Festival at What (not) To Doc, while Stephen A. Russell selected his top picks of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival at SBS. Looking back at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, Ben Nicholson wrote at length in Sight & Sound about the wide variety of films to be found this year. And also in Sight & Sound, filmmakers Penny Woolcock and Ross McElwee discussed their distaste for film festival going. And for doc filmmakers, this week is the final week DOC NYC is accepting submissions for this year’s edition – due date is Friday, July 15th.