Monday Memo: Nevins to Leave HBO After Nearly 40 Years


After a week off, I’ve returned to a short stack of doc news that packed quite a punch over the last few days. Most notably, Sheila Nevins, the 78-year-old president of HBO Documentary Films, has revealed that after 38 years of devout service she has decided to leave HBO, reflecting, “I have deprived my life of a life. All I did was work. I was, like, born at HBO and I don’t have to die there. If I stayed any longer, I probably would have died at my desk. I just regret that there’s so little time left.” In Maureen Dowd‘s revelatory feature in The New York Times, she notes, “With a storytelling style that grabs viewers by the throat, Ms. Nevins helped change the image of documentaries from stodgy to provocative. And she helped HBO amass such a pile of Emmys, Peabodys and Oscars that there’s a roomful of glittering laurels at headquarters that’s known as the Holy Shrine of Sheila. She received the first Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award given to a documentarian.” In a separate piece, Dowd played Confirm or Deny with Nevins.

Another sudden departure came as a surprise when filmmaker Morgan Spurlock published a confessional piece titled “I am Part of the Problem,” in which he reveals that in his past a women he had a one night stand with believed that she had been raped, and a former coworker was paid a settlement to keep silent about his history of verbal sexual harassment toward her. Christine Hauser reported the news in The New York Times, while at Realscreen, Daniele Alcinii followed the aftermath of the revelations, seeing Spurlock exit Warrior Poets, the New York-based studio he founded with producing partner Jeremy Chilnick, and NBA superstar LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment cutting ties with the filmmaker on a planned docuseries focusing on the opening of James’ “I Promise School” — a new public school dedicated to supporting at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

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Monday Memo: AFI DOCS Announces 2017 Lineup, STF Alum GET ME ROGER STONE Debuts on Netflix


A week has passed since the curtains closed on Hot Docs 2017, but coverage of the festival continues to roll in. Both Anthony Kaufman and Anne Thompson reported on the twenty projects that were proposed to funders and broadcasters at the Hot Docs Pitch Forum for IndieWire, noting their favorite projects of prior iterations (STRONG ISLAND, BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY) and promising projects from this year’s edition (Elan and Jonathan Bogarín’s 306 HOLLYWOOD, Robert Greene’s BISBEE ’17), while Corey Atad‘s festival dispatch turned up at Vice and my report on the under-covered highlights of the festival was published over at Nonfics.

Tel Aviv’s19th annual Docaviv and Ecuador’s EDOC (Encuentros del Otro Cine) are both currently underway, as Basil Tsiokos reminds at What (not) To Doc, but stateside doc lovers have their attention focused on the fact that AFI DOCS (running June 14-18) and the LA Film Festival (June 14-22) have revealed their 2017 lineups. Meanwhile on the other side of the globe, the Sydney Film Festival (running June 7-18) also announced their 2017 program.

After taking home the Special Jury Prize for inspirational documentary filmmaking, Amanda Lipitz’s STEP is getting a sneak peak screening tomorrow at IFC Center as part of our spring season! Director Lipitz will be on hand for a live post-screening Q&A. Tickets for the event are on sale here.

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Monday Memo: POV’s 30th Season Announced


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.

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Monday Memo: THE LOOK OF SILENCE Wins Best Doc At Spirit Awards, Snubbed at Oscars


Finally, the glitz and glam of award season has settled and despite the avalanche of awards thrown at the feet of Joshua Oppenheimer for his second monolithic work of non-fiction in two years – Cinema Eye Awards, IDA Awards, Gotham Awards, and a long list of other awards from just about every major festival on the circuit – not to mention Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon, the Academy predictably cast their vote for Asif Kapadia’s AMY, which managed to beat out THE LOOK OF SILENCE to win the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Though Oppenheimer lost, he appeared at the center of Eric Kohn‘s post-Oscar rundown at indieWIRE and in the media quite a lot leading up to Oscar night, having spoken with Errol Morris about the recent interest in true crime docs, also at indieWIRE, while his friend and subject Adi Rukun spoke out for the first time about why he risked his own life for the good of the film. Tom Roston wrote about Adi’s involvement and collaboration with Oppenheimer at Doc Soup, while both indieWIRE’s Chris O’Falt and the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor outlined how the film has brought social change abroad and right here in the US.

Just a few days prior to Oscar night, the Doc Impact Awards named CHASING ICE, CITIZENFOUR, FOOD CHAINS, MINERS SHOT DOWN, and VIRUNGA as the 2016 winners, having made the biggest social impact on the world since their release. But as we know, awards aren’t everything. A whole host of critics meditated this past week on their experiences at this year’s Berlinale and the non-fiction films they found on offer, from Artforum’s Travis Jeppesen, BFI’s Geoff Andrew, and The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver, to Ruben Demasure in MUBI’s Notebook and Kevin B. Lee at Fandor’s Keyframe. Also at Notebook, Locarno’s Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian praised Werner Herzog and his latest doc Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, while Samuel Wigley of the BFI listed 10 films to see at this year’s Borderlines Film Festival at 25 venues across Herefordshire, Shropshire and the Marches in the UK, including a handful of docs. And speaking of the UK,

A new three day documentary film festival named DOC10, presented by the Chicago Media Project and headed by Paula Froehle, Steve Cohen, Sarah Nobles, and programmed by Anthony Kaufman, will have its inaugural edition at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago from April 1st through the 3rd. Featuring just 10 films over 3 days, the festival aims to “present the full spectrum of current nonfiction filmmaking, from important social issue films and captivating music docs to engaging vérité and experimental work.”

After our successful Stranger Than Fiction dual screenings of last week, we return to our normal schedule tomorrow with a special 15th Anniversary screening of Kate Davis’ 2001 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner SOUTHERN COMFORT at the IFC Center. Tickets for this screening are still available here.

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Monday Memo: PBS Decides to Keep Docs in Primetime, Doug Block’s D-Word Goes 3.0


This past week, doc filmmakers have been accorded quite lovely news on various fronts. After much public debate and industry outcry over whether or not INDEPENDENT LENS or POV would continue to feature in PBS’s primetime slots, the decision has been made to not only keep them, but to bolster their promotional support, according to reports from both Variety’s James Rainey and Kevin Ritchie at Realscreen. Just the day prior to the announcement, Ritchie had written a fortuitously timely, extensive feature at Realscreen on the incredible success of the non-fiction format on television, while the following day Esquire’s Nick Schager wrote at length on HBO’s primetime success this year – the breaking news seeming only to echo their claims.

Not only this, but Doug Block’s essential doc filmmaker’s online resource, The D-Word, has been given a major face-lift with its crowd funded 3.0 upgrade. Not only is it easier to keep track of all the topics pertinent to you, the site looks a lot cleaner and is now much easier to browse from mobile devices. A full list of new changes to the site can be found here. In addition, Indiewire’s Paula Bernstein caught up with Block to discuss The D-Word’s long gestating upgrade.

Tomorrow, Stranger Than Fiction continues with director Daisy Asquith’s immensely personal story of her mother’s conception after a dance in the 1940s on the remote west coast of Ireland in AFTER THE DANCE. The film screens at 8 pm at the IFC Center and will be followed by a Q&A with Asquith.

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