With more TIFF wrap ups, a bunch of theatrical releases, award show news and more, it’s been a bustling week for documentary lovers. At the top of the heap was the announcement that the Cinema Eye Honors is turning 10 this year, and to celebrate, the organization polled 110 key members of the documentary community and selected 10 filmmakers and 20 films that helped define Cinema Eye’s first decade. In partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image, Cinema Eye will be hosting a 10-week screening series of films from its first decade, beginning with four-time Cinema Eye Honoree and Academy Award winner Laura Poitras presenting her post-9/11 trilogy: MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, THE OATH and CITIZENFOUR. A full schedule of the series will be announced at a later date.
Following the news that Poitras would be kicking off the Cinema Eye screening series, she made the major announcement that she’d be stepping down from The Intercept to focus on the expansion of Field of Vision at its new location, fieldofvision.org. Along with her co-founders AJ Schnack and Charlotte Cook, the trio released a simultaneous statement in which they revealed “our new website, announce a slate of international films, expanded collaborations, and a SecureDrop platform for sources to leak newsworthy video.” New films from Yung Chang, Emily Pederson, Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko, Braden King, Elizabeth Lo, Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke and Hito Steyerl, among others are in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled.
Tomorrow, the fall season of Stranger Than Fiction, which will celebrate the documentary work of Jonathan Demme with a 6-film retrospective, kicks off with his miraculous 1984 Talking Heads concert doc STOP MAKING SENSE! Demme himself will be on hand for a live post-screening Q&A. Season passes are still available here. As a primer to our upcoming retrospective, Demme appeared again on the latest episode of Thom Powers’ Pure Nonfiction podcast to talk about his concert films with Talking Heads, Neil Young and Justin Timberlake.
Like so many in the business of film making, curating, critiquing or just consuming, I’m feeling a little overstimulated after 11 days of movie-going at the Toronto International Film Festival, but in a good way. I managed to catch 46 films of the 296 features on offer this year, 19 of which were docs, many of which were outstanding. I managed to log a trio of reviews over at IONCINEMA, while an avalanche of doc coverage was amassed at outlets like Nonfics, POV Magazine, and Cinema Scope, among countless others. Found in the mix was Amy Kaufman’s extensive takes on RATS and AMANDA KNOX, and Steven Zeitchik‘s review of BEFORE THE FLOOD, all for the LA Times, while The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee also ruminated on AMANDA KNOX. At Realscreen, Jonathan Paul spoke with Errol Morris about his latest, THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY, while Kevin Ritchie asked Werner Herzog about INTO THE INFERNO. At yesterday’s closing awards ceremony Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was given the People’s Choice Documentary Award, while Fisher Stevens’ BEFORE THE FLOOD and Steve James’ ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL were named the second and first runners up, respectively.
In the midst of the action, our own Thom Powers hosted TIFF’s annual one day Doc Conference, featuring live panels and discussions on a wide range of non-fiction filmmaking related topics. If you weren’t able to make it, most of the events are now available to stream on TIFF’s YouTube channel, including conversations with Steve James, Jonathan Demme and more. Meanwhile, VR made its prescence known at the festival this year with its POP VR event reports Realscreen’s Jonathan Paul. Looking at the many films that scored distribution at TIFF, Kate Erbland wrote an overview of the sales for IndieWire, including Magnolia’s pick up of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and Syndicado’s purchase of IN EXILE.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, we’ve revealed that our Fall Season is devoted to the documentary work of Jonathan Demme. The series features a six film retrospective with live director Q&As at each screening, beginning on September 27th with his legendary Talking Heads concert doc, STOP MAKING SENSE. Season passes and individual screening tickets are available.