Monday Memo: Cinema Eye Honors Go To Killing, Stories

Sarah Polley won the outstanding director award for her film STORIES WE TELL at this year's Cinema Eye Honors.

This week saw the 7th annual Cinema Eye Honors, with the award for outstanding feature going to Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE ACT OF KILLING. Sarah Polley took home the award for outstanding director for STORIES WE TELL. Adam Benzine had coverage for Realscreen, while Christopher Campbell did the same at Tom Roston reported on the awards for the POV blog, as did Nick Dawson at Filmmaker Magazine. And Adam Schartoff spoke with Esther Robinson about the awards in an episode of his Filmwax podcast.

In distro news, Paula Bernstein of Indiewire reported that Cinedigm picked up North American rights to REMOTE AREA MEDICAL, while Dave McNary of Variety also had the news. Also, Paula Bernstein reported that CITIZEN KOCH had been nabbed by Variance Films for theatrical release in the U.S. and Canada.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) this week announced its doc nominees, with Alexandra Zeevalkink of the DocGeeks blog on the news and Adam Benzine covering the event for Realscreen.

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Monday Memo: Sundance Names Doc Premieres

The film LIFE ITSELF on film critic Roger Ebert from director Steve James will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next year.

The Sundance Institute this week named the documentaries that would premiere at its festival next year, including LIFE ITSELF from director Steve James, FINDING FELA from Alex Gibney and FREEDOM SUMMER from Stanley Nelson. At Realscreen, Adam Benzine covered the announcement, as did Justin Chang of Variety. Indiewire’s Bryce J. Renninger took a look at the relationship between a Sundance premiere for a doc and an Oscar win, discerning an interesting relationship. Nate von Zumwalt of the Sundance blog spoke with Steve James on HOOP DREAMS, a restored version of which will screen at the festival next year. And Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie reported on the doc shorts set to play at Sundance.

In awards news, Adam Benzine of Realscreen had a rundown of awards-winners from various festivals, while Realscreen colleague Kevin Ritchie repeated the feat a week later. The International Documentary Association (IDA) awards got their own post from Adam Benzine, while Dave McNary of Variety also wrote on the IDA awards.

Last week also appeared to be the week in which everyone tacitly agreed to start sending out their “Best Of 2013” lists. Tom Roston issued his top 10 picks for the year at the POV blog, while the writers at the Indiewire blog The Playlist did the same, but picked 15 films. Eric Kohn also released his list in a post at Indiewire. At the Los Angeles Times, Hugh Heart named his favorite music docs for the year, while Paula Bernstein produced a list of her favorite doc characters for the year. And Scott Tobias shared his reflections on the year in docs at The Dissolve.

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Monday Memo: Oscar Doc Shortlist for 2014 Announced

20 FEET FROM STARDOM from director Morgan Neville was one of the films named to the Oscar doc shortlist this week.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) this week announced the 15 docs named to this year’s Oscar shortlist. Adam Benzine of Realscreen covered the news, as did Peter Knegt of Indiewire and Tim Gray of Variety. Basil Tsiokos took a look at the shortlisted films and linked to previous coverage of them at his What (Not) to Blog, while Larry Rohter of the New York Times noted a focus on politics and music. Inkoo Kang of the Women in Hollywood blog at Indiewire took note of five women directors whose films made the shortlist. In his Docutopia post at the SundanceNOW blog, Anthony Kaufman examined the effect that recent rule changes had on the doc Oscar process. And Lily Rothman of Time explained how viewers could watch every film on the doc shortlist.

The other big news came this week when the Sundance Film Festival announced the films in its 2014 lineup. Again, Adam Benzine had coverage at Realscreen, as did Daniel Fienberg of Hitfix. Indiewire had a rundown of the films in the World Cinema doc competition, and in the U.S. doc competition. Christopher Campbell had a nice rundown of the Sundance films, along with some trailers for films. And Kevin Ritchie of Realscreen had coverage of the docs screening at this year’s Slamdance.

The International Documentary Association (IDA) also had its awards ceremony this week, with Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio of the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire providing coverage. Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter also wrote up the awards.

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Monday Memo: Blood Brother Wins Top Sundance Prize

BLOOD BROTHER by Steve Hoover was the big winner at this year's Sundance festival.

Steve Hoover’s film BLOOD BROTHER, about American Rocky Braat who dedicates his life to working with HIV positive children living in an orphanage in India, was the big award winner at Sundance this year, taking home both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award Prize for a U.S. documentary. The Grand Jury Prize for world cinema went to Kalyanee Mam for her film A RIVER CHANGES COURSE, about several families in Cambodia. You can find a full list of Sundance award winners here. Adam Benzine of Realscreen also had an awards recap, as did Bryan Alexander of USA Today. Benzine also provided a comprehensive recap of documentary news that came out of the festival.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the festival was that docs were selling well. The folks at Indiewire took on the task of rounding up all the acquisitions deals that were inked during Sundance (the list includes both docs and narratives). Daniel Miller and Tatiana Siegel of The Hollywood Reporter reported that a minimum of four docs sold for at least $1 million: PUSSY RIOT–A PUNK PRAYER by directors Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin; THE SUMMIT by Nick Ryan, TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM by Morgan Neville; and BLACKFISH by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Josh L. Dickey and Jeff Sneider of Variety also reported that the high price tags commanded by many films may have frozen out smaller indie distributors.

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