Photo by Larry Busacca / Getty Images
Crystal Moselle’s unbelievable Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner THE WOLFPACK is undeniably the most talked about doc of the year thus far. Hitting theaters this past weekend, the film was not only selected by our own Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen as WNYC’s Documentary of the Week, but featured in the LA Times by Steven Zeitchik, Huffington Post by Matthew Jacobs, the Wall Street Journal by Caryn James, Salon thanks to Lauren Wissot and The New York Times by Cara Buckley. Manohla Dargis also reviewed Moselle’s film for The Times, as did NPR’s Ella Taylor, NY Daily News’ Joe Neumaier, RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico, The Dissolve’s Tasha Robinson and Ned Benson at The Talkhouse. At Indiewire, Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio posted a new video of the film’s subjects, the Angulo Brothers, remaking classic DeNiro scenes, while Simon Houpt spoke with two of the boys for The Globe and Mail. With all the attention, it’s unsurprising to find Moselle has been doing interviews with everyone, including Jenelle Riley of Variety, Jamie Maleszka at Nonfics, The Dissolve’s Tasha Robinson and Vice.
This last week also saw two substantial new entries into the doc world. The Wrap’s Itay Hod and Bent’s Jamie Gates both reported that Logo TV is launching an LGBT documentary division with a slate films that include Michele Josue’s MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE and Deborah Riley Draper’s VERSAILLES ’73: AN AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Likewise, Economist Magazine has kicked off a new documentary unit, Economist Films, according to Variety’s David S. Cohen. Starting big, they’ve already posted a pair of films for viewing in DRONE RANGERS and DRUGS: WAR OR STORE?.
Robert Durst arrested, photo by Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office
Months back when news broke that HBO was to premiere Andrew Jarecki’s long awaited return to non-fiction in the form of a six part serial mini-series on Robert Durst, I don’t think anyone could have predicted this: Jon Herskovitz of Reuters, Emily Shapiro of ABC News, Ashley Southall and Charles V. Bagli of The New York Times and the staff at Variety have reported that Saturday the son of the one of New York City’s largest real estate barons was arrested in New Orleans on a murder warrant issued by police in Los Angeles related to the death of his friend, Susan Berman. After the fifth episode of Jarecki’s THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST aired last Sunday, revealing the discovering of new evidence in Berman’s murder case, The New York Times ran an article by Charles V. Bagli that dropped the bomb that the district attorney in Los Angeles had recently reopened an investigation into Berman’s death. The Guardian also ran a piece on Saturday in which Andrew Gumbel outlines the possibility of Jarecki and his team actually solving the murder case through the medium of investigative documentary filmmaking. The series concluded its shocking six episode run on HBO last night in which Durst unknowingly admitted, “Killed them all, of course”. Late last night, Charles V. Bagli and Vivian Yee reported on the horrifying reveal for The New York Times, as did Ben Williams for Vulture and Jessica Contrera and Peter Holley for The Washington Post.
Jarecki is a Stranger Than Fiction alumnus, with his doc classic CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS having screened as part of our Fall 2013 season. Our current season continues tomorrow with a special screening of TO TELL THE TRUTH: A HISTORY OF DOCUMENTARY FILM (1928-1946) dedicated to Ali Pomeroy, who produced the film and tragically passed away February 27, 2015 after a 2 1/2-year struggle with cancer. Both David Van Taylor and Cal Skaggs, the film’s co-directors, will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.
It seems that WNET’s plan to sweep documentary programming aside has been met with a litany of outrage from the filmmakers who’ve long enjoyed the support that PBS’s POV and Independent Lens have lent them over the years. Variety’s James Rainey has the story, in which “more than 2,000 documentarians” – the likes of Laura Poitras, Gordon Quinn and Tracy Droz Tragos among them – “have signed a petition saying they fear that the New York station’s action would lead to the shows being marginalized by PBS affiliates nationwide, slicing into their audiences and crippling efforts to raise money for often edgy, controversial films.”
In response to the criticism, the programmers at WNET have set up what they’ve called a “Listening Tour”, stopping in major cities and hosting public forums to discuss how they can better support filmmakers. At the POV Blog, you can find details on the New York City stop of the tour to be hosted on February 23rd at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. If you’d like to attend the free event, RSVP here.
Also in NYC, the Stranger Than Fiction Winter ’15 Season continues tomorrow at 8pm at the IFC Center with FREE: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM. Following the screening, there will be a Q&A session with director Marc Levin.