Just two days prior to our THE GLEANERS AND I screening at IFC Center in celebration of Agnès Varda’s 89th birthday (tomorrow – featuring a live Q&A with Varda fan and fellow filmmaker Kirsten Johnson), the tireless film essayist, along with her newfound friend in French street artist J.R., has won the third L’Œil d’or (Golden Eye Award) for best documentary for VISAGES, VILLAGES. The film has garnered quite a critical response thus far, with Owen Gleiberman proclaiming this week that “she’s the world’s most ageless filmmaker,” raising the bar from her previous thrift-shop docs THE GLEANERS AND I and THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS, At Film Comment, Amy Taubin concurred, “In her magnificent, groundbreaking, nearly 60-year career, this is one of her most profoundly personal and exuberantly populist works.”
As Cannes wrapped up, the IndieWire staff listed their top 10 films of the festival and included VISAGES, VILLAGES among them. Two other docs made the cut – Eugene Jarecki’s THE PROMISED LAND, and Emmanuel Gras’ MAKALA, which received a L’Œil d’or special mention and won the Critics’ Week Nespresso Grand Prize. Sarah Ward of Screen Daily admired Jarecki’s film, noting that “It’s an engaging, informative and impassioned journey,” while both Boyd van Hoeij of The Hollywood Reporter and IndieWire’s Michael Nordine felt a bit lukewarm on Gras’. Meanwhile, Wendy Mitchell covered “a Cannes Doc Day panel of documentary experts discussing the challenges and opportunities of making non-fiction films in the ‘post-truth’ era” for Screen Daily.
Few weeks come with so many surprising, exciting and, well, BIG announcements in the realm of documentary production. Just as Cannes was kicking off, news broke that Oscar winner Morgan Neville would be heading a new feature length doc for Netflix on the final 15 years of Orson Welles and his long in the works final project, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. The announcement comes in the wake of other exciting Welles related news, as earlier this year Netflix announced its commitment to funding the final completion of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, and just a month later a collection of “letters, postcards, diaries and doodles from a teenage Orson Welles, along with unpublished scripts of his many incomplete projects from the ’50s and ’60” were acquired by the University of Michigan from his youngest daughter, Beatrice Welles, for its extensive Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection.
The following day, The Hollywood Reporter’s Tatiana Siegel broke the news that Michael Moore and Harvey Weinstein have reteamed to bring the world FAHRENHEIT 11/9, “a palindromic bookend” to their Palme d’Or winning, top-grossing documentary of all time, FAHRENHEIT 9/11. A day later, just as Chelsea Manning was finally to be released from a maximum-security U.S. military prison, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland reported that Tim Travers Hawkins would be teaming up with Pulse Films, as well as executive producers Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook, to direct CHELSEA XY, a feature length doc on “the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman”.
For the second week in a row, we here at Stranger Than Fiction have a double header on our hands this week. Tomorrow at IFC Center, director Errol Morris and subject Elsa Dorfman will be on hand for a Q&A following a screening of their film THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY, while on the following day we return for a Wednesday Night special screening of COMPANY TOWN, with directors Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow in attendance for another live Q&A.