After ten days of film-going, the Toronto International Film Festival came to a close last night after the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award was bestowed upon Agnès Varda and JR for their L’Œil d’or winning collaboration FACES, PLACES at the awards ceremony at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The week prior, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to honor Varda with an Oscar at the annual honorary Governors Awards to take place in November, reported Anne Thompson at IndieWire.
Unsurprisingly, there have been reams of coverage coming out of Toronto, from round-ups such as Thompson‘s documentary breakouts or The Hollywood Reporter‘s Best of the Fall Festivals, which names Greg Barker’s “fascinating, frequently moving” THE FINAL YEAR and Brett Morgan’s “wondrous, moving account of” trailblazing wildlife conservationist Jane Goodall among its rank, as well as copious doc reviews logged (too many to individually list here) by the hardworking folks over at Cinema Scope, MUBI’s Notebook, IndieWire, Nonfics & POV Magazine. In IDA’s The Feedback, Tom White spoke with director Erika Cohn about her TIFF debuted feature THE JUDGE, which had a rough cut preview earlier this year as part of IDA’s DocuClub. Jeremy Elphick talked to Ben Russell about his new mining doc GOOD LUCK, “his lengthy relationship with Suriname, and the experience of shooting for the first time in Serbia,” at 4:3. Additionally, Nicolas Rapold interviewed Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, the directors behind the much discussed CANIBA, “about the film’s aesthetics and ethics beachside at the Venice film festival, where CANIBA had its world premiere before screening at TIFF and in Projections at the New York Film Festival.” Let’s not forget that the team at Realscreen covered TIFF’s Doc Conference, with Jessica Mach on gender barriers in the doc industry, Daniele Alcinii on lessons in privately financing your documentary, and Selina Chignall on building a career in documentary. More will surely surface in the week to come.
During the summer, much of the doc world goes relatively quiet, but this week it kicks into overdrive as the fall film festival season goes from 0 to 60 in one week flat. The 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival began on Wednesday with “just over 30 documentary features among its more than 100 feature offerings,” as Basil Tsiokos noted in his nonfiction overview of the fest at What (not) To Doc. In his own festival preview in The New York Times, Nicolas Rapold singled out a few docs – Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s CANIBA, Frederick Wiseman’s EX LIBRIS, Chris Smith’s JIM & ANDY – that are set to also screen next week at the Toronto International Film Festival, while others – HUMAN FLOW by Ai Weiwei (which received a glowing review from IndieWire’s David Ehrlich) and the hybrid series WORMWOOD by Errol Morris (who spoke with Brent Lang of Variety and picked up praise from IndieWire via Eric Kohn and The Guardian’s Xan Brooks) – had their debuts this weekend at the exclusive Telluride Film Festival. Following Telluride’s lineup unveiling, Adam Benzine and the fine folks over at Nonfics pointed out that the festival launched last year’s Oscar doc shorts winner and posed the possibility of the same happening with this year’s HEROIN(E) and LONG SHOT. At Variety, Kristopher Tapley discussed the fate of Sydney Pollack’s long embattled Aretha Franklin film AMAZING GRACE, which has been slated for a Telluride debut for years.
Closer to home, TIFF takes over Toronto this Thursday and the Toronto Star’s Peter Howell already broke the news this past week that long time director and CEO Piers Handling has announced his departure after nearly 25 years at the helm. “The urbane Handling, 68, has a lot planned for his post-TIFF life, including a book — something film-related but not personal memoirs — and more of the world travel and mountain climbing that have long been among his other passions. In all, the former film professor will have been at TIFF for 36 years, nearly half his life.”
Giving an exclusive preview of the TIFF Docs offerings, programmer Thom Powers and his colleague Dorota Lech outlined each of the films in a pair of episodes of the Pure Nonfiction podcast. The CinemaScope crew have already begun combing through the more experimental docs making their domestic debut at the fest, with reviews of GOOD LUCK via Phil Coldiron, MRS. FANG via Daniel Kasman, TA PEAU SI LISSE via Adam Nayman, and FACES PLACES by Jordan Cronk. And at Entertainment Weekly, Joey Nolfi spoke with Lady Gaga and director Chris Moukarbel about GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO, which is set to have its world premiere at the fest this coming Friday.
In a week in which scientists successfully actualized teleportation and Trump found himself mired in a Russian influenced campaign scandal, it may have been difficult to wade through the news stories to find the notable documentary related stories (light as they may be this week). Most noteworthy are the 2017 Emmy Awards nominations, which include AMANDA KNOX, THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS and 13TH among those in the running for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special, and O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, OKLAHOMA CITY and THE WHITE HELMETS up for an award for Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking.
Looking at the festival circuit, Basil Tsiokos noted that the 34th Jerusalem Film Festival is now in full swing (with a fascinating selection of docs in competition), while both the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Locarno Festival have announced their programs. More immediately relevant, today PBS is launching its 6th Annual PBS Online Film Festival where 25 films, including POV’s OUR VOICES ARE RARELY HEARD are available to stream through July 28th.
Though festival lineup announcements bring new feature length titles to the fore, PBS’s newly revealed fall lineup includes Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 18-hour, 10-part series, THE VIETNAM WAR, which will have its world premiere on Sundays through Thursdays beginning September 17th. Other notable fall inclusions are Michael Collins’ ALMOST SUNRISE (which Glenn Kenny warmly wrote about at RogerEbert.com this week) and John Scheinfeld’s CHASING TRANE.