While the midterm elections, another mass shooting, and word that RBG fell and fractured three ribs were all making headline news this last week, plenty of notable documentary happenings were taking place in the background. On Saturday night in Brooklyn, the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards took place, at which “WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? took home the evening’s most prestigious award for Best Documentary as well as Best Director for Morgan Neville and the award for Best Editing. FREE SOLO took home the award for Best Sports Documentary, the award for Best Innovative Documentary and was honored for Best Cinematography…the Best Political Documentary winner was RBG. QUINCY took home the award for Best Music Documentary. There was a tie for Best First Time Director between Bing Liu for MINDING THE GAP and Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster for SCIENCE FAIR.”
Two days prior, the Cinema Eye Honors announced the nominees for its 12th edition, with MINDING THE GAP leading the pack with a total of 7 nominations, tying the record for most nominations in Cinema Eye history. The six films up for the top prize of Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking are BISBEE ’17, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING, MINDING THE GAP, OF FATHERS AND SONS, THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?.
Many of the nominees and award winners thus far turned up in conversation with one another for The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Documentary Roundtable. Meanwhile, Anne Thompson noted at IndieWire that “Last year, the Academy documentary branch had to grapple with a record 170 documentary feature submissions for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. This year, it’s not so bad: only 166 were entered. The short list of 15 will be announced, along with eight others for the first time on a single date this year: December 17.”
Following our final screening of our 2018 Spring Season, DOC NYC revealed their annual summer professional development program, DOC NYC PRO’s Distribution Boot Camp at IFC Center on Thursday, June 28th, 10 am – 5 pm. The full day event features a keynote from Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan, a dos and don’ts discussion by directors Amanda Lipitz and Lana Wilson, a talk on navigating contracts with Josh Braun and attorney Adam Beasley, and much more. Tickets are available now and the early bird price through June 12th is $75 for the full day (or $65 for IFC Center members).
On that same wavelength, the Firelight Media Documentary Lab‘s Open Call for its 18-month fellowship program closed tomorrow at midnight. “The Lab provides filmmakers with customized mentorship from prominent leaders in the documentary world, funding, professional development workshops and networking opportunities.”
Working doc filmmakers should also take note that American Documentary has launched a new program called the Artist Emergency Fund, which “will provide one-time awards of up to $1,000 each to professional mediamakers residing in any US State, Territory or Indian Nation” “who are facing financial emergencies due to unforeseen personal calamities such as health issues, eviction, or disasters.” In a statement to Chris O’Falt at IndieWire, Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV/ American Documentary, relayed the new program’s importance for career sustainability in the field, “For too many documentary filmmakers, a simple trip to the emergency room can mean years of mounting medical bills. Our aim is to make AmDoc as supportive to filmmakers as possible, while also helping build a more inclusive industry that supports the most vulnerable among us. This type of grant program is common in other artistic disciplines, and it seemed time for filmmakers to have a safety net. It won’t solve the field’s overall sustainability issues, but we hope it’s a step in the right direction.”