In the same week that a presidential nominee threatened its funding, PBS took home the most hardware of any network from the Oct. 1 33rd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, with nine total wins. (I’m not sure if that’s ironic or fitting.) POV was responsible for five of those wins, while Frontline took home two statues, and Independent Lens and Nature won one apiece. ABC and NBC each snagged seven awards, with NBC taking three. Realscreen’s Kevin Ritchie has a brief breakdown of the awards. For those interested in checking out some of the award-winners, POV has put their four programs online for free viewing for a limited time.
Unlike President Obama, documentary filmmakers Laura Poitras and Natalia Almada had a pretty good week, as both were named MacArthur Fellows, an award more commonly referred to as the “genius grant.” The award will give the two recipients no-strings-attached annual payments of $100,000 over the next five years. Melissa Block of NPR got a chance to talk to Poitras, who had been in press earlier this year after it was reported that she was routinely held and harassed by customs officials when returning to the U.S. after shooting in Middle Eastern countries. The POV blog also paid homage to the two geniuses, both of whom are alums of the PBS show. You can find some clips of Poitras and Almada talking about their work in this post on The Wrap by Tim Molloy.
Doc fans in New York City should keep an eye out tomorrow for the lineup announcement for this year’s DOC NYC film festival, which is set to take place in Manhattan Nov. 8-15. With an expanded list of films, panels and other events, there should be a little something in there for everyone. You can keep up to date on all the festival’s latest information by going to www.docnyc.net, and by following the festival’s Twitter account, @DOCNYCfest.
This week, Stranger Than Fiction is hosting the classic HERB & DOROTHY, the extraordinary story of Herbert Vogel, a postal clerk, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means. Director Megumi Sasaki and film subject Dorothy Vogel will also be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. You can find out more information and buy tickets here.
PBS mainstay Ken Burns was in the news this week after New York City government lawyers attempted to subpoena the unpublished interviews and unused footage from his latest film THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, which focuses on the arrest and subsequent exoneration of five city youths accused of raping a jogger in Central Park in the 1980s. The lawyers reportedly want to see if any of the film’s materials will help them in their defense against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by the wrongly accused. Burns, who directed the film with his daughter, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, reportedly refused to comply with the subpoena. Sarah Burns told Movieline.com that the filmmaking team believed that they were protected by journalistic shield laws. The filmmakers also released a statement outlining their position, which you can read at Indiewire here.
If you thought the debate over the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ handling of documentary awards was now behind us, I hate to be the one to break the news to you. The controversial topic was once again tearing up the doc world’s Twittersphere after filmmaker Michael Moore took to the social media platform to decry the quality of films that had qualified for award consideration. In one tweet, Moore alleged that some films had “bought” their Oscar consideration. At the New York Times, Dave Itzkoff attempted to break down the new rules and potential problems that some filmmakers saw with them. And writing for the Los Angeles Times, Nicole Sperling tried to make sense of the ongoing debate surrounding the award.
Independent Lens is set to kick off its fall season tonight with the Brad Lichtenstein film AS GOES JANESVILLE, an examination of the economic struggles of a working class Midwestern town, the type that once formed the backbone of the U.S.’s middle class. Brooke Shelby Biggs interviewed Lichtenstein about his film for the Independent Lens blog.
The Puma.Creative Impact Awards this week named the five finalists for the award, a joint project involving Puma.Creative and The Britdoc Foundation. The winner will take home a 50,000 euro cash prize. This year’s finalists are ARMADILLO by Janus Metz; BAG IT by Suzan Beraza; BUDRUS by Julia Bacha; GASLAND by Josh Fox; and WEAPON OF WAR by Ilse and Femke van Velzen.
If it seems like health care docs seem to be bumrushing the theaters with great frequency of late, you’re not wrong. Writing for Movies.com, Christopher Campbell provided a great overview of all the health-related films hitting screens in recent weeks. Campbell in his role at the Documentary Channel blog also talked with Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke, the directors of one of those films, ESCAPE FIRE: THE FIGHT TO RESCUE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE. Susan King of the Los Angeles Time also took a look at all of the films focusing on the state of health care in the U.S.
Eugene Jarecki’s doc THE HOUSE I LIVE IN had a somewhat busy week. Kelly Anderson reported that the film had secured international distribution, excluding North American rights, through UK-based Dogwoof International. Christopher Campbell also interviewed Jarecki for the Documentary Channel blog, and Jarecki even made it onto Bill Maher’s show for a chat about–what else–drugs. Jarecki also took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) turn on the website, in what seems to be fast emerging as a rite of passage for doc filmmakers.
Bryce Renninger of Indiewire reported that THE WAITING ROOM by Pete Nicks and ONLY THE YOUNG by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims emerged from the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) with the Harrel Award for Best Film and the Emerging Cinematic Vision Award, respectively. Renninger in a separate post rounded up four reasons why he thought CIFF was a great place for emerging doc filmmakers to pitch their projects.
There was a bit of news associated with the Flaherty Film Seminar in recent days. First, the seminar announced a new executive director, Anita Reher, a co-founder of the European Documentary Network. And the Flaherty NYC component of the seminar, programmed by John Dieringer, launched its new season on Oct. 3. The Flaherty Seminar’s website featured a recap of the opening night of Flaherty NYC, which featured screenings of DEBT BEGINS AT 20 (1980) and DREAM SCREEN (1986).
This week, Tom Roston considered the new Alan Berliner film FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED in his Doc Soup post at the POV blog. Roston got a chance to see the film before it screened at the New York Film Festival, and demand for tickets at the NYFF has been so great that the festival added a third screening.
At the Indiewire blog, Alison Willmore tallied a list of 20 docs premiering in October that she thought should be on everybody’s must-see list.
It was good news for fans of Michael Apted’s Up Series in the U.S.; Adam Benzine this week reported that First Run Features was getting ready for a theatrical run of the latest installment of the series, 56 UP, across the country.
The UK’s Mercury Media also picked up distro rights for a handful of films, including ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH, about the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple.
With filmmakers taking to crowdfunding in vast numbers, I guess it was only a matter of time before festivals followed suite. Adam Benzine, writing for Realscreen, reported that the Sheffield Doc/Fest had launched their own fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo in advance of its 20th anniversary in 2013.
The Tribeca Institute’s Future of Film blog got a host of outtakes from Chris Kenneally’s film SIDE BY SIDE, about the potential death of celluloid film, mashed them all together, and asked its readers to give the issue some thought.
Back at the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell highlighted a Doc Talk clip with HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE director David France.
The DocGeeks blog featured an interesting piece by Julia Scott-Stevenson, in which she considered the potential of social media platforms like Facebook to serve as audience- and interest-building tools for films.
The doc project HALF THE SKY had a pretty impressive few days, managing to take its hashtag to global trending status on Twitter during its Oct. 1-2 broadcast on Independent Lens, thanks to its reliance on some heavyweight celebrity power. At Filmmaker Magazine, Randy Astle took some time to break down the transmedia elements of the project. At the Lost Remote blog, Natan Edelsburg examined the project’s use of “social tv” practices to help its viral spread through social networks.
Basil Tsiokos of the What Not to Doc blog gives us an overview of the docs to look out for at the Hamptons International Film Festival, which started on Oct. 4 and ends today.
Adam Benzine of Realscreen did a bunch of starving filmmakers the favor of rounding up a list of documentary funders, complete with contact information.
Now writing for Film School Rejects (how many jobs does this guy have?), Christopher Campbell guaranteed that Malik Bendjelloul’s festival favorite SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN would receive at the very least a nomination for a Best Documentary Oscar next year, owing to its widespread popularity among both audiences and filmmakers.
At the New York Times, Dennis Lim wrote on the work of filmmaker Ben Rivers, whose work dances on the line between documentary and experimental film.
And on the Tribeca Institute’s website, Jason Guerrasio took copious notes on the nonprofit’s recent Legal 101 workshop for filmmakers, sharing with us a variety of organizing principles and resources to help stave off litigation.
Back at the NY Times, John Anderson considered director Ross McElwee’s latest film, PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY, in which he retraces his youth.
That’s it for this week. Please keep your tips and recommendations coming via email [email]email@example.com[/email], or send them to me on Twitter via @GuerrillaFace. Have a great week everyone!