Director Yance Ford and his remarkable heart-wrenching debut STRONG ISLAND received a trio of major awards at the 11th annual Cinema Eye Honors in Queens on Thursday evening, including Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Debut and Outstanding Nonfiction Feature Film. Additionally, Brett Morgen’s JANE was honored with the Audience Choice Prize and the award for Outstanding Score, while Jonathan Olshefski’s QUEST won Outstanding Editing, Kareem Abeed, Stefan Kloos and Soren Steen Jespersen won Outstanding Production for LAST MEN IN ALEPPO, Andrew Ackerman and Jeff Orlowski won Outstanding Cinematography for CHASING CORAL, and Stefan Nadelman won Outstanding Graphic Design for LONG STRANGE TRIP.
Earlier in the week, the Directors Guild of America revealed its nominees for Best Documentary of 2017 – THE VIETNAM WAR, ICARUS, CITY OF GHOSTS, ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL & WORMWOOD – as did the British Film Academy Awards (BATFAs) – CITY OF GHOSTS, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, ICARUS, AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL & JANE. Leading the way in its support of women nonfiction filmmakers, Chicken & Egg Pictures, via Rachel Montpelier at Women and Hollywood, announced that the recipients of their annual Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards are Natalia Almada, Ramona Diaz, Laura Nix, Kimi Takesue, and Nanfu Wang. Each filmmaker is to recieve a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year of professional mentorship.
As we wait for Sundance to kick off later this week, Akiva Gottlieb reported for IDA on UnionDocs‘ “weekend workshop called ‘Speculations in the Archive,’ a sold-out gathering that explored the archive’s potential to spur imagination and invention.” The verdict? “If there’s something that links the new practitioners of what might be called speculative archival filmmaking, it’s the conviction that documentary can be the product of solitude, and that communion with inanimate materials can generate the most thrilling, immediate forms of direct cinema.”
Back in 2015, The New York Times published Jonah M. Kessel’s short TASHI WANGCHUK: A TIBETAN’S JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE, which sees “a man take is concerns about the erosion of Tibetan culture and language to Beijing in hopes that media coverage and the court system will help reverse what he sees as a systemic eradication.” Kessel has returned to the Times with a new story revealing how China used his film as evidence against Tashi, who “was tried in court for ‘inciting separatism,’ a criminal charge that largely amounts to seeking independence from the Chinese state.”
The Times also published Mark Leibovich‘s feature on how filmmaker Gotham Chopra was granted sweeping access to NFL star Tom Brady for a new documentary series called TOM VS. TIME. The series is soon to go live via Facebook’s new mobile video platform, Facebook Watch.
In celebration of the PBS doc series POV’s 30th anniversary, the POV team spoke with Cara Mertes, former POV executive producer and now director of JustFilms at the Ford Foundation, about what it took to make a successful documentary series.
A wealth of new docs has appeared online in the last week, including Jennifer Brea’s Sundance hit UNREST (via Independent Lens), Andrew Ellis’ SAVING THE WILD HORSES OF THE AMERICAN WEST (via The New Yorker), Harvey Lilley’s new BBC doc on the queen called THE CORONATION, and a new NYT short titled TAKING A KNEE AND TAKING DOWN A MONUMENT. And following Eric Kohn‘s feature at IndieWire on how Frederick Wiseman’s EX LIBRIS became a call to cultural arms in 2017, the most exciting streaming news of the week comes from Dade Hayes at Deadline: Wiseman’s entire catalog will soon be wholly available for free via Kanopy, a streaming service provided by various public and collegiate library systems.
On another note, longtime supporter, volunteer and friend of Stranger Than Fiction is producing a new documentary. Joseph Schroeder is joined by executive producer Al Perlmutter and Director Micah Fink on THE POWER OF PROTEST. It chronicles progressive social movements preserving democracy in the Trump era and helping shape America’s future: movements such as Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Against Pipelines protest, Keystone, the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the rallies to save Obamacare. The film is still in development and you can learn more about how to support the film on their kickstarter page.
As always, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.