Following the release of Trump’s proposed federal budget on Wednesday, which lays out plans to eliminate funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Responding to the news, Sophie Gilbert outlined the real cost of abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts for The Atlantic, while the International Documentary Association released a public statement about the future funding for the NEA, NEH and CPB. The Public Broadcasting Service also published its own advocacy site (Value) in the wake of the budget proposal. Turning to Ken Burns’s 1990 CIVIL WAR documentary as proof, Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson also made a strong case for preserving public humanities funding. Those looking to show their support of the National Endowment for the Arts should head over to the Americans for the Arts Action Center, where citizens are guided through the process of contacting your local U.S. representatives about this issue.
After news broke last week of Jason Pollock’s SXSW debuted doc STRANGER FRUIT containing new footage of Michael Brown just before his murder by police in Ferguson, MO, Mitch Smith of The New York Times reported “a lawyer for the convenience store at the center of the accusations released additional video on Monday that he said disproved the documentary’s assertions,” adding further confusion to the case. The video was published by the Washington Post, along with an additional news break by Wesley Lowery.
Here at Stranger Than Fiction, we are nearing the end of our winter season. Tomorrow at the IFC Center, we host very special 20th Anniversary screening of Monte Bramer’s 1997 Sundance Audience Award winner PAUL MONETTE: THE BRINK OF SUMMER’S END. The film’s producer, Lesli Klainberg, will be on hand for a live Q&A following the film. Tickets for the event are still available for purchase here.
The festival circuit was a busy bee this week. As SXSW 2017 wrapped up, Gethin Aldous and Jarius McLeary’s THE WORK was honored with the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary, while Nanfu Wang’s I AM ANOTHER YOU received Special Jury recognition for excellence in documentary storytelling, Miao Wang’s MAINELAND gleaned Special Jury recognition for excellence In observational cinema, and Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Mille’s LITTLE POTATO won the Jury Award for best doc short. Additionally, Meagan Kashty reported on the SXSW’s doc awards for Realscreen.
Currently underway, CPH:DOX has received a bunch of coverage from the staffers of desistfilm, as well as a preview from Basil Tsiokos over at What (not) To Doc, while New Directors/New Films picked up overviews from Calum Marsh in Village Voice and Joshua Brunsting at Criterion Cast. Jake Brandman of Observer spoke with Rajendra Roy (Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film at MoMA) and Dennis Lim (Director of Programming at FSLC) “about the philosophy behind the programming” of the series. At Film Comment, Jonathan Romney selected Yuri Ancarani’s THE CHALLENGE, one of the highlights of the series, as the film of the week. And finally, Georgia Korossi looked at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival’s first year under the direction of French film producer Elise Jalladeau and the festival’s new International Competition section for IDA’s blog.
Having just hosted a screening of Sara Taksler’s TICKLING GIANTS as part of Stranger Than Fiction just last week, it was heartening to find warm reviews of the film turn up in The New York Times via Ken Jaworowski and Salon thanks to Gary M. Kramer. And speaking of tickling, David D’Amato, the antagonist of last year’s TICKLED has passed away at the age of 55, reports William Earl for IndieWire, though no cause of death was reported in the obituary published by The New York Times. David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, the directors behind TICKLED, reacted to the news in an additional report from Earl.
Other theatrical releases that picked up positive press this week included Danae Elon’s P.S. JERUSALEM (via Ben Kenigsberg in The New York Times) Ferne Pearlstein’s THE LAST LAUGH (via Kenneth Turan in the Los Angels Times), and Evgeny Afineevsky’s CRIES FROM SYRIA (via Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times). Zeitchik also interviewed Theo Anthony, director of RAT FILM, for the Baltimore Sun, while at Hyperallergic, Dan Schindel spoke at length with Adam Curtis about his latest film HYPERNORMALISATION. Steve James turned up in conversation with Tim Sika at Celluloid Dreams discussing his film ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL. And most enticing, at The Talkhouse, Kirsten Johnson and Agnès Varda chat about “memory, time and artistic boundaries.”
Filmmakers living in or around Toronto might want to consider attending the DOC Institute’s upcoming workshop, docSHIFT: Storytelling & the Interactive Documentary, on Saturday, April 8th at the Art Gallery of Ontario. In a similar vein, Bruce Kasanoff wrote a piece titled “How To Connect With The World’s Best Documentary Filmmakers” this past week for Forbes about his experience with FiReFilms and the Future in Review Conference.
Those looking for new docs currently available via streaming services should turn to Christopher Campbell‘s “100 Must-See Documentaries Streaming on Amazon Prime This March” over at Nonfics. Additionally, PERFECTLY NORMAL by Joris Debeij was published last week over at Op-Docs, just after its visit to SXSW.
Before signing off this week, I wanted to pass along four pieces that don’t explicitly deal with docs, but sort of playfully dance along the perimeter. The New Yorker published a must read piece by Alex Ross on “The Fate of the Critic in the Clickbait Age.” Fandor’s Keyframe posted a humorous video quiz by Jacob T. Swinney titled “Malick or Nature Doc?”. At IndieWire, Hanh Nguyen outlined how NBC’s new mystery comedy TRIAL & ERROR took direct inspiration from Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s murder trial doc series THE STAIRCASE. And lastly, for A.V. Club, Dennis Perkins reviewed the latest episode of THE SIMPSONS, “22 for 30”, which is a play on ESPN’s sports doc series “30 for 30”.
As always, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.