In a week in which the US presidency was ceded to Donald Trump, little concern for anything but the future well being of the United States has rightly been put forth by news outlets this week. Yet, in her recent piece at Vox, Genevieve Koski recalled Roger Ebert’s belief that movies are “a machine that generates empathy” while reminding us that “In times like these, it can feel like entertainment doesn’t matter. It does.” Similarly, Dan Schoenbrun wrote a declaration of intent for Filmmaker Magazine, stating that “For the next four years (and long afterwards), every time someone leaves a movie theater feeling contented, feeling set in their values, feeling numbed and entertained and nothing else, that’s a problem.” On election day itself, Graham Winfrey reported at IndieWire on the massive election day doc production 11/8/16, which will serve as a follow-up to Jeff Deutchman’s 11/4/08 and feature contributions by 40 different filmmakers, including Alma Har’el, David Lowery, Eugene Jarecki and Yung Chang.
For most of us in the doc world, our light at the end of the tunnel this past week was DOC NYC, which kicked off Thursday night with a celebration of political righteousness in CITIZEN JANE: BATTLE FOR THE CITY and where “filmmakers expressed their commitment to shine a light on important truths and use the power of storytelling during Trump’s presidency” during the festival’s Visionaries Tribute luncheon, according to Winfrey. Tim Teeman wrote at length about CITIZEN JANE for The Daily Beast, while Daniel Eagan included it in his piece on the cream of the crop of DOC NYC for Film Journal International. A whole host of other curtain openers came in from the likes of Tom Roston at Doc Soup, Joshua Brunsting at Criterion Cast, and Daniel Walber of Nonfics. Likewise, Film Forward featured the festival’s many films centered around transgendered characters thanks to Phil Guie. And of the many, many press breaks coming through the wire from the fest, the seemingly countless interviews with female directors being published over at Women and Hollywood might be most worth your while. I could go on and on with additional links from the fest, but I suggest you head over to Keyframe where David Hudson has already done just that. If you aren’t able to make it to DOC NYC this year, you can at least head over to their YouTube channel where they are posting not only a ton of live Q&As, but many sessions taking place at DOC NYC PRO.
Montreal’s premiere doc festival RIDM (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montreal) also began on Thursday evening. Despite being in the midst of DOC NYC, Basil Tsiokos previewed the festival’s new offerings, while Robert Everett-Green of The Globe and Mail wrote an overview of the 128 entries selected for this year’s festival.
Last week’s memo was overflowing with award season news, but this week we have only a single story in Sam Adams‘ featuring in the Los Angeles Times on five docs to watch this Oscar season. Of the included are expected films like FIRE AT SEA and CAMERAPERSON, with the single surprise being Lonny Price’s BEST WORST THING THAT EVER COULD HAVE HAPPENED.
In recent release coverage, Sonia Kennebeck’s NATIONAL BIRD received a trio of positive reviews from Jeannette Catsoulis in The New York Times, Oktay Ege Kozak of The Playlist and Christopher Llewellyn Reed at Hammer to Nail. I published a review of Errol Morris’ unlikely latest THE B-SIDE: ELSA DORFMAN’S PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY at IONCINEMA, while IndieWire posted Ben Travers‘ thoughts on National Geographic’s MARS. Josh Cabrita’s extensive thoughts on INTO THE INFERNO appeared in MUBI’s Notebook, as Anne Thompson spoke with director Werner Herzog himself about his interest in volcanoes for IndieWire. The Guardian published Wendy Ide‘s piece on DON’T BLINK – ROBERT FRANK and Peter Bradshaw‘s warm review of THE NEW MAN. Other extensive interviews included The Hollywood Reporter‘s conversation with WEINER co-director Josh Kriegman and Sam Adams‘ feature on Ava DuVernay in the Los Angeles Times.
Lastly, PBS announced via Kevin Ritchie at Realscreen its full 2016/17 season schedule for Independent Lens. The season’s 19 films include Kim A. Snyder‘s NEWTOWN, James Soloman’s THE WITNESS, and Raoul Peck’s Oscar hopeful I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Until next week, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye.