Al Jazeera America this week announced the creation of a doc unit.

The Qatari government-funded news channel Al Jazeera America this week announced the launch of a new documentary film unit, with former National Geographic TV executive Kathy Davidov joining the outfit as senior executive producer. Adam Benzine reported on the development for Realscreen, as did Indiewire’s Alison Willmore.

Werner Herzog made waves this week with the release of a documentary on the dangers of texting and driving. Nick Dawson covered the news for Filmmaker Magazine, while Donald Melanson did the reporting for Engadget and Matt Hamblen did the same for Computerworld.

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship has opened its call for submissions for the 2014 fellowship, setting a September 30 deadline for applications. Scott Macaulay of Filmmaker Magazine reported on the fellowship, created to honor editor Karen Schmeer who was killed in 2010 by the driver of a car fleeing a robbery.

Brooks Barnes of the New York Times reported that Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s orca doc BLACKFISH has had such a profound effect that animation studio Pixar decided to rewrite part of its upcoming FINDING NEMO sequel as a result. Geoff Berkshire of NBC News also reported on the development.

The Discovery Channel raised the hackles of viewers with its Shark Week programming entry MEGALODON: THE MONSTER SHARK THAT LIVES, which was criticized for being marketed as a documentary for reporting fictions as truth, wrote Jacob Davidson of Time. Christopher Campbell also weighed in on the motivations of tv channels with doc programming in a post for Film School Rejects.

Writing for NoBudge, Scout Tafoya had a great interview with editor-filmmaker-writer-hyphen accumulator Robert Greene about his various films and his approach to distro.

In his Docutopia post at the SundanceNOW blog, Anthony Kaufman wrote about the favoritism granted to U.S. docs at festivals, focusing on the Georgian film THE MACHINE WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING DISAPPEAR as a case study. At Ion Cinema, Jordan M. Smith published a review of the film, which just started a run at Cinema Village in NYC.

In distro news, Icarus FIlms announced it had acquired North American rights to 11 Cuban films representing work rarely seen in the U.S. Adam Benzine of Realscreen reported that Cinedigm picked up North American rights for ADVENTURES OF THE PENGUIN KING.

The True/False Film Festival hosted on its Facebook page a transcription of a conversation between film critic J. Hoberman and THE ACT OF KILLING director Joshua Oppenheimer which can be found here. True/False programming is also paying a visit to NYC on August 28, when DCTV will host a program of short docs on labor that have screened at the festival.

At Indiewire, Steve Greene rounded up a list of the top documentaries of 2013 thus far, according to the members of its Criticwire, with THE ACT OF KILLING topping the list.

Writing for his What (Not) to Doc blog, Basil Tsiokos provided an overview of the docs at the Swiss Film Festival Locarno.

Tom Roston of the POV blog spoke with OFF LABEL directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher about the stylistic approach the filmmakers used in making their doc.

Douglas Martin of the New York Times reported that the documentary community yesterday lost John Reilly, a proponent of documentary videos whose best known work was WAITING FOR BECKETT (1993). Reilly suffered a stroke while traveling. Fellow Times reporter Daniel E. Slotnick penned an obit for “American Masters” filmmaker Gail Levin, who passed away July 31 at the age of 67.

STF alum A TIME FOR BURNING from director William Jersey is screening at BAMcinematek on Wednesday, August 21 as part of the venue’s upcoming series on Civil Rights.

This week the New York Times hosted an Op-Doc from filmmaker Alison Klayman on the recent attack on a gay couple in New York City.

Heather McIntosh of the Documentary Site wrote a piece considering Klayman’s film AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY and the film HIGH TECH LOW LIFE about two Chinese blogger journalists from director Stephen Maing.

The ITVS Beyond the Box blog posted a transcript of an online chat hosted by programming manager N’Jeri Eaton on its Diversity Development Fund.

At the No Film School site, Joe Marine highlighted some advice for those seeking to make a professional doc promo video.

For those interested in learning more about crowdfunding, Jon Reiss hosted a discussion on best practices at the D-Word doc filmmaker community (registration required).

At the Tribeca Film Institute site, Jason Guerrasio recapped the projects that came out of a June Tribeca Hacks event focused on docs.

Hot Docs this week announced the recipients of its completion fund grants, which totaled C$122 million this go round.

Roni of the Documentary Dig website provided a nice roundup of the docs screening in August via various outlets.

Back at Film School Rejects, Christopher Campbell reviewed the HBO doc CASTING BY, giving it a sterling endorsement.

The film STILL ON THE ROAD from director Sara Wolkowitz airs tonight on public television’s World Channel; you can find details here.

At Filmmaker Magazine, Jamie Stuart provided a hands on review (of sorts) of the new Blackmagic Design cameras.

Finally, the MIT Open Doc lab rounded up a slew of web documentary resources, which you can find here.

That’s it for this week. Please remember to send tips or recommendations via email here, or by Twitter to @GuerrillaFace. Thanks and have a great week everyone.

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