I must apologize – without warning I took leave weekend to venture off to Rochester, NY to attend the Toronto Film Society’s yearly raid of the Eastman House to watch two days worth of rarely screened prints of films such as Karl Brown’s STARK LOVE, William A. Wellman’s TRACK OF THE CAT and Mikio Naruse’s KIMIKO. But with a lineup like that, who could blame me?
In my absence, startling news broke that Michael Moore had somehow managed to complete a film completely in secret and that our own Thom Powers and the TIFF programming team would have the pleasure of world premiering it as part of their headlining Special Presentations in Toronto come September. Moore’s film, titled WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, has sparked much excitement in the doc community, instantly shooting to the top of my latest most anticipated unreleased docs list published over at IONCINEMA. Anne Thompson, ruminating over at indieWIRE, wrote a piece detailing just how TIFF came to nab Moore’s latest hot commodity. In addition to WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, TIFF also released their lineup of Canadian features at this year’s fest, including a quintet of docs – Brian D. Johnson’s AL PURDY WAS HERE, Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard’s GUANTANAMO’S CHILD: OMAR KHADR, Mina Shum’s NINTH FLOOR, Avi Lewis’ THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING and Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ WELCOME TO F.L.
Prior to TIFF releasing their first wave of films, the Venice International Film Festival also released their staggering lineup of features which includes such notable films as Fredrick Wiseman’s IN JACKSON HEIGHTS, Amy Berg’s JANIS, as well as Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s DE PALMA. And while announcements are being made elsewhere, the Locarno International Film Festival is currently in full swing. David Hudson is keeping close tabs on all the coverage coming out of Locarno over at Keyframe, while Basil Tsiokos wrote up preview of the festival’s non-fiction offerings at What (not) To Doc.
A series of articles outlining the direct cultural impact of documentaries in the next this week, including a pair – one from Rupert Neate in The Guardian, the other by Maya Rhodan in Time – spotlighting SeaWorld’s financial despair in the wake of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s BLACKFISH. Both pieces report that the company has seen profits plummet 84% since the film revealed the amusement park’s horrendous treatment of their orca whales in 2013. In related news, Yuri Kageyama reports for the Associated Press that Japanese director Keiko Yagi has put together a film titled BEHIND THE COVE as a rebuttal to Louie Psihoyos’ revelatory 2009 doc THE COVE, which outlined how fishermen in Taiji, Japan hid the illegal capture and slaughter of dolphins.
While not dealing with the well being of wildlife, Brian Lindstrom wrote a piece for indieWIRE detailing the direct social impact that his short, which he co-directed with Amira Dughri, has made. And at the other end of the spectrum, Gregory Crofton published an investigative piece for Documentary Television in which he attempts to learn how Citizens United and David Bossie manipulate the non-fiction form to unleash films like Alan Peterson’s HILLARY: THE MOVIE (2008) and Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan’s 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA (2012) on unsuspecting audiences.
According to Ali Jaafar at Deadline, Asif Kapadia’s AMY has become the highest-grossing British documentary ever, having grossed $4.9 million thus far. The report states that “AMY still has to overtake MARCH OF THE PENGUINS ($5.1 million) and Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11 ($10 million) to become the top grossing documentary of all time in the UK.” Following the news, Anthony Kaufman composed a piece for indieWIRE that pitches the idea that AMY may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to theatrical documentary success for the foreseeable future.
The two most written about docs this past week were Thomas Wirthensohn’s HOMME LESS, which was selected by our own Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers as WNYC’s Documentary of the Week, and David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge’s SNEAKERHEADZ. Katie Walsh reviewed Wirthensohn’s film for indieWIRE, as did Mark Dujsik for RogerEbert.com and Michael Greenberg for The New York Review of Books. Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times, Martin Tsai of The LA Times and Joshua Brunsting of Criterion Cast each covered SNEAKERHEADZ.
Other theatrical coverage included a reflection I wrote on Jem Cohen’s latest cinematic travelogue, COUNTING, for IONCINEMA, John Anderson published a feature on BEST OF ENEMIES in The Washington Post and Odie Henderson‘s review of CALL ME LUCKY at RogerEbert.com. The Talkhouse published a pair of pieces this week as well, one by actor Kentucker Audley on I AM CHRIS FARLEY, the other by director James Longley on THE LOOK OF SILENCE. Lastly, James Slaymaker posted a lengthy article at MUBI’s Notebook on Robert Greene’s films ACTRESS and KATI WITH AN I, both of which are currently streaming on MUBI.
I’ll leave you this week with a call for support: The directors behind the remarkable new film (T)ERROR, David Felix Sutcliffe and Lyric R. Cabral, are facing an immense wall of debt due to the murky legal waters that their film treads. Without substantial crowdfunding, the film may never see the light of day. Straight from the source, “Although (T)ERROR has received numerous awards and garnered critical acclaim on the festival circuit, there is a risk our film, and the critical issues it explores, won’t reach wider audiences…Because of the unprecedented nature of our reporting, (T)ERROR faces serious legal expenses and insurance costs, which will prevent us from releasing the film….The rising price of journalistic freedom is unacceptable – and it comes at the expense of our democracy.” If you can, I urge you to show your support by kicking in here.
As usual, if you have any tips or recommendations for the Memo in the meantime, please contact me via email here, or on Twitter, @Rectangular_Eye. I look forward to hearing from you!