Monday Memo: Academy Expands Shorts Shortlist, Liz Garbus’ WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? Sings On Netflix

Each year the Academy of Motion Pictures re-evaluate their rules for Oscar consideration and the like. Last Tuesday, it was announced that the Documentary Short Subject shortlist would be changing from a maximum of 8 films to 10, and the actual nominations would be set at a static 5 films, rather than fluctuating from 3 to 5 films each year. Anne Thompson reported on the list of Oscar rule changes for Indiewire, while Daniele Alcinii wrote about the news for Realscreen.

While major awards are always a fast track to cinematic cultural recognition, Anthony Kaufman pored over whether celebrity supporters actually have any impact on whether or not documentaries find a market or not for Indiewire. Unsurprisingly, filmmakers like Rachel Boynton who directed BIG MEN and had Brad Pitt as a supported found that “Basically, it makes people feel like your film will be taken seriously by the world when it’s finished. And that can be the difference between getting a ‘no’ and getting a ‘yes.'”

Contemplating film form rather than marketing, Ben Kenigsberg wrote a feature in The New York Times that sees filmmakers such as CARTEL LAND director Matthew Heineman and doc curators such as our own Thom Powers speaking on manipulative, often aesthetically based choices made when constructing non-fiction features. Joe Berlinger, of films like BROTHER’S KEEPER and PARADISE LOST, thinks there needs to be a balance of intimacy and aesthetics, stating, ““The more you treat your interview and your documentary situation like a film set, the less people are comfortable, and the less spontaneous action you can film.”

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Monday Memo: More Year-End Lists Released

The Act of Killing from director Joshua Oppenheimer topped a number of best docs of 2013 lists.

There was little doc news to report over the past holiday week, but some writers managed to get their year-end lists out. At the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound site, Robert Greene continued his effort to put cinematic nonfiction into the doc vernacular. Programmer Basil Tsiokos also released his own list of his favorite films from 2013 at his What (Not) to Doc blog. hosted a list of the year’s best music docs from Andy Markowitz of MusicFilmWeb. Writing for the SundanceNOW site, Anthony Kaufman released a list of six under-viewed docs from the year.

Writing for The New York Times, Brooks Barnes linked docs that screen at Sundance to the ones that show up on the Oscar shortlist some months later. And Stranger Than Fiction’s Thom Powers rounded up some advice from filmmakers on how to prep for Sundance and other festivals.

Indiwire’s Paula Bernstein published a list of 25 doc filmmakers worth following on Twitter.

Heather McIntosh of the Documentary Site announced her plan to watch 365 docs in 2014, following in the footsteps of Dan Schindel.

Price Peterson of Netflix announced the launch of its Documentary Club, in which a different doc on the site will be discussed each week.

At, Christopher Campbell shared his top home picks for the week, and also highlighted those films hitting theaters.

This week saw the passing of Bill Knight, a member of the Bangor Troop Greeters, a group in Maine that welcomed U.S. soldiers home from overseas deployments. Knight had been featured in the film THE WAY WE GET BY by director Aron Gaudet.

Finally, the folks at The Black and Blue culled the best professional advice ever received from 88 different cinematographers.

That’s it for this week (and year). Be sure to keep sending tips and recommendations for the Memo via e-mail here, or by Twitter to @GuerrillaFace. Happy New Year everyone!


Monday Memo: Fourth Annual DOC NYC Festival Begins

Director Errol Morris speaks at the DOC NYC screening of his new film, The Unknown Known.

This week the DOC NYC Festival officially kicked off its fourth year in New York City with a screening of Errol Morris’ new Donald Rumsfeld film THE UNKNOWN KNOWN. Writing for the POV blog, Tom Roston recapped the screening. At his Docutopia post for the SundanceNOW, Anthony Kaufman wrote on some of the films screening at DOC NYC, including THE PUNK SINGER and PATROLMAN P. Director Jeremy Xido penned a guest post on his film DEATH METAL ANGOLA, which screened at DOC NYC, for Filmmaker Magazine. Also at Filmmaker Magazine, Scott Macaulay named his 10 favorite picks for the festival, as did Lauren Wissot at the same publication. The folks at Indiewire also shared 10 of their top choices. And Daniel Walber reviewed DOC NYC film THE FINAL MEMBER for

The Women and Hollywood blog on Indiewire played host to a series of interviews with female filmmakers screening work at the DOC NYC. Inkoo Kang spoke with Dori Berinstein, Sarah McCarthy and Ky Dickens. Melissa Silverstein chatted up Sini Anderson, Suzan Beraza, Samantha Grant, Gitte Peng, Dawn Porter, Therese Shechter, Linda Hoaglund, Lucy Kostelanetz, Merete Mueller, Beth B, Sierra Pettengill and Jamila Wignot. And at Filmmaker Magazine, Randy Astle spoke with WEB director Michael Kleiman.

Earlier this morning, Canadian documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick passed away from a rare form of liver cancer. Adam Benzine had the details in a piece at Realscreen, while Peter Knegt reported the news for Indiewire. Wintonick was in the midst of making the film BE HERE NOW when he passed. For those interested in helping the film reach its completion, please go here.

BRITDOC named THE ACT OF KILLING the winner of this year’s PUMA Impact Award, handed out to the film determined to have had the most substantial positive impact over the past year. Sarah Salovaara covered the event for Filmmaker Magazine, while Christopher Campbell did the same for Bryce J. Renninger looked at some of the metrics turned out b BRITDOC on the award nominees.

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