Monday Memo: Burns & Novick’s VIETNAM Escalates as Nicks’s FORCE Rolls Out

While TIFF 2017 has now come and gone, this past week saw plenty of wrap ups and reviews still filing in, including my own wrap-up of the best docs I saw this year in Toronto over at Nonfics. Included amidst these films is Frederick Wiseman’s EX LIBRIS – THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, which also appears in the Top Picks of MUBI’s Notebook and The Film Stage‘s list of the best films at TIFF (see also: Wiseman on the latest episode of The Close-Up podcast). According to the 36 critics who voted in IndieWire‘s annual TIFF survey, Brett Morgen’s JANE was the best doc of the fest, while Rolling Stone shortlisted Jason Kohn’s LOVE MEANS ZERO and the folks at Vox name dropped Greg Barker’s THE FINAL YEAR and Agnès Varda and JR’s FACES, PLACES as their favorites. Meanwhile at Filmmaker Magazine, Tiffany Pritchard reported on TIFF’s Doc Conference, “an entire day of panels and talks were presented.” Probably the most thorough coverage of docs at TIFF this year can be found over at POV Magazine’s TIFF Hub, where tons of reviews can be found, as well as a handful of interviews, including this new one with Wavelength’s programmer Andréa Picard.

The Camden International Film Festival takes place during TIFF, and thus generally gets a bit overshadowed, but at Film School Rejects, Christopher Campbell argues that the festival “allows nonfiction fans to feel like most movie fans,” noting that “many documentary film festivals hold special pitching events for filmmakers, but they tend to be behind closed doors. Camden opens theirs up to the public, and this year’s took place before a sold out crowd at the Camden Opera House.” At CIFF proper, Ziad Kalthoum’s TASTE OF CEMENT and Jonathan Olshefski‘s QUEST took home Best Documentary Feature and the Audience Award, respectively, reports Daniele Alcinii at Realscreen. Looking internationally, Basil Tsiokos previewed the new nonfiction films to have their debuts at this past weekend at South Korea’s DMZ Docs, as well as the domestic, NYC based Urbanworld Film Festival.

In the hustle and bustle of festival happenings, I failed to mention last week that on September 14th the Cinema Eye Honors announced their 2018 Shorts List, including Laura Checkoway’s EDITH + EDDIE (which Cher boarded as executive producer this week, reports Chris Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter), Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s HEROIN(E), and Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke’s PROJECT X. Apparently I wasn’t the only one late on the uptake, as Kate Erbland reported the news nearly a week later at IndieWire.

Continue reading…

Monday Memo: Getting Real, NYFF & Camden Unveil Doc Programming

With Telluride, Venice and Toronto just days away from premiering brand new titles from the likes of Herzog, Malick, Morris, James and more, the fall festival fervor is beginning to mount, as both the New York Film Festival and the Camden International Film Festival have revealed their documentary lineups. Unsurprisingly, the offerings are A-list all around. From September 27-29, the International Documentary Association will host its Getting Real ’16 conference in Los Angeles, featuring keynotes from Ava DuVernay, Shola Lynch, and Steve James, as well as live conversations with Mark Cousins, Ezra Edelman, Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman. Interested parties can register for the event here.

A bit further down the pipeline, DOC NYC is prepping for their fall festivities by announcing that Jonathan Demme and Stanley Nelson will both receive Lifetime Achievement Awards and A&E IndieFilms’ Molly Thompson will take home the Leading Light Award from this year’s Visionaries Tribute, scheduled to take place November 10. Looking even further into the future, Anne Thompson has published her early doc Oscar predictions at IndieWire, listing GLEASON, LIFE, ANIMATED, OJ: MADE IN AMERICA, WEINER and ZERO DAYS as the current frontrunners. And while on the topic of honors and awards, the Library of Congress is currently accepting nominations for the 2016 National Film Registry.

Continue reading…

Monday Memo: THE LOOK OF SILENCE Hits Venice, Telluride, Toronto Fests

Joshua Oppenheimer's new film THE LOOK OF SILENCE reached screens at a handful of film fests this week.

THE LOOK OF SILENCE, director Joshua Oppenheimer’s highly anticipated follow up to THE ACT OF KILLING, screened last week at the Venice International Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). At Realscreen, Adam Benzine reported on the film winning the grand jury prize at Venice. Writing for Cineuropa, Domenico La Porta reviewed the film, as did Guy Lodge at Variety. UK distributor Dogwoof also announced that it had acquired distribution rights for the film in Great Britain.

This week the Toronto International Film Festival kicked off. The folks at the Freep Film Festival interviewed TIFF doc programmer (and STF Artistic Director) Thom Powers, as well as filmmaker Michael Moore, in their latest podcast. Realscreen’s Manori Ravindran also spoke with Powers for a piece covering the festival, while Basil Tsiokos shared an overview of the festival’s doc lineup at his What (Not) to Doc blog.

In distro news, Manori Ravindran of Realscreen reported that HBO had snagged U.S. and Canadian TV rights for Alex Gibney’s new James Brown doc, MR. DYNAMITE: THE RISE OF JAMES BROWN. Deadline’s David Bloom also reported on the development. Realscreen colleague Adam Benzine had the news that Universal Pictures International Entertainment had picked up international rights for SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, while Jennie Punter of Variety had the same news.

Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a special preseason screening of BRONX OBAMA from director Ryan Murdock on Thursday Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. The film tells the improbable story of a Barack Obama impersonator living in the Bronx. Following the screening, Murdock and subject Louis Ortiz will be in attendance for a Q&A. For more information and to purchase tickets please go here.

Continue reading…

Monday Memo: Additional TIFF Doc Announcements Made

The Toronto International Film Festival announced that the new Martin Scorsese doc THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT would see its Canadian premiere at this year's festival.

There was a host of news about the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this week. In a post at the POV blog, Tom Roston spoke with TIFF programmer (and STF Artistic Director) Thom Powers about the festival’s Doc Conference. Writing for Realscreen, Adam Benzine reported on details of the Doc Conference, and also had the news that the new Martin Scorsese doc THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT would screen at TIFF. Benzine also reported that the doc MAIDAN about the Ukrainian revolution would also show at TIFF.

In a post at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) blog in early August, Jovana Jankovic wrote on the four basic types of documentary films.

The staff of the International Documentary Association (IDA) website mediated some questions submitted via Twitter for Lisa Chanoff and Bonni Cohen about the Catapult Film Fund.

Continue reading…

Monday Memo: Hillary Clinton Doc Canceled

In a writing for the Huffington Post, director Charles Ferguson announced that he was withdrawing from a planned documentary on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for CNN Films, citing indirect pressure from the Clintons and stonewalling among potential interviewees and others. James Hiler covered the development for Indiewire, while Christopher Campbell did the same for Adam Benzine had the news at Realscreen, and Daniel Goldblatt was on the story for Variety. Amy Chozick and Bill Carter reported on the story for the New York Times.

Continue reading…