Monday Memo: Charlotte Cook leaving Hot Docs, NBC Sports Announces Doc Film Unit

Less than a month after the conclusion of this year’s edition of Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival, Charlotte Cook, the festival’s Director of Programming for the last four years, has announced that she’ll be stepping down from her position to focus, in her words, on “working closely with filmmakers. Something I hope to have the honour to do for the rest of my life.” Shipra Harbola Gupta reported the news for Indiewire, as did Julianna Cummins for Realscreen. Gracefully ruminating on her time with Hot Docs, Cook wrote a personal statement over at Medium, signing off with, “A huge thank you to everyone who supported a young Brit with a passion for showing films and celebrating those who make them. And I can’t wait to share my next adventure with you all..”

Last week there was much talk about The New York Times’ decision to change their film reviewing policy to no longer guarantee a review if it plays in theaters, some positive, some negative. This past week, a pair of further thoughts came through the wire, one from The New Yorker’s Richard Brody in which he opines that the new policy gives smaller films and online releases a more even playing field while incisively commenting on very nature of criticism in our current culture of mass data itself. The second came from Calum Marsh in The Guardian who discussed what will likely end thanks to the policy change – ‘four-walling’, or how filmmakers pay to see their work on screen.

We here at Stranger Than Fiction show films not for reviews, but because we want audiences to be able to see them in their prime, on the big screen. Our Spring Season is coming to a close tomorrow with Crystal Moselle’s mind-blowing debut, THE WOLFPACK. The director will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. More details on both the film and screening can be found here.

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Monday Memo: Almeida Takes Home Cannes Doc Corner Prize

Filmmaker Andrew Valentim Almeida won the Doc Alliance Selection Award at this year's Cannes International Film Festival.

Filmmaker Andre Valentim Almeida took home the Doc Alliance Selection Award at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival for his film A CAMPANHA DO CREOULA; writing for Screen Daily, Wendy Mitchell had the details. Also, the Doc Alliance site had an interview with Almeida. In other Cannes news, Jay Weissberg of Variety reviewed Wim Wenders’ new doc THE SALT OF THE EARTH. At the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire, Tom Christie reviewed THE GO-GO BOYS from director Hilla Medalia. Over at, Daniel Walber reviewed THE FLOOD, a Cannes award winner from 1947 made by filmmaker Jerzy Bossak. Writing for Sight and Sound Magazine, Isabel Stevens reviewed the Frederick Wiseman film NATIONAL GALLERY. Jordan Cronk of Reverse Shot also reviewed the new Wiseman film.

This week saw the launch of the new VOD platform Docurama from Cinedigm. Paula Bernstein of Indiewire reported on the development, as did Sahil Patel of Video Ink.

The first West Coast edition of the POV Hackathon took place last week. The POV blog had a report from Michael S. Scherotter on the making of one of the prototypes yielded by the Hackathon.

This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of the film THE BEACHES OF AGNES, an autobiographical essay from director Agnes Varda. The screening takes place on Tuesday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.

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Monday Memo: Doc Community Mourns the Passing of Bendjelloul

This week SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN director Malik Bendjelloul passed away.

This week the documentary community lost the Oscar-winning filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, who died from an apparent suicide at the age of 36. Bruce Weber of the New York Times penned an obit of Bendjelloul, while Realsceen’s Adam Benzine rounded up some tributes made to the director. Adam Schartoff released an interview conducted with Bendjelloul on his Filmwax Radio podcast. At Indiewire, Paula Bernstein also reported on Bendjelloul’s passing. Michael Dunaway remembered the director in an encomium published at Paste Magazine, and Xan Brooks did the same at The Guardian.

At Screen Daily, Colin Brown took a look at the doc lineup at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. Daniel Walber of had a great piece on the festival’s history of ignoring docs, and Basil Tsiokos provided an overview of docs screening there for his What (Not) to Doc blog.

At, Christopher Campbell had a chance to interview director Joe Berlinger about his new documentary television series on Al Jazeera America, The System. At Realscreen, Kelly Anderson also spoke with Berlinger about The System, and at the International Documentary Association (IDA) website, Darianna Cardilli also profiled the series.

This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting a screening of the film 9 MAN from director Ursula Liang about a streetball game often played in Chinatown. The film will screen on Tuesday, May 20 at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center in Manhattan, and will be followed with a Q&A with director Liang. For more information or to purchase tickets please go here.

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