Monday Memo: TIFF and Sundance to Spotlight Diversity in Film Criticism as Sheffield Doc/Fest Announces Award Winners

Many of this past week’s highlights are not necessarily exclusively doc related, but they are worth your attention none-the-less. In The Globe and Mail, Barry Hertz reported that “On Wednesday, Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson announced at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards that both TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah will allocate 20 per cent of their respective press credentials to underrepresented writers.” IndieWire’s Eric Kohn notes, “The announcement came just days after a report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that women wrote only 22.2 percent of 19,559 reviews of the 100 top-grossing films posted to Rotten Tomatoes.” Jenna Marotta further detailed the release, “The report found that 63.9 percent of those reviews were written by white men, versus white women (18.1 percent), underrepresented men (13.8 percent), and underrepresented women (4.1 percent).” Meanwhile at Mel Magazine, Jessica Ritchey took on this issue from a different angle with her incisive piece, “You’re Doing Women No Favors With Your Mocking ‘Ugh, Only Straight White Men Like This’ Takes.”

Maybe the most read pieces of the week came from Eric Allen Hatch, former programmer of the Maryland Film Festival, in which drops a weighty manifesto via Filmmaker Magazine on the future of arthouse programming a-la Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 “State of Cinema” address. “MOONLIGHT, GET OUT, and I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO were not ‘surprise hits,’ they were the triumphant first blast of what the next 25 years of moviegoing will look like. As the successes of these and other films cohere in the marketplace, tone-deaf gatekeepers’ stale assumptions of what art house films and audiences look like will no longer fly—not artistically, and not financially. The reactionary people who, over the past two decades, have tripped up visionary cinema’s path to the big screen with their own lack of vision are on their way out.”

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Monday Memo: Hot Docs 2013 Concludes

The film DRAGON GIRLS from director Inigo Westmeier was an award-winner at this year's Hot Docs.

Canada’s Hot Docs festival concluded its 2013 run this week. Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter had details on the festival’s award winners, with international feature doc award going to director Inigo Westmeier for DRAGON GIRLS and a special jury prize awarded to Zhu Yu for CLOUDY MOUNTAINS. At Realscreen, Adam Benzine interviewed Canadian doc filmmaker Alan Zweig, who showed his film 15 REASONS TO LIVE in Toronto. Benzine also spoke with director A.J. Schnack, who screened two films at Hot Docs: WE ALWAYS LIE TO STRANGERS and CAUCUS.  At the POV blog, Tom Roston shared his own take on CAUCUS. Benzine’s colleague Kevin Ritchie covered director Ondi Timoner’s keynote presentation at the festival.

Jennifer Clibbon covered the thread of Russian docs running through Hot Docs for the CBC blog The Buzz. Writing for the Documentary Channel blog, Christopher Campbell shared his festival experience. Peter Knegt of Indiewire teased out 10 highlights from John Sloss’s doc master class. And at Filmmaker Magazine, Allan Tong spoke to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus about the 20th anniversary screening of their doc classic WAR ROOM at Hot Docs. This time writing for Film School Rejects, Christopher Campbell reviewed the film THE EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD from Daniel Dencik. And back at the POV blog, Tom Roston put out another call for improved documentary criticism. Also, in The New York Times, Roston wrote about UNCLAIMED by director Michael Jorgenson, a film whose main subject’s claims are being refuted by the U.S. government.

There was other big doc news out of Canada this week, namely that the National Film Board of Canada planned to create an online subscription service for streaming docs, i.e. the Netflix of documentary. Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail reported on the details, as did Kelly Anderson of Realscreen and Jennie Punter of Variety.

This week Stranger Than Fiction is hosting director Robert Stone’s film PANDORA’S PROMISE, about the embrace of nuclear power by some of its strongest former opponents. The film is screening on Tuesday, May 7 at 8pm at the IFC Center in Manhattan, and will be followed by a Q&A with Stone. For more information and to purchase tickets please go here.

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